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Is Water Weight a Myth?

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  • stealthqstealthq Posts: 4,307Member Member Posts: 4,307Member Member
    In practicality, I'm curious as to the thresholds for losing or gaining water weight from glycogen or sodium. As an example, is a 500-700mg drop or increase in sodium enough to cause a couple pound difference from that? Is a 20% reduction or increase in carbs (assuming exercise levels stay constant) enough to cause a 2 lb difference?

    That would depend on initial levels of both.

    For example, if you're already eating a very high sodium diet, adding or reducing 500-700mg more won't change much. On the other hand, if your diet is very low sodium adding 500-700mg more can have a definite effect - especially if it's all in one meal.

    No way to quantify how much one might gain or lose - that's dependent on body size as well. Bigger people have more water & glycogen storage potential.
  • piperdown44piperdown44 Posts: 958Member, Premium Member Posts: 958Member, Premium Member
    Can't speak for everyone but I know when I start a cut cycle and carbs are brought down I end up losing about 4-5lbs within 3-5 days. During that time, if I go overboard on a weekend my weight is up about the same amount and, back on a cut again, it's back down in 3-4 days.
    When I go on a bulk, same increase happens within a few days.
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Posts: 36,813Member Member Posts: 36,813Member Member
    You've never had to make weight have you? If you ever had to make weight, you'd understand that it's a very real thing and not a myth.

    And if you look at carbs, for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds onto 3 grams of water...suffice it to say that when you cut carbs you are going to dump a lot of water...when you then increase carbs, you're going to hold onto more water and thus water weight. By weight, water can make up anywhere from 45%-65% of the human body makeup...I'm not sure how you would think there couldn't and wouldn't be fluctuations in there that would obviously show up on the scale.
  • klmcneil1klmcneil1 Posts: 26Member Member Posts: 26Member Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    You've never had to make weight have you? If you ever had to make weight, you'd understand that it's a very real thing and not a myth.

    And if you look at carbs, for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds onto 3 grams of water...suffice it to say that when you cut carbs you are going to dump a lot of water...when you then increase carbs, you're going to hold onto more water and thus water weight. By weight, water can make up anywhere from 45%-65% of the human body makeup...I'm not sure how you would think there couldn't and wouldn't be fluctuations in there that would obviously show up on the scale.

    Several people have mentioned bodybuilding or making weight, and I must admit I'm not terribly familiar with the process. What exactly do bodybuilders (and, I guess, boxers or wrestlers or whoever) do to themselves when they're trying to "make weight"?
  • zyxstzyxst Posts: 9,145Member Member Posts: 9,145Member Member
    klmcneil1 wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    You've never had to make weight have you? If you ever had to make weight, you'd understand that it's a very real thing and not a myth.

    And if you look at carbs, for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds onto 3 grams of water...suffice it to say that when you cut carbs you are going to dump a lot of water...when you then increase carbs, you're going to hold onto more water and thus water weight. By weight, water can make up anywhere from 45%-65% of the human body makeup...I'm not sure how you would think there couldn't and wouldn't be fluctuations in there that would obviously show up on the scale.

    Several people have mentioned bodybuilding or making weight, and I must admit I'm not terribly familiar with the process. What exactly do bodybuilders (and, I guess, boxers or wrestlers or whoever) do to themselves when they're trying to "make weight"?

    Force themselves to sweat was a huge one when I was in school 25 years ago. Wearing garbage bags or those stupid parachute pants while training or sitting in a sauna for a few hours. Whatever is the quickest way to dump a lot of water. Not eating was what I was told to do, but this was by sexist jerks.

    ETA: I know it's the Wiki, but it explains it - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weight_cutting
    edited April 2016
  • 3dogsrunning3dogsrunning Posts: 27,238Member Member Posts: 27,238Member Member
    klmcneil1 wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    You've never had to make weight have you? If you ever had to make weight, you'd understand that it's a very real thing and not a myth.

    And if you look at carbs, for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds onto 3 grams of water...suffice it to say that when you cut carbs you are going to dump a lot of water...when you then increase carbs, you're going to hold onto more water and thus water weight. By weight, water can make up anywhere from 45%-65% of the human body makeup...I'm not sure how you would think there couldn't and wouldn't be fluctuations in there that would obviously show up on the scale.

    Several people have mentioned bodybuilding or making weight, and I must admit I'm not terribly familiar with the process. What exactly do bodybuilders (and, I guess, boxers or wrestlers or whoever) do to themselves when they're trying to "make weight"?

    For bodybuilding comp, some people dehydrate which plays with glycogen as well. They will go very low carb a couple of days out before the competition. Then do workouts to deplete the glycogen in the muscles. Some people take diuretics as well.
    Just prior to the competition, they reintroduce carbs but not drink water. Your body needs to store the carbs in the muscles but also needs water so it takes it from elsewhere in the body. It results in more definition.
  • Springfield1970Springfield1970 Posts: 1,945Member Member Posts: 1,945Member Member
    They're trying to be the top weight they possibly can be for a light as possible class, so they have an advantage over the other people in the class.
  • usmcmpusmcmp Posts: 21,339Member, Premium Member Posts: 21,339Member, Premium Member
    klmcneil1 wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    You've never had to make weight have you? If you ever had to make weight, you'd understand that it's a very real thing and not a myth.

    And if you look at carbs, for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds onto 3 grams of water...suffice it to say that when you cut carbs you are going to dump a lot of water...when you then increase carbs, you're going to hold onto more water and thus water weight. By weight, water can make up anywhere from 45%-65% of the human body makeup...I'm not sure how you would think there couldn't and wouldn't be fluctuations in there that would obviously show up on the scale.

    Several people have mentioned bodybuilding or making weight, and I must admit I'm not terribly familiar with the process. What exactly do bodybuilders (and, I guess, boxers or wrestlers or whoever) do to themselves when they're trying to "make weight"?

    Bodybuilders dehydrate to give themselves the grainy look. They cut way back on carbs, cut out all sodium and increase potassium, drink tons of water (several gallons per day) for a few days up to a week then cut it completely for a few days, exercise, take a bunch of caffeine pills and diuretics, and sometimes go sweat in a sauna. A few hours before the competition they add water and sodium back in along with some fat and carbs to provide the full look in the muscles while still looking grainy and vascular. Not all do this, but it is pretty standard for many.
  • DorkothyParkerDorkothyParker Posts: 618Member Member Posts: 618Member Member
    Definitely not a myth. But also, could be exaggerated.

    I lost 5 lbs in a week first starting keto. This is a lot for me, but not a low for overweight people starting out. Anyway, I did increase my sodium intake tremendously but I always weigh first thing in the morning in a dehydrated state. Some of that is water, but not all. I know I can vary 2lbs from hormone retention and the like as well. But for those who lose 10 lbs + their first week, I think it's a mix of fat and water. It's not all water!

    When I was sick, I knew people who would drink (or try to get away with drinking) a liter of water before weighing to up their weight. :/ Water is heavy.
  • robininflrobininfl Posts: 1,144Member Member Posts: 1,144Member Member
    Water is so heavy, almost 8lb a gallon. When I get my period I drop pounds from just peeing more, so must be holding a lot more water before. Like wringing out a sponge.

    Diuretics are real things, and isn't there a limit on how much fat a body can really use up in a day? Anything on the order of pounds in a day has to be water.
  • ForecasterJasonForecasterJason Posts: 2,582Member Member Posts: 2,582Member Member
    I came across an article that I think explains this concept well. http://justinowings.com/understanding-bodyweight-and-glycogen-de/
  • Springfield1970Springfield1970 Posts: 1,945Member Member Posts: 1,945Member Member
    Definitely not a myth. But also, could be exaggerated.

    I lost 5 lbs in a week first starting keto. This is a lot for me, but not a low for overweight people starting out. Anyway, I did increase my sodium intake tremendously but I always weigh first thing in the morning in a dehydrated state. Some of that is water, but not all. I know I can vary 2lbs from hormone retention and the like as well. But for those who lose 10 lbs + their first week, I think it's a mix of fat and water. It's not all water!

    When I was sick, I knew people who would drink (or try to get away with drinking) a liter of water before weighing to up their weight. :/ Water is heavy.

    the body is made up of lots of elements that can effect the scale weight.
    If one lost 10lbs in their first week it could be:

    Less food and waste in the gut
    Less water in the gut, due to less carbs (which get pumped with water)
    Less water in cells throughout the body, dehydration.
    Less glycogen in liver and muscles, and the water that tags along.
    Less muscle.
    Less other lean body mass, organs.
    Less bone density.
    Less blood volume

    Could we add anything else?

    *Less water used with fat storage. Thanks @ForecasterJason

    Regarding FAT loss, it would be relevant to the calories.
    There's no way you would lose much fat in the first week of a diet, ie even you were eating 1000 under your TDEE you would lose 2lb of fat and lean body mass (a 7000 calorie deficit = 2lbs).

    To lose 10lbs of fat and LBM if your TDEE was 2000 cals, you'd have to be starving, eating nothing, and burning an additional 6000 cals a week of exercise cals.

    Compare this to me cutting at 100-150 calories per day (about 4-7% below TDEE) to target only FAT.
    I also believe in being fully hydrated, pumped full of glycogen not worrying about water retention, but being under 20% body fat so it doesn't matter....

    This weight loss thing is fascinating.

    @usmcmp I'd like to hear your thoughts on this please.
    edited April 2016
  • Springfield1970Springfield1970 Posts: 1,945Member Member Posts: 1,945Member Member
    I came across an article that I think explains this concept well. http://justinowings.com/understanding-bodyweight-and-glycogen-de/

    Great article!

    I didn't realise that fat needed water for storage, but of course now that makes complete sense.
    Especially when I see how wobbly my fat can get! Then also how my lower body can shrink drastically with just a pound lost.
    I can add that to my list....
  • LisaKay91LisaKay91 Posts: 210Member Member Posts: 210Member Member
    I lost around 14/15lbs within the first 9 days of my diet. I have enough sense to know it isn't fat loss but it's still interesting to see what all goes out when you start eating better.
  • MissusMoonMissusMoon Posts: 1,911Member Member Posts: 1,911Member Member
    There are some solid comments on the science already. I'll just say that when I started MFP, I lost six and half pounds in two and half days. It is not within the realm of scientific possibility that all of that was fat. Very little, if any, could be fat. Given I'd drastically reduced my overall intake, including sodium and carbs, and was pounding water it is obvious it was water weight.
  • therealfitttherealfitt Posts: 8Member, Premium Member Posts: 8Member, Premium Member
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