How Much Water Weight Can You Lose?

by Erin Beck

About Erin Beck

Erin Beck began writing professionally in 2008 as an opinion columnist for the West Virginia University student newspaper, "The Daily Athenaeum." She has worked in health promotion at the university and as a communications intern at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism and a Master of Public Health, both from West Virginia University.

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The human body is made up mostly of water, and losing water weight may make you look thinner temporarily. Moderate dehydration can result in a loss of 7 to 10 percent of your body weight, while a person who's severely dehydrated may lose over 10 percent of her body weight. However, losing water weight is not a safe, effective weight loss strategy. Aim to lose body fat instead.

Causes

Losing weight too quickly can lead to loss of water weight, or dehydration. Some wrestlers purposefully try to become dehydrated to lose weight quickly. They may employ dangerous strategies, such as using diuretics, laxatives or enemas. Some people also wear plastic suits, or sauna suits, which trap heat and encourage sweating. Dehydration may also be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, fever, excessive sweating or increased urination, according to MayoClinic.com. All of these are not healthy or sustainable ways to lose weight.

Symptoms

If you've lost water weight, you may notice symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration, including dry mouth and skin, fatigue, headache, constipation, decreased urine and tears, thirst or dizziness. If you're severely dehydrated, you may notice these more extreme symptoms: a lack of sweating, sunken eyes, shriveled skin, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, fever and even delirium or unconsciousness. Signs of mild dehydration can usually be treated by drinking more fluids. Call your doctor immediately if you experience more severe signs.

Warning

While losing water weight may seem like a simple, effective way to drop pounds, this method of weight loss can be dangerous. If you don't get enough fluids during exercise, you could end up with an injury such as a heatstroke, a life-threatening condition characterized by elevated body temperature. Drinking water after being dehydrated for a period of time can even lead to swelling of the brain. Dehydration can also cause seizures, kidney failure, coma and even death. If you are severely dehydrated in hot weather, these effects may occur in as few as three days.

Recommendations

Aim for a slow, steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, so you're more likely to lose fat than water. Lose weight by following a reduced-calorie diet and getting plenty of physical activity. Drink plenty of fluids before and after exercise and avoid exercise in very hot weather. Avoid laxatives, diuretics, enemas and plastic suits. Don't skip meals. Eat foods that have high water content, such as fruits and vegetables.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.