There are many ways to determine if you are losing fat or water weight, but it is important to note that losing water weight is not necessarily a bad thing. This is especially true in people who have a diet high in sodium. If a major reduction in sodium intake is part of your diet, then a substantial decrease in retained water will be observed while you improve your health. This is a great way to lower high blood pressure (hypertension).
Here are several ways to determine if you are actually losing water weight or fat.
1. Check your hydration levels – Is the weight still gone after several days of drinking lots of water? There are three easily visible ways of determining if you are fully hydrated. The first is the color of your urine. Urine should be a pale, straw yellow color. Dark urine indicates dehydration as your body does not have the water available to fully dilute the toxins it is trying to get out of your body. The second place to look is at your tongue. The tongue should have a moist appearance and should not feel abrasive in your mouth. The final way to check for dehydration is to pinch the skin on the back of your hands. The pinched skin should immediately return to it’s normal position. If the pinched skin stays puckered up, it is a sign of dehydration.
2. Measure body fat directly – If the purpose of your diet and exercise is to reduce body fat, then start the process by measuring body fat rather than weight at the beginning of your diet. There are three common ways to measure body fat. The first is the most expensive, but most accurate. In most cases you will need either a hospital or a very good gym. This is the underwater weighing or hydrostatic technique. The other two ways to measure your body fat are through calipers and a pinch test, or with the use of the now, very cheap enhanced home scales. While the home scales are not completely accurate, they are effective at showing you a loss in body fat. The important part with the home scales is to use them at the same time of the day, preferably in the morning. This is because the results will fluctuate during the day depending on your activity levels.
3. Consistency – The one hallmark of fad diets is the rebound effect that comes shortly after the diet is over. The drastic change in diet and the omission of important food groups like carbohydrates causes the body to take drastic measures, one of which is water dumping. As soon as the diet is over, the body is no longer in an emergency state and will retain more healthy water levels. While this is a terrible thing for someone looking at the scale, it is actually the body getting itself healthy again. If you are on a common sense, healthy diet, there will be no rebound when the diet ends, if it ever does. That is the beauty of a lifestyle changing diet, it never ends.
When dieting in a healthy way, eating a well-rounded diet full of fruits and vegetables, your body will lose fat at faster levels than water weight. Only with fad or shock diets will your body dump water in order to survive. If losing body fat is your goal, then begin the diet by measuring body fat and pay less attention to body weight. Maintain steady hydration levels throughout the length of your diet by monitoring the signs your body gives you.