Health: What do we mean when we say ‘water weight?’


cassie signore focus on health


When we first begin a new exercise or eating plan, it can be hard to determine what type of weight we are gaining or losing. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase “It’s just water weight” tossed around especially if you’re trying a juice or any type of detox cleanse to jump start your new routine. Many people get frustrated because their weight often fluctuates and they can’t determine the cause. Well, water weight (aka. water retention) is something that affects everybody. I have a few tips that may help you do something about it.

First, what is water retention? Water retention is when fluids in the body (mainly water) begin to build up in your body’s tissues. Sometimes it can just affect certain areas in the body or the entire body itself. Examples include, puffiness or swelling; mainly swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, or legs. Unexplained changes in weight in a short time frame, much like bloating. Aching or stiffness in the affected area; mainly in the hands, knees, and ankles. Second, if you are someone that is experiencing large scale water retention or have trouble getting rid of excess water weight I highly recommend speaking with your doctor to find out what could be causing your body to retain excess water.

So what causes water retention? There are several reasons as to why your body could be holding onto excess water. One reason you could be holding onto water weight is because you’re sitting or standing for long periods of time. Yes, staying dormant for long hours will actually cause your body to accumulate water into areas like your legs and feet, which leads to swelling. If you find your hands or feet starting to swell after remaining in one position for hours on end it may be a good idea for you to get up and move around periodically throughout the day. Even if you’re stuck at a desk job “stretching those legs” or walking around for a few minutes will help your circulation, which can then help reduce water retention and swelling in these areas.

Another reason you may be gaining water weight is maybe your diet is too high in sodium. Eating a diet too high in salt can cause your body to hold onto more water. Many of us forget that prepackaged foods can be very high in sodium even if the food doesn’t taste “salty.” To help avoid unwanted sodium, I recommend following a nutrition plan that consists of mainly whole foods and high in fruit and vegetables. Also, foods high in potassium will help counteract sodium intake and can help reduce fluid retention. Sodium isn’t your enemy it is an important mineral your body needs but like every food you only need certain amounts. Be sure to read your food labels and see just how much sodium you’re taking in every day!

Lastly, drinking water will actually help your body regulate your fluid levels. Just because your body is holding onto excess water doesn’t mean stop drinking it. Try drinking about eight glasses of water per day, that’s about 2L or more if you are regularly active or spend time out in the sun. Dehydration is also a cause of water retention, or swelling, so be sure to keep your body hydrated and drink more water!

Overall, there are many factors as to what may cause water retention in your body, some can be quickly “fixed” while others need professional help. Again, go to your doctor if water weight is something you are struggling with and have been struggling with for a long time in order to find the best solution for you. Remember to keep your fitness endeavors fun and that all good things come to those who sweat.

Cassie Signore is a NASM certified personal trainer, a yoga instructor, nutritional coach, and works at LA Fitness.