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Water weight v. fat

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Old 09-26-2012, 11:45 AM   #1
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Default Water weight v. fat

Is there a way to tell if weight loss is from water or fat without any device? I already spent so much money on food and vitamins that I have no money in my budget to buy a fat measuring device.

For a while, I was eating all natural foods (no processed) and I drink a lot of water habitually. Then, I was on paleo last week and I felt so healthy and energetic but I also gained 1 lb on it probably from fruits and nuts and my carbs were about 100-120g a day. I figured that I didn't have any water weight to lose.

This week I decided to do low carb as my previous experience with paleo made me think that I was very carb sensitive. First day, I didn't lose any weight (consumed over 30g carb) so yesterday I kept my carb to about 10g. Today, I dropped 2 pounds which is so rare for me as I don't EVER lose more than .5 lb a day due to PCOs, pre-diabetes & hypo (took me 4 years to lose 25 lbs). So, I'm completely baffled by this. Does anyone think this is fat or is this just water weight?
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:37 PM   #2
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There is no way to tell if the 2 lbs were fat or water. Most likely a little of both if you were reducing calories. Reducing carbs gets rid of water on me.
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Old 09-27-2012, 12:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by watercross View Post
There is no way to tell if the 2 lbs were fat or water. Most likely a little of both if you were reducing calories. Reducing carbs gets rid of water on me.
Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I just cut carbs and incidentally upped my calories.
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Old 10-28-2012, 05:44 PM   #4
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If you lose be happy! Who cares!
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:14 PM   #5
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There's no easy, at-home way to tell. Some scales are supposed to be able to tell if you use them barefoot, but from everything I've read, the at-home models are not extremely valid or reliable.

And for most of us it just doesn't matter, because water AND fat add to the weight we don't want to see in the mirror. What we don't want to lose is muscle (because the muscle lost from too-low protein/calorie diets can come from anywhere, even the heart).

The biggest test is how your food plan works for you most of the time (and if it's a new food plan, give it a few weeks before you decide).

If you lose weight most of the time and suddenly see a gain, even though you haven't changed your food plan - the the weight gain is probably water, especially if it's PMS/TOM or you've increased your activity level or if you're not feeling well - the body needs extra water for all of these events. Give it a week. If you're still gaining, then your food plan may be too high calorie or too high carb for you, adjust and repeat from the beginning.

Likewise if you're within your calorie budget, but you're eating more carbs than your normal, it's probably weater gain. If you're eating fewer carbs than your normal and you see a loss, but your calories are about the same - the loss is probably mostly water.


... the test of water loss are mostly time-related. Only in hindsight do you start to see patterns, but they do help you in the future make an educated guess (though time will tell).

I know certain foods and activities cause water gain and loss, but I can't guarantee how much of a gain or loss is exactly from the water, especially if I'm not behaving consistently enough to know.

If I eat a restaurant meal, I know I will gain water. If I had a good idea of the caloric and carb content of the meal, and I stayed within my budget, I can be fairly confident that any gain will be water that will be gone in about two to three days (if it's TOM a week) if I stick to behaviors and foods that don't aggravate water gain (or don't promote fat gain).

However, if I overate and don't know approximately how many calories were in that meal, I can't tell how much of the gain I see will be water, and how much will be fat.

Either way, a few days will tell me whether the gain was temporary or not.

If all of the extra weight is off two days later, that pretty much tells me that it ALL was water weight. If it's not, I can't be sure.

I can tell if I'm retaining water heavily by the shape of my face my wrists (and if a thumb print into the skin leaves a white print that doesn't disappear virtually immediately).

But ultimately if you can just focus on your food plan, it doesn't matter at all, because your food plan will eventually deal with both kinds of weight gains. If you don't worry about why you're up a pound, it doesn't matter why, because staying on plan with deal with both types of weight.

When you switch to a higher carb plan, from a lower one you have to be ready for that weight "gain" though and not let the gain convince you that you're doomed to gain all the weight back if you eat one carby meal. Yes, you'll gain some water (because the body needs more water to digest carbs) but it isn't necessarily fat. The only way to tell if it's fat, is to keep on the new food plan. If the gaining doesn't stop after a week, there's a good chance you're dealing with fat gain, not water gain and you'll have to adjust your calorie level to start losing again.

We make the numbers much more important than they have to be. How you're eating, and how you're feeling is the most imporatinant thing. How you're looking in the mirror can help too (especially when you're close to goal, but even when you're 150 lbs away from goal like me, you can often tell the signs of water bloat in your face, wrists, and ankles).

Experience will help ease your mind, but so will trusting in your food plan.
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Old 10-30-2012, 06:33 PM   #6
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any loss is a good loss!
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:51 AM   #7
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I agree with everyone else, who cares if it's water or fat! I can promise you that my skinny friends don't have an extra 10-20 lbs of water weight just hanging out. And it's gotta come off anyway so might as well make it sooner rather than later.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:26 PM   #8
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So What I can tell you about Water vs. Fat. When you first start a diet if you haven't been restricting any part of your diet at all the first thing you generally lose is water weight, then the next thing your body starts trying to do (Especially on a low carb diet) is clean out your intestines. A lot of low carb diets encourage that the carbs you take in are not overly processed or refined. So things like Whole Grain, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, along with leafy/dark green veggies create a sort of scrub-brush for your digestive track. (Yay Fiber!)

So most likely the sudden 2 pound drop came from a combination of water (new diet plan), Body Waste (Ewwwe Yucky!) and probably a little Fat along with the Waste (Yay!) No matter how you look at it all 3 of those things are good to get out of your body. So totally a win for you!
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