In a nutshell, the whoosh effect is when your body suddenly drops weight …(anything from plus/minus 3-5lbs) overnight. If you are somebody that retains water, male or female, then chances are you will experience a ‘whoosh’ at least a couple of times during your periods of dieting. The theory behind the whoosh effect is that during fat loss, as your fat cells shrink they often get filled up with water glycerol. So you see no weightloss on your scale for days/weeks and get disheartened until suddenly one morning, ‘BOOM’…you wake up few pounds lighter.
As you burn fat, you’ll sometimes notice that the area where the fat used to be tends to take on a sort of “squishy” consistency. “Squishy” fat forms because, as fat cells are extracted and mobilized, the space where they once existed gets filled with water, making the area feel “softer” than normal. Sometimes “squishy fat” forms in places we can see it, and sometimes it forms more internally where we can’t. Sometimes it’s in huge pockets, and sometimes it forms at a microscopic level where you can’t see it or feel it. But the areas that were once filled with fat sit there, filled with water!
The squishy-fat areas can last for a few days to as much as a few weeks. Then, one day, inexplicably and out of nowhere, all that squishy fat suddenly tightens up! In some cases, you’ll even (suddenly) look leaner! And at the same time, the scale suddenly drops — and you cheer because you feel like whatever you did the day before caused you to lose a ton of weight!
It will probably surprise you to learn that almost ALL scale movements are the result of fat burn that happened days, or even weeks ago! (Sudden scale movement at the very beginning of a diet is usually the result of water-weight being dropped due to a decrease in carb intake, however). Did you catch that? When the scale goes down while dieting, it’s usually because of fat that you lost several days (or even weeks) ago, and your body is finally expelling the water that took its place.
Put another way, even though you may be in a state where you are constantly burning fat, the results of that effort may not show up on the scale immediately. And more likely, they’ll show all at once, one day, where you’ll have a sudden “whoosh” of weight-loss!
How can you avoid the “Whoosh effect”?
Short answer: You can’t… Or more accurately put, you don’t really need to. It’s your body’s natural method of coping with fat-loss. Just let it do its thing.
Long answer: Scientists often found a trigger to cause the whoosh effect. You ready? It was a single meal that included a dramatic increase in caloric intake. For instance, a 2,300-calorie meal was served to celebrate the half-way mark of an experiment, and researchers noted that many of the men woke up several times to pee that night and, in the morning, were several pounds lighter than the day before.
Yeah, you read that right, a small cheat-meal triggered the drop in water-weight! And it’s one of the key reasons some recommend incorporating a ‘REASONABLE’ cheat meal once a week into your long-term weight loss plan.
Once again, it’s important to reiterate that you don’t NEED to do anything to trigger the whoosh effect. It’ll happen when it happens. But sometimes, if you’ve been dieting for a long time (6+ weeks) and haven’t lost anything on the scale for 1-2 weeks, a ‘SMALL’ cheat meal can help you feel like things are “back on track”.
A weight-loss plateau doesn’t necessarily equate to a fat-loss plateau!! Just because the scale isn’t moving, doesn’t mean you’re not burning fat, and it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Second, and probably more importantly, don’t expect results every single morning when you weigh-in. While it CAN work this way (and often does early on), it’s not typical. You might find that weighing-in once a week is a better strategy, if you find yourself dealing with this problem more than you like.