Dehydration and Weight Loss

A close-up of sports drinks in the fridge.
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When you're dehydrated, you may notice a significant drop on the scale and wonder how you suddenly lost several pounds so quickly. Even if your goal is to lose weight, losing it through dehydration isn't the way to go. Your body needs fluids to function, and dehydration can quickly become a life-threatening issue. Losing fluids may also mean losing pounds, but you want to get rid of fat -- not the water your body needs to stay healthy.

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration is a condition in which the body has lost valuable fluids, like water, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, or NLM. You may become dehydrated simply by not drinking as much water as you should each day. But dehydration may also result from vomiting and diarrhea. And if you're sick, you may lose your appetite for food and drink -- which can deplete your fluids reserves and make you drop pounds.

Signs of Dehydration

If you're dehydrated, you may notice that your mouth feels dry, and that you're not urinating as often as usual, notes the NLM. Your urine may also be an unusually dark shade of yellow. Your eyes may appear a bit caved in, and you may not create any tears when you cry. If you're extremely dehydrated, you may find that you feel extremely sluggish.

Treating Dehydration

Up your intake of fluids as soon as you spot the signs of dehydration, suggests the NLM, drinking slowly and steadily throughout the day. Drink plenty of water, or try a sports drink that includes a solution of carbohydrates and added electrolytes. If you are severely dehydrated, the NLM advises that you need treatment by medical professionals to intravenously replace the fluids that you've lost.

Spare Calories, Not Fluids

If you're cutting back on fluids because you're trying to lose weight, you could end up dehydrated. If weight loss is your goal, don't waste calories on drinks -- but don't go without fluids, warns Kidshealth.org. There are safe and healthy ways to lose weight that don't involve stripping your body of essential fluids. Instead of drinking soda or sweetened fruit drinks packed with sugar, opt for water -- it's calorie-free and will keep you hydrated. Stick with sugar-free beverages and fat-free or low-fat milk to minimize calories without sacrificing fluids, suggests Kidshealth.org.

Safe Weight Loss

The key to safe weight loss without suffering from dehydration is sticking to a healthy diet and drinking plenty of no-calorie or low-calorie beverages. Choose lean proteins, low-fat or fat-free dairy, fruits and vegetables over high-fat or fried foods. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests taking a look at your eating habits. Avoid bad habits that can boost weight gain, such as always eating everything on your plate or eating when you're tired and stressed out.

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