If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll come across the term “water weight” a lot. But what is the definition of water weight? “Our bodies are around 60-70 % water,” says Matthew Landry, a Stanford Prevention Research Center nutrition and health promotion postdoctoral research fellow and registered dietitian nutritionist.
Our water levels “may change by as much as 2 to 4 pounds in a single day,” according to the researchers. This number varies based on how much water you consume and how much you lose through sweat or urination. This can have a massive effect on some people, particularly when combined with a high-sodium, low-water diet.
What Is the Definition of Water Weight?
According to Brenna Thompson, a licensed dietitian and nutritionist at CityPT, a physical therapy practice in the Minneapolis region, water weight is simply the mass that water takes up “between and inside our cells.” “Normally, fluids go through the kidneys and are excreted from the body through urination,” Susan Kelly, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Costa Mesa, California, explains. She is actually employed with Pacific Analytics, a medical diagnostic lab.
“However, when fluids collect between the body organs and the skin, it appears that the individual has gained weight, which is not the case because it is water weight, not fat weight.” While water weight is often portrayed as a stumbling block to weight loss, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing; your body needs water to function properly. Water helps to regulate body temperature, aids in digestion and waste removal and supports brain and heart function, to name a few things.
You’ll gain water weight if you drink the recommended quantity of water each day, which is 125 ounces for men and 95 ounces for women. Certain factors, however, may lead your body to retain more water than it needs.
What Causes Excess Water Weight?
A number of factors may cause your body to retain more water than usual, including:
• A sodium-rich diet.
• Hormonal changes.
• Standing or sitting too long.
A Sodium-Rich Diet
The most common cause of excess water weight is a high-sodium diet. While enough sodium levels are required to stay hydrated, excess sodium can cause water retention “We retain extra fluid in our cells to balance off the high amounts of salt when we eat sodium-rich meals,” Landry explains. The US Agriculture department recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 mg of salt per day, while the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg.
In the days leading up to the first day of a period, menstruation can produce bloating or mild water retention. Hormone fluctuations are to be responsible for this.
Standing or Sitting Too Long
Your blood cells produce a large amount of water, and gravity naturally pulls blood to your lower extremities. This is why some people feel bloated after sitting for a long time on an air seat. This can also happen if you work in a sedentary environment.
To keep your blood moving throughout your body, get up from your desk and move around regularly throughout the day. Every 30 minutes, get up and walk around for at least a minute or two.
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you don’t drink enough water on a regular basis, you’re likely to become overweight. This is due to the fact that when we’re dehydrated, “our bodies tend to hold on to any surplus fluids until our fluid balance is restored,” according to Landry.
Certain drugs, such as antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and even over-the-counter pain killers, can induce mild to moderate water retention.
The tendency to hold on to extra water weight may run in families, while the reason for this is unknown.
Stress and anxiety are examples of mental factors that can have a factor. “Physical and mental stress leads the body to produce cortisol, which signals the release of another hormone known as ‘anti-diuretic’ hormone,” Thompson explains. “As a result of this cascade, there is less water loss, increased retention, and puffiness and bloating.”
How to Get Rid of Water Weight
You can reduce water weight by making specific lifestyle and nutritional modifications. These are some of them:
Reduce the amount of salt you consume. Because your body retains extra water to compensate for the extra sodium in your diet, reducing your sodium intake will reduce the amount of water your body needs to maintain equilibrium. Processed and packaged foods contain far more salt than you might believe.
Drink a lot of water. The same logic remains true for your water intake: if you drink more water, your body will need to hold on to less of the water it already has to stay hydrated. Dr. Pri Hennis, a family medicine physician with a private practice in Phoenix, Arizona, states, “If you return to healthy dietary habits.” “Within one to two days, you will notice a decrease in water weight.”
How to Tell If Your Weight Loss Is Water Weight
Because water weight varies every day, how quickly you lose weight is a good indicator of whether you’re losing fat or water. It’s likely that if you lose two pounds overnight, it’s due to water weight. However, if you lose weight slowly and consistently over a period of weeks or months, you’re losing fat. This is why many fast-weight-loss diets focus on water weight rather than fat.
Water Weight vs. Bloating
Despite the fact that both bloating and water weight can make you look or feel as if you’ve gained weight, the two are not the same.
It’s simple to tell the difference: look at the location.
“You can tell if you’re bloating if your normally soft tummy gets stiff for a day or two before returning to its soft self in one to two days,” Hennis explains. Water weight, on the other hand, is not evenly distributed across the abdomen.
The excess can show up anywhere on the body, including the face, legs, and ankles in particular. According to Hennis, water weight may be accompanied by mental indicators that bloating does not, such as feeling “tired, heavier, and uneasy.”
Chronic Water Retention
While small weight fluctuations due to water are normal, if you’re experiencing significant fluctuations that happen with notice or don’t improve with diet and lifestyle changes, it could be a symptom of something more serious. “Chronic fluid retention can be a symptom of heart, kidney, liver, or lung disease, as well as other underlying problems,” Landry explains. It’s best to consult your doctor if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of water weight for more than a week.