How much can your weight fluctuate in the sort term?

I have been trying to keep myself at a healthy weight with a combination of exercise and eating in moderation, and have been checking my weight on an electronic scale every few days. Last week I weighed myself on Wednesday morning and my weight was 167.8 lb. I was very pleased at this as I had missed a few workouts at the gym in recent weeks and had a few extra heavy meals too. I figured I would have been in the low 170s. However, when I weighed myself next on Saturday morning, my weight had gone up to 172.4 – an increase over 3 days of 4.6 lb. Nothing special happened during those three days. I should mention that I weigh myself coming out of the shower at the same time each day so conditions are pretty much identical, and I always recheck at least once.

So is it possible for my weight to fluctuate so much over just a couple of days? Of the two, the Wed weight was the outlier, but I did doublecheck that day (twice in fact) and the scale reading was consistent…

From what I’ve learned at a site called loseit dot com, eating something salty could account for the weight gain and/or it’s simply just water and your body not having processed what you ate the night before. I just read in an article that weight can fluctuate to up to 5 lbs. What I can tell you, is, it is not body fat, as you would have had to eaten 17,500 calories for that to be true.

For what it’s worth, that 5 lbs. statistic in the article mentioned above jives with my personal experience.

Is that 5 lb per day??


Within 24 hours, yes. Remember–a pint’s a pound.

Don’t know what the article says, but speaking for my own experience:

I’m not saying I can gain 5 lbs. in a day. I’m saying my weight can FLUCTUATE by 5 lbs. in a day. So for instance, if I weigh between 130 and 135, I might weigh 130 in the morning, 135 at lunch time, and 133 at dinnertime. Then the next day I may be down to 131. But a week later, if I’m exercising and eating the way I normally am, I will still be in the same weight range that I had been a week ago.

ETA: In my defense, I don’t obsessively weigh myself, as the post above might seem to indicate.

Depending on how much exercise I get a week and how my diet is, I can easily gain/lose 5 pounds in a week.

I weigh myself at work most weekday mornings and saw a 7 pound swing in the last week. This is a little under a 5% change though does not account for variations in clothes and pocket contents.

My weight can easily vary 5 lbs in a day, often before and after a big run/hike in hot weather. I can sweat out close to that in a relatively short time during a 20 mile run. Going from partially dehydrated to satiated after a meal could easily account for a greater weight differential.

In normal times a swing of 2-4 lbs during a day is common.

5lb/2kg? Not unusual, whether I’m dieting or not. That’s only a little more than my usual differential between going to bed and waking up.

Weigh yourself going into the shower, though - the amount of water your skin and hair can absorb is variable.

The most I’ve recorded my weight to have varied by was when I was playing cricket all day in 45-degree (113 Fahrenheit) temperatures. Fielding and bowling for six hours straight. I weighed myself when I got home and I’d dropped slightly over 10kg (22lb). I grabbed a stupidly large amount of water and went straight out to Symphony Under the Stars. While I was there the hangover started to hit. Worst hangover I’ve ever had and I hadn’t touched a drop of booze.

Depends on how heavy you are (heavier people have a little more wiggle room before we get concerned), if you have health conditions that make us care at all, and if you’re actively trying to lose or gain weight.

The rule for most people who have health conditions that makes it important is 2 pounds per day or 5 pounds per week, assuming they’re not trying to lose or gain. That is, if I weigh you on the same scale at the same time of day wearing the same (or substantially similar) clothes, and you’ve gained or lost more than 2 pounds in 24 hours or 5 pounds in a week, then I need to call your doctor and give her the heads up.

I find in practice it varies a lot more day to day than it does week to week. I have quite a few Congestive Heart Failure and Renal Disease patients, for whom this is a huge concern because it can indicate excess fluid retention, putting a strain on the kidneys and heart or it can be a signal that the kidneys are failing. In the two years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had to call the doctor less than a dozen times. I generally see patients weekly, not daily, so if there are day-to-day variances, I don’t see them. They’re instructed to weigh themselves daily and call me, but no one has ever called me (I couldn’t honestly tell you if it’s because they don’t have >2lb weight swings, or they just don’t weigh themselves as instructed or they don’t call me even if there is a problem that corrects itself by the time I see them. Probably some of all of the above.)

In my own body, which is now obese rather than morbidly obese (yay, me!) I saw variations of up to 4 pounds in a 24 hour period when I was at my heaviest, and now I see variations of less than a pound. I do weigh myself daily. But because I don’t have CHF or Renal Disease, I don’t get concerned.

But yes, most of these large swings have to do with how much water is in you, not fat.

Did you…umm…do #2 every day? I’m sure that skipping a session could cause a temporary increase in weight.

I weigh myself every morning. I normally eat a minimal amount of salt and take a diuretic. Now let me go to a Chinese restaurant and the next morning my weight can jump 5 lb. And it will drop over the next few days as I revert to my usual diet. The weight is just water, having little to do with the calories in the meal.

Weigh yourself at the same time (first thing in the AM after voiding your bladder and before any fluid intake is best) twice, maybe three times a week. You shouldn’t see that much variation unless as was mentioned, you ain’t something very salty and drank large amounts of fluid recently. Just doing the simple math, BMR plus 3,000 calories (+ or -) per pound of weight gained should give you an indication of what direction you are headed.

I’m usually about 3 lbs heavier at the end of the day than I am in the morning.

I can go up or down 5 lbs in a day. I weigh myself every morning and evening, and as long as I stay in the same range of weights I’m happy.

In my experiences with training, it’s not uncommon for my weight to fluctuate, especially depending on how hydrated I am. I expect to have a swing by as many as four pounds, minimum, day to day.

Honestly, I think the scale can be helpful in the long term, but it’s not always the best tool for managing health. If you employ weight training and build a bit of muscle to help lose fat, you’re also going to gain or maintain weight, but that’s not something you’d determine from looking down at a scale. I’m 35 lbs heavier than I was in 2011, but only a small percentage of that is actual body fat from carb intake, for example.

More importantly, keep up the healthy activity, especially diet. :slight_smile:

It’s interesting to note that a full bladder can hold over a pound of water.

And to demonstrate how much your size can change without your weight changing:

For me, it’s typically ± 2 lbs, for a four pound spread, but have gotten as high as 8 pounds weighing myself before and after a ten-mile run several times. (I leak like a sieve.) Water weight fluctuations are pretty high for me in general.