What Is Water Weight?
I’m sure we’ve all heard the term ‘water weight’ thrown around, whether it’s from our friends trying to console us or when it’s linked to a juice or detox cleanse.
When you first start a new exercise or eating plan it can be hard to determine what ‘type’ of weight you are gaining or losing. Many people get frustrated because of weight fluctuations and what causes this. You might be wondering what is water weight, and how can I stop water retention and bloating? While excess water weight is something that can affect everybody, there are options to manage it. The first step is understanding water weight.
What is water weight?
Simply speaking, water weight, also known as water retention, is when fluid (mainly water) begins to build up in our body’s tissues. Sometimes this can just affect particular areas of our body or our entire body.
Some common symptoms of water weight include:
- Puffiness or swelling (particularly in the hands and feet, ankles and legs)
- Unexplained changes in weight in a short period of time
- Aching or stiffness in the affected area.
What causes water retention?
Before I explain the causes, I want to emphasise there can be several reasons as to why your body might be holding on to excess water. While some of these causes can be easily treated, there are some causes that may be a lot more serious. So, if you’re experiencing large-scale water retention, it’s really important that you speak with a healthcare professional to find what could be causing it.
Today I’m going to discuss some lifestyle factors that might cause water weight, and some simple ways you can try to reduce water retention.
1. Standing or sitting for long periods
Think back to your early science classes where you learned about something called gravity. As we know, gravity is that force that basically pulls everything towards the earth, including our bodies. When we’re standing or sitting for long periods of time, gravity can cause water to build up in our legs and feet, which may lead to swelling.
If you stand for hours on end, it might be a good idea to try and move around as much as possible throughout the day. Movement can help improve circulation, which can then help reduce water retention and swelling.
If you work in an office or spend long amounts of time sitting, I recommend a quick walk every 30-45 minutes. You might get a drink of water, go to the bathroom or even walk around the office. We already know that sitting all day is bad for our health, so a quick walk and stretch can help in many different ways! Another way to reduce water retention in your lower limbs is by elevating your legs. Lay on your back with your feet resting on a small stool or something similar for up to 30 minutes.
2. Eating a diet that is too high in salt
A common lifestyle cause of water weight is eating a diet high in sodium (salt). Eating too much salt can cause water weight because your body holds onto more water.
Even if you’re not heavy-handed with salt on your food, a lot of pre-packaged or processed foods can be very high in sodium, even if they aren't necessarily ‘salty’ foods.
To avoid water retention due to dietary reasons, I recommend following a diet consisting mainly of whole foods, including fruit and vegetables. These foods contain potassium, a mineral which can help to counteract sodium and may help reduce fluid retention.
I do want to point out that sodium isn’t the enemy! In fact, it is an important mineral that our body needs every single day. But like everything, it’s important that we eat it in the right amounts and don’t go overboard.
3. Hormonal changes
Some girls find they seem to hold more water weight in the lead up to ‘that time of the month’. This is very common, as it can be caused by changes in hormones that prepare your body for your period. If you tend to hold onto a little more water before your period, there are a few things you can do to try and reduce this.
Firstly, try to avoid pre-packaged, processed foods that are high in sodium. I know this is probably the last thing you feel like doing when those cravings hit! But these foods can cause your body to hold onto more water, so do your best to replace these with whole foods to help reduce bloating and water weight.
My second tip for dealing with water weight and hormones is to drink water! Just because your body might be retaining water doesn’t mean you should stop drinking it! Aim to drink around eight glasses each day, or more when you’re exercising or out in the sun. You can add some flavourings with fruit infused water if you find it hard to drink eight glasses a day.
My third tip for managing water weight is to try and do a small amount of exercise. Working out helps to improve your circulation, which can reduce water retention, and exercise can help you to feel better too. Just listen to your body and do what you can do!
Water Weight Summary
As you can see, there are a variety of factors that can cause water weight. Hopefully the lifestyle tips I’ve provided can help you to manage water retention. If you find that your body is holding on to large amounts of water, then it’s important you speak to your healthcare professional to rule out anything serious.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.