Does this look familiar? Does your weight fluctuate like this? Well, you may be surprised that the reason could be rather simple. Assuming that you're not a female experiencing her "monthlies" (usually, you may gain a few pounds during that time), then your problem could be as simple as not controlling your diet. In order to know how that works, you need to understand a little bit about glycogen.
Glycogen is a stored form of sugar in your body. Think of it as your "sugar pantry." When the body is low on sugar, it would go to its pantry to get some sugar for energy. However, as long as there is a steady flow of sugar coming into the body, then there is no need for the body to use its glycogen supply.
One important thing about glycogen is that it holds onto water. The larger your "sugar pantry," the more water you'd retain, and the more water you'd retain, the more weight you'd gain. This in itself is not a bad thing. Everybody needs a healthy level of glycogen in their bodies for emergencies, such as starvation or if you're participating in prolonged, intensive exercises.
As long as you're eating normally everyday, then the body won't touch the glycogen storage.
However, if you decide to either drastically cut your carbs or decide to just not eat, then your body would tap into its glycogen like crazy! It would be burning up a load of glycogen, which would then reduce the amount of water it holds -- which ultimately means weight loss for you.
But if you decide to add carbs back into your diet or if you just decide to eat more food, then your body would restore its glycogen level and the water it retains. This ultimately means weight gain for you.
So, let's say that one day you have gotten so busy at work that you didn't eat ANYTHING until dinner. And for dinner, you had something light. If you were 200 lbs, then when you jump on the scale the next morning, you would see that you've lost 2, 3, or 5 pounds! You didn't lose fat. You just lost water because your body tapped into its glycogen supply for energy.
But on the next day, you had a day off work. You ate all day, mostly to celebrate for dropping so much weight overnight! Then you jumped on the scale the next day, and bam! You've gained 5 pounds!! What the heck?
So, now you're depressed and decide to eat NOTHING all day. Uh-oh, your body thinks it won't be getting any food for a while, so it's going to tap into your glycogen supply. So, on the next day, you hop on the scale, and wham! You've dropped 5 pounds! What in the world???
So, being happy, you decided to eat a little more. But on the next day after waking up, you jump on the scale and gained back 3 pounds! This is crazy!
You see, when your diet is irregular with you eating more on some days and eating less on others, then your weight will ALWAYS fluctuate. This rapid and significant weight-loss is from WATER, not from fat.
Really, it's harder to gain weight from fat than it is from water. It is also harder to lose fat than it is to lose water. You could lose 10 pounds of water in two days. It might take you one or two months to lose 10 pounds of fat!
If you lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time (like in one or two days) and you have NO idea how that happened, then that means you have NO control over your diet. In the same way, if you've gained a significant amount of weight in a short time and had no idea how that happened, you have no control over your diet.
Having no control over your diet means that you:
- Have no regularly scheduled time to eat. You eat whenever you decide to.
- Don't consider the amount of carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals in your meals. You just eat whatever you're in the mood to eat.
- Eat inappropriate things at the inappropriate time. Hey, I love me some sweets, but eating a doughnut for breakfast is not the best way to start your day!
- Mindlessly eating throughout the day. If I were to ask you what you ate for the day, you would have no idea.
- Your caloric intake for each day differs significantly. One day, you're consuming 1,200 calories. The next day, you've just consumed 800 calories. And on the next day, you've consumed 3,000 calories -- and this is actually very easy to accomplished! You could imagine how crazy your weight fluctuation would be!
Now, let's say that you are eating regularly and that you do have control over your diet. But your weight is still fluctuating! Well, it's not just important to eat regularly, but it's also important to know WHAT you're eating on a regular basis.
If one day, you decided to eat a bunch of carbs (sugar and starches), then you are loading up your sugar pantry. This in itself is not a bad thing -- unless most of the carbs you're eating are from sweets!
But let's say that on the next day, you drastically cut your carbs and increased the amount of fat and protein in your diet. Fat and protein aren't the greatest sources for energy. Sugar is! So, even though you are eating very well, your carb intake is low, and the body needs carbs for energy. So, the body would tap into its glycogen supply for energy. This means a significant drop in your weight in no time!
But let's say three days later, you decided to increase your carb intake again. Yep, you know where I'm going! You would increase your glycogen supply and the water it holds. You would gain weight again.
Okay, okay, so you do have control over your diet, you do have a normal intake of carbs, fat, and protein. Yet, your weight is still fluctuating. Well, this would lead us to your water-sodium balance.
When you're eating food and taking nutritional supplements like vitamins or meal replacement shakes, you are getting a significant amount of sodium -- which is GOOD! Your body needs sodium. It helps regulate hydration in your body by making sure you don't get overly hydrated or under hydrated.
With all the sodium you're getting from regular, healthy eating, you also need to make sure you're drinking a significant amount of water. If your body gets a normal amount of sodium, but an ABNORMAL amount of water, then your sodium-water balance is off. Your body would RETAIN water to help dilute its sodium levels. Retaining water could also lead to high blood pressure as too much water in the blood puts too much pressure on the blood vessels.
However, if your sodium is LOW and your water intake is HIGH, then your body would release more water than it would normally do so your sodium won't be too diluted.
So, if one day you drank 10 full glasses of water (about 16 fluid ounces each) and on the next day you only drank ONE full glass of water and consumed a significant amount of sodium, guess what? You could gain weight because the body would retain water to keep your sodium level from getting too concentrated. You could also get puffy hands, puffy feet and ankles -- and just look like an overall marshmallow due to water retention. Your wedding ring would get tight suddenly, jeans get harder to put on, and people are just sticking their fingers in you to see if you'd pop like a water balloon!
Or heck, sodium aside, if you went for the longest time by drinking very little water and all of the sudden overloaded your body with water, then you would gain a significant amount of weight. Why? Because you were dehydrated for the longest time. Now that you're hydrating yourself, you'd gain a significant amount of weight -- and this weight gain would actually be a good weight gain. You don't ever want to lose weight because you were dehydrated.
See, there is probably nothing wrong with you. Simply focusing on how you're eating could most likely solve your weight fluctuation issues! Eating a healthy amount of food regularly each day and drinking a healthy amount of water regularly each day would prevent your weight from going all over the place.