If you regularly weigh yourself, you may have noticed that you will often wake up at a lighter weight compared with when you went to sleep the night before. A lot of my clients report losing up to 3 pounds overnight.
So, is it normal to lose 3 pounds overnight? Losing 3 pounds overnight is considered normal since this weight is typically lost water weight, not fat. While you sleep, you can lose weight simply from sweating. Also, during the night, you are not eating and your body is digesting food, which can also contribute to your overnight weight loss.
However, it is important to recognize that if you are losing 3 pounds overnight, not gaining it back throughout the day, and continue to lose at this rate as the days pass, this could indicate an unhealthy amount of weight loss and needs to be addressed.
In this article, I will discuss:
- Whether it’s okay losing 3 pounds a day
- Whether you can lose weight by simply sleeping
- 9 reasons why you lost 3 pounds overnight
Losing 3 Pounds a Day: Is This Okay?
If your weight goes down anywhere between 1-5 pounds from the time that you go to bed to when you wake up, this is considered totally normal. There are many reasons why your weight can decrease while you sleep, all of which I will discuss in detail further on in the article.
However, if your weight is dropping every morning by this amount, and you are not gaining this weight back throughout the day, this could be a red flag. A healthy amount of weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week, and if you are losing this amount or more on a daily basis, this is not considered a healthy or safe amount of weight to lose in such a short period of time.
If you are experiencing drastic weight loss on a daily basis like what is described above, you should consider taking a look at your daily calorie intake to make sure you are not drastically undereating.
If the weight loss continues despite trying to eat enough calories, consider talking to your doctor or a health professional who will help you investigate the issue further.
Here are also some other articles on FeastGood that you can check out:
- How Many Calories Do You Need To Maintain Weight?
- 500 Calorie Deficit: Is It Healthy & How Much Weight Can You Lose?
Can You Lose Weight by Sleeping?
Due to the fact that sleeping is when your body does the majority of its repairing, detoxifying, and recovering, this is also when your body can lose weight. While most of this weight loss will be from water, it is possible that you are losing fat while you sleep as well.
If you have been consistently following a calorie deficit and exercise regime, fat deposits are excreted from your body through pathways such as your skin (sweat), your kidneys (urine), and your lungs (breathing out carbon dioxide).
Therefore, while the 3 pounds you may have lost overnight is not all going to be from fat if you have been following a calorie deficit, it is very likely that fat deposits are (slowly) leaving your body while you sleep and recover.
Why You Lost 3 Pounds Overnight (9 Reasons)
Here are 9 reasons to explain why you’ve lost 3 pounds overnight:
- You lost water weight
- Fasting while you sleep results in a lower body weight
- Your sodium intake the previous day was less than normal
- Your carbohydrate intake the previous day was less than normal
- Your body burned calories during the night
- You started or stopped a new medication that affects water retention
- Your sleep quality is good, and your body is able to rest and recover properly
- You ate your last meal for the day earlier than normal
- Your scale is giving an inaccurate measurement
1. You Lost Water Weight
Losing water weight while you sleep is the most common reason to see the scale go down overnight.
While you sleep, your body is breathing and sweating out water, but it is not being replaced with water since you can’t drink water while you sleep.
Not only that, but when your body is digesting food while you sleep, a chemical reaction occurs and heat is released, causing your temperature to rise. This will cause your body to sweat while you are sleeping, resulting in a loss of water weight overnight.
For this reason, water loss during the night often results in weight loss and is considered totally normal.
2. Fasting While You Sleep Results in a Lower Body Weight
Since you don’t eat during the night while you sleep, your body works on digestion and detoxification during the night, and since no new food is added, this can result in a lighter morning weight.
This is especially true if you take your weight after you have a morning bowel movement, since eliminating this waste will ultimately make you weigh less.
Conversely, as you eat and drink throughout the day, you are accumulating more food in your digestive tract which will cause your weight to increase.
3. Your Sodium Intake the Previous Day Was Less Than Normal
The amount of sodium in your diet can affect how much water your body retains.
Therefore, if you have a day where your sodium intake is significantly less in comparison to what you normally consume, this will result in your body holding onto less water and your weight going down.
4. Your Carbohydrate Intake the Previous Day Was Less Than Normal
Similar to your sodium intake, your carbohydrate intake can have an effect on the amount of water your body retains. In fact, for every gram of glucose (carbohydrate) in your body, your body will hold onto 4 grams of water. This water is typically stored in the liver and the muscles.
Therefore, if your carb intake the day before was less than what you normally consume, you could see a reduction in scale weight simply from your body holding onto less water.
Conversely, if your carb intake significantly increases for a day or two, you may see the weight on the scale increase temporarily (learn more in my other article Is It Normal To Gain Weight After A Cheat Day).
5. Your Body Burned Calories During the Night
Although it might seem like you wouldn’t burn any calories while you sleep, your body is still keeping up with vital functions such as breathing, and pumping blood throughout the body. Therefore, burning calories while you sleep could actually result in some fat loss (expelled from the body through carbon).
This is especially true if you are also following a calorie deficit throughout the day, since eating less calories than you burn will result in fat loss. The number of calories that you burn while you sleep will mostly depend on your individual metabolic rate.
A person’s metabolic rate (the rate at which the body converts food into energy) is determined by individual factors such as height, weight, age, gender, and daily activity. For this reason, a smaller female will have a slower metabolic rate compared to a larger male.
The amount of muscle mass can also determine your metabolic rate, since the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns through and needs.
6. You Started or Stopped a New Medication That Affects Water Retention
If you have recently started a new medication and have simultaneously noticed a shift in your morning weight, it could be due to how this new medicine is affecting your body.
More specifically, there are certain medications that can cause you to retain less (or more) water. Not only that, but certain medications can have effects on your metabolism, and even how much you sweat.
If your overnight weight loss is also accompanied by other side effects such as general weight fluctuations that are not normal for you, or even dehydration, then it is likely being caused by medication if you have recently started taking a new prescription.
If you are wondering whether or not a medication you are taking could be causing this, I suggest reaching out to your doctor and asking them whether or not this could be a potential side effect.
7. Your Sleep Quality is Good, and Your Body is Able to Rest and Recover Properly
The quality of your sleep is so important in order to allow your body to rest and recover properly, and this is especially true if you are constantly working out and weight training. A lack of sleep can be stressful on the body, which can result in water retention on the body.
Conversely, if you are sleeping well and managing your stress levels, you might see your morning weight dip slightly, since it doesn’t feel the need to retain excess water.
This is not only considered normal but is a good sign that your body is not in a state of stress and is getting adequate amounts of recovery.
8. You Ate Your Last Meal for the Day Earlier Than Normal
If you wake up and notice that the weight on the scale is less than what it normally is, it could have something to do with when you had your last meal the day before.
For example, if you normally eat your dinner at around 730pm, but one night you end up eating a few hours earlier at 530pm, this results in you fasting for an extra two hours during the night compared to your normal.
This alone could result in your morning weight being slightly less than what you are used to.
9. Your Scale is Giving an Inaccurate Measurement
If you feel like your morning weight measurement gives you inconsistent readings (some days you are up, some days you are down), it could potentially be from your scale giving you an inaccurate measurement.
While this isn’t always the case, it is worth testing your scale once in a while to make sure it is giving you an accurate reading.
If you want to make sure your bathroom scale is giving an accurate weight, watch this video tutorial on how to recalibrate your bathroom scale.
How Much Weight Can You Lose Overnight?
The amount of weight that is normal to lose overnight is going to be dependent on the individual. For example, a smaller individual is going to be prone to less fluctuations in water in comparison with a larger individual with higher amounts of muscle mass (since muscle stores water)
With that said, it would be considered normal to lose anywhere from 1-5 pounds overnight due to any of the reasons listed above. You can lose more or less weight overnight depending on what you ate and drank the day before, along with your sleep quality and stress levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Normal to Lose a Few Pounds Overnight?
Losing a few pounds overnight is considered completely normal, and is likely due to a loss of water weight, not fat. In fact, as the day goes on, you will likely regain this weight back due to the accumulation of fluid and food intake throughout the day.
Why Did I Lose 4 Pounds Overnight?
If you lost 4 pounds overnight, this could be caused by factors such as a lower sodium and carbohydrate intake the day before, or eating your dinner earlier than you normally do. Furthermore, it is considered normal to weigh less in the morning, since you lose weight through water and sweat during the night.
How Did I Lose 2 Pounds Overnight?
You could have lost 2 pounds overnight from your body letting go of water weight through breathing and sweating while you sleep. Additionally, fasting while you sleep can cause your morning weight to drop. It is considered quite normal to weigh less in the morning compared with before bed.
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.