Is it possible to put on a kilo overnight?
We’ve all been there. You’ve been keeping track of what you eat, sticking to your exercise plan and drinking your water, but you step on the scales one morning and discover that you’ve miraculously put on a kilo overnight...
It’s a disconcerting and discouraging experience which is a very common occurrence among many people trying to lose weight.
But is it actually possible to gain a kilo of fat in a single day? Looking at it from a scientific point of view, you need to consume about 3,500 calories more than you burn to gain 500g of fat. In other words, to gain one kilo in a day, you’d have to eat nearly 10,000 calories in just 24 hours. That is a load of calories!
What about water? Is it p ossible to gain one kilo of water weight in a day? Yes, absolutely. Depending on what you’ve eaten, what time of the month it is and many other factors (see below).
Remember fluctuations in weight happen all the time so don’t panic when you see the number on your scales slightly higher than the previous day.
Some of the things that may influence the reading on the scales include:
1. Inappropriate diet
If you’ve been following an extremely low calorie and low carb diet and then switch to a low calorie and moderate carb diet, you may well notice a weight gain of 1-2 kgs in just one day. This is mainly due to the sudden increase in the carbohydrate content which is stored along with water in the body.
Likewise, if you start a diet that is too restrictive and you start to lose weight too fast, your body will think that something is wrong. This is what is known as the survival response and your body will do whatever it can to store the fat available. It’s the body’s attempt to keep us from starving, so ultimately to keep us alive!
To avoid this, follow a healthy diet and if possible, enlist the support of a nutritionist or health expert who will help you achieve your goals in a realistic and above all safe way.
If you are stressed over a long period, this can lead to an increase in the “stress” hormone, cortisol. This hormone overrides all other hormones in the body so can cause havoc with your metabolism and other vital functions. It also works in tandem with water and therefore causes fluid retention and water weight.
3. Lack of sleep
Staying awake until late can be a factor that can cause weight gain. Insufficient sleep can make you eat more and lead to poor circadian rhythm. While sleep won’t help you lose weight, not getting enough of it will probably make you gain weight. So focus on getting quantity sleep about 7-8 hours a night.
4. Too much salt
Salt will result in a large volume of water being absorbed by the cells in your body, so if you’ve had a meal that is heavy in salt, you can expect to weigh heavier on the scales the next morning. This is simply because the body needs to keep its sodium to water ratio balanced to function properly, so will hold on to water if too much salt is consumed. You may also notice that your ankles are more swollen than usual and your stomach bulges from swelling in your intestines.
5. Too much alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption leads to increased calorie intake, especially when consumed with sugar-laden mixers. It also dehydrates the body, forcing it to hold on to water, which of course results in water retention. On top of this, alcohol disrupts your metabolism: when you drink alcohol, your body will start processing this first (and therefore use energy for this before using it for the food you eat). This could mean that your body stores the carbs and fat you eat instead of using them as energy.
6. Intense workout
If your workout was particularly intense the day before, you will have put extra stress on your muscle fibres. This causes small micro tears, also known as micro trauma, and some inflammation. Those two conditions in your muscle fibres are the reason you may gain some weight.
7. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can lead to an increase in water weight. Some women may also have an urge to eat salty foods during periods and that can lead to water retention. The good news is that period-related water retention is short-lived . Once your periods start, the hormones normalise again, and the weight comes back to normal.
If you had your evening meal later than usual, this can show on the scales. The closer to bed, the less likely your body will use that food up as fuel, and will store it as fat. I always recommend my clients try, whenever possible, to eat at regular hours. The body works best with a routine so consistency is important.
Similarly, if you weigh yourself at a different time than you usually do, you are likely to see a difference. I recommend weighing yourself always at the same time, preferably first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink.
9. If you’re taking medication
Some medications can lead to water retention, induce lethargy, or can cause an increase in appetite all of which contribute to weight fluctuations.
10. You’re not drinking enough water
When you’re dehydrated, you usually weigh less because your muscles and tissues are lacking fluid. However, this results in your kidneys going into overdrive and doing whatever they can to hold on to whatever fluid is available. And naturally, once you start drinking again, the water weight increases. Therefore, my advice is to stay hydrated all the time to help your kidneys and body function correctly.
This one is relatively easy to understand. If you haven’t been able to go to the toilet, then you are holding on to the extra weight that you should have eliminated. My top tip to keep your bowel movements regular: get plenty of fibre in your diet such as vegetables and whole grains. This will provide bulk in the digestive tract which will trigger the receptors (found on the colon walls) responsible for making you want to go.