What, exactly, is water weight? When weighing yourself at the gym or the doctor’s office you may have found yourself dismayed as the scale indicated you weighed a few pounds more than your average. “Don’t worry,” you might have heard, “it’s probably just water weight.”
Many people trying to lose weight and trying to stay hydrated don’t have a full understanding of what water weight is, and how to manage it. Here are the most essential facts about your own water weight:
About 50 to 60 percent of your body weight at a given time is from water. Your “water weight” is how much water your cells are retaining, and the amount your cells retain is influenced by a host of factors.
- Water retention is a normal part of life – if your cells didn’t retain any water you’d dehydrate and die in a matter of hours. However, sometimes your cells will retain more water than usual, causing weight gain somewhere around 5 pounds.
- A jump in your salt intake will cause an increase in water retention, adding to your water weight. This isn’t determined by the amount of salt you consume, but rather how much this differs from your “normal amount.”
- Water weight is not related to the weight you gain from adding or lessening your calorie intake. Water weight is not permanent and does not contribute to fat gain long-term.
- Eating carbohydrates like bread and pasta will cause an increase in water weight, as every gram of carbs will require an additional 3 or 4 grams of water for the energy to be stored.
- Hormones contribute to added water weight in women. 92% of womenexperience an increase in water weight during the week leading to menstruation.
- When you go on an intense diet, many of the pounds you shed in the first weeks are from water weight. Your body utilizes its stores of glycogen once it burns through the calories you’ve eaten, and you rid your body of the water that was attached to that glycogen.
- An increase in the stress hormone cortisol will cause your body to retain more body. In fact, if you start focusing too much on losing water weight and stressing out about it, you’ll gain water weight.
- One method of avoiding excess water retention is to keep your daily and weekly salt intake at consistent levels so your body doesn’t stray too far in what it considers “normal.” This reduces the likelihood that your water weight will spike.
- Regular exercise stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluids and blood within your body, which remove water from your extremities. This means that vigorous exercise will keep your water weight relatively low.
- Staying hydrated is actually one of the best defenses against water weight. Your body holds on to more water when it is regularly dehydrated and in biological fear of running out. Drink plenty of water every day to condition your body to shed water weight.
- One study indicated that long-term consumption of magnesium supplements would reduce the amount of water retention in women prior to menstruating.
Water weight can be a confusing concept, but with this information you can understand a bit more about those occasional fluctuations in weight. Drink plenty of filtered water to reduce excessive water weight and keep your body naturally energized.