Experiencing water weight, also known as fluid retention or water retention, might make you wonder if drinking a lot of water will make you fat. However, it just means that there's extra water in the tissue between your cells. Luckily, retained water won't last forever.
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Drinking water will not make you put on weight. It might seem like you've gained weight because you could be retaining water, but that extra pound or two will disappear in due time.
How to Avoid Water Retention
Smart nutritional strategies will help you avoid retaining water. For example, consuming too much of either salt or carbohydrates can cause water weight. According to the FDA, Americans consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily, but really, you should eat 2,300 milligrams or less a day.
Carbohydrates can also cause water retention, according to a September 2015 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average person should be consuming 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day if on a 2,000-calorie diet. Both sodium and carbs are important for health, but too much can be a bad thing. Try reducing your salt and carb intake to reduce your water weight gain.
About 92 percent of women experience water retention during PMS, according to a March 2015 study published in the International Journal of Women's Health, so you might notice that you gain a few pounds around the time of your period. These pounds will come off shortly because it is not the result of fat or muscle gained — it's just water retention.
Symptoms of Water Retention
How do you know it's water retention and not actual fat or muscle gained? Symptoms of water retention include:
- Weight fluctuations
- Swelling or puffiness, particularly in the arms or legs
- Increase in abdomen size
- Achy joints or limbs
- Skin tightness
- Shiny skin
These are normal, common signs that you are experiencing water retention. The NHS recommends you seek medical attention if you have severe fluid retention, which is a sign of a more serious health problem, such as a kidney problem. Symptoms of severe fluid retention include breathlessness, swollen ankles and frequently waking up during the night to urinate.
Read More: How to Get Rid of Water Retention Fast
Water Consumption and Weight Loss
Water is important to keep your body hydrated, and it can help you lose weight, though it shouldn't be the only thing you consume. Start by replacing unhealthy beverages, such as soda or energy drinks, with water. Water doesn't contain calories, sugar or carbs — all things that can cause potentially weight gain.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that overweight people who drank 34 to 50 ounces of water every day for eight weeks had a significant reduction in body fat, waist circumference, body mass index and overall weight.
- FDA: Use the Nutrition Facts Label to Reduce Your Intake of Sodium in Your Diet
- Mayo Clinic: Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit Into a Healthy Diet
- The Hormone Health Network: What is Estrogen?
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Characterization of Symptoms and Edema Distribution in Premenstrual Syndrome
- NHS: Nine Medical Reasons for Putting on Weight
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Effect of 'Water Induced Thermogenesis' on Body Weight, Body Mass Index and Body Composition of Overweight Subjects
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: Relationship Between Muscle Water and Glocogen Recovery After Prolonged Exercise in the Heat in Humans
- Mayo Clinic: Edema Symptoms and Causes