Water Fluctuations and Your Weight By Bob Greene, BFA, MFA Glee Contributor
Be forewarned that when you first become active or increase the amount and intensity of your exercise, you will retain extra water.
Gaining this extra water weight can be disheartening and has caused many people to give up their exercise programs. The truth is that gaining this extra water weight is a very good sign.
As you become more active and drink more water, your muscles will act like sponges and will immediately become more fully hydrated. In addition, you may also add a little new muscle, which in turn will store even more water.
The more active you are, the more glycogen (a stored carbohydrate) your muscles will retain. Each gram of glycogen stores an additional 2.5 to 3 grams of water.
Finally, the better shape you're in, the more water is stored within your bloodstream. This additional water weight can be significant and is most pronounced when you increase your level of fitness.
This explains why physically fit individuals store considerably more water within their bodies than unfit individuals. This also explains how a very fit person can weigh much more than their appearance would suggest.
When you exercise regularly, you're sending the message to your body that water needs to be stored in relatively large quantities. Your body responds by finding creative ways to store this additional water. The fitter you become, the higher your percentage of water weight will be, and the lower your percentage of body fat.
Don't let this additional water weight frustrate you. It's a good sign! It means that your metabolism is increasing as well as your potential to burn fat. That's why I especially like to see my new clients put on this initial water weight; it usually means that good things are about to happen -- that is, as long as they remain patient through the first four to six weeks.
The water cycles
In addition to the initial water weight gain that you'll experience when you become more active, your body has various water cycles that influence the retention and release of water weight.
These are daily, weekly, monthly and even seasonal water cycles. These cycles occur for a variety of complex reasons, and they are not all fully understood. There are also times when these cycles converge to reach their respective highs, at which time you'll experience a significant increase in your water weight and, consequently, your total weight.
It's at these times that you must reassure yourself that as long as you are consistently "on the program," there will be a gradual reduction in your body fat -- even if the scale doesn't confirm it! By the same token, there will be times the various water cycles converge at a low point, resulting in your body retaining less water. This will lead to a decrease in your total body weight. This is also somewhat of an illusion and should not cause you to become overconfident.
It all comes down to trust -- trust in yourself! As long as you are patient and believe you are doing the best thing for yourself and that you deserve the results your desire, those good results will happen!
Water weight gain is commonly responsible for the scale not budging -- or even moving higher. Remember that each time you improve your level of fitness your body holds more water. Don't worry about it. Water fluctuations happen to everyone and are nothing to be concerned about unless you let them affect your emotions. If you suspect you're retaining water, just examine how your clothes fit. If, despite an increase in your weight, your clothes fit about the same or even more loosely, water is probably to blame.
When you lose weight the right way -- by being active -- the rules change a bit. It's very common to be losing fat but gaining weight. As frustrating as this can be, my advice is to simply focus on how good you feel, how your clothes fit, and the other positive changes that are happening to you.