What Does Water Weight Look Like?

What Does Water Weight Look Like?

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Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: May 25, 2022

Are you struggling with your weight?

You aren’t alone.

Millions of people struggle with unwanted weight gain. While you may have noticed an increase in poundage on the scale, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve put on sustaining weight.

You could have put on water weight.

Likewise, if you’ve lost weight recently, you could have lost water weight.

Understanding the signs of water weight can give you a good idea of whether or not you’ve added real pounds or you’re experiencing water retention.

Key Signs You May Be Carrying Water Weight

an overweight woman sits on the floor in a brown body suit

1. Your Ankles Are Swelling

One of the clearest and most noticeable signs of water retention or water weight is having swollen ankles. If your ankles are swollen and you haven’t suffered an ankle injury recently, you could be dealing with water retention.

This is very noticeable around your ankles because your ankles typically swell the most. Also, you will notice it easily when you remove your socks. If you have socks that typically fit, you’ll notice they leave marks on your skin when your ankles swell.

This gives you a very noticeable indentation that you can use as a sign you are experiencing water weight.

You can notice this on your hands, as well. However, it’s not nearly as noticeable or easy to distinguish. Therefore, it’s best to look at your ankles and feet.

It’ll be much easier to figure out if you are experiencing water retention that way.

2. You’ve Gained A Lot Of Weight In A Short Amount Of Time

This is perhaps the easiest way to know you’ve gained water weight.

Water weight is easy to pack on and shed. Thus, you will notice quick weight gain or weight loss depending on whether or not you are retaining water at a high rate.

If you are regularly checking your body weight on the scale and you notice that the scale is rapidly going up, you are likely experiencing significant water retention.

It’s not that easy to gain weight in a short amount of time. After all, you need to consume as many as 3,500 more calories than you normally burn off to gain a single pound [1].

Needless to say, this is not realistic nor practical.

You aren’t going to be gaining one or two pounds overnight. Therefore, if you are experiencing rapid weight gain, it’s almost a certainty that it’s the result of putting on water weight.

Whenever you are managing your weight and regularly weighing yourself, you’ll want to keep an eye on how quickly you are gaining or losing weight.

This will be the telltale sign that you are experiencing a gain or loss from water weight.

3. Your Stomach Constantly Feels Bloated

Have you noticed that your stomach is constantly protruding?

If so, it’s likely not that you’ve gained fat, but that your body is retaining more water. You don’t eat a meal that’s full of calories and suddenly put on weight.

This isn’t what happens to your body and it’s not how weight gain works. When your stomach is bloated, it means you’re likely ingesting a diet too high in sodium.

When you consume too much salt, it can result in gastrointestinal bloating [2]. It’s known that salt results in water retention. This is one of the primary factors that can lead to bloating.

When you consume too much water, your kidneys retain more water. Naturally, as you decrease your salt/sodium intake, your kidneys release that water.

This is why you want to limit the amount of sodium you consume if you are looking to minimize water retention and free yourself of the water weight you’ve gained.

4. You Notice Indentations In Your Skin

If you are experiencing excessive water retention, you may notice that you start to experience indentations on your skin [3].

A good way to quickly check if you are experiencing this symptom of water retention is by pressing directly onto your skin for a couple of seconds.

Let go and if there is an indentation that doesn’t quickly go away, you are likely retaining more water than normal.

Tips for Losing Water Weight

a woman in a brown body suit stretches prior to working out

1. Change Your Diet

One of the main reasons you are experiencing water weight gain has to do with your diet.

You won’t be as likely to experience water retention when you are consuming a diet deficient in sodium. You want to avoid consuming foods that are high in sodium to avoid forcing your body to retain more water to maintain an optimal balance [4].

The same is true if you aren’t drinking enough water.

Because of this, you’ll want to ensure you are drinking enough water for your body to avoid retaining too much of it.

Changing your diet can be one of the best and easiest ways to get rid of excess water weight.

2. Take Magnesium

Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do to get rid of excess water retention is to take a magnesium supplement.

This is a key mineral in your body.

It’s important for various bodily processes. However, it’s especially effective at controlling your body’s natural water balance.

Some studies show that magnesium supplements can reduce water weight and various other premenstrual symptoms [5].

Taking a magnesium supplement could be a good option for someone that has already made the requisite adjustments to their diet and who is just looking for something that can further help.

3. Exercise More

Exercise is the best way to get rid of excess water weight. If you are experiencing a lot of water retention, one of the top things you can do is exercise.

When you exercise, you lose water.

You generally lose anywhere from 16 to 64 ounces of water throughout exercise. It’s easy to see why exercise is so effective at helping you minimize any water weight you have. When you exercise, your body is forced to use a lot of water for your muscles too.

Because of this, it’s going to help you not only lose water weight but also lose the bloated type of look you get when you have too much water being retained in your body.

You could always add a lot of activities that cause you to sweat a lot if you want to experience a rapid water loss.

If you are bloated, going to the sauna or even a steam room could be a good way to get rid of a bloated appearance.


As you can see, water retention can lead to gains in water weight. It generally happens when your body has an imbalance.

To correct the imbalance, you need to drink more water or switch up your diet. If you are consuming too much sodium, your body is forced to store more water to balance things out.

If you aren’t eating a lot of sodium, your body won’t be forced to store excess water.

Thus, you won’t gain water weight. Likewise, if you are drinking plenty of water, your body isn’t going to feel the need to store excess water to make up for the deficiency.

If you are looking to reduce water retention quickly, there are several ways it can be done.

The best way is by exercising.

When you exercise, your body naturally loses water. You also want to switch up your diet so you are consuming foods with less salt. This can have a relatively quick and positive impact on your water weight.

This is why you generally find it easy to lose a good 5 pounds as soon as you start a new diet.

This is usually water weight.

Taking a magnesium supplement can be a good addition to changes to your exercise and diet routine.


  1. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a19954093/one-day-weight-gain/
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190627143931.htm
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/water-retention#symptoms
  4. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2525347/
  5. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9861593/
  6. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17277604/