You’re more likely to hear about water weight at the beginning of a new diet and fitness regimen when it’s used to explain the sudden loss of several pounds.

What many people don’t know is that a water weight has just as much of an effect on weight loss weeks and months into a weight loss program as it does at the beginning.

Water weight can cause steady, regular weight loss to slow or stop completely. It’s a common frustration for many people who have otherwise taken all the right steps toward healthy weight loss.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  • What is Water Weight?
  • What Causes Water Weight?
  • What Are The Effects of Water Weight?
  • How to Lose Water Weight
  • Things to Avoid When Cutting Water Weight
  • How Much Water Weight Do You Have?
  • How Much Water Weight Can You Lose in a Day?

What is Water Weight?

Any extra water retention in the body is referred to as water weight. This additional water can cause 2- to 4-pound fluctuations in body weight daily and usually makes you feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Normally this water would be sent to the kidneys and filtered out with other excess material, but sometimes it’s retained in the tissue between the organs. The complex systems inside the human body do this from time to time and it can go away on its own relatively quickly. However, if you’re putting the effort into a weight loss program you won’t be happy to have it be stymied by something as frivolous as water weight. 

Water weight is an annoying hindrance that is likely to arise even under the best of circumstances. Taking the proper precautions to rid yourself of excess water is pretty easy, but it helps to know what causes the water weight to accumulate in the first place. 

The body’s retention of extra water, which causes water weight, is caused by various different things. In the most general terms, we can say that an improper diet is most likely to lead to increased water weight. Calorie deficits are critical to sustained weight loss and many people misstep on cheat days which in turn makes their net caloric balance fluctuate. There can also be an imbalance if you don’t have the right diet program

Exercise also has an impact on water weight and adjusting the amount of your weekly physical activity can go a long way in reducing water retention and promoting weight loss. But just like with diet, it’s not about blasting through 3 or 4 hours of cardio in a single session. It’s important to get as many of whatever nutrients your body requires and just as much exercise as you need to stay healthy, which requires mindful eating and exercise instead of a manic weight loss program or crash diet. 

Water weight causes bloating and will frustrate any weight loss goal. Water weight can make you feel fatigued and it will disguise any fat loss that is occurring because the number on the scale might not change. However, if it’s properly adjusted for in your weight loss program, water weight can also be used advantageously to achieve sudden sharp decreases in body weight. If it were as easy as adjusting water intake, handling water weight would be no big deal. But like all the other aspects of fitness, to do it healthily you have to take account of other things like sodium intake and diet. 

If you’ve been having some trouble recently with feeling bloated or your weight loss has plateaued seemingly inexplicably, water weight could be the culprit. It’s not a dire situation. All it takes is a little bit more strategy and mindfulness and you’ll be back on the right track in no time. Read through this article to find out all you need to know about how much water weight you can lose, what effects it will have if you do, and how to keep meeting your weight loss goals in a healthy way. 

Diet and sodium intake greatly affect water retention.

What Causes Water Weight?

The two main culprits of excess water built-up in the body are excess sodium and carbs. Many people trying to limit their carbon intake have taken the pop-fitness advice to avoid carbs to heart and have cut them out of their diets entirely. Trying to consume fewer calories is an integral part of any weight loss program. After all, if your calorie intake is more than your energy expenditure you simply won’t be able to lose any weight. Carbs have become a pariah among the health-conscious because carbs not used by the body get stored as glycogen, which pulls in water with the result of increased fluid retention. Similarly, sodium will bind with water and hold it in the body.

There are other causes of excess water weight like pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, medications, and circulatory problems that the advice in the rest of this guide is not meant to fix. If your focus is weight loss and you aren’t in any such circumstance, the advice should be able to help.

What Are the Effects of Water Weight?

The worst thing about water weight is that it masks fat loss that occurs during the course of a properly executed weight loss program. Even though the fat you wanted to lose is gradually being burnt off by your body, the excess water is keeping the number on the scale right where it was when you started. Not only can this be discouraging, but it can also lead to missteps and needless over-corrections in the diet or physical activity aspects of your plan, causing the whole thing to go off course. 

The discomfort caused by water weight is also a huge problem. When you’re eating healthy food and constantly doing the arithmetic needed for fat loss and you still feel bloated, as if you had never cut out all those carbs and fatty foods, it can be hard to keep up the faith that your hard work will pay off one day. Luckily, if you know how to get rid of excess water it’s not hard to do.

How to Lose Water Weight

We already mentioned that sodium intake and carbs can both lead to increased water retention. But that doesn’t mean you should completely avoid salt or carbs. Moderation and mindfulness are key in diet and all the other aspects of your weight loss plan. Here are a few concrete steps you can take to lose water weight:

Drink Enough Water: This is the most essential step to take to cut water weight. The problem with water retention isn’t the amount of water that goes into your body but rather the sodium, carbs, and other things that cause the body to trap and store water in bodily tissues. Everyone should already know that drinking enough water is imperative for proper bodily function even if you aren’t practicing a regular exercise regimen. Even mild dehydration can cause unwelcome side effects. 

It’s estimated that between 2005-2010 U.S. adults drank about 39 ounces of water a day. That’s only about 40% of the recommended amount! Having enough fluid in your body helps it flush out excess sodium and other things that will cause water weight to build up. All the other recommendations in the rest of this guide hinge on staying properly hydrated, so make sure you always have plenty of cold water on hand especially when you plan to engage in any kind of physical activity.

Practice Regular Physical Activity:Exercise helps you sweat and it’ll make you want to drink more water, so it’s really a win-win in terms of cutting water weight. All of that sweat means excess sodium will be leaving the body and the intake of fluids will help flush other water-pulling materials down to the kidneys so the body can be relieved of them. 

The important thing to remember is not to overdo the physical activity. Sometimes people are very inspired to get fit and assume they should be doing cardio every day of the week. But the amount of cardio you need to see benefits is actually much less. Just 2 or 3 hours is enough when paired with the right dieting program, to begin to see fat lost.

Find the Dieting Plan That Works for You:There are countless dieting gurus who spend their time extolling the virtues of cheat meals and cutting out carbs. Worse still are the so-called nutritionists pushing disastrous diets like the Dirty Keto. While there are meritorious claims, it can nonetheless be hard to cut through all the bad advice to find ideas that work. 

If you want to lose water weight, you need to have a diet that includes potassium-rich foods, like bananas, sweet potatoes, and cooked spinach or broccoli. Understanding the balance of sodium and potassium is a bit tricky, but suffice it to say that there is a relationship that can yield tons of benefits. Humans are consuming much more sodium than potassium these days, and the excess sodium tends to increase water weight. 

Blood vessels can be limited by excess sodium in the body and high blood pressure can cause the kidneys to hold onto sodium even more. Excess sodium that gets flushed out of the kidneys also takes some potassium with it, making the imbalance even worse. However, you can take advantage of this relationship by eating potassium-rich foods. The extra potassium will help remove excess sodium from the body.

Get Good Sleep:Research shows that insufficient sleep leads to an elevation of cortisol in the bloodstream, which can in turn lead to increased levels of water retention. Non-traditional work schedules and too much screen time with phones, computers, or televisions are the most common reasons people aren’t getting enough sleep these days. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of quiet, quality sleep to fight the adverse effects of built-up cortisol. 

Thankfully, if you’re eating right, drinking enough water, and getting a good amount of physical activity each week, you’ll begin to find that your body will naturally find its rhythms and you’ll start to get the sleep your body needs naturally in time. Of course, this isn’t counting on the effects of bad habits like alcohol and caffeine. That brings us to our list of things to avoid if you want to cut water weight. 

Things to Avoid When Cutting Water Weight

It’s not necessary to turn yourself into a complete hermit to ensure you meet your weight loss goals, but there are certainly some things you should take pains not to consume. For example:

Alcohol:Generally speaking, spirits and other alcoholic beverages aren’t direct causes of weight gain. In the case of water weight, they can cause more-than-mild dehydration, in which case your body might start to retain more water to make up the difference. And while the body doesn’t store excess alcohol the way it will store carbs that aren’t used, it’s all too common for people to reach for fatty, sodium-rich foods when they’re under the influence. 

We’ve likely all heard about the beneficial aspects of antioxidants in wine and the benefits of the occasional alcoholic drink. Research does indeed show that occasional libations are healthy enough, just make sure to watch what you eat if you take it too far. Drinking alcohol can also make it much more difficult to stay hydrated, so make sure you’re drinking enough water if you do drink some alcohol. If you’re the type to have a cheat meal, try not to pair too much alcohol with the meal in case you should suddenly feel like chowing down on excess carbs and saturated fats.

Caffeine:Drinking coffee, tea, and other caffeine-rich beverages can also cause problems with hydration. Similar to alcohol, the occasional caffeinated drink can have some health benefits. However, it shouldn’t be a daily habit. If you’re at that level, the caffeine you ingest is more likely to cause water weight gain than help to lose it. Caffeine is also a mild diuretic, which means it will help the body get rid of excess water weight if it’s not over-consumed. 

Focusing on the Scale:Like we said before, water weight can cover up fat loss that’s occurring during a successful weight loss program. If your only metric for progress is the bathroom scale, you might forget that you were losing weight at a steady pace and then plateaued because of built-up water weight. Practice mindfulness and have some trust in your fitness plan and you’ll be much more likely to make it through with all your goals met.

How Much Water Weight Do I Have?

The average person carries between one and five pounds of water weight. There’s no way to know for sure what’s water weight and what’s fat or something else. But there are some signs that your body is retaining excess water. If you have swelling anywhere, especially in the wrist and arms, it might be water weight. Bloating can be caused by many things, but if you are feeling bloated and have no reason to, rethink what’s in your dieting plan and reconsider your exercise regimen.

Potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes can help prevent water weight gain.

How Much Water Weight Can I Lose in a Day?

The short answer is that in perfect circumstances if you’re very lucky, you might lose 4 or 5 pounds of water weight in a day. But keep in mind that if you’re drinking enough water and dieting in a healthy way, your body might retain a little water and expel it regularly. If you’re stressing a pound or two in either direction, you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up. It’s not a race; if you take care to lose the weight in the right way, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll be able to keep it off. 

Remember that you can also gain a few pounds of water weight in a day, so don’t panic if you do because you can lose it just as quickly. Forming habits to work around your body’s tendency to retain water will make you much healthier overall for a much longer period.


There are many adverse effects water weight can have on a weight loss program. It can disguise success or falsely indicate a reversal of your achievements. If you’re focusing on fat loss and seem to hit a wall and experience bloating, you may need to make some changes to your dieting strategy. You should also take great care to drink enough water, get enough quality sleep, get regular exercise, and avoid over-indulging in alcohol and caffeine. 

Make sure you don’t overdo things in your quest for fat loss. Exercising too much could wear you out and there’s every possibility that 2 or 3 hours of cardio a week is plenty. Cutting carbs is wise, but cutting them out completely may not be. Everything should be done in moderation, as they say. Practicing mindfulness in diet and in exercise is the best way to achieve your weight loss goals at a healthy pace and you should take the same strategy when you’re trying to shed water weight.

If you need any help, our trainers are standing by and happy to give you all the advice they can. 

Related Posts