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How do you know it’s actual weight gain vs water weight?

whmscllwhmscll Posts: 2,193Member Member Posts: 2,193Member Member
I am brand new to maintenance. I hear a lot of people say they are successful in maintenance by making sure they buckle down again (i.e. eat at a deficit) whenever they near the top of or exceed their maintenance weight range. The common wisdom is to catch weight creep early and don’t let it become permanent regain. I exceeded my maintenance range recently and went back to a deficit, only to discover that it was all water weight (my range is small because a 5-pound gain is really noticeable on me). How do I catch weight creep early? How do I know when I’ve put on actual pounds as opposed to water weight? What are your strategies?
edited January 8

Replies

  • gremloBBPTgremloBBPT Posts: 48Member Member Posts: 48Member Member
    Time, size of the gain, and an honest look at what I'd been eating. I recently gained 6 pounds in two weeks. I'd been pretty loose with what I ate those weeks, but not that loose. I figured it was mostly water weight because of diet change and from flying. Once I was out of vacation mode, it all fell away quickly--only took about 5 days. That surprised me a little because I did think at least a pound of it was a true gain, based on what I'd been eating. And drinking.

    I'm prone to retaining water and I know my triggers for it. So if those things have been going on, I usually conclude it's most, if not all, water weight. You get to know how your body reacts over time.

    Still, I like to cut calories every now and then and eat at my "weight loss" level. I sometimes do that for a day or two after I notice what's likely just a water weight gain. It helps me feel lighter and like I'm being proactive just in case some of it truly is a gain.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 13,696Member Member Posts: 13,696Member Member
    whmscll wrote: »
    I am brand new to maintenance. I hear a lot of people say they are successful in maintenance by making sure they buckle down again (i.e. eat at a deficit) whenever they near the top of or exceed their maintenance weight range. The common wisdom is to catch weight creep early and don’t let it become permanent regain. I exceeded my maintenance range recently and went back to a deficit, only to discover that it was all water weight (my range is small because a 5-pound gain is really noticeable on me).

    A sudden one day over the maintenance range is more likely water weight, especially if you've had a day that's out of your usual eating pattern (or have a cold, sunburn, started new workouts, etc.); I'd give it a few days at normal behavior pattern to see what's happening.

    After a while, you learn your own body's patterns, I think.
    How do I catch weight creep early? How do I know when I’ve put on actual pounds as opposed to water weight?

    As others have said, trust the math (3500 calories over maintenance = 1 pound, but lots all at once may have lower impact than that IME); and sudden big swings are usually water weight or digestive contents, whereas slow creep (weeks to months) is more likely actual gain.

    Pay attention not only to intake, but behavior: Changes in everyday life activity can have noticeable cumulative effects (examples: moving from one office to another at work so fewer stairs or less walking to do tasks; moving to a smaller house; possible significant seasonal variation in home chores; etc.).
    What are your strategies?

    No one should use most of my strategies, but they work for me. ;)

    Ones that might be sensible for others to try (though not universally mandatory): I still log most days (and use my food scale at home), weigh daily, use Libra for trending (with settings that make it less responsive to short but big scale fluctuations), pay attention to satiation, try to keep daily activity up in small ways, exploit useful habits I learned/practiced during weight loss.

    Congratulations on reaching maintenance, and best wishes for long-term success! :flowerforyou:
  • zyxstzyxst Posts: 9,154Member Member Posts: 9,154Member Member
    For me, if the weight doesn't drop off in a few days, it's actual weight gain.
  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Posts: 2,499Member Member Posts: 2,499Member Member
    I have continued to log my food in maintenance because I know how easy it is for me to regain lost weight. That way I can't ignore it when I've been eating too many donuts or pieces of pie. I also know what things trigger water weight on me - like restaurant meals, dehydration, or a really hard workout. I usually don't weigh myself when I know there will be water weight. I only weigh myself once or twice a week. If my weight is up, I'll think about how I've been eating and what other issues might be causing problems. If nothing seems obvious, I'll give it a couple of days and weigh myself again on a day that should be normal. If I'm still up, then I assume I need to cut back on my eating for a while.
  • LivingtheLeanDreamLivingtheLeanDream Posts: 12,710Member Member Posts: 12,710Member Member
    I use a weight trending app, the scale will fluctuate for me around 2-3 lbs but knowing my trend is the main thing. I wouldn't change anything until I saw the trend consistently be up for more than 4-6 weeks because then I would know it was fat gain.
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Posts: 6,518Member Member Posts: 6,518Member Member
    well.... it is a combination of watching and understanding your transient ups and downs vs long-term trend, being aware of what you have been consuming and the activities you have been engaging in during the time frame in question, and a good dose of not really relevant/doesn't matter.

    If you know what your "normal" ups and downs are and your trend is not reflecting a persistent fat gain... you've answered the question: no need to worry about it.

    If you know how much you've been eating relative to your activities and the numbers could not possibly add up to a fat gain similar to what you see on the scale... you've answered the question: no need to worry about it.

    And the rest of it is not really relevant and doesn't matter unless and until your general awareness of the situation as confirmed by the weight trend (or incipient weight trend) reflect a persistent change.

    At which point you should probably worry about it!

    BTW: when the weight trend is reflecting a persistent change (i.e. we are at the point where we should probably worry about it) again there are two options as to how we got there.

    Explained (as per the discussion above) or unexplained (medical issue, or logging/awareness failure).

    In all the above combinations, assuming we are willing to put in the effort, there is only one situation where we might be caught up in a truly un-anticipated weight increase!

    (and now that I think about it, a medical issue would still be water weight as opposed to fat!)
    edited January 10
  • SylphadoraSylphadora Posts: 72Member Member Posts: 72Member Member
    I watched this video by Thomas DeLauer the other day about this very same topic. You might find it helpful :)
  • bmeadows380bmeadows380 Posts: 1,549Member Member Posts: 1,549Member Member
    try2again wrote: »
    I think it's mostly the time frame. Weight creep is just that- it's often barely noticeable over a short time frame. Water weight can come and go virtually overnight.

    boy, I wish water weight went off for me that fast! I've experienced as much as 7 lbs gained over night - I know for a fact that it's water weight, so I don't panic; but it can take as much as 2 weeks for me to finally see it all go away; definitely a few days.

    I'm not in maintenance yet, but water weight is still an issue because it can easily mask your successes for the week, even if you're like me and still working from a hefty deficit with a lot to lose. Like everyone else said, I don't let a gain of a couple of pounds over night or even over a week scare me because I know that I didn't over eat that much in that time period, even if I was on vacation or something where I wasn't counting as closely as usual. I ride it out and watch for the over all trend. Though I'm not using a trending app (I'd like to look into those, though!), I've found that when I get frustrated with myself and feel like I"m stalled, if I go back and look where I was 2 or even 3 months ago, the trend will show the downward turn.
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