Sudden Weight Gain: What’s It Because?
It’s anyone’s nightmare trying to lose weight: sudden weight gain. One morning the scale suddenly shows one kilo more than last week! And that while you have done nothing different than previous weeks and months… What happened? Luckily, arriving for no reason doesn’t mean you’ve got it all wrong. There are also other causes for sudden weight gain. We put them together for you!
Sudden weight gain
To reassure you, a sudden weight gain rarely means that you suddenly have a kilo of fat. Think about it: if the scale shows an extra 500 grams, you should have eaten enough calories to store half a kilo of fat. That’s about 3500 kcal …
Most people do not accidentally eat an extra 3,000 calories in a day. So don’t worry, that weight gain is probably more harmless! Could one of the following be the cause?
1. You retain water
Water is secretly quite heavy. Retaining a little extra water quickly leads to a few extra ounces…
Moreover, it is very easy to retain water. For example, your body switches to the energy-efficient mode if you drink less for a few days. Even if you are stressed or have not slept much, you will often retain more fluid. And that is all visible on the scales.
Solution: Do you suspect this could be the reason for your sudden weight gain? Then make sure you drink enough for a few days – aim for about two liters of water per day. And of course, as always, it is important to relax enough. That should quickly yield results!
2. You have eaten a lot of salt
Have you had enough to drink? Then it is still possible that your body is retaining extra water. A common reason is that you ate an unusually salty meal the day before.
Salt absorbs moisture – it is not without reason that you get thirsty after a portion of chips or fries. If there is more salt than normal in your body, more water than normal will be stored. With, again, consequences for your weight.
So have you been out for dinner or have you put a ready meal on the table? These are often meals that contain extra salt. Did you eat a lot of cheese, salted nuts or chips? Or did you just generously use the stock, soy sauce or salt pot in your cooking? All of that may have contributed to sudden weight gain.
Solution: watch your salt consumption for a few days! Not only does your body release that excess fluid, it is also healthier not to eat too much salt.
3. You store glycogen
One last cause for water retention: glycogen. A substance you may not have heard of, but in this context, it is very important!
Glycogen is a form of sugar. Your body stores carbohydrates in this form in your muscles, so that you always have a good supply of fast energy at hand. This is useful, for example, if you have to make an explosive effort.
But those sugars cannot be stored separately: you need extra moisture for that. Your body, therefore, retains three to four grams of water per gram of glycogen!
This explains the rapid weight loss that people see in the first days with a low-carbohydrate diet. It has little to do with fat loss: you just lose kilos of water in your muscles … The reverse is also true: if you eat more carbohydrates than you are used to, a fair amount of extra glycogen and moisture can be added.
Solution: just eat your normal amount of carbohydrates for the next few days. Your weight will return to normal within a few days.
4. You ate more than usual
Did you eat an extra-large meal the previous day? Had an unusually large evening snack? Then it may well be that you weigh a little more the next morning!
That’s not because those extra calories are stored as fat – it’s not that fast. Instead, it may simply be because the weight of that big meal is still in your stomach and intestines.
And that does not even mean that you have eaten unhealthy or high-calorie. A kilo of vegetables provides relatively few calories, but still makes you a kilo heavier!
Solution: You don’t have to do anything! That meal will be digested automatically and will leave your digestive system after about 24 hours. Then you immediately lose that extra weight – if you don’t eat a lot again, of course.
5. You are constipated
Even if you have not eaten more than usual, your intestinal contents can cause sudden weight gain. For example, because you suffer from constipation. In that case, more stool will get stuck in your intestines, which of course also entails the necessary weight.
Constipation can be annoying, especially if it lasts longer and you suffer from it regularly. If you suffer from stomach pain or other complaints, it is certainly wise to do something about it. The advantage is that it has little effect on your fat storage.
Solution: Make sure you eat enough fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables. Also, drink enough water and exercise regularly. Constipation and associated complaints will then quickly diminish.
6. You have your period
If you don’t get your period, you can of course skip this point. For women, however, the menstrual cycle can cause significant fluctuations in weight. Some people gain weight around their period, others around ovulation.
It is best to maintain your weight well for a few months so that you get an idea of how your weight develops through your cycle. You don’t have to worry as much if the scale does jump up around certain days.
Solution: to measure is to know! You can’t really prevent this type of weight gain, but if you know where you stand, at least you don’t have to wonder where those extra grams are coming from.
7. You are pregnant
Again: this point is only relevant for those who have a uterus. In some cases, spontaneous weight gain can be a symptom of an unnoticed pregnancy. If you cannot think of any other cause, it may be wise to check this out.
Of course, this is not always an option. For example, if you have not been sexually active recently, you can safely forget this point. And if you have had your period regularly and with the usual severity in the past few weeks, then you probably are fine. But do you always have an unpredictable period and can there be a risk? Then a pregnancy test may not hurt.
Solution: pregnancy can easily be ruled out or confirmed with a test.
8. You weigh yourself wrong
The last possibility is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your weight! Huh, you might say now, but doesn’t that scale really hit higher? That’s right – but the scales aren’t always right.
A major pitfall is that people weigh themselves at different times of the day. You are often lighter in the morning than in the afternoon, simply because you ate and drank even less. So if you weigh yourself once in the afternoon, you can count on it that you seem to have arrived spontaneously.
It is therefore best to always weigh at the same time. The best option is to do this in the morning before breakfast, preferably after going to the bathroom. Then the image of your weight is as neutral as possible.
Solution: weigh more regularly. And do you really want to keep track of your weight loss? Then try using another method, for example, as we describe in our article on weight loss.
Arrive for no reason
All the above causes should be ruled out within a week. Does the extra weight stick, or do you even gain weight? Then there may be something else going on, for example, that you have unconsciously started eating more.
It is also possible that you will gain weight if you have started exercising more. Your body then builds up more muscle tissue, which is heavier than fat. You do not have to worry about this type of increase because muscles ensure that you lose weight faster and become leaner!
Bottom Line: Sudden weight gain can have a multitude of reasons. In many cases nothing is wrong, but for your reassurance, it can be nice to find out what happened! This way you can proceed to your next weighing moment with good faith.