What Is Water Weight?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Many of us are in the habit of weighing ourselves daily. Whether or not we get upset by the number we see on the scale, most of us know to attribute a few pounds of fluctuation in our body’s weight to water retention.
Our precise weight changes day by day, even hour to hour, largely due to the amount of water we take in and expel. This is a normal process that doesn’t bother us unless we feel we’re retaining too much water.
Let’s talk about what water weight gain really is, what causes us to retain excess water, and how we can get rid of excess water weight when we feel bloated and experience feelings of puffiness.
Water and the Human Body
We know from middle school science that our bodies are made up of about 60% water. The major organs (and most tissues) in our bodies are all made up largely of water, and require a healthy lifestyle with plenty of water to function properly.
Water is critical to our survival; it’s one of our basic needs. Water serves to form saliva and help break down the nutrients in our food so that they can be used by our organs. It aids in digestion and helps rid our bodies of toxins and waste.
The brain also relies on water to help produce hormones and neurotransmitters that run virtually every process in every system of our bodies. Water also helps cushion the brain and spine to keep them safe. It serves as a lubricant for our joints and is critical in delivering oxygen to our organs.
Your body relies on water for the creation of new cells, too, and the creation of new cells (and the proper functioning of existing cells) is what keeps us feeling youthful and healthy.
Water is so vital to our existence that our body lets us know when it doesn’t have enough. Dehydration is the condition in which we have lost more water than we have taken in. Depending on how dehydrated we are, symptoms of dehydration can vary. High sodium intake can lower your hydration levels, so make sure to drink plenty of water alongside any excessively salty snacks. Better yet, reduce your salt intake in general.
Mild dehydration can cause symptoms like increased thirst, chapped lips, and dry skin. Severe symptoms of dehydration can range from dizziness to low blood pressure, fatigue, and even disorientation.
How Much Water Do We Actually Need?
Contrary to the internet rumors and wannabe gym influencers who love to carry around milk jugs filled with water, you don’t need to drink hundreds of ounces of water per day to stay properly hydrated.
There are two parts to the hydration puzzle: fluid consumption, and food consumption. It’s important to remember that even if our total water intake should be 64 ounces per day, some of that comes from the foods we eat.
Foods like celery, watermelon, and cucumbers make healthy snacks and are loaded with water, and consuming them counts toward your daily water intake. You’ll also count the water you drink in coffee, juice, and other beverages.
As for the total amount of water you actually need, a general rule of thumb is half an ounce to one ounce per pound of body weight, depending on your activity level. If you are incredibly active and lose a lot of fluids through sweat, you’ll need closer to an ounce. If you’re fairly sedentary, your goal should still be at least half an ounce per pound of body weight.
What Is Water Weight?
When we talk about water weight, we aren’t referring to the molecular weight of water, or the amount of water contained in our bodies. Water weight usually refers to the amount of water we feel like our body is retaining for no apparent reason. You may also know water weight as “bloat.”
Feeling bloated makes anyone uncomfortable, can cause swelling in the extremities, and can give you a feeling of fullness, even if you haven’t eaten recently.
Although our weight can fluctuate between three to five pounds every day (and even during the day), there are definite reasons why we might be retaining more water than normal. Here are just a few.
It doesn’t seem like feeling bloated would be associated with dehydration, but it’s actually a key symptom of water loss. When you are dehydrated, your body begins to recycle water from your urine back into your body where it is needed. That means water that was meant to be released from your body is now being retained, which can cause a lot of water weight.
The feeling you have after a massive burger and fries is usually anything but pleasant, and sodium is partly to blame. Sodium is an electrolyte, and your body needs electrolytes to carry out certain processes.
Your body requires a balance between sodium and water in your body, and if you’re taking in too much sodium, your body will compensate by retaining more water. You may even experience excess thirst if you take in too much sodium.
Nothing will cause your body to retain water like a change in your hormone levels. Specifically, higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of progesterone are associated with excess fluid retention.
Estrogen is highest just before your period, during the luteal phase. The luteal phase begins right after ovulation and lasts about two weeks leading up to your next period. Your estrogen levels will increase the closer you are to your actual start date.
Feeling constantly bloated could be the result of a self-sabotaging diet. Eating a diet high in processed foods and carbohydrates can cause your body to retain more water than it would if you were eating more whole foods.
Excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in your muscles. However, your body stores glycogen together with water in a three to one ratio of grams of water to one gram of glycogen. Eating more carbs than your body can use for energy causes you to store them, and a lot of excess water.
Long term inflammation can also lead to water retention. Inflammation is your body’s response to anything it determines is a threat to your wellbeing. However, some conditions can cause your body to experience low-level inflammation that lasts for weeks, months, or even years.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation can include:
- Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
- Unhealthy cholesterol numbers
- Excess weight, especially around the midsection
- High blood pressure
Low level chronic inflammation can cause you to retain water and can even lead to edema, a condition where water collects in a specific area of your body. Sometimes, medications to treat these conditions can lead to water retention as well.
How To Get Rid of Water Weight
Even though it might be tempting to simply pop an over-the-counter diuretic, they’re really only like using a bandage to fix a bigger problem. Diuretics can decrease your potassium levels, which can lead to life-threatening conditions and even heart failure. Not to mention, they can be really taxing on your kidneys.
You’ll get better results if you focus on making lasting changes that help your body reduce the amount of water you retain on a daily basis. Here’s how to start.
Exercise has a myriad of benefits, and one of them is preventing you from storing too much water and feeling bloated. You’ll lose water through sweating and tap into your glycogen stores, using them for energy and helping release the water that is stored with them.
You have a lot of food choices when you sit down to eat, and most of us fall short of eating the things we should. Eating more whole foods is an easy way to get the nutrients you need and avoid excess sodium hiding in processed foods.
Fruits like bananas and avocados have the added bonus of delivering heart-healthy fats and are potassium-rich foods that help you manage your electrolyte and water balance. Tomatoes, spinach, beans, and nuts are all sources of nutrients your body needs and nothing it doesn’t, like salt or excess calories.
Try a Supplement
There’s a supplement for virtually everything, and although medications like magnesium and dandelion herbs have been used for treating water retention, you can do better, and don’t worry, you won’t need a prescription.
Water retention starts in your cells. Cells are the foundation of every organ and system in our body. When our cells start to malfunction, we can experience health problems like weight gain, unhealthy blood sugar, unbalanced metabolism, and water retention.
Taking a supplement to support your cellular health can help you feel better and give your cells a fighting chance as you age. Pentadecanoic acid is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that a growing body of research supports as the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.
Pentadecanoic acid supports your cells by:*
- Increasing mitochondrial function. As we age, the mitochondria that power our cells become sluggish. Pentadecanoic acid helps support mitochondria function and improves it by up to 45%.
- Strengthening cell walls. Cell walls become flimsy over time. Pentadecanoic acid is a sturdy fatty acid that digs deep into cell walls, bolstering them and helping keep them protected against external stressors.
You probably aren’t getting a lot of pentadecanoic acid in your diet. It’s found in trace amounts in whole fat dairy products, as well as in some fish and plants.
Thankfully, there’s a solution. Fatty15 is the only supplement that contains the pure, vegan version of pentadecanoic acid, called FA15™.
With fatty15, a balanced diet, and a little bit of exercise, you can flush out your extra water weight and feel better and eliminate feelings of bloating altogether.*
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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