Unexplained Weight Gain

Dan DeFigioBehavior and Mindfulness, Nutrition Advice

If you have unexplained weight gain that is driving you crazy, this may help sort it out for you:

Pam reads an article about the benefits of the keto diet. And one of her friends tried it and dropped two dress sizes.

So Pam is now convinced that the carbs have got to go.

She slashes her carb intake to just 25 grams a day, and lo and behold, she drops EIGHT POUNDS in two days. Hallelujah! She has found the ‘secret’ to weight loss at last.

Pam sticks to her super-low-carb plan for 5 whole days in a row, but on Saturday she went out to dinner with her friends.

The bread basket was calling. And she succumbed to three warm, delicious dinner rolls.

Sure enough, when she weighs herself in the morning, she’s four pounds heavier.

That’s 1.3 pounds per dinner roll. Impossible.

Have you ever stepped on the scale and lost your mind when you gained multiple pounds literally overnight? It’s usually 3 or 4 pounds, but I’ve seen even bigger swings.

So what’s going on here?

Can you REALLY gain or lose weight in such a tiny time frame?


overnight weight gain

Unexplained Weight Gain

If you’re talking about gaining or losing pounds of fat, the answer is NO, You did not gain or lose 4 pounds of fat overnight.

But it’s definitely possible that the number on the scale will be very different from day to day. In fact, it’s likely.

Especially if you typically climb on, and then fall off, the diet wagon.

Here’s why unexplained weight gain happens (and watch out for the WATCH OUT part!):

1) Salt and Water

I’m sure this has happened to you :
You go out to dinner and eat more food than you normally would. It’s delicious, and they serve you a huge portion. One reason it’s so delicious is because of the high sodium content. Not only do you eat more food that you normally do, you also end up getting far more salt than you normally consume.

When you step on the scale the next morning, you see you’ve gained five pounds.

“WTF, I can’t even go out to dinner?!”

But once you get over the shock, you can take a deep breath.

5 pounds is about 17,500 calories. You did not over-eat 17 thousand calories last night.

Don’t panic.

Your body stores excess water in order to re-balance your electrolytes with all that salt in your system. The extra water is temporary, don’t worry (as long as you don’t keep overdosing on salt).

After a day or two of normal sodium and water intake, you’ll shed the extra water weight.

2) Carb Storage

Your body stores carbohydrate for fuel in your muscles and liver. (Stored carbohydrate is called glycogen.) Having your liver and muscles filled up with glycogen is a good thing, so you have plenty of fuel to run on.

Every gram of glycogen stored is accompanied by 3 or 4 grams of water.

If you drastically cut your carbohydrate intake, your body won’t be able to re-fill its glycogen stores.

So some simple math: If you deplete 300 grams of glycogen, you’ll also shed 900-1200 grams of water. There’s your 3 pounds.

Watch Out For This

== When your weight swings up a few pounds in a day, watch out for the F*-its.

It’s tempting to think,

“One day of carb splurge and I gain 4 pounds?! F* it! Why even try?”

Then you go on a F* it binge and gain pounds of actual fat.

Don’t sabotage yourself like that!

What you weigh on the scale swings around a good bit. It doesn’t tell you how much actual fat you’ve gained or lost.

The F* its can get you here too:

You and Pam ‘do keto’ together. You’re thrilled that in the first week you’ve lost 8 pounds!

After two weeks of grueling adherence, your weight loss stalls.

Another week, and you’re only down 1 more pound.

“F* it, it’s not worth it.”

And you go back to your old ways.

Real fat loss is slow. You cannot lose 5 pounds of fat in a week.

You can’t gain 5 pounds of fat in a week either, unless your eating is completely absurd (like tripling your daily calories, like you can do on a cruise ship).

So don’t say F* it when you see a bigger number.

Or when you stop seeing the unsustainable drops.

The scale can’t tell you the real story.

If you improve your eating by 10% or 20%, and you build better habits that you do CONSISTENTLY, you will lose fat.

And if you want my help doing this, just email me and we’ll talk about ways to make it happen.

We’re all in this together.

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