There are so many times when people step on the scale and are horrified by its results. There are no actual reasons for weight growth, but this is what you see in from of your eye. So why is this happening?

Most of the times this happens because you underestimated the calorie intake or overestimated your caloric burn. But let’s say you tracked these good. You’ve eaten the correct amount of calories for the activity you’ve done.

Before you start panicking or get depressed, let’s talk about five reasons your scale weight may be wrong.

1. You’re not eliminating waste

If you ate a big meal or haven’t had a bowel movement in a couple of days, your scale weight will raise. This is why it is recommended to use the scale in the morning, after using to the bathroom.

If you don’t have a frequent bowel movement, start eating 25-40 grams of fiber per day and drink water daily. You should also think of adding probiotics to your diet. However, dairy products, high-fat foods,  and too much fiber can be the reason for constipation when eaten in excess.

Also, prescription antidepressants, pain killers, and medications for blood pressure problems can induce constipation. Stool softeners and laxative teas can provide a brief solution, but if constipation is a permanent matter, speak to a specialist.

2. You’re eating too many carbs

If consume carbohydrates higher than normal before you use the scale, the body will store the excess of carbs as muscle glycogen.

Each gram of muscle glycogen deposited in skeletal muscle represents an estimated 3-4 gram of water stored in the body.  3-4 grams sound very unimportant, but it’s not. A normal person has the ability to collect around 500 grams of glycogen. This is applicable before any fat storage happens.

If you eat cake and pasta, you will ingest probably 300 grams of carbs. Considering all 300 grams of carbs are stored as muscle glycogen, this means you have obtained 1,200-1,600 grams mixed glycogen and water weight. This means that the scale will show an extra 2.6-3.5 pounds.

3. The sodium/water equilibrium is wrong

Sodium consumption can significantly affect water mass. Sodium attracts water in the cells. This means that if you absorb more sodium than average, the body will hold water until fluid equilibrium and sodium concentration goes back to normal. This can show a plus of  3.3 pounds on the scale.

The thing that you should take into consideration is that sodium has many important functions such as managing the blood volume, improving nerve and brain function, and facilitating the muscle contractions. The answer is to control the intake of sodium but do not remove it out entirely. The minimal amount of sodium is between 1,500-2,300 milligrams per day. This number should be bigger if you are eliminating a lot of sweat during workouts.

To prevent variations in sodium intake from pinning your scale weight, you need to manage your sodium intake steady and in the healthy span for the training level. You should avoid stepping on a scale for a couple of days if you eat on salty processed foods.

4. You had a very intense training and you are still recovering

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the extreme muscle soreness you start to feel 24-48 hours after a new or particularly severe workout. The worst moments appear after  48-72 hours after training and is ordinarily is gone in 3-5 days. DOMS is the result of microscopic anatomical damage to muscle fibers.  It can occur not solely from weight training but also from any kind of physical movement.

One of the side effects of this muscle damage is swelling and inflammation. Due to the fact that inflammation is defined by fluid retention in and among the muscle cells, DOMS can be followed by a small weight gain. When the swelling and soreness recede, the weight will return to normal. The swelling usually rises about 3-4 days later. However, this can last up to 10 days.

So the best thing you can do is not to weigh yourself for a week after an unusually harsh DOMS-inducing training.

5. You have a hormonal issue

Cortisol in high levels can boost sodium retention, which can lead to water retention. Many circumstances can affect cortisol levels, such as stress, overtraining, sleep deprivation,  and severe caloric deficiencies.

High levels of estrogen can also lead to water holding. This is the reason why women endure bloating and water retention in the days before their menstrual cycle. This means 2-5 pounds. So if you are a few days before your period, don’t panic if the scale displays a weight increase. Just scale yourself again next week.

Another reason for the fluctuation of the estrogen levels is menopause. This is happening because of estrogen-replacement therapy. If you are in this state of your life, just concentrate on keeping a healthy life and don’t look at the scale too much.

You don’t have to stress yourself too much about these aspects

As you can see, there are many circumstances that don’t include fat gain or loss,  that can affect the scale weight.