Is It Just Water Weight?
Weight loss is not a linear process. We have learned that our bodies are much more complicated than calories in and calories out and the same is true with the water fluid in our bodies. An adult human body is roughly 66% water, with that number changing as we age. A baby is roughly 73% water, while an elderly person is around 55%. The process of determining how much water our bodies have involves a complicated process including sensors in the body, thirst signals, kidneys and urine output. The body is constantly working to maintain the balance of fluids in our body. (1) That balance is accomplished within a 2-liter range, with each liter weighing in around 2 pounds. So that leaves us with a 4-pound grey zone of fluctuation each day that moves based on fluid intake, hormones, salt, medications, and the type of food we eat. This is why we can weigh the same for a few days and then shoot up 2 pounds for no apparent reason. (2)
Exercise can also be a huge influencer on fluid levels in the body. If you begin a new exercise routine or continue to overload during a consistent exercise routine, this can cause soreness in the muscles. Sore muscles mean swollen muscles hanging onto water; these broken-down muscle tissues as a result of the exercise require water as a part of the repair process. (2)
Lastly, did you know that for every gram of carbohydrate you eat and subsequently store as energy, you hoard 3-4 grams of water? Eat a diet high in carbs and you’ll find your body more likely to bloat.
So after all this talk about water, you now may be thinking that NOT drinking water may be a way to make the results look better on the scale, but in fact the opposite is true. Mild, chronic dehydration has been associated with increased weight. (3) Drinking water seems to actually increase weight loss through two factors – decreased food and increased lypolysis (fat breakdown).(1) Many times we misinterpret the thirst signal as a hunger signal and eat food instead of drinking water; if we drink plenty of water we tend to consume less food. Drinking water also increases lipolysis which is the breakdown of fat. So as the holiday season continues and we tend to be busier, it’s very important to keep attention on your water intake. Here are some tips to help ensure your body is getting all the water it needs which will ultimately allow you to gain the “water-drinking” weight loss benefits!
- Use filtered water such as Brita or Pur
- Add a squeeze of lemon or lime
- Use Ultima electrolyte enhancer
- Drink carbonated water such as Bubbly, Waterloo or AHA
- Make sure it’s cold- tastes better and speeds the metabolism
- Use a large cup that’s easy to fill and keep with you specifically for water
- Make small goals like making sure you have consumed 8 ounces of water before breakfast and 32 ounces of water before you eat lunch
- Popkin, Barry M et al. “Water, hydration, and health.” Nutrition reviews vol. 68,8 (2010): 439-58. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Volek, Jeff PHD and Stephen Finney, MD. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. Beyond Obesity. 2011
- Thornton, Simon N. “Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 3 18. 10 Jun. 2016, doi:10.3389/fnut.2016.00018