Friday, May 11, 2012

Why am I Retaining Fluid? Am I Drinking Too Much Water?

I have recently started on a weight loss diet and it was going fine for a few weeks. I cut back from my usual intake of about 3000 calories to just 1500 and was losing. But suddenly I have gained 12 pounds. I don't think it's the scale because it's new and my husband uses it also.
Could it be possible I am retaining fluid? I am going through menopause, could that contribute?
Finally, is there such a thing as drinking too much water? I ask this water question because I notice that I retain fluid (feel a bit swollen) easily and I tend to drink A LOT of water each day. I know water is good but if I drink an excessive amount would that be a bad thing and make me retain it? I usually drink a minimum of 4-5 20 oz glasses a day. I have always drank that but never really considered I might retain it until the scale reading. Thanks again for your help.  Marie R.

Dear Marie, 

I have no logical explanation for a 12-pound jump, except to suspect it will come back down quickly over the next couple of days. And to assure you that it's definitely not fat gain!
It takes about 3500 calories to make a pound of body fat. So you would have had to eaten over 35,000 calories in a couple of days to make a 12-pound gain. Not likely, especially since you've been eating 1500 ;)
Retaining fluid doesn't usually come from drinking too much water. It can happen with hormones in women as their cycle fluctuates; it results from high sodium/salt intake (Chinese food, ham or lunchmeat, canned soup) in many people; and it is seen in certain conditions like congestive heart failure or liver disease. 

The amount of fluid you regularly drink (up to 100 ounces) is close to 3000 milliliters. The recommended fluid intake is about 1 milliliter per calorie. So you have been drinking the exact amount suggested to support metabolism of your caloric intake. Now with the lower calorie intake you may find that you need less. It's not too much if you do keep it up, as long as it's all flushing through regularly.

If you notice actual fluid retention (like swelling around your ankles) or unusual extreme thirst, increase or decrease in urination, pay a visit to your family doctor. There are conditions that can affect fluid balance that can be serious if not treated.

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