The Answer: Water
Once we consume carbohydrates, it gets broken down into a substance called glucose which is then burned off as energy, or it gets converted to what is called glycogen. We store this glycogen primarily in our muscle cells. For every gram of glycogen you consume, 3 to 4 grams of water is stored with it! So when we move to a higher carb diet initially, you eat your refeed day, or just simply eat over on carbs, you may weigh more the next day! On the other hand if we initially drop your carbs, the scale may go down due to less water retention.
The same logic holds true to sodium. Sodium is what we call a hydrophilic molecule. Water attaches to the molecule as sodium goes into the cell. Sodium is one of the most important electrolytes/substances we have in our body as our cells cannot function without it! MANY other physiological sequences take place when it comes to fluid electrolyte balance. If we really want to dive into these we can, but if you do not have a background in a health-related field, some of the terms will be a bit confusing and involving different hormones and physiological occurrences. Just know this when it comes to sodium – if we eat more then we normally do, water retention will go up. That does not mean eliminate sodium! That means stay consistent with what you normally do.
Almost every female retains water during their period. Just because you hold 5 to 10lbs of water during this week due to inflammation and some sub par digestion this week, it does not mean you gained fat and that you are still not burning fat. Being on your cycle does not stop the process of utilizing fat as an energy source. You will level out and be able to start managing progress through the scale again shortly. Obviously some of you have different situations and circumstances. The longer/more frequent you have your cycle, the less we can use the scale as one of our measuring tools which is why we use other measurement devices as well.
This is VERY overlooked and I cannot preach about stress management enough! Stress increases cortisol levels. This hormone is already in elevation due to you being in a caloric deficit. As that alone is considered a stress on your body. As cortisol rises so does water, again it’s that simple. Stress both mentally and physically creates a VICOUS cycle!
- You start a caloric deficit -> stresses the body -> cortisol rises
- You start to be more active -> physically stress your body -> cortisol rises
- You start worrying, why is the scale not going down or even worse – I ate those carbs Kyle told me to and now my weight is higher -> mentally stressing -> cortisol rises
- Kyle says I cannot work out more, but my weight went up I need to work out more -> physically stress your body more -> cortisol rises
- OMG that didn’t work either, I need to eat less now, creating more of a caloric deficit -> stresses your body even more -> cortisol rises
So as you can see it turns into a huge cycle of do more, eat less, which in turn not only hurts your progress, creates metabolic damage putting us into an even worse position then when we started! So the key… RELAX. You have me and that’s why you hired me. Just follow what is written, the better you are at that, the more data I can collect and make proper changes. So again, just relax.
Yes, drinking does dehydrate you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a stressor on your body. It will affect your body weight but body weight and body fat are two very different numbers. That doesn’t mean don’t drink. We know how to account for it in our calorie count, and how to plan it in to our days. Just be aware if you drink, your scale weight the next morning may be an outlier in comparison to other your scale weight data figures.
Your Take Home Message!
Bodyweight and body fat are two different numbers. Just because bodyweight goes up doesn’t mean you did not lose fat that day, or set yourself up in a better position for prolonged fat loss down the road. JUST RELAX. I know how badly each of you want to achieve your goals. We cannot change 5 years of your life in 12 weeks but we can make progress each and every day. I always will do my best to explain your specific situation each week and why we make changes if you ever ask.
I develop a plan that works best for you. I have many clients who weigh themselves every day, every week, bi-weekly etc. We just need to find one that works best for you! Yes, you do need to get on the scale as bodyweight is a long term progress marker. As you all know, I work on what are called trends. My goal is to see your bodyweight go down weekly not just by a single number and single day. I don’t care if you lost 2 lbs. in one day, I want your average weight from week to week to be down .5-1% of your bodyweight.
As always, I thank each of you for all of your hard work and believing in me. The more we can communicate the better yours and my progress as a coach will be.