Are You Losing Fat or Water?

Losing Fat or Water?

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Are you losing fat or water weight?  This is a more important question than you may realize.  In fact, knowing that this question should be asked in the first place can help you to better understand the process of your weight control and what might happen along that road.   After all, as obvious as dieting may seem, it is far more complex than many people anticipate.

The Issue of Losing Fat or Water

Many people who begin dieting will notice that in the first few days pounds are shed faster than the rest of the dieting period. This rapid period of weight loss is generally due to water loss and not actual fat loss. This is particularly true for people who take diet pills containing diuretics to assist with weight loss and people who begin a low-carb diet.

This initial drop in weight can be very deceptive.  Without considering whether you are losing fat or water, you will likely see the number falling on the scale and assume you’re experiencing fat loss.  While this can feel very rewarding at the start, it can be quite disappointing later on when you cannot keep up the same rate of weight loss even while keeping up the same efforts. That can cut into your motivation to keep going since it can feel as though your success is only falling.

Don’t Be Discouraged by Slowing Weight Loss After a Strong Start

Even if you think you’re losing fat at the start, the odds are that the majority of the pounds coming off is the result of water loss. Certainly, some fat will come off if you are controlling what you eat and pairing that with regular exercise, stress management and make a priority of getting a good rest every night.

At the start of a diet in particular, it has been estimated that about 25 percent of all weight loss is water. This can be even higher when using diet pills that contain diuretics.  They flush out water weight for a temporary drop in body weight.  That said, when the dieter returns to a fully hydrated state, the weight will come back with it.

Unless you have been retaining a truly large amount of water, your goal shouldn’t be to focus on water weight.  When looking at losing fat or water weight, it is the former that needs to be your top goal for long term results.

How Fast Can the Body Burn Fat?

On average, unless taking extreme and unhealthy measures to drop body mass, the most fat loss that the average body can sustain is about 2-3 pounds per week. The rest will be either water loss or a combination of muscle and water weight.

If you are following a diet or using a pill that causes you to lose a very large amount of weight, the odds are that it’s not just fat your body is losing.  Water will be another major factor and you may even be burning through your muscles.  That can be damaging to your long term weight control since muscles burn through calories very efficiently. The less you have of them, the slower your metabolism will be. 

As you can see, gradual weight loss, even if it is slower, will be far better for your long term weight management.  It will not only bring down your pounds in a healthy way, but it will make it easier for you to stop them from ever returning.

Why you Lose Water Weight when Dieting

The water weight loss comes from a net loss of protein and carbohydrates, especially during the first few weeks of a reduction in calories. On reducing calories the body needs to rely more on energy within the body and thus breaks down protein and carbohydrate for metabolism. When these nutrients are metabolised water is released. Fat stores do supply a little of the energy but at first a good proportion comes from protein and the limited stores of carbohydrates within the cells.