Here’s a scenario that would hit home for many of you: woke up in the morning, stood on the scales aaand No way! How is that possible?! I’ve gained 2 lbs since yesterday, without changing anything about my activity or calorie intake!
And then there are million things going through your head: has my body gotten used to this? Do I have to reduce my calories even more? Or should I just give up and accept that my weight is not budging and give up on my ideal body, ah! what the heck?! Might as well eat everything I’ve been depriving myself of!
Sounds familiar? Now there’s many things that can go wrong with this way of thinking, a lot of them worthy of separate blog posts. But it is important to understand that this thought process was triggered by a number on the scales, a number that can mean anything! And this is where us women, struggle the most! I know it too well, I’ve been there too many times. We rely on that number to be the utmost truth of our body fat level, fitness, mental health, attractiveness and many more. But this couldn’t be further away from the truth. Let me explain:
Is it possible to gain weight overnight? Yes. Is it possible to gain fat overnight? Not so easy. You have to start differentiating between weight loss and fat loss. You can lose a lot of weight and still look soft and flabby or you can lose less fat and look lean af. The weight is anything from water retention to you being constipated for a couple of days.
Picture 2 scenarios:
No. 1. You eat 1600 cal, have a day off from the gym and you have steak for dinner;
No. 2. You eat the same amount of calories, have a day off gym as well, but you eat pizza for dinner.
When you weigh yourself in the morning you are 2lbs heavier after the pizza dinner than you were after steak. What happened?
First things first, let me reassure you, You have not gotten 2lbs fatter overnight! Think about it: 1lb of fat has approx. 3500 calories, 2lbs would have 7000 calories! So you would have to overeat by 7000 calories that day to gain 2 lbs of fat! I don’t know about you, but unless you are the world strongest man, you won’t even manage to eat this much! And even if you had one of the monumental binge episodes and you could manage to eat this much, you won’t be able to do it consistently, so eventually your body weight will get back to normal.
So there must be a different explanation and here it is. First of all, the steak is high in protein and therefore thermogenic, meaning it requires a lot of energy to be digested, essentially you burn calories while eating it. The pizza is high in carbs, which if not used in exercise (you ate it for dinner, so you probably won’t be exercising much after) it gets stored in the form of glycogen in your liver and muscles, for later use. Additionally carbs require much less energy to be digested than the proteins do. Now every gram of glycogen absorbs 3-4 grams of water, therefore all that glycogen you stored from your pizza has trippled or quadrippled in weight.
So there you have it, 2 factors: less energy spent on digesting the pizza and more water stored; that’s why you are heavier after a high carb meal.
Note: there are people whose weight doesn’t change or even drops after a high carb meal, they usually tend to have high carb tolerance and don’t tend to struggle with fatloss.