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Do You Retain Water Before Losing Weight?

Water retention is one of the universal boogeymen of anyone trying to lose weight. Fewer things are more frustrating than working out and eating well only to step on the scale and see that you've gained a pound or two. Don't panic. Water weight can cause a significant change in the numbers on your scale, but there are ways to keep it under control.


Many of the foods that contribute to weight gain are high in sodium. A diet high in sodium causes your body to retain water to balance out the increase in salt. So, you were probably carrying extra water weight before you adopted healthier eating habits. When your body retains excess water, it can manifest in your tissues by swollen hands and feet, making you feel bloated and even thirsty. This extra water in your tissues will show up on the scale. The best way to combat water retention is to cut out processed foods and soft drinks and stop adding salt to the foods that you eat.

Weight Loss

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Rapid weight loss at the beginning of a diet is usually due to excreting the extra water you've been retaining. This is generally caused by a sudden, drastic drop in the amount of sodium you take in when you start making healthier food choices. This initial weight loss can be as much as 5 and 8 pounds, depending on your starting weight. But it is a false weight loss. When you get rehydrated, you'll see the number on your scale go back up a bit. This doesn't mean that you're retaining water in an unhealthy way; it means that your body is adjusting to your healthier eating habits.


A diet rich in water-based vegetables helps keep your body hydrated and your electrolytes in balance. The water in fresh vegetables, in combination with the fiber they contain, aids in healthy elimination, making it easier for your body to rid itself of waste. This helps shrink both the bloating in your belly constipation causes, wand the numbers on your scale. High water content foods such as watermelon and celery can help hydrate and nourish your body without adding a lot of calories to your meal plan.


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One of the best ways to avoid the water retention that looks to your scale like weight gain is to stay fully hydrated. Your body needs water to perform every one of its functions properly, so providing your body with enough water every day reduces or eliminates its need to retain water. Drink between 32 and 64 ounces of water daily to ensure that you are getting enough, especially if you are exercising regularly or live in a hot climate, and you'll see fewer upsurges in those numbers on the scale.


If you are drinking enough water, restricting your sodium intake to less than 1,000 milligrams per day and are still retaining enough water to cause swelled hands and feet and measurable weight gain, you may want to check in with your doctor. Sometimes water retention is linked to high blood pressure or issues of heart health. If you monitor your salt intake, stay hydrated and eat a water-rich diet, you should not retain water while losing weight.