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Water weight effect on measurements

naddyelanaddyela Member Posts: 2 Member Member Posts: 2 Member
Hi everyone!

I am confused and hoping someone out there has experienced this too so I can get some clarity. I've lost a lot of weight but for the last while, I've been retaining a lot more water than usual, maybe because of the hot weather or who knows, but I do notice that I retain water here and there. I know I shouldn't be discouraged and I need to just focus on eating right, but I have a question. I've read many times that the number on the scale isn't the best indicator of your progress, you should also take measurements. My question is, does anyone else notice that they get puffy and look a bit bigger when they retain water? With that being said, wouldn't your measurements be affected by that?

Replies

  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,892 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,892 Member
    Sure. Puffiness from water weight can be measurable with a tape, sometimes. Or, it can be spread across the body in a way that adds a trivial (pretty unnoticeable) amount to any particular measurement. Or it can show up in some measurement, but in a different distribution than one's fat tends to distribute itself, so give an indication that what's in play is water retention.

    Tape measurements are just another set of datapoints. Sometimes they suggest something different from the scale. One can't count on either or all of the metrics to head in an encouraging direction every time - especially not in short time periods of hours to days - even if fat loss is actually actually happening.

    After a while, I think many of us may reach a point where we trust the process. (I'm in year 5+ of maintaining a healthy weight, after previous decades of obesity. I generally trust my estimated calorie needs, and my logging process, expect longer-term results to line up with what I'm doing.)

    A few rules of thumb I find/found helpful: Significant sudden scale/measurement changes over a day or few tend to be water weight or temporary digestive contents. Gradual creeping changes over several weeks may be fat (noting that I'm in menopause, so I don't have hormone-related monthly weight cycles - premenopausal women can learn their own typical fluctuation patterns). It takes many weeks to months, even years, for changes in muscle mass to affect scale/measurements significantly. In general, if I didn't eat 3500 calories over maintenance (or move that much less, or a combination) cumulatively over X hours/days, I didn't gain a pound of fat over X hours/days.

    Yes, hot weather is one thing that can trigger some extra water retention, but lots of things can do it.

    Good read:

    https://physiqonomics.com/the-weird-and-highly-annoying-world-of-scale-weight-and-fluctuations
  • Beverly2HansenBeverly2Hansen Member Posts: 353 Member Member Posts: 353 Member
    In answer to your question yes and no. As a women our measurments are effected by hormone and menstration cycle. The week before your menstration you typically hold the most water retention which goes away around day 3 of menstration. To guage an acurate measurement you need to take them on the same day of the month. For me I do mine the day after my menstration stops. That way my measurements are at the same water retention and hormone spot in my monthly cycle. Otherwise you can try things that help you lose water like dandelion extract or apple cider vinagar but I find it's easier to just plan your measuring around real life. You're only supposed to measure every 4 weeks too.
  • hiparihipari Member, Premium Posts: 1,244 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,244 Member
    Disaree with the statement ”only supposed to measure every 4 weeks” above. You can measure as often or rarely as you want, but daily or weekly measurements might not give any noticeable difference.

    Measurements are also affected by a wide variety of factors, which include but definitely aren’t limited to hormonal cycles. Weather, diet and exercise are just some examples of other factors.

    If you wear rings, you’ve surely noticed that on a puffier day they might get stuck on your fingers, and that they don’t feel like exactly the same size every single day? The same thing can happen elsewhere on your body, and can be noticeable enough to be measured.
  • Pras72Pras72 Member, Premium Posts: 10 Member Member, Premium Posts: 10 Member
    Water retention could b because of whole set of factors and yes some people seem more prone. Anything from new routine in workouts, excess carbs, hormones, consuming excess water etc depends person to person, as someone suggested dandelion capsules r good choice if water retention really bothers u... weigh morning empty stomach after morning duties is best time to minimize water impact on measurements
  • naddyelanaddyela Member Posts: 2 Member Member Posts: 2 Member
    Thank you for all the responses everyone. I tend to take measurements once a week, specifically on Sunday and every Sunday I use the sauna and I spend more time outside and without fail, I weigh more on Mondays. Out of curiosity I check my measurements on Monday and saw that I was around half an inch more in my hips and waist on Mondays so I wanted to see if anyone else had similar experiences. I have also checked my measurements before and after the sauna/sweating outside and noticed a difference. Are measurements potentially something that could fluctuate just like our weight?
    It's hard to know what my real measurements are.
  • hiparihipari Member, Premium Posts: 1,244 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,244 Member
    Your ”real” measurements are just as abstract as ”real” weight, both fluctuate and are merely a snapshot of data at any given moment. For someone with weight loss (or gain) goals, the value of both weight and measurements comes from tracking trends over time.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 19,044 Member Member Posts: 19,044 Member
    I'll comment that the advice to measure and not just weigh when there may be water being retained is usually for the effect of stress induced increased cortisol retained water - that seems to be spread throughout the body.
    So several measurements likely won't pickup on that increase, and fat loss during that time the scale remains the same or increases is likely to still show a decrease in measurements.

    Of course if the amount of diet being attempted is causing that stress effect specifically, even if fat is still being lost it's a bad state for the body to be in - usually muscle mass is being lost too.

    The water increases from workouts are usually in the muscles that were overloaded - so fat in waist perhaps still has a drop in size, but thighs and glutes are bigger measurements perhaps.

    If you are sore from chores/workouts on the weekend body will retain water in spots used, hot tub likely would increase that.

    You say you've lost a lot of weight - I'll mention that whatever rate you did at start, if it was reasonable, would not be a reasonable rate near the end.
    Just in case that's what you are attempting to do.
    You could indeed have more stress induced retained water weight due to that.
  • lynn_glenmontlynn_glenmont Member Posts: 8,888 Member Member Posts: 8,888 Member
    In answer to your question yes and no. As a women our measurments are effected by hormone and menstration cycle. The week before your menstration you typically hold the most water retention which goes away around day 3 of menstration. To guage an acurate measurement you need to take them on the same day of the month. For me I do mine the day after my menstration stops. That way my measurements are at the same water retention and hormone spot in my monthly cycle. Otherwise you can try things that help you lose water like dandelion extract or apple cider vinagar but I find it's easier to just plan your measuring around real life. You're only supposed to measure every 4 weeks too.


    I disagree with the bolded. Either
    (1) these are ineffective so why do it? Or
    (2) they are effective, but trying to manipulate water weight through the use of diuretics is a really bad idea, unless you are doing it under the direction of a doctor to deal with actual medical issues caused by excess water retention (like a build-up of fluid putting pressure on organs).
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 20,892 Member Member, Premium Posts: 20,892 Member
    naddyela wrote: »
    Thank you for all the responses everyone. I tend to take measurements once a week, specifically on Sunday and every Sunday I use the sauna and I spend more time outside and without fail, I weigh more on Mondays. Out of curiosity I check my measurements on Monday and saw that I was around half an inch more in my hips and waist on Mondays so I wanted to see if anyone else had similar experiences. I have also checked my measurements before and after the sauna/sweating outside and noticed a difference. Are measurements potentially something that could fluctuate just like our weight?
    It's hard to know what my real measurements are.

    Why does it matter what your "real" measurements or weight are?

    I'd argue that what matters is trends, over longer time periods.

    I don't think I have a "true weight" (or "true measurements") I have a current weight range (up and down a few pounds within a day, and likewise over up to a few days), and a longer-term weight trend (the current range drifts downward, stays level-ish, or drifts upward over weeks to months or years; always with small, meaningless ups and downs along the way).

    I don't do a lot of tape-measuring (more just pay attention to clothes-fit), but to the extent I do measure, I think of it the same way: The measurements will vary up and down meaninglessly over short term periods, but show trends over longer periods. Usually, the trends of measurements are slower, for me at least, than the weight trends.

    I'll quote my own PP from above:
    Significant sudden scale/measurement changes over a day or few tend to be water weight or temporary digestive contents. Gradual creeping changes over several weeks may be fat (noting that I'm in menopause, so I don't have hormone-related monthly weight cycles - premenopausal women can learn their own typical fluctuation patterns). It takes many weeks to months, even years, for changes in muscle mass to affect scale/measurements significantly.

    Same stuff applies to tape measurements as to scale weight, IMO.
  • Beverly2HansenBeverly2Hansen Member Posts: 353 Member Member Posts: 353 Member
    In answer to your question yes and no. As a women our measurments are effected by hormone and menstration cycle. The week before your menstration you typically hold the most water retention which goes away around day 3 of menstration. To guage an acurate measurement you need to take them on the same day of the month. For me I do mine the day after my menstration stops. That way my measurements are at the same water retention and hormone spot in my monthly cycle. Otherwise you can try things that help you lose water like dandelion extract or apple cider vinagar but I find it's easier to just plan your measuring around real life. You're only supposed to measure every 4 weeks too.


    I disagree with the bolded. Either
    (1) these are ineffective so why do it? Or
    (2) they are effective, but trying to manipulate water weight through the use of diuretics is a really bad idea, unless you are doing it under the direction of a doctor to deal with actual medical issues caused by excess water retention (like a build-up of fluid putting pressure on organs).

    Definitely 2 the methods I listed are researched based methods to drop water retention and work to varying degrees. Also you guys are right that you can take weekly or even daily measurements. I just think for long term progress the way most people tally monthly weight loss a monthly measurement shows more data. I'm also more familiar with my power lifting husbands bulking measurments than a women's weightloss measurements.

    I'm shocked you go up in weight after using a sauna. I had heard they lower your water retention and drop weight but I never tried it. In the long run you're monitoring your body changes in relationship to a goal so manipulating data by removing water retention is kind of pointless and in some cases harmful to your health depending on how you do it.
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