Water retention/bloat?

Hi guys

I have started having one Huel meal a day as part of a weight loss plan but planning to up that to two shortly. However I am having issues with the scales at the moment and am looking for other people’s experiences.

I’m about 3 weeks into tracking my calories etc, and I have been weighing in every day - I know this is not representative but I wanted to get a feel for fluctuations and not worry about them. After the first week of a gentle decrease, my weight climbed up and is sitting back where I started. I also feel very wobbly and bloated in the tummy. I wouldn’t care so much if I felt good until I got on the scale, but that’s not the case!

I am being religious about tracking everything on MFP (even stuff I know will be negligible calories, like fresh herbs or dried spices), and I am being really active, with runs, workouts and lots of walking every day. I don’t take my Fitbit “calories burned” seriously as I am sure it is inaccurate but I could half that and still easily be at a deficit. I’ve had to scale back my running distance a little because I am too fatigued, presumably from the reduced calories!!

I can only assume this is water retention or something, unless I am defying the laws of science! I wondered if this could have anything to do with introducing Huel into my diet, and now I am a bit concerned about moving to two x Huel a day. I know water weight happens but it has been stubborn for over a week and I am finding it a bit bemusing.

Has anyone else has issues or experience with this?

Based on what you’ve said I’d think it’s likely to be water retention. An increase in activity plus increase in fibre and taking psyllium husk are all likely to affect your water balance. Unless you have significantly increased your water intake to compensate then your body will be hanging on to water to prevent dehydration. Feeling wobbly can also be a symptom of dehydration.

I’d suggest upping your water intake by at least 1 litre a day to start with and see if you see any difference after 3-4 days. Worth trying to rule it in or out as a first step.

Water retention can persist unless you do something different to address it. If you are exercising lots and sweating/breathing out increased water vapour plus increasing fibre intake which will absorb water then your body will be constantly on the edge of dehydration or already dehydrated. It won’t release excess water until that situation changes.

One other thing to consider is that if you have significantly decreased your calorie intake you’ve probably burned through your readily available glycogen stores and are not replenishing them. This can make you feel fatigued and light headed especially if you are exercising a lot as your body will have less immediately accessible energy stores.

I’d start by upping the water intake and if you still feel fatigued and lightheaded after a couple of days then slightly increase your calorie intake so you have less of a deficit.

Thanks for your reply, however I drink TONNES of water, I would estimate at least 4 litres a day, so I don’t think it is that.

I am trying not to worry too much - if I am at a deficit and being sensible I guess the weight loss will come in time, but as you can imagine, it is so frustrating to see the scale not budge - or go up! - when I am supposedly doing everything right.

If you can halve your fitbit calorie estimation and still be in a deficit, you might be eating too little for the amount you are exercising? If I undereat too much my body panics and I stop losing weight. I found that when I eat to a recommended healthy deficit, I actually lose weight more effectively than if I eat to an extreme deficit. Sounds bonkers but might be what’s happening for you?

Thanks for the reply! Just to be clear I was referring to halving the “additional calories burned from exercise” on Fitbit. MyFitnessPal suggests a deficit would be about 1300 for me without any activity, with Fitbit saying I am burning an extra 700+ cals a day from running, walking, aerobics etc. I’m eating 1400-1500 a day which seems fair for my activity level (I am a 5’5 woman, aged 34).

It’s been 3 weeks and I now weigh more than I did when I started (up half a kilo this morning, after a BM!). I just don’t understand how this is possible!

Probably a stupid question here but have you measured yourself? Muscle is considerably more dense than fat as I’m sure we all know. Could it be that you’re losing fat but building muscle?

If so you would see a reduction in size but not necessarily in overall mass…

Not a stupid question at all. I have not, although I have a couple of photos from the beginning of lockdown when I was planning to do some comparisons and didn’t follow up on it, and I look worse - bloated in the tummy.

This is not a new regime for me in terms of activity (pre-lockdown I was a gym-goer and lifted, so I actually wonder if I have lost muscle!), and coupled with the speed of weight gain (c. 3kg in a week after my initial week with a drop) and the fact I am eating at a deficit, I don’t think muscle is the answer.

I have taken to just laughing at the scale. I am going to start taking probiotics to see if it helps my gut/digestion but I am at a loss to be honest.

I’m not qualified in nutrition, just a caveat there, but my understanding is that any weight loss will inevitably include muscle at a ratio of 25%muscle, 75%fat if losing weight beyond your body mass of like 0.6%.

Outgaining the muscle loss is as much of a challenge for bodybuilders as lifting the weights it seems!

Hope you work out the answer anyway, best of luck :slight_smile: