Many people deal with weight fluctuations. Even if you are eating the right amount of calories for your body, you may notice random fluctuations. They may be cyclical or they may seem random. While it certainly can be frustrating, just know that you are not alone. There are many possible causes, but today we will discuss five of the most common causes of weight fluctuation.
1. Hormonal Changes
Hormones are closely linked to both metabolism and weight. Long term hormonal imbalances can cause a person to gain a substantial amount of weight, but even the normal hormone fluctuations that happen during a woman’s menstrual cycle can cause slight fluctuations in weight. Some people are more sensitive than others to the shift in hormones throughout the month.
2. Increased Sodium
Sodium causes the body to retain water, so if you are consuming too much sodium in your diet, your body may hold on to excess water which can cause the number on the scale to increase by a couple of pounds. If you experience weight fluctuations due to this reason, cutting back on your sodium intake can help. It’s also important to consume enough potassium and magnesium in your diet as well.
3. High Stress Levels
Stress affects our bodies in a number of ways. Stress can lead to food cravings, so this can also be an attributing factor to weight fluctuations caused by stress. When we experience stress, our bodies produce a lot more of the hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone” for this exact reason. Cortisol can slow down a person’s metabolism, so when you experience stress, your body goes through a period of burning less calories. Sometimes we can’t avoid being in stressful situations, so the slight fluctuations this may cause on weight is normal to a degree, but it’s important that your stress levels don’t become chronically high. People who experience more stress also tend to have higher insulin levels, which can lead to fat storage. So if you are experiencing stress long term, this can have a very negative effect on your weight and it will be harder to lose it.
4. Poor Sleep
There are many reasons why sleep is important for health. Sleep is connected to weight in many ways. When we get poor sleep, there is a shift in our hunger hormones, which could contribute to an increase in weight depending on what we eat. But our bodies also experience an increase in cortisol from a night of not enough sleep, or poor quality sleep. As we mentioned above, high cortisol levels can have a negative impact on our metabolism. So even a few nights of poor sleep can lead to fluctuations in weight.
5. Environmental Factors
Sometimes environmental factors can cause fluctuations in weight as well. Being in hot, humid weather is one example, because in this environment, our bodies have a tendency to retain more water. When the weather gets warmer, the body adapts via a process known as heat acclimatization. When we sweat a lot, the body’s water needs increase, and our bodies have a tendency to try to retain more water, which can cause our weight to increase by a couple of pounds.