The journey to weight loss is never linear. In fact, did you know that it is completely normal and natural for our weight to fluctuate on a daily basis?

Have you ever had a great week with exercise and kept within your calorie deficit, only to step on the scales and see the numbers not change or worse, go up? Its very easy to feel disheartened and demotivated.

Before you start over-analysing your every movement, meal and drink since the last weigh in… STOP!

On average, an adult’s weight can fluctuate by around 5 or 6 pounds per day. In most cases, this fluctuation in weight is caused by water retention. Water retention or fluid retention (oedema) occurs when excess fluid builds up within the body and can be influenced by…

Diet - Salt

Foods which are high in salt can cause your body to retain water. One of the main purposes of salt within the body is to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure. Salt binds to water within the body in order to create this balance. Therefore, if large quantities of salt are consumed, then more water is retained.

Diet - Carbohydrates

Eating refined carbohydrates can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and an increase in insulin levels. High insulin levels can result in your body retaining more salt (which as explained above, leads to the body retaining more water). Refined carbohydrates (or simple carbohydrates) are those which have had much of their fibre and nutrients removed, such as white bread.


When you are stressed, the body’s response is to increase it’s production of cortisol. Cortisol hormone is also known as the body’s natural steroid and helps to control the blood sugar level, deal with stress and control blood pressure and blood circulation. Cortisol can release a hormone within the body known as ADH (antidiuretic hormone). ADH helps to regulate water balance in the body by controlling the amount of water the kidneys reabsorb. If ADH levels are high can cause the kidneys to retain water in the body.

Lack of Sleep

Similar to the body’s response to stress a lack of sleep can also cause an increase in cortisol and ADH, resulting in water retention.


Alcohol is a diuretic - a substance that promotes an increased production of urine. Alcohol will dehydrate the body. When the body is dehydrated, skin and vital organs try to hold onto as much water as possible.


Water retention can be a symptom of a number of illness, such as congestive heart failure and kidney disease. If you are concerned that your water retention is caused by illness, it is important you visit you GP and/ or medical practitioner for advice.


Certain drugs, including high blood pressure medication, are known to cause water retention. Always seek advice from your GP and/ or medical practitioner if you want to discuss the side effects of any medication you are prescribed.

Menstrual Cycle

Premenstrual water retention is likely caused by a decreased in the hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. One of the many purposes of these hormones is to assist with the regulation of water.

When monitoring weight, it is therefore important to be aware of all of the elements detailed above. Rather than looking at your day-to-day weight, try focussing on the general trend of your progress. This will help you look past the daily fluctuations and see the bigger picture of how you are doing.

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