Stepping on the scales every morning can be the difference between a good day or a bad day. Losing a few pounds can make us feel great, but putting any on when you’re working hard is discouraging. However fluctuations are normal, and it may not be fat that is causing the ups and downs. Water weight can cause daily fluctuations, so it’s important we stay mindful of how it affects our weight loss journey.
What is Water Weight and Why Do We Lose It Faster Than Fat?
When we lose body weight, it is usually due to changes in muscle, fat and water. Water is one of the first things that you lose when you diet. It makes up 60% of your body weight and you can lose as much as five pounds of water a day. Just by going to the toilet in 24 hours you can lose between 800 and 2000 millilitres of fluid, which accounts for 1.8 – 4.4 pounds. Although you do replenish some of that, it is a quick loss of weight that you just won’t replicate in burning fat. It’s virtually impossible to burn off a pound of fat in one day, with us needing to burn 4,086 calories to do so (sounds exhausting!)
When you cut calories and carbs for weight loss, your body finds its extra energy through your stored carbohydrates (glycogen) that are kept in the liver and muscles. It’s usually stored with lots of water, so when your body starts to use it also releases water. You also lose water weight through sweat when you exercise. Although both these things help burn fat, it is slower than losing the water.
Different foods and nutrients can shift your body’s water and cause the fluctuations we see in the short term. So what are they?
6 Things That Affect Water Weight Loss
High Protein Diets
A lot of people try high protein diets and see quick results. This is usually due to a quick drop in water weight as high protein diets cause you to lose more water through urine. This is because the protein breakdown produces wastes that the body wants to get rid of, so it uses the body’s water stores to help do this.
Low Carb Diets
When you cut calories and carbs for weight loss, your body finds its extra energy through your stored carbohydrates (glycogen) that is kept in the liver and muscles. It’s usually stored with lots of water, so when your body starts to use it also releases water.
Caffeine increases trips to the loo and therefore has an effect on your water weight. However, this is shown to be mainly in people who are new too caffeine or haven’t had it much. If you drink it regularly, coffee and tea is unlikely to affect your water weight.
Its no secret that alcohol makes us dehydrated, hence those pesky hangovers. It prevents the release of a hormone that regulates how much water is lost through urine. It does mean you lose some of that water weight, but is not a recommended route for doing so!
When you have a high salt diet, your body retains water to dilute excess sodium. Holding onto all this sodium and water is harmful in the long term as it increases your blood pressure and your heart has to work harder. Whether you are worried about water weight or not, eating less sodium is really important for this reason.
If you’re doing a good workout, there is no doubt that you will be left a bit sweaty. Although this does mean you will have some water loss, it’s important to stay hydrated and replace some of that sweat loss so that it doesn’t affect how much exercise you can do.
What To Do About Water Weight
It’s important to remember that water weight is normal and part of your body’s normal functions. No one likes feeling bloated, but thankfully it’s a short term thing and it fluctuates on a daily basis in every one of us. Try not to weigh yourself daily, as it can give you a skewed perception of your weight. Instead, focus on weekly weigh-ins and focus on the long term changes in body weight. It’s also important to remember that abstaining from drinking water won’t help you lose weight – keeping hydrated curbs hunger and helps you burn fat. So make sure you keep drinking!