You’ve been working hard. You’ve never missed a workout, each workout you give 110%, and your diet has been on point.
You’re excited to see what progress you made on the scale. Last week you lost 3lbs, the week before you lost 5lbs. You’re hoping for another good week.
You step on and…
You are up 2lbs!
You’re crushed. All that hard work, sweat, meal prepping, it was all for nothing. You curse the scale and feel like you should just give up.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone, this happens to everyone no matter if you’re at our gym in West Chester, PA or across the world in another country. But it still feels like a gut punch every time it happens.
But why does this happen?
Remember, the scale measures weight, not body fat, and there are many factors that can play into the number that shows up on the scale.
1. Eating a salty meal can cause your weight to go up. We’ve all experienced eating a super salty meal and having our fingers swell up.
Excess salt will cause water retention, which means you will weigh more.
From personal experience, I’ve seen a client put on 10 pounds of water weight overnight (don’t do all-you-can-eat fried oysters)
2. Carbs will cause you to store water.
Every gram of carbohydrate stored will store three grams of water. The average person stores about 500 grams (1.1lbs) of carbohydrates in their body (glycogen).
This is why you lose so much weight when first starting a low-carb diet, you are just losing water weight. But if you eat a bunch of carbs, you will put on some water weight.
3. Did you poop before stepping on the scale? The human body holds between 12 ounces to five pounds of poop in it. So yes, by going to the bathroom you will, temporarily, lose weight. If you skip the bathroom one day, you will be slightly heavier.
Bad night of sleep? Bad quality sleep and/or not enough sleep causes water retention
5. Stressed out? Excess stress leads to water retention
Were you hydrated when you stepped on the scale? If in the previous weeks, you were dehydrated when you stepped on, that will throw the numbers off.
6. Did you really follow your diet this week? We all get a little cocky and say “I got this” and start slipping. Meals aren’t tracked or measured, you have a few extra treats here and there. These things add up at the end of the week.
7. What about building muscle?
Muscle growth is a pretty slow process. Now, if you figured out how to pack on muscle quickly while losing weight, let me know because every professional strength athlete and coach has tried to figure that out.
Outside of some “newbie gains,” muscle growth might be between 0.5-1 pound per month.
Are there ways to measure fat loss when these things happen? Yes! Our gym in Chester County, PA has an InBody machine that accurately measures lean body mass and body fat. So even if you weigh more, you can see if you’re burning body fat. To schedule, email
To make an appointment.