Today’s guest post comes from Landon Poduran, owner of L2 Fitness in Edmonton, Alberta. If the L2 Fitness name sounds familiar, that’s because they were the host of the workshop and product I released at the end of 2017, The L2 Fitness Summit, with myself and Mike Israetel. He’s also a heck of a great trainer, so I know you’ll like this post.
It seems as though it’s in our human nature to overanalyze everything. This becomes especially true once we embark upon a weight loss journey.
Do you remember a time when you didn’t actually care, or even think about these things? Glorious times! The psychological side of dieting and weight loss is something that we focus on quite a bit because no one should be stressing out about these things. We may be physically healthier now that we are on our fitness journey but we were mentally healthier when we didn’t overanalyze and stress over things like diets and calories and carbs and fats.
Raise your hand if you’ve outwardly said “I feel fat”. Now, raise your hand if you’ve done this more than once. Now, raise your hand if you’ve done it today. This happens very often. Hell, I used to do this too and I actively work on more positive self talk.
I am not going to jump too far into positive self talk about how important these self-beliefs can be. But what I do want to talk about is what is actually happening in your body you “feel fat” or your morning weight spikes.
All the physiological and environmental reasons that cause your morning weight to spike also can leave you feeling full which can also leave you feeling bloated which outwardly takes the word of “fat” when we become overly obsessed with our fitness journey. When we are simply full after a meal or possibly bloated and we express this as feeling fat.
First, let’s outline what is actually happening. Understanding is the first step. Secondly, let’s stop with negative self-talk and stop with limiting self-beliefs.
Chill, this is 100% normal. First off, even if you’re in a calorie deficit and losing weight the scale will not go down in a linear fashion. There will be ups and downs. This is why as a coach I look at averages and trends over time. I never look at a singular day or even a singular week. Neither should you.
These ups and downs are extremely normal. The human body is over 60% water and fluid fluctuations (among other things) can have an incredible impact on our day to day weight.
None of the 6 reasons I am going to outline are related to body fat accumulation.
Increases or changes in your water intake can have a massive impact on what the scale shows.
Drink more water and your weight will go up. Alternatively when you are dehydrated your weight will go down. These weight fluctuations are not due to body fat but can often provide the same level of stress.
These weight fluctuations go hand in hand with some of the other points as sodium, carbohydrate intake and fiber intake also have an impact on water retention.
In my personal experience I often find when I am up later than usual, have a late dinner or evening plans that my morning weight will typically spike. I am an avid drink of water (you should be too) and if I normally have dinner at 4PM and one day have late dinner plans and I am eating at 8PM I am still drinking a lot of water. Everytime, this will spike my morning weight. But it is not body fat.
Whereas on the other hand if I am incredibly busy and on the go and do not have any water with me (which is a rare occurrence) my morning weight will 100% be down every single time. But this is not a reduction in body fat. It just means I am dehydrated and it can usually be shown when your pee looks like it glows in the dark.
Trust me, have vietnamese for dinner and check your morning weight! Sodium causes water retention.
Sodium plays an important role in regulating water in your body. It is absorbed by the cells within your body and it brings water into the cells with it. When you eat a large amount of sodium it can cause the cells to temporarily pull in and retain water until it is balanced.
As you can see when we have a spike in sodium intake our bodies will temporarily retain some water until our bodies balance it back out.
Again, this is not body fat.
High sodium foods are often processed foods which if you consistently eat in excess may lead to body fat accumulation. But if you just had pizza or asian food and your weight spiked… It’s not body fat. Those foods can be made a part of a healthy diet.
Sometimes, you just need to 💩. There isn’t much else to say here but if you haven’t had a bowel movement that can easily disguise itself as a spike on the scale or a food baby. If you typically have a bowel movement every day then go a day or two without one this may be the culprit.
Look at changes in diet, fiber intake, or routine that may affect your bowel movements. But rest assured this is a conversation we have on the weekly with clients if they are freaking out about a weight spike!
Fiber retains water as well as slows digestion. If you typically eat 25-30 grams of fiber per day and then have 50 grams one day this fluctuation will impact the rate of digestion of your food and retain water. Together this is going to reflect itself on the scale but this also may be a major player for making you feel fat – you’re not by the way. The food might feel like it’s sitting in your belly because of the slower digestion. See #3, you just need to poop.
Your meal timing and meal size can also have an impact on the scale weight and food baby feelings.
Let’s use an example.
If you typically have dinner at 5PM and one day you work late and it takes longer to put the kids to bed and you don’t end up eating dinner till 10PM. When you wake up you may still be digesting that food. This will result in the scale number going up and result in you still feeling “full”.
The size of your meals can impact how full you feel as well. We know that our calorie intake is the primary driver of our weight loss. This means we could eat 5 or 2 meals per day as long as we are still maintaining the same caloric intake. If you hypothetically normally eat 5 meals or day and then one day you eat 2 meals but maintain the same caloric intake there will not be changes in body fat but you will definitely feel full, possibly a little bloated.
5 Meals at 500 calories = 2500 calories
2 Meals at 1250 calories = 2500 calories
You might feel quite a bit fuller after that 1250 calorie meal than you would with a 500 calorie meal. There is more food to digest, especially if it is a mixed meal with some veggies, fiber and protein you will also be slowing down digestion.
Don’t fret! I promise. It’s just a food baby.
Saved the best for last!
You would not imagine how often this comes up during check-ins. I am not going to get into the details of what’s happening within the body which causes water retention during her menstrual cycle but we know that it does.
Next time your morning weight is up and you catch yourself getting a little pissed off or angry I want you to mentally run through this list:
Did I drink a tonne water?
What did I eat last night?
Do I need to poop?
What’s my fiber intake been like?
How were my meals the last couple of days?
Is that that time of the month?
If a light bulb goes off, remember none of those things are a result of body fat accumulation.
Even if you cross all of those off your list the most important thing is your calorie balance. If you’re on track your fine.
If you find that your scale consistently affects your emotional state when you see that number I suggest take a break from weigh-ins. Your scale is a tool and these fluctuations are completely normal. If you can go from being happy, to seeing the wrong number, to being upset or sad it’s time for a scale break. Focus on the big rocks and you will continue to progress. The scale should never hold this power over you.
For more info on how you can see weight loss in a safe, sane, and evidence-backed manner, check out our free e-book, “The Revolutionary Diet That’s Not a F*^$king Diet.” Just click HERE to get your free copy.
Landon Poburan is the owner of L2 Fitness in Edmonton, AB Canada. His days consist of plotting world domination, training clients, and assisting in weight loss transformations. When not working, which isn’t very often he’s most likely baking and then eating a pie. If you also have a desire to eat pie and still lose weight, you’ll be best friends. You can find Landon at the L2 Fitness Blog or sharing how to eat pie and lose weight on Instagram @landonpoburan.