This time of year it’s tough to maintain a schedule and eat right. A big holiday dinner can cause a temporary weight gain on the scale. In addition to a big dinner, there are several other factors that can cause fluctuations in your weight. It’s a better idea to use pictures, measurements, how your clothes fit, and/or calipers to chart your progress. This will give you tangible information that can be used over time, and not a number that doesn’t take body composition into consideration. For many of us, the scale can either make or break our day and we shouldn’t let this happen. Here are just a few that will make the scale inch upward temporarily:

Hormonal fluctuations

This can account for a few pounds on any given day, depending on your cycle. Temporary water weight gain can last from 2-5 days. By becoming aware of this and knowing it’s a temporary situation, it’s easier to work through.

Lack of sleep

This can hinder recovery and can cause stress levels (cortisol) to become raised. One or two nights with inadequate sleep will cause the body to hold water. Ongoing sleep deprivation could lead to fat gain, so try to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night, or however much your body needs.

Hard training sessions and soreness

Training breaks down muscle fibers, and creates micro tears. This is a natural part of the process. The body repairs these micro tears into stronger muscle fibers. This is how we’re able to get stronger and gain more muscle. The process causes temporary water retention. If you do weigh in on a regular basis, you might notice that you’ll be heavier after a big leg or back day. Larger muscle groups have a tendency to make you hold more water, while the body recovers. Soreness is part of this process, as the previously trained muscles will be slightly inflamed. Inflammation equals water retention. Make sure you’re taking an adequate recovery, as this will help speed the process along. MyHMB Clear has also been shown to limit soreness and help with recovery!!

Increased carbohydrate intake

For every gram of carbs ingested, the body will hold up to 3 grams of water! This is normal and temporary. Muscle glycogen stores fill up, as does liver glycogen stores. Muscles can look “fuller” after a high-carb meal. Keep in mind that once the liver stores are filled, the body will store any excess carbs as fat. Try to plan big training sessions before or after large meals. This can help prevent fat gain.

Increased sodium intake

That package of beef jerky will make you gain weight. Again, it’s temporary water weight. Sodium will cause water retention. This can be counteracted by drinking more water, and by sweating it out.


Worried about that job interview or deadline? Chronic stress can cause the scale to creep upward. Stress, lack of sleep, and overtraining can all make cortisol levels rise. Temporary spikes in cortisol levels can be managed, but chronic stress should be managed to prevent weight gain. Meditate, talk it out, journal, hit the gym, or enlist some help on that project.


As mentioned above, overtraining can cause cortisol levels to rise. This causes weight gain, or fat gain, if it goes on long enough. Train hard, but rest well. Progress happens outside of the gym.

Inflammatory foods

If you’re sensitive to one or more of these food groups, you will hold water after eating them. Inflammation, in general, causes water retention. So, you could hold water based on your inability to process dairy or based on a hard training session. Dairy, wheat, processed foods, alcohol, soy, and certain farm-raised meats are the most common categories of foods that induce water retention. Allergy testing or eliminating these foods from your diet can help you determine if you have sensitivity to any of these.  If eliminating from your diet, reintroduce only one food at a time to see how your body reacts to it.

Weight will be higher later in the day

This one is obvious, but is worth mentioning. I had a friend who’d weigh in every morning and every night. She would always complain that she was heavier at night. Well, we can eat and drink pounds in a day, so it makes sense that weight will be higher at the end of the day!

Weight will change with body composition

And of course, you’ll weigh more if you add lean muscle mass to your frame! Gaining muscle and losing fat will look like no progress on the scale, even though you’ve improved your body composition.  This is another reason to not stress about the scale! 

I feel that myHMB Perform has helped me get through hard training sessions, and helps make me less sore! Thank you for reading! Happy Holidays!

IFBB pro and bodybuilder Erin Stern

Erin Stern

Erin Stern was a collegiate track and field athlete at the University of Florida.  After just missing by centimeters the qualifying standard to go to the Beijing Olympics in the high jump she turned to bodybuilding.   Erin earned her IFBB Pro Card as a Figure Competitor in 2008 and has since had a very successful career in bodybuilding including winning the Ms. Figure Olympia twice.  

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