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Why Do You Lose Weight When Dehydrated?

Do you notice a significant drop in weight whenever you are dehydrated? Wonder why it happens and what is the science behind it? While few people propose the idea of dehydration to lose weight, it can have a negative impact on your overall health. Read this article to find out the correlation between dehydration and sudden weight loss, while you understand why it is not an ideal thing to do.

What Is Dehydration?

The human body contains 60% water while 40% constitutes the rest. It needs fluids to function properly. Dehydration happens when your body utilizes more fluid than your intake. You may be dehydrated simply by not consuming the adequate water that you should in a day. This results in the malfunctioning of your body. Severe cases of dehydration can lead to life-threatening situations and may require hospitalization.

Though dehydration can happen to anyone, it is particularly riskier for children and the elderly. While vomiting and severe diarrhea are the most common causes of dehydration in children, minor infections in the elderly can result in serious dehydration too. Sickness causes loss of appetite for fluids and food, which leads to the depletion of fluid reserves in the body, resulting in weight loss. Hence, you need to replenish the lost fluids from the body when you are ill.

Common Signs & Side Effects Of Dehydration

  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry skin
  • Dark yellow pee with a burning sensation
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Sunken and dry eyes
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Lack of energy and sluggish feeling
  • Confusion or irritability

Though dehydration exhausts your body and mind in different ways, some people opt for it by choice to control their excessive weight gain. Why would they do so, what are the contraindications, and is it safe for everyone to lose weight through dehydration?

Before finding answers to these questions, you need to understand the concept of ‘Water weight’.

What Is Water Weight?

Sometimes, your body retains the water you drink instead of letting it get excreted through the kidneys. This retained fluid gets collected in your body tissues, causing them to swell. It also adds some extra pounds to your body, which is called ‘water weight’.

What Causes Water Weight? 

The most common cause of gaining water weight is high consumption of carbohydrates and salt in your diet. 

The excess carbs which your body doesn’t use for energy right away, get stored in the form of glycogen in your skeletal muscles and liver. The glycogen pulls and retains the water in your body. This happens especially when you restrict carb intake for a certain period and restart adding them to your diet. Also, sodium in salt attracts the water and traps it in your body tissues. Hence, the more carbs and salt you consume, the more fluid is retained by your body, thereby increasing water weight. 

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The other factors which cause an increase in water weight include certain medications, medical conditions, menstruation, and pregnancy in women.

How To Lose Water Weight?

Gaining water weight is a temporary condition. Often, the first few pounds which you lose quickly when you start with a healthy diet is mostly the loss of water weight in your body. The weight reduction slows down once you lose the excess water weight in your body.

Though dehydration results in loss of water weight, it is potentially harmful to your body. Instead, you need to cut down the excessive carbohydrates and salt intake in your diet to reduce water weight.

The best way to control the overconsumption of carbs and salt is by excluding processed foods from your diet. Processed foods have a higher glycemic index and most manufacturers use a generous amount of salt as a preservative. Also, avoid taking beverages that are full of calories and sugar.

Instead, drink an adequate amount of water or fluids such as juices, soups, herbal teas, etc. This increases the number of calories your body burns and aids in weight loss as water elevates the resting energy expenditure significantly.

The quantity of water you should consume daily will depend upon different factors such as BMR, physical activity levels, body temperature, etc. In simple terms, the more you sweat, the more water your body needs to be hydrated. Generally, 3-4 liters of fluid intake per day is recommended for adult men, and 2.5-3 liters of fluids per day for adult women.

Important Note: You need to consult a doctor if you are retaining water in your body due to a medical condition or any medications before making changes to your diet.

Dehydration Vs Adequate Hydration For Weight Loss

Adequate water consumption helps to balance the sodium levels in your body, which in turn helps in toning your muscles. Also, water can suppress the appetite (especially, in middle-aged and elderly adults) and untimely hunger pangs effectively. On the other hand, you may find it difficult to distinguish between hunger and thirst when you are dehydrated, which can result in excessive food (higher calorie) intake.

Also, dehydration can affect your workout efficiency. Your body requires adequate water levels to regulate the body temperature during physical activity, which in turn promotes great muscle performance. On the other hand, dehydration causes decreased energy levels, which may be a hindering factor for committing to your workout routine in the first place.

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Benefits Of Drinking Water

Besides helping the weight loss process, drinking adequate water works for your body in multiple ways as below: 

  • It is necessary to deliver oxygen and essential nutrients throughout the body. 
  • It promotes lubrication in your joints. 
  • It regulates the normal temperature of your body and blood pressure. 
  • It is needed for the proper functioning of the digestive system and to maintain regular bowel movements. 
  • Water is essential for excreting your body waste in the form of urine, feces, and sweat.   
  • It stabilizes your internal environment and boosts your immune system. 
  • There are remarkable benefits of drinking water for the skin. It helps to balance the pH levels, flush toxins, prevent acne, reduce wrinkles and moisturize your skin. Dehydration leads to premature aging and your skin becomes vulnerable to different ailments.

Who Practices Dehydration For Weight Loss? 

Usually, athletes who are involved in physical sports activities may undergo dehydration for a brief period to lose their water weight and enhance their body agility. This is done under the supervision of nutrition experts and doctors. Also, athletes rehydrate the body immediately if they lose more than the necessary amount of water from their body in the form of sweat.

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Dehydration is not a weight-loss technique. If you are someone who wants to lose excess body weight, then you should never take a path of dehydration.

Final Thought

Losing weight through dehydration is not advisable as it can cause serious damage to your health. You need to stick to a healthy and balanced diet along with a good exercise routine to cut down the water weight as well as excessive fat from your body. However, you need to consult your doctor first to find if there is an underlying medical condition that is causing the water retention in your body.

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