All About Water Weight

By author photo Jenny Craig Team


You might have heard the term “water weight” during your healthy lifestyle journey. The technical name for it is edema, and it’s also called water retention or fluid retention. But what is it? Is it bad? And how can it affect your efforts to lose weight? Here’s everything you need to know about water weight.

What is water weight?

This may surprise you, but around 50 to 60% of the human body is made up of water! So of course everybody has some water weight. But what is usually being referred to by the term “water weight” is excess water retention (or fluid retention), the body holding on to more water than it strictly needs. This can lead to bloating, puffiness, and an uncomfortable feeling. It can also mean that your weight fluctuates by up to 2 kilograms throughout the day.

Who experiences water weight?

Sometimes, water weight can be a sign of more significant issues, such as kidney or heart disease. Check with your GP if you have any concerns that you might be at risk from these conditions, and before embarking on a healthy lifestyle regime.

Usually, though, water weight is a result of dietary and lifestyle factors.

Pregnant and menstruating people are likely to experience water retention, and that’s normal.

A sedentary lifestyle (sometimes unavoidable, to a degree, because of work requirements!) can exacerbate water retention. Sitting or standing for a long time can prevent fluids from circulating around the body effectively.

Certain medications can increase water retention, particularly some anti-inflammatories and oral contraceptives.

Finally, water retention happens to many people with high-salt, high-carb diets, as well as diets lacking in potassium and magnesium.

How you can lose water weight

It can be frustrating to see the scales going up and down so much when you’re making many of the diet and exercise changes necessary to live a healthy life. If you feel bloated in the abdomen, arms and legs in particular, try some of these fixes and notice the difference.

Drink more water: Although it might seem counterintuitive, drinking more water can in fact reduce water retention. When your body is dehydrated it is likely to cling to the water reserves it has, storing it in tissue rather than letting it pass through the kidneys as urine. If you’re drinking enough water, your body will be hydrated and won’t need to cling onto that water. Check the colour of your urine for guidance. If your pee is golden or yellow, you need to drink more water. (That doesn’t mean sugar-laden soft drink!) Eating water-rich foods can also help reduce water retention; think, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, and other fruit and vegetables.

Get active: Anyone embarking on a healthy lifestyle should be doing this anyway, but reducing water weight is another reason to exercise. Especially if you sit or stand for much of the day, getting moving will keep the fluids circulating around your body. Exercise also causes you to sweat, and sweat is water. It’s important to stay hydrated during and after exercise, though.

Many people find that they lose water weight when they first start trying to lose weight, but then the process slows as their diets and exercise regimes stabilise. Losing water weight can help you feel better, and the diet and lifestyle changes required to drop that water weight will be good for you in other ways, too.

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