How Water Retention Causes Weight Gain

When you stand on the scale, have you ever noticed how your weight tends to fluctuate a lot depending on the time of day? That isn't just because of the amount of food you eat, but it also has to do with the water retention in your body.

Understanding Water Retention

Your body is made up of nearly 70% fluid, so water is obviously a very important part of its function. When your body is getting enough water, it doesn't worry about dehydration. It will not store water, and you won't have to worry about excess water being stored.

However, if you don't drink enough water and fluids, your body senses that there is going to be a "drought". It begins to store water just in case you continue your low fluid consumption, and that water begins to add to your body weight. Drinking more water enables you to lose the water weight, as it will signal to your body that the "drought" is over.

On the other hand, sodium can also cause water retention. Sodium is one of the two important electrolytes in your body. While potassium drains the water from your muscles, sodium causes your muscles to store water. A high sodium diet can lead to water retention, which will definitely show up when you stand on a scale.

Have you ever lifted a 1-liter bottle of juice or water? It weighs about 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds. That means that water is actually fairly heavy, and every fluid ounce of water stored in your body adds a couple of ounces to your body weight. The more water you store in your body, the heavier you will be. That's called "water weight", but thankfully it's the easiest weight to get rid of.

How to Get Rid of Water Weight

When you retain a lot of water, you'll usually find that it's due to a diet that is very high in sodium. Most people put on water weight around the holidays, the time of year when they go all out on the Christmas or Thanksgiving meals. If you worry about water weight, you'll find it's pretty easy to get rid of.

First, cut back on the amount of sodium in your diet. Sodium is the enemy of a healthy body, so limit the amount of sodium you eat. Try to cook with and eat low-sodium foods, and watch your water weight drain away.

Second, drink more water. This may sound counterintuitive, but remember your body needs water in order to eliminate the water it has. Drink up to 4 quarts of water a day, and you'll find that your body gets rid of the water it already has in order to make room for more.

Third, start exercising. Seeing as most of the weight you'll be losing is water weight, you can easily drop three to five pounds in the first week. That's not real fat burning, but it's your body flushing out a lot of the water it has stored.

Fourth, keep up the healthy eating, drinking, and exercising habits. Once you've lost the water weight, you may find that you gain a pound or two. That's just your body replenishing the water you've lost, as your muscles and organs need SOME water in order to function. Don't worry about the scale, but focus on burning away the body fat. As long as you're exercising regularly and following a healthy, low-fat, low-sodium diet, you'll see steady progress in your weight loss and you'll never have to worry about water retention again!


9 Responses to How Water Retention Causes Weight Gain

  1. marie says:

    can u get water weight on ur knees and ankles

    • ReneeR says:

      Hi Marie,
      Yes, you can have water retention in your knees and ankles. Water retention may have medical causes so talk to you doctor about possible causes of water retention and bloating before trying to treat yourself.

  2. sam says:

    hi! i want to know how to eliminate water retention in my body,i do bodybuilder but my muscle still hide behind something, thank u in advance.

    • ReneeR says:

      Hi Sam,
      It is important to remember that fluid retention can be caused by many things such as hot weather, a high sodium diet, or hormonal changes but may also be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical problem such as kidney disease, liver disease, or arthritis. Please talk to your doctor for advice and about possible causes before trying to treat it yourself.

  3. Juanita says:

    I drink no less than two quarts of water a day. I still gain weight. The doctor told me that I do not eat enough to lose weight. He said that I must eat at least 1300 calories a day in order to lose weight. I have been eating less than a thousand. He says calories burn calories. I eat fresh fruits and vegetables whenever i can get them. I only eat one small serving of meat. I need to lose 55 lbs, but because of an accident I was in I am unable to walk even a block or exercise. Any suggestions?

  4. Preeti says:

    Hi Juanita,
    I don't your exact diet but here are a few tips:
    1. You need to consume a minimum amount of calories per day to keep the body running. That could be 1200-1300 but depends on what the doctor says. If you drop below this, your body may consider you to be in starvation mode and will horde calories.

    2. See a physical therapist on what kind of exercises you can do despite the accident. You should have the opportunity to build your muscles and bones.

    3. Losing weight means doing physical exercise. It's important you follow #2 and get a plan on increasing your stamina and strength.

  5. barbara says:

    I have recently gained 8 pounds in one week. I am being treated for plantar fascsitis (sp?) and wonder if this is the cause. They gave me Mobic as it is an anti-inflammatory. I can't believe I have gained this much in one week...Has any one every heard of this before???

    • Preeti says:

      Barbara,
      Speak to your doctor. Also check the side effects of the medicines you are taking.
      We're not a medical so cannot help you with any detailed information.

  6. Monique says:

    I have been back on my life style eating change for the last 4 months, loosing slow but steady, I recently got on the scale and was 4 1bs heavier,in just a matter of 2 days! I was wondering if it could be from the excessive heat out side this week 104-109 in my area. Do you think my body is holding extra water because of the heat? I dont drink sodas or eat any fast foods, lots of fruits and vegetables very little meat, mostly fish,and turkey 2-3 times a week!

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