Water Weight and its Effects on Weight Loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re moving toward your current weight-loss goal, you’ll often find yourself stepping on the scale and discovering you’re either a few pounds heavier or lighter than the day you did before. 

Stepping on the scale and discovering that you’re light a few pounds can help motivate you on the way to building healthier habits.

That being said, we all know that fluctuations on the scale could be largely due to day-to-day fluctuations in water weight and not direct fat loss.

Today, we’re going to examine the role of water weight in your weight loss efforts and explain why you should be mindful next time you step on the scale.


What we see as a direct decrease in body weight could be a change in fat, water, and muscle. Water makes up approximately 60 percent of your body weight and it’s naturally one of the first things you lose.

Fat mass cannot change overnight. But you can lose as much as 4-5 pounds of water in a single day. Your body is constantly removing and replenishing water through the foods and drinks you consume. 

By contrast, it’s practically impossible to lose a pound of fat overnight. Let’s do the math – with 454 grams of fat in 1 pound, assuming one gram of fat contains about 9 calories, you would need to burn close to 4,000 calories overnight.  


Many people who are chasing a weight-loss goal tend to eat fewer calories and do more exercise. When you cut off calories and carbs in order to achieve weight loss, the first place your body is going to go for that extra energy is your glycogen stores. 

These stores are housed in the liver and skeletal muscles. Glycogen is normally stored alongside lots of water so tapping into it will release that water. Exercising more often will also cause you to lose water weight through all the sweat you’ll be evaporating. You’ll still be losing fat, but at a much slower rate than water. 


Certain nutrients and foods can change your body’s water levels in the short term.


As mentioned above, when you cut carbs out of your system, you’re going to release a lot of water since the body is going to tap into its glycogen stores.


If you increase your protein intake so you can lose weight, your body will excrete more water. Protein breakdown will cause urea and other wastes to be created that require water to remove them from the body.


Your body naturally retains water so it can dilute excess sodium. While this has a tiny effect on water weight, it can be harmful to you over time. Holding on to that excess sodium and fluid will increase your blood pressure. 

This means your heart has to work harder, causing wear and tear on your entire cardiovascular system. Whether or not water weight is something you’re trying to manage, eating less sodium is likely a good idea.


Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it’s going to cause water loss and increased urination. Studies have shown that this effect is even stronger in individuals who are deprived of caffeine or new to the substance. If you regularly drink coffee, drinking coffee and tea will do little for your water weight as a whole


High-intensity workouts, especially those in humid, hot weather, will increase your water loss due to high sweat rates. This is why long-distance runners always weigh themselves before and after a run to see how much fluid they should be drinking to replace the sweat they lose. It’s known that even the mildest form of dehydration can have a negative impact on your exercise performance.


Water weight can be annoying since nobody feels like being bloated – but thankfully, that’s a short-term issue. It’s absolutely normal for your water weight to fluctuate on a day to day basis. 

This is why weighing yourself weekly could even be a better idea than weighing yourself daily. Long-term changes in your body will result from changes to lean muscle and fat so day-to-day water weight isn’t something that should bother you. Keep in mind good hydration will help you lose weight by curbing off hunger and enhancing fat burn.