Two words that seem to strike fear in the hearts of dieting women across the globe. When did we start giving water so much power and authority?
Oh yes…that second word: WEIGHT. More specifically, water weight gain, has women everywhere constantly searching for solutions on how to “solve” it.
Sure, when it's that time of month, and we can't squeeze into our “good” clothes, it can be annoying. Or we have a sodium fest, and feel like our jewelry is cutting off our circulation…not fun.
But is water really our nemesis?
Typical concerns of retaining “too much” water
Retained water becomes contaminated because your kidneys can't filter out contaminants properly when you're dehydrated. The liver is then called upon to help process these waste products, which interferes with one of its main functions, breaking down body fat. So without sufficient water in your body you're likely to end up water-logged and bloated.
This is also said to lead to a problem with sodium. When you're dehydrated, sodium can't be adequately flushed from the body, causing further water retention, and any additional sodium ingested in your diet simply aggravates the problem.
Water and your muscles
Sometimes it feels as if water is working against us when we develop that “soft” look to our muscles. This is because diets or activities that cause excessive fluid loss have a significant effect on muscle size. Without sufficient water you become dehydrated. Your body begins to retain water to protect itself, and much of this water is stored subcutaneously, which smooths out muscle definition dramatically. This is why you hear of bodybuilders drinking up to a gallon or more each day to offset their higher sodium diets and intense workouts, in attempt to keep their muscles “hard” and visible.
Water weight gain during new workout phases
Gaining weight (~5 lbs) when starting a new exercise program is completely normal. If you are changing up your program every 4-6 weeks, then expect a jumpy scale. Period. It's all good. Just let your body do it's thing and stop depending on the scale ONLY for progress reports.
This is important to remember if you are in a program that uses “phases” that change regularly (such as LU app, STS, CLX, P90X, etc). You may experience a jump with every phase, and the scale could take up to three weeks to “equalize.” This means that you may only see the scale weight drop ONE week out of the four, then see it shoot back up again when you change something up. Don't stress about it. What's the alternative? Doing the exact same regimen (in attempt to avoid water weight gain) and seeing NO results because your body has adapted?
Not the wisest choice.
That water retention/scale increase/DOMS combo is your sign that your body is still being challenged by the current workout, which means that changes are on the way. We just need to learn not to shun it (water retention) so much.
Constant water retention from strength training
Many ladies get so caught up in that scale number that they feel like “Why bother lifting? I don't want to carry extra water all the time”…but we are SUPPOSED to carry that water.
Blood = 92% water, the brain & muscles = 75% water, and bones = 22% water. Yet, on the flip side, obesity decreases the water in the body, to as low as 45% (as fat weight is only about 20-25% water).
You do the water math.
Women typically have less water than men (as a percentage), because they carry more fat. But think about it, men typically have an easier time with fat loss because they have more muscle.
The more muscle you carry, the higher your percentage of water will be. All. the. time.
To put it plainly, HEALTHY, and FIT bodies SHOULD carry water!
Coming to terms with a jumpy scale
Sometimes I feel like my weight only ever goes UP. But…when I focused on staying a number on the scale, I NEVER progressed, and actually started looking WORSE. Once I let it go, the floodgates opened and my body begin to FINALLY transform. It really is a hindrance to put so much emphasis on scale weight.
If you know that a jumpy scale will depress you, stay OFF. Let the mirror, pics, the way your clothes fit, and the constant compliments dictate your progress.
And while you're at it, give poor water a break.