If you’ve ever met an overweight person or are overweight yourself, then you may have heard or have even spoken this line before: “It’s water weight.” Extracellular fluid, or water weight, can account for around 20% of a person’s total bodyweight.
There are some myths about water weight, as well as some great tips to cut back on it, but there is also a lot of disinformation about there about exactly what extracellular fluid is and how it affects your body.
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that water weight is not making you “fat.” Fat, for all intents and purposes, is essentially oil – and oil repels water. Body fat is hydrophobic, you can say, meaning it doesn’t get along well with water, and any type of extracellular fluid your body contains is separate from deposits of body fat.
Extracellular fluid isn’t only water, however; it’s basically every bit of fluid in your body that isn’t inside of a cell (intercellular). That aside, all fluid contains water in some form or another, so eliminating some of your body’s water—only the excess, as your body needs ample water to thrive—will help you to eliminate a few unwanted pounds and, more importantly, unwanted inches.
To know if you’re suffering from excess water weight as opposed to body fat, you’ll essentially have to go by feel more so than looks. Water weight typically makes a person feel sluggish and ultimately heavier than they are. And while this may be a hard “feeling” to comprehend if you’re not overweight, most individuals suffering from the effects of obesity or just unwanted pounds know exactly what that feeling is describing.
Water retention isn’t the same as weight gain, per se, and thus the cures typically aren’t the same either. Also known as edema, water weight is basically a layer of fluid on top of the muscle and separate from fat. In some cases, although rare, excess water weight is a sign of cancer, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, and some other sicknesses.
If your water weight is severe, then seeing a doctor is a must. If you have some excess fluid in your body, however, attributing to your appearance and overall weight, then there are some dietary tips you can use to get rid of the excess water.
For starters, you can cut out a lot of sodium from your diet. Salt substitutes, drinking plenty of water (ironically) and avoiding any and all foods with a high amount of sodium will help you shed this weight. 1000 to 2000mg of salt daily is more than enough.
A balanced diet rich in fiber and potassium (think dietary fiber supplements and plenty of bananas) will also help you get rid of water weight. With a lack of fiber—you should notice this with stiff stools, also—your body is holding in the water and not shedding it; the same goes for potassium.
As with all diets, exercise is recommended to ditch unwanted water weight. Any physical activity that increases your heart rate and metabolism will help you shed that extracellular fluid.