Our body weight is constantly changing, thanks to such factors as gender, genetics, and age, which can be beyond our ability to do a damn thing about. However, with the right lifestyle, some fat-incinerating exercise, and a responsible diet, you can still keep your weight in check.
Granted, it’s still possible to wake up to a higher number on the scale than the night or morning before. I know, this can be as annoying as it is confusing, but don’t throw in the towel just yet.
In this article, I am going to explain what this is all about, to what extent, the causes as well as how to work around this problem, what to do and what not to, and other worthwhile tidbits.
And of course, as always, I’ll be dropping all the relevant sources and studies where you can find more information on the same.
So stick around to the end!
Is It Possible To Gain 2 Pounds Overnight?
Gaining 2 pounds overnight isn’t as far fetched as it might sound. Now, although it might be a bit baffling, this shouldn’t be mistaken for permanent weight gain. Unless the pounds seem to stick around for a couple of days to a week, you don’t have any reason for concern....
And by the way, did you know weight gain isn't as bad as it might sound? That's right! You can put on "good" weight, on purpose of course, where you replace the low-density fat tissue in the body with much denser muscle tissue - to bulk up and build strength.
But that's a story for another day...let's get back to figuring out what the heck is happening to your weight.
....All you need to do is get back on track, which doesn’t mean pushing yourself to the limit with workouts or starving yourself; just normal exercise like cardio and healthy eating are all it takes.
So don’t panic if you see the numbers shoot higher than normal once in a while, it doesn’t mean your weight loss efforts are futile. In most cases, this results from a one-off trigger from the day or night before, leading to a sudden spike.
We’ll get into details about that in a moment…hang on.
Do We Weigh Different At Different Times Of Day
As aforementioned, weight fluctuation is going to be there from time to time, and that isn’t to say you have to go hard on yourself with dieting or work out. Generally, virtually everyone loses or gains a pound to two (sometimes slightly more or less) along the way.
This will depend on when and what type of meal you had, if you are taking any meds that could be affecting your weight, and if you are on a workout routine or for women on a menstrual cycle — mainly due to hormonal imbalances. Hence, it’s advisable not to jump on the scale every other hour, instead, have a consistent routine for this.
Does Our Weight Vary From Day To Night?
Besides experiencing weight fluctuations through the 24-hour cycle, your body weight during the day will differ from the level during the night. According to Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, it is possible to be 5, 6, or even 7 pounds heavier at night than in the morning.
As she puts it, this is partly because of all the salt consumed during the day, and possibly the food we take at night having not been fully digested or excreted from the body.
Throughout the day, the weight will be a bit lower depending on physical activity (yes, even having fun on the trampoline does make a difference) and meal habits. Thus, our body weight is lowest in the morning right after using the restrooms and before eating anything.
Is Gaining Weight Normally In One Night?
Absolutely! Gaining weight in a single night isn’t something new, and if you are experiencing it for the first time, worry not. You’re not alone. Most people trying to lose weight have had their fair share of such surprises, but it eventually becomes the norm.
The main reason you shouldn’t consider a sudden jolt on the numbers a threat to your weight loss journey is that shifts in your body water are to blame and not body fat. The latter would only be responsible for long-term weight gain.
With water making up about 60-percent of our overall body weight, such changes are bound to be common even with meager water losses or gains in the body. However, these changes are almost unlikely to be permanent.
How Much Can One’s Weight Vary In One Night?
There’s no exact number of pounds that your body weight can shift by through the night, but according to an article by the Cleveland Clinic, even a five-pound increase is little more than a false alarm.
The only time you need to give it a real thought is if those additional pounds are still there even after maintaining your constant workout routine and weight loss effort for a week or so.
This should indicate that the irregularity might be cropping from another factor, and thus you should give it a closer look. As highlighted by Joseph Colella, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at Magee Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, any change from 0 to 5 pounds should be fine.
What Are The Reasons That Make You Gain Weight Overnight?
It just so happens that most people are caught by surprise when they wake up to a number they didn't expect.
If that's your situation right now, here are some possible causes for that spike on the scale;
Changes In Glycogen
With each glycogen stored alongside 3 or 4 parts of water, when it’s broken down the extra water is lost, triggering weight loss. And since glycogen can be depleted rather quickly especially during an extended exercise, like a taxing run on a treadmill, or when fasting.
You might notice weight gain later on if or when you consume carbohydrate-rich foods as the lost glycogen, along with the water, is restored.
Higher Sodium Consumption Than Normal
Sodium’s ability to cause the body to retain a significant volume of water could cause a sudden increase in body weight. Do note, sodium consumed through table salt isn’t the only culprit here.
Other variants such as sodium saccharin, baking soda, sodium nitrite, and sodium in processed foods also increase sodium levels in the body, leading to higher water retention and eventual (temporary, thankfully) weight gain.
Consuming A Significant Amount Of Alcohol At Night
Alcohol contains empty calories, which means you could take in more of them obliviously. Besides, alcohol causes water retention in the body, too, hence causing a sudden but short-lived spike in body weight.
And another thing; booze is processed first in the body, so the body stores any carbs you had consumed along with your drink as fat instead of using them up. That is, unless you burn them up with some serious workout through the next few days.
More Carbs Intake The Previous Day
Taking in many carbohydrates in one sitting when you haven’t been consuming many of them leads to a short-term rise in body weight. And...with every single gram of carbohydrate retaining three grams of water, gaining weight after a heavy carb intake is going to happen faster than you might think.
If You Had Intense Workout Sessions The Previous Day
After an intense exercise that widely recruits most of your large muscles, your body gets to work repairing the tears and abrasions on these tissue.
You know, that freaking soreness you feel after grinding out some punishing deadlifts...that's it!
This causes a natural inflammation and water (fluid) retention that might nudge up the following morning’s weigh-in.
Steps You Can Take To Avoid Weight Gain Overnight
Here are a few steps to take to avoid gaining weight overnight.
Working Before Bedtime Is A Bad Idea
Doing any work before bed can easily mess up your mind and hinder your ability to get a sound night’s sleep, which could cause a buildup of stress and anxiety through the night.
Make sure to get enough rest each night, even if you have lined-up tasks, keep them for the following day, or consider working more in the daytime and get enough sleep.
If anything, you should do some light workout and stretching to ease up the tension in your muscles and unwind from the day's stress. It goes to boost your overall sleep quality and helps you wake up the next day invigorated.
Maintain A Workout Routine
As we sleep, the body uses its energy reserves to replenish itself after a workout, repair any damaged cells and build up muscles.
Without any exercise to torch up the excess calories, they are stacked up as fat instead, causing weight gain. Stay on top of your game by ensuring a steady workout schedule that will keep your body’s energy stores continuously used up and get quality night’s sleep. Exercise has been proved to increase metabolism and hence it will definitely help you lose weight.
Watch Your Diet
Excessive consumption of sodium, carbohydrates, and alcohol in the evening is going to earn you a few extra pounds overnight.
To keep your weight as regular as it can get, keeping a close eye on your diet and eating habits is a great start. And you will have fewer of those annoying moments to bear with each morning. This can be tough for a newbie trying to draft a healthy diet chart, but hey, that's what some fitness apps on the market are for, right?
Also, meal replacements like Huel, Shakeology or my favorite meal replacement Kachava, allow you to keep a balanced diet and not to have to worry about every single ingredient you take in your body, if you don't have time during the day to worry about your diet you should check them out.
Using A Phone Or Electronic Devices At Night
I know, you are going head over heals trying to shake off those extra pounds, and you're burning to check out that cool fitness app your gym buddy told you about. In the evening (especially just before bedtime) isn't the time for that.
The problem with electronic devices is that they emit a blue light off their screens. When combined with their ever stimulating nature, they can easily throw off your mind and body’s hormonal and chemical balances.
This ends up tampering with your ability to achieve quality sleep and potentially causing weight gain. The best shot you have at this is to avoid using them in the evening and night hours and swap them for something more relaxing, like reading.
Keep Your Fiber Intake In Check
Fiber is vital for your body, but too much of it on a single sitting means ending up with a heavy, bulky, and more watery bowel movement, which will most likely jolt the scale. And although this will be all over as soon as you empty your bowel content, you can avoid it altogether by sticking to a low fiber diet.
On the bottom line, while these overnight weight gain spikes will come and go, it’s worth noting that your weight isn’t what defines who you are after all. It doesn’t matter how many times the scale seems bent on taunting you; you can still take charge of the situation and go for your weight loss goal.
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