WORKING HARD FOR 12 WEEKS TO LOSE WEIGHT, ONLY TO SEE A SIGNIFICANT PORTION BACK ON THE SCALE JUST A FEW WEEKS LATER CAN BE DISHEARTENING, TO SAY THE LEAST. BUT IS THAT WEIGHT GAIN ALL BAD? SHOULD SOME OF IT BE EXPECTED? HERE ARE THREE REASONS YOUR WEIGHT MAY (AND SHOULD) INCREASE AFTER A DIET…AND WHY IT’S OKAY!
The last few weights of your diet read as follows:
Monday: 137.5 lbs.
Wednesday: 138.3 lbs.
Friday: 136.9 lbs.
WOOT WOOT! A new low to end your diet and a total of 14 pounds lost (starting weight of 151 pounds and ending weight of 136.9 pounds).
Within just two weeks, however, your weekly weight looks as follows…
Monday: 141.1 lbs.
Wednesday: 140.3 lbs.
Friday: 140.9 lbs.
Did you really just gain four pounds in two weeks? That’s already 30 percent of the weight you just spent three months losing! What’s going on?
I thought so.
Not only is this common, but it should be expected. Yes, you read that right: expected. Although you hit a few new lows on the scale your final week of dieting, those numbers are a poor reflection of your true new weight. And if you base all other weigh-ins throughout maintenance off those numbers you’ll put yourself into a stressful and unfair position, to say the least.
Below, I’ll discuss why your weight may increase after a diet – especially the first few weeks – and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing and should be expected.
YOUR LAST FEW WEIGHTS ARE A LIE
The final few weeks of your diet don’t reflect a sustainable approach to eating. Calories are sparse and carbohydrates seem borderline non-existent. Okay, not quite to that extent, but you get the point: food intake is low!
And this paltry carbohydrate intake means that significantly fewer carbohydrates are stored in your muscles. Furthermore, since you’re eating less, you’ll have far less intestinal bulk, or food hanging out throughout your digestive system.
So, when you step on the scale those final few days, your new lows are likely a reflection of the situation described above and not because you’ve achieve a new “normal” and sustainable body weight and shed an additional few pounds of pure body fat. And when you begin to gradually increase calories as you transition out of a dieting phase, the scale number will soon reflect a more accurate representation of your new, maintainable end of diet weight. Here’s why!
REASONS THE SCALE WILL INCREASE
- You’re Eating More CarbohydratesOnce you make your initial increase in food following the end of your diet – as you should! – your body immediately takes the additional carbohydrates and further replenishes your liver and muscle glycogen stores. Now, you have more carbohydrates in your body (which is a good thing), thus, can expect to see a bump on the scale. And considering the average male stores 400 – 500 grams of carbohydrates in his muscle stores, it’s likely that you have plenty of unused storage space waiting to be filled.
- Eating More Carbohydrates Means More Water In Your BodyEach gram of carbohydrate you eat carries roughly three grams of water (grams in weight) into the body. Since you’re eating more carbohydrates, you’re left with more water in the body, specifically your muscles. This is also a positive change, like having more carbohydrates in your muscles, yet, likely another reason you see an increase in weight shortly after adding more food as you transition out of a diet.
- You’re Rapidly Regaining Lost Muscle MassIt’s likely that you’ve lost a small amount of muscle mass during your diet. Fortunately, as you begin to increase calories while continuing to train hard, you’ll quickly regain that lost muscle mass, which may further impact that number on the scale.
YOUR BEST REFERENCE POINT
To ensure you’re staying on track during maintenance, I recommend you use the average of the second and third to last weekly averages of your dieting phase. For instance, if you dieted for 12 weeks, find the average between the weekly averages for weeks 10 and 11 to use as your comparison point during maintenance.
Week 9 Average: 141.2 lbs.
Week 10 Average: 140.4 lbs.
Week 11 Average: 138.6 lbs.
Week 12 Average: 137.6 lbs.
Weeks 10 and 11 Average: 139.5 lbs.
Weeks 1 and 2 (of Maintenance) Average: 140.7 lbs.
By using this approach, we now see that you’re within a pound of your true, new post-diet weight, not four pounds heavier. This approach provides you a more accurate reflection of your new normal body weight at the culmination of your diet. And this change is not related to increase body fat, but rather, increased carbohydrate and water storage, and the regaining of lost muscle mass – all of which are positive changes.