Water weight. It’s the bane of dieters looking to lose pounds, causing bloating, puffiness and disappointment when stepping on a scale.
While a full 60% of your body is water, sometimes too much water is retained. That can make losing weight frustrating because it may seem like you aren’t actually losing weight. Varying water levels can make a person’s weight fluctuate by 2 to 4 pounds in just one day.
The amount of water your body contains is a function of your body’s composition, sex and age, but eating can cause you to retain a few extra pounds of water. This extra water is fluid the kidneys would normally purge from the body.
“Most of our weight is water,” says Dr. Gabe Neal, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “It’s the heaviest thing in our body besides our bones, and it is one of the first to go when you start losing weight.”
So the question is, how do you lose water weight? The MIDSS (Measurement Instrument Database for the Social Sciences) has some advice.
Why do you retain water?
There are lots of reasons, including too much salt or carbs, menstrual hormones and dehydration.
“Water, when used efficiently, goes all over our bodies,” Neal said recently. “We want it to go to our arteries, veins, tissue and cells throughout. However, when it goes to places between the cells and around the fat — an area called the ‘third space’ — it becomes a problem.”
It takes about two days to lose one to three pounds of water weight. But how fast excess water leaves the body can depend on diet and physical activity. The healthier your diet and the more physically active you are, the faster you can get rid of excess water. Water weight can also be a sign of a chronic condition, such as heart failure or heart or kidney disease, which needs treatment. In women, changing menstrual cycles and hormones can also affect water weight, according to the MIDSS.
How to lose water weight
One way to prevent water retention is to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. This includes eating fewer