Weighing In: Water Weight

Photo by Danielle Gallo

We are constantly reminded to drink more water, but it isn’t easy chugging down a gallon a day. You find yourself running to the bathroom every 10 minutes, making your everyday tasks more tedious and difficult. But it’s all worth it, because drinking water is supposed to make you feel better, right? Until you get what every girl dreads – the water bloat.

This kind of bloat can only be comparable to a woman who is six months pregnant. It just doesn’t make sense – how can doing something so great for your body make you feel so uncomfortable?

Listen up ladies – here is the science behind “water weight”.

Recall a time where you didn’t want to weigh yourself because you ate “bad” the day before. Maybe you had one too many pokey sticks, or perhaps an extra glass of wine. You weigh yourself to realize you’re five pounds heavier. You are so angry with yourself that you crash diet to loose the five pounds before the next weekend arrives.

Sound familiar?

The book Intuitive Eating, written by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, helps readers understand that those five extra “pounds” are NOT pounds of fat. It’s impossible to gain five pounds of fat overnight! The extra weight you saw on the scale is “water weight”, and it’s from your body retaining fluid due to an excess of sodium in your body. When your body feels dehydrated, it holds onto water for dear life. Your kidneys are working hard to try to compensate and filter out all that extra salt in your body.

So how can you avoid the bloat? DRINK UP.

Though this sounds counter-productive, you have to drink more to bloat less. Once your body is able to balance the water and salt levels, it doesn’t have to work hard to hold on to extra water.

Think about it. Your body is more then 70% water, yet it isn’t able to make water or “store it” easily. You have to constantly replace the water in your body. A general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces, or even more if you live an active lifestyle.

If you begin to drink more water, the first few days you might feel a little heavier. Once your body realizes water is readily available and that you are not in dehydration mode, your levels will naturally get to where they need to be.

So there you have it. The next time you dread getting on the scale after a rough night of eating, just remember that those extra pounds are not pounds of fat. Hop off that scale and go drink some water – your kidneys will thank you.