Why Do You Weigh Less In The Morning
Millions of people around the world are grasping at straws trying to lose the extra pounds that creep up out of nowhere and seem to cling on for years to come. As might be expected, the most widespread instrument to measure your weight loss success are scales. This is the cause of much confusion for a lot of dieters. Many compulsively weigh themselves whenever possible to track the slightest changes in their pounds. Why do you weigh less in the morning? And why does the number on your scale keep swinging up and down without any apparent reason? Read this article to find out the answer to your whys and hows that have to do with the complex concept of weight fluctuation.
The Types of Weight
One of the main causes of stress and disappointment among dieters is poor grasp on the functioning of the human body. It seems like only scales matter – but this is not the case. The scales only show you your overall weight, and this information may cause a lot of misunderstanding. This weight includes muscle, fat, and water in your body, and you may lose pounds without realizing which exact type of weight you’re getting rid of. This can have quite detrimental consequences on your health.
First of all, your aim is to lose fat, not muscle. People who have a tendency to regard the number on their scale as a sole indicator of their progress often slide into extremely unhealthy fad diets that damage their bodies and shrink their muscles.
Secondly, and more in line with the topic of the article, there is water weight. Water normally makes up 50-60% of your total body weight, and this is one of the major causes of what is called weight fluctuation (5). An estimated 50-60% of your total body weight is water, and how much water you retain fluctuates in response to your eating habits. Weight fluctuation in a day can oscillate between 2 and 4 pounds. This is one of the reasons for the downward numbers on your scale in the morning. Below are some more reasons causing these fluctuations.
Daily weight fluctuation: the causes
Sodium and carbs
Foods high in sodium and carbohydrates cause water retention, so your weight spikes until the bloat subsides. Sodium attracts water and keeps it in the body, so the more sodium and carbs you consume, the more water weight you retain (1). Here’s the reason why your weight spikes after a salty meal.
The weight of foods and drinks
All foods and drinks have some weight. This is why you gain some pounds after you have lunch or an evening meal. This is okay, and if your meal is healthy and the calories are not above the number you burn, you’ll get rid of the weight consumed pretty soon.
You burn calories when you exercise, that is why you need to work out. However, you may not see an immediate change on the scales after the training. That is especially true if you’re dehydrated – you lose water through sweat while exercising, and if you’re replenishing it adequately (and you need to do it), the changes in weight after the workout may not be significant. Keep in mind that water does not contain calories and won’t cause weight gain. You will only lose weight if you keep your calorie burn above your calorie intake while staying properly hydrated (2, 4).
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Why do you weigh less in the morning?
Is it true that we weigh less in the morning? Generally, yes.
During the day, you consume food and drink water which naturally and most importantly temporarily increases your weight. That is why your peak daily weight is likely to be after your evening meal. Conversely, you do not consume anything while sleeping, unless you’re a midnight muncher. That means your body is only burning calories while sleeping to sustain basic functions.
Another thing is that you get slightly dehydrated in the morning after several hours of not drinking any fluids while you were asleep. Just two cups of water make one pound, so a substantial difference is likely to occur, especially if you weren’t properly hydrated before getting to bed.
What this all points to is more difficulty in measuring your weight loss progress. If there are fluctuations, what is the best time to weigh yourself and how to do it correctly?
How to track your weight loss progress
The best time to weigh yourself is in the morning after going to the bathroom (3). If you weigh yourself at the same time every day, you’ll get the most consistent measurements. Does it matter if you have clothing/undies on? Yes, it does. You are wearing different clothes every day, and they do confuse your measurements. So it’s best to stand on the scales naked or in your underwear.
Secondly, because of the weight fluctuation mentioned above, individual body weight on a given day is simply irrelevant. Your numbers will naturally go up and down regardless of what you ate or how much you worked out. The best way to track your progress is to track the inches using a tape measure.
You should never judge yourself for weighing a pound or two more than you did yesterday. Those changes are completely okay, and being anxious and judgemental about them has adverse effects on your mental health.
To sum up, there are a number of reasons to answer the question «Why do you weigh less in the morning?». The main reason is weight fluctuation – a natural process in the human body. You can lose and gain between 2 and 4 pounds every single day simply because you consume and excrete food and water. In reality, you don’t have to care about those changes as long as you follow a healthy diet and maintain a caloric deficit.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 8 Things That Can Make You Gain Water Weight (2018, health.com)
- Dehydration (1997, medlineplus.gov)
- This Is Exactly When You Should Step On The Scale To Track Your Weight-Loss Progress (2019, womenshealthmag.com)
- Water: How much should you drink every day? (2017, mayoclinic.org)
- What Is Water Weight, Anyway? (2016, womenshealthmag.com)