Understand Why You Can Lose Muscle Overnight

April 1st 2019

Well, this is one of the most frequently asked questions about muscle building and recovery. What happens to your muscles overnight and can you lose muscle while you sleep?

The answer to the question is yes, but if you maintain a proper diet and take good care of yourself, it should not matter. There are some signs that you might be losing muscles and not fat. Are you feeling more tired or exhausted than usual? Are you losing weight too fast? If the answers or even one answer is “yes”, then there is a high chance that you are losing muscles. Though you cannot lose kilos of muscles overnight, you must not ignore that fact that you are losing them. There are several reasons for losing muscles and not fat overnight.

Reasons behind losing muscles

There are many reasons why you may lose muscles and not fat. Some of them are:

  • Not maintaining a proper diet

Poor diet or lack of balanced diet can cause muscle loss. You need to make sure that you are eating a balanced diet with higher protein content. You must feed protein to your muscles in order to build muscles as well as to maintain them. You must have noticed that your gym instructor or trainer will always tell you to have high protein and low fat/carbs diet. This is because protein is essential to keep your muscles strong and built. When there is a lack of protein, chances are quite high that you will lose muscles since your body will not have the available resources to rebuild old muscle or synthesis new muscle tissues.

  • Not using the muscles

“You lose what you do not use.”

You need to use your muscles to keep them strong and intact. In order to grow muscles and increase their strengths, you must perform strength training and resistance exercises. High-intensity cardiovascular exercises are also a great way to build muscles and cut down unnecessary fat. If you strength train, then you have the capability to burn fats and not muscles.

  • Not allowing to recover

“Too much cardio can be a reason for muscle loss”. This is partially true. People who go by the motto “no pain, no gain” may be guilty of not allowing their body to recover as effectively as it could. Instead, they should focus more on not stressing yourself out.

So, it is important to give your body a chance to recover. Meanwhile, you must consume enough proteins and start resistance training or weight training. This will help you to make your muscles stronger so that you do not lose them when performing long intervals of cardio.

  • Not getting enough sleep

Not getting proper or quality sleep can cause muscle loss. Not getting enough sleep can raise the cortisol level in your body. This imbalance has the potential to mess the product of growth hormone in your body. This increases the chance that all the consumed carbs will be stored as fat in your body. You can easily compare the energy levels after a good night’s sleep and bad night sleep. This is because of the muscle loss during the training after not getting enough sleep.

How different factors influence your weight?

We all do not want to admit it but there are so many complex processes that can make our weight fluctuate throughout the entire day. For example, what could be deemed “muscle loss” could really be your body just holding onto more water on a hotter day in the summer.

Furthermore, there are several factors that have a strong influence on your body weight. Besides fat, there are many reasons that can have a tremendous influence on your weight. You need to give attention to some of these issues to determine if your weight gain overnight is really due to muscle atrophy:

  • Water retention: Water retention can be caused due to several reasons. Too much salt and hormonal changes can cause your body to retain a lot of water. As our body is mainly made up of water, hydration level must be balanced. When the balance goes wrong, the body tends to hang on to that water. Water retention may make you feel heavier. It can cause bloating, swelling and puffiness. This has a tremendous impact on weight too. If you notice weight fluctuations, then the reason can be water retention.


  1. Eat lesser amount of salt
  2. Increase the magnesium intake
  3. Eat more foods rich in potassium
  4. Avoid taking refined carbs as much as possible


  • Bloating: This is caused due to many reasons. When you feel an uncomfortable pressure in your abdominal area due to excess fluid or extra air in the gastrointestinal tract. This feels like tightness or fullness. This can cause temporary weight gain. This might not be an actual weight gain but a temporary one caused due to digestive issues or improper diet.


  1. Drink water instead of sodas
  2. Avoid any types of chewing gum
  3. Eat at a regular interval
  4. Avoid salts as much as possible
  5. Increase fiber in your diet


  • Dehydration: Dehydration is a quite common problem during the summer seasons. It is caused due to less intake of water. This can slow down your metabolism to a great extent and metabolism is one of the most important factors to lose weight. This can cause permanent weight gain. You will notice that all the fitness trainers recommend drinking as much water as possible. This is because dehydration or in taking less amount of water can cause weight gain. It has been shown by studies that drinking water before the meal can increase metabolism by 30%.


  1. You must have at least 3 liters of water every day, especially if you are strength training. The typical recommendation is eight 8oz glasses of water, which is equivalent to 2 liters.
  2. Drink 2 cups of water just before the meal


  • Carb loading: Carbohydrates in high amount without enough protein can result in a severe increase in blood glucose. The insulin released is used for energy when you perform exercises. Hence, you do not burn fats. When the body is using insulin as energy, it drastically lowers blood glucose. This makes you feel hungry. So, you intake more calories resulting in weight gain.


  1. Pick a diet you can maintain consistently
  2. Always have a check on the amount of carbohydrate you are taking in


  • Illness: There are many illnesses that can cause weight gain. Often simple illness like depression and panic attacks can cause weight gain. On the other hand, severe illnesses like thyroid issues and heart or blood pressure problems can lead to gaining of weight. Also, people with kidney diseases tend to gain weight because of the water retention issue.


  1. Make sure to have a proper diet to increase the immunity system
  2. Consult the doctor for further details
  3. Continue exercising to maintain proper body weight

Is protein consumption important?

The protein is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to muscle building and losing weight. Proper intake of protein can help you to lose fat and build lean muscles. This helps you to appear slimmer and fitter while losing a considerable amount of weight. You need to know when and how you must consume protein. Consuming protein later in the day instead of first thing in the morning may affect the effectiveness of muscle growth.

For instance, eating only 10 to 15 grams of protein in the breakfast and lunch and then eating 50 grams of it in dinner will not be the best way to consume protein if you have trouble gaining muscle, or even weight in general.

One common diet plan that may lifters find helpful is a bodybuilding style of eating, where smaller meals are eaten throughout the day. It is important to have protein in breakfast and evenly throughout the day to have the best effect. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein in each meal. Consuming 5 to 6 snacks or meals per day with an evenly distributed amount of protein is highly effective on your body. Also, you must consume protein snacks or meal within 30 to 60 minutes of workout. It can be a protein shake or eggs or even a protein bar. Having 10 to 20 grams of lean protein within 30 to 60 minutes of workout can help you to replenish and build your muscles. This will also help them to recover.

Just like timing and amount of protein intake is important, it is also important to eat veggies and fruits along with your protein sources. You also need other nutrients besides protein. Green leafy veggies and fruits can provide you with enough vitamins, minerals, potassium and other essential nutrients.

Will I lose muscles if I skip a workout?

Well, you will not lose muscles or its strength if you take a week or two off from the gym. It may take time to build the muscle or to increase its strength but it doesn’t lose that fast either. It will not disappear the second you will stop lifting. But yes, if you take off for more than three weeks, you will slowly lose the muscle strength and its growth.

Will I get fat if I skip a workout?

No matter how much committed you are to your workouts, you must maintain a proper healthy diet too. Skipping a workout will not cause all your weight and fat to come back rushing to you definitely if you maintain a healthy diet continuously.

How long does it take to get out of shape?

Generally, you will start getting out of shape after 3-4 weeks of stopping the weight training. If you are more of a cardio person, then you may take a little longer to get out of shape. Hence, make sure that you do not skip your gym for more than 3 weeks ever.

When is it okay to skip the gym, if ever?

You can skip the gym when your muscles are really sore or you are pregnant. You can also skip the gym if you just have a baby. For further details about this, it is always better to consult your health physician. Also, it is better to skip the gym if you didn’t have proper sleep at night as this can cause fatigue and extreme exhaustion. Of course, you can also skip the gym when you are sick.

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