If you have ever tried a detox diet, whether a short detox, a cleanse, or intermittent fasting, then you’ve probably heard about water weight. Many detoxes and diets are shrugged off because the first few pounds you lose are “just water weight.” If you go through the discomfort of reducing your food intake, then what you really want is to lose fat. Here’s a guide to helping you understand what it really means to lose water-weight gain.
What is Water Weight?
Water weight is the amount of water your body is composed of. Remember that the adult male’s body is composed of about 60 percent water and the adult female’s of about 50 percent. Water is essential to keep your cells hydrated. But sometimes it feels like you gain weight overnight. That’s usually water-weight gain, a temporary weight gain that can occur for a number of reasons.
Diet is a major factor in water-weight gain. For example, sodium makes you swell up. A sugar binge can spike your insulin levels, which makes you retain sodium and hold onto excess water. Carbs can also make you retain water – up to three times your usual amount. Hormones and some medications can also be factors in water weight gain.
Why Do You Gain/Lose Water Weight?
Because your diet is so strongly tied to your water weight, when you start eliminating those foods from your diet, as with a cleanse or detox plan, you immediately drop the water weight that you usually retain thanks to your pasta, soda, and sugar habit.
For some people, the initial drop in water weight can mean a big budge on the scale almost instantly. But once you hydrate, the scale will go back up. Losing water weight at first isn’t necessarily a negative thing; it’s often just your body adjusting to consuming healthier foods.
To avoid gaining water weight, it is important to avoid salty and sugary foods. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it’s also important to drink water and stay hydrated so that your body continues to maintain balanced cell function. Otherwise, your body will hang on to every drop of water it can, which leads to water retention and bloating.
Why is Water-Weight Gain Worse for Some People than Others?
Water-weight gain and bloating can often be worse for some people than others. Women tend to be especially prone to water-weight gain and bloating thanks to sex hormones. Many women notice that they retain water around their periods. For some, they may bloat and have trouble buttoning their pants. Around the time your period actually starts, you’ll probably notice that you feel more yourself and that the water retention has subsided.
Pregnancy can also lead to water retention, thanks to the fluctuation of hormones that continues throughout the nine months. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can affect water retention in both men and women. Cortisol levels can fluctuate depending on how much sleep you’re getting, how much exercise you’re getting, and what you eat. Cortisol can also cause weight gain from fat, so it can be difficult to tell how much this hormone is responsible for water retention.
Water retention just happens and is only manageable to a certain extent by diet, so it is important to accept that sometimes you may be more bloated than others.