If you’ve ever gained or lost weight, or have a friend who has, you have probably heard the term, “water weight”. Someone might say, “Oh, it’s just water weight” or, “I hope I lost more than water weight”. But what does this mean, exactly? Is “water weight” a real thing, and what is it?
Any time you’re following a weight loss plan, all you know about your weight is what the scale tells you. It’s not possible to target only fat cells. As you lose weight, you will burn fat, but you will also lose some muscle tissue and water. In fact, the loss of muscle is one of the reasons we recommend adding strength training to your weight loss regimen. This will help to prevent muscle loss as you lose weight, and boost your metabolism at the same time.
So, that still leaves fat stores and water. Your body is two-thirds water, so it shouldn’t surprise you that weight loss will affect those water levels.
Here’s what happens: As you burn more energy than you consume, by exercising more and restricting caloric intake, your body will tap glycogen stores for energy and a quick relief. Glycogen is stored in your liver and skeletal muscles, along with a considerable amount of water. So, as that glycogen is released into your bloodstream to provide energy, some of that water will come with it.
But have no fear; burning glycogen stores is just a short-term solution for your body’s energy deficit. You will shift into a long-term pattern of burning through fat stores, too. So as long as you stick with your weight loss plan, you can count on losing quite a bit of that fat. “Water weight” is mostly a short-term problem that happens with crash diets (or quick weight gain, such as during pregnancy).
Also, since you’re exercising more, you will lose a bit of water through sweat. It’s important to replace those lost fluids by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
No matter what you’re doing, water levels can fluctuate a bit, based upon numerous factors. So don’t worry too much if you think you’ve lost five pounds one day, only to see that number increase by three pounds the next day. This is one of the reasons daily weigh-ins can be stressful and do more damage than good. Instead, focus on slow, steady results that will be visible via weekly or biweekly weigh-ins, and don’t fret over short-term fluctuations. Yes, that is probably due to “water weight”, to some degree.
For more information on a weight loss plan that provides lasting results, make an appointment to come see us. We’ll discuss nutrition, exercise, and other factors that can affect your weight, and then together we’ll make a plan to get you on the right track toward better health.