Water Weight: A Dieter's Foe

Day 13, Fast Day #7

I stepped on the scale yesterday and saw another 2 lbs lost for a total loss of 9 lbs in less than two weeks.

Frankly, I would be a fool to think that while on this diet that I am just dripping pure fat off my body like a meatloaf in a hot oven. So how much of the weight I am losing is just water weight?

Based on my current diet so far, here has been what I am eating on average feast and fast days as a reference:

Carbs: 333 grams (feast), 64 grams (fast), 130 grams (USDA DRV) - I clearly love bread
Fat: 86 grams (feast),7 grams (fast), undetermined USDA DRV
Protein: 91 grams (feast), 31 grams (fast), 46 grams (USDA DRV)

Well, complex carbohydrates bond well with water. So it makes sense on my down days where I am fasting, that the water in my body has less to bond to by way of carbs, and therefore I lose the water. I have clearly had plenty of carbohydrates to bond to on feast days and prior to dieting.

My sodium intake on an average fast day is 2,272 mg while my feast day is a very naughty 4,367 mg. The USDA recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day for my age and sex, so I should work on that. We know sodium retains water in the body. So, it makes sense that when I am consuming less sodium on my fast days, I must also have the ability to drop more water weight.

A study by M. Yang was sort of useful in answering my question. (Mind you, his study is with obese men and the low-carb ketogenic diet he uses is more like the Atkins diet, so not perfect for me.) In his study participants on a ketogenic diet, of the weight loss subjects experienced (by weight): 60-69% water weight loss and 15-36% fat loss (depending on which study you look at). My point is, the rapid initial weight loss seems to be mostly water.

Luckily it looks like the lower carb diets in a longer period do end up "accelerating" fat loss and maintaining muscle mass after the initial water weight loss, as noted in this summary of papers on the topic. So hopefully I level off on the number of pounds soon and start burning off more fat.


  1. It's great to lose the fat, but dont't you think it is also great to lose the water retention??
    So many people say bread makes them bloated, and now you know why.
    But the water weight makes cellulite look worse, hands and feet puffy etc.
    I find on a fasting regime, even if it is only 2 days a week my skin is nice and tight onto my muscles.
    I do a yearly week long fast, and boy do you feel fantastic !

  2. Losing the water weight is great too. I feel like my body was wrung out like a wet towel. I honestly don't think I have ever really noticed the impact of water weight on myself until starting alternate day fasting. I also had no idea how much water likes to stick to carbs until doing the research for this blog. People have recommended I read Wheat Belly too.

    What kind of fasting do you do for your annual week long fast? That sounds incredibly difficult.