This is by far the most common reason people give up on their fat loss quest.

Chris Wharton

Chris Wharton

Here’s how it goes: You want to lose weight so start training hard and eating less. You weigh yourself after the first few days and the scales say you’ve dropped a pound or two and you’re pleased. Then, after a seemingly good week of nutrition, you jump on the scales and find you’ve put a pound back on!

Your initial reaction is to question where you’ve gone wrong and then throw in the towel and reach for your favourite sugary snack or fast food takeaway.

It’s no surprise that people react in this way. After all, weight loss can be pretty hard. You put in hours of graft at the gym, and resist the temptation of calorific, sugary foods only to find you have put on weight. I would be disheartened too…if I wasn’t aware of the following:

Salt intake

If you eat more sodium than normal in a day, your body tends to hold onto more fluid in an effort to balance your sodium levels. This often happens accidently when starting a new nutrition plan. Many people add salt to meals to add flavour without adding heavy sauces.

Lifting weights

Weight training can increase both muscle mass and water retention. Whilst your weight gain is not likely to be an increased muscle mass (not in a few days anyway), weight training will result in fluid retention in the muscle as a response to repairing the microscopic tears caused by your workout.

This does not mean you should avoid weight training. Far from it. Lifting weights is one of the most effective long-term fat loss techniques due to the resulting increase in resting metabolic rate. Therefore, do more of it.

You’re constipated

A change of diet to include high levels of protein with little fibre will slow down your bowel movements. Eat more fibrous foods such as lentils, beans, berries and green veg and drink plenty of water to get back in business.

Too many carbs    

An increase in carbohydrate will also increase the amount of fluid you hold on to. Additional fluid plays an essential role in the way your body stores glycogen. Even if you are restricting your diet to create a calorie deficit (i.e. burning off more calories than you are consuming), if your daily food intake contains a higher percentage of carbs you will still retain more water weight.

You are a woman

Throughout your menstrual cycle, your hormones can fluctuate hugely, which can cause bloating and water retention. Being aware of your cycle stages will help prevent you from losing your mind when the scales deceive you again.


Well known for its dehydrating effects, alcohol can cause your kidneys to stop producing fluid via urine. Its effects are more likely to be seen after a night on the town. Alcohol can also be hugely calorific and when you over-indulge you are more likely to snack on fatty/sugary foods.

The take home

Stop weighing yourself every day. Whilst the scales can be a useful tool for monitoring fat loss, jumping on the scales every day will leave you in constant doubt as to whether your new routine is working.

Instead, focus on how your body is changing shape. Take some body fat measurements where possible (there may be a machine that does this at your gym), or even use a good old fashioned tape measure to monitor changes to your abdominal and hip circumferences.

If you must weigh yourself, aim to do so at less regular intervals. However, do it at the same time of day and aim to do it in as little clothing as possible so there are less variable factors.

If you really are sticking to your calorie deficit the number on the scales WILL reduce over the course of a few weeks. If not, you are simply not sticking to the rules, and should address your food intake.

There is no one in the history of the world that has not lost body fat when consistently creating a calorie deficit over time. Stick to the plan and all will come good in the end!

About Chris Wharton

Chris Wharton is the Co-owner and Director of the Better Body Group, a chain of gyms in the South East that specialises in body transformation, injury rehabilitation and improving fitness performance, all delivered by graduate-level personal trainers. Chris has personally delivered over 10,000 hours of 1-1 personal training sessions, has employed and trained over 100 graduate qualified personal trainers.

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