Skinny Daily Post


You gained three pounds overnight?

You ate that pizza yesterday, or too late last night, or you didn’t make the appropriate strategic mix of carbs and fat and protein, and you just knew you blew it. You are scum. You are weak. Today the scale says you’re three pounds up.

You expected some repercussion, some slow down in your loss this week, but this is ridiculous.

Well, yes, it is. Unless your binge had you eating five days-worth of extra food, that three pound gain was a random fluid gain and not the fat you’re working to lose.

Household scales ought to come with a warning label, and maybe a glass vial of valium, to be broken and administered during these sorts of emergencies.

Transient weight gains are exactly why weight loss doctors suggest putting the scale away. The way we handle these bad scale moments can make or break a weight loss effort. And the effort is hard enough without the emotional challenge.

But a fluid gain is no big deal. Fluids can be gained and lost rather easily. And that is why diet pills and diet program vitamins containing mild diuretics are so darned popular. (The euphoria of a big initial weight loss as soon as you start taking Dr X’s vitamins while following his diet is something you remember and helps to build loyalty to the program.)

But fluid gain and loss have no bearing on your fat gain and loss or muscle gain and loss. And your concern is really about that. You want a healthy ratio of muscle and fat in your body. Total weight is only one measure of your progress, and not always a reliable one.

There are many, many reasons you may be retaining fluids. It may be the amount of salt in your system, or a lack of potassium (eat those cucumbers and melons). It may be you worked out hard, your muscles are sore, and your body is holding water to manage the inflammation in your sore parts. Women often gain and lose several pounds of water each month as part of their menstrual cycle. What you ate may be hard for your body to digest, and the extra fluids are helping you manage that. You may be coming down with a cold or a sinus infection. Do you have arthritis or hayfever? Really any inflammation can trigger fluid retention. You may have been dehydrated. Your body will fight hard to keep water when it’s been starved of it recently. That’s why drinking plenty of water while you’re retaining water is a good idea.

So, your little extra piece of pizza wasn’t likely a good habit to form, but it didn’t put three pounds of fat on your body, either. Breathe deeply, eat your cucumbers, drink your water, and try not to live by the scale.

Where fluid gains come from

7 thoughts on “Overnight Gains

  1. Annabelle says:

    Dear Juju,

    I just discovered SDP, and all I can say is that if there is a ‘maintenance goddess’, it’s you.

    Now – water weight. Before losing my extra 20 pounds for the last time(the fourth time, might I add), I discovered the gym and a healthy disdain for the scale. I set myself an upper weight limit – the top weight at which I accepted that a woman my height and build could have a healthy amount of fat, with great muscle definition. I.e., the most I want to weigh while still being healthily slender. Once a month, I get on the scale, and my husband tells me if I’m over or under. Of course, in the few months we’ve been doing this, I’ve never been over, because my target is a good one (fortunately, he’s the brutally honest type too). I rely instead on how my clothes feel. A bit tight? More gym time, more vegetables. And while I hate to quote McDonald’s on ANYTHING, ‘I’m lovin’ it’.

    Thanks again, Juju.

  2. Rachel says:

    Once again, a well timed post! i am struggling after a weekend off plan where I have ended up 4lbs heavier than on the thursday when our friends arrived for the weekend! I know this is due to water rentention due to too much alcohol, a very hot weekend and increased salt levels due to the nature of the food consumed BUT however hard I try to rationalise it, my mind says that this is the end, don’t bother trying anymore its obvious i’m a failure.

    Still after falling by the wayside after this shock, i will get back on the horse and start again. I know the weight will come off as easily as it went on I just need to get on with it.

    Thanks again for reminding me of the reasons for my weight gain.


  3. ladymisstree says:

    Thanks for all the different explanations for water weight. I know intellectually that a gain like that can’t be fat, but there’s that irrational little voice in my head (that I’m still trying to track down and stomp on) that tells me I’m weak and rubbish.

    For this reason, I use scales (weight and body fat %) and tape measures to keep myself on track.

  4. Melody says:

    8/12/04 HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISS JUJU!!! Thanks for always having the good news for us and all the info. Hope your reward for your birthday is all your dreams come true. You certainly have helped ours to come to fruition!! I have always known about scales and water. Now maybe people will believe me when I send them YOUR way! LOL Have a wonderful birthday!

  5. lisa says:

    Please let me know if there is a way to tighten up loose skin from weight loss with out surgery…………thank you

  6. June says:

    Thank you thank you thank you. This is a very nice and inforamtive article and I can’t thank you enough for writing it. I have been kinda down since morning coz I did seem to have put on 4 pounds overnight from eating pizza. This explained everthing it should consider. You explained every question I could have.

    Keep up the great work.

  7. Kate says:

    I’m 17 and just recently lost a decent amount of weight. I found this sight by chance and really need a way to tighten after weight loss. Any ideas?

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