Water Loading and Weight Cutting: How It Affects Your Body

Water Loading and Weight Cutting: How It Affects Your Body

Water makes up a large part of the human body, accounting for 55%-60% of an adult’s total weight. The hydrating liquid serves many vital functions within the body. Because water is such an essential part of our health, our bodies are in a constant push-pull to keep it balanced. These fluctuations can have a notable impact on body weight.

Certain people, mostly athletes like bodybuilders, powerlifters and wrestlers, use these fluctuations to their advantage to reach a certain body weight. By manipulating their water intake, they can shed a significant amount of weight to qualify for competitions.

Learn more about water-cutting diets, how to lose water weight, how water affects your body and how to rehydrate when it’s over.

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What Is Weight Cutting?

Weight cutting is a way to quickly lose water weight by dehydrating the body. When done correctly, water cutting is a safe way for athletes to meet weight goals without compromising performance. 

Surprisingly, to dehydrate the body, you first have to overhydrate it by filling it with plenty of fluid. This is a process known as water loading.

What Is Water Loading?

Water loading involves consuming large amounts of water for a certain length of time to load your body with hydration. The extra fluid puts your body into a state of hypervolemia, or fluid overload. Because your body wants to maintain a state of balance, it will work to correct hypervolemia. What happens next is a complex process that flushes fluid from your body, resulting in water cutting.

How to Water Cut

How to Water Cut

There are four methods used for water cutting:

Water Loading

Water loading requires you to drink lots of water. As your fluid levels increase, your body will compensate for the excess by blocking your antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also known as arginine vasopressin, which is responsible for keeping the body hydrated. With ADH turned off, your body will freely shed water weight through increased urination. The fluid overload will convince your body that it’s normal to urinate frequently, and it will continue to do so for a while, even after you’ve stopped water loading. This period of cutting water before your hormones level out is when the weight loss happens. 

Sodium Manipulation

Sodium and water heavily influence one another within the body. Simply put, water follows sodium. When you increase sodium through dietary consumption, water is pulled into your cells to balance it. When you decrease sodium by consuming less or diluting it with excess fluid, water follows suit to keep things balanced. So, by reducing the amount of sodium in your body, you also reduce its water content.

Carbohydrate Manipulation

Carbs are another factor you can manipulate to reduce the amount of water in your body. Your body stores three grams of water for every gram of carbohydrates you consume. Reducing your carb intake will decrease the amount of water your body stores.

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body during physical activity. If you restrict your carb intake too much, your performance may suffer. For this reason, manipulating carbohydrates is only recommended for people who need to lose about 1.5% of their body weight. 

Additional Measures

If you’ve tried the methods above and find that you still need to lose water weight, you can try:

  • Spitting: Chewing gum or sucking on sour candy increases saliva production. It might sound gross, but spitting it out can help you lose an ounce or two! 
  • Sweating: Sweating is the best way to drop water weight. Because your body is already working hard to cut water, be sure you find inactive ways to sweat, like sitting in a sauna. 

How Much Weight Can You Cut by Water Loading?

Many sites on water cutting and bodybuilding claim you can lose 5% to 10% of your body weight through water loading and the ensuing water cutting. For context, this means that a 220-pound man could lose 11-22 pounds. The exact amount will vary depending on things like body composition and the duration and intensity of water loading and cutting.

How Water Loading and Cutting Affects Your Body

Loading your body with more fluid than it needs will cause several physiological responses:

  • Your blood vessels and tissues will expand to make room for the extra volume.
  • Your electrolyte levels will become diluted due to the extra water.
  • Your blood pressure increases because there is more fluid for your heart to pump. 

Once the amount of water in your body exceeds its needs, it will start eliminating the extra fluid. Your kidneys will work to excrete it through urination, bringing the fluid status back in balance. 

Weight cutting happens when your body excretes the excess fluid and then some. Even after you stop water loading, your body has grown accustomed to overhydration and will continue to shed water for a while before your hormone levels balance out. 

Water loading and cutting can be stressful for your body, but when done properly, it’s a safe way to shed water weight. 

Rehydrating After Water Cutting

Drinking water is the obvious answer when you need to hydrate your body. While it does work, it’s not as fast as other ways of rehydration, like intravenous (IV) therapy. Why? Because when you drink water, it has to travel through your digestive system and be absorbed by your stomach before it can be circulated throughout the body. 

An IV drip introduces fluid directly to your circulatory system, quickly replacing water, vitamins and nutrients in every part of your body. IV therapy is the best choice when you want to feel better fast.

Replenish Your Body With Mobile IV Medics

Replenish Your Body With Mobile IV Medics

Mobile IV Medics brings IV therapy directly to you. Whether you’re ready to rehydrate after a period of water cutting, or you’re feeling under the weather due to an illness or a hangover, we have the right combination of fluid, vitamins and minerals to get you feeling better. Choose from various nutrient and vitamin add-ins to customize an IV bag to your symptoms. The best part is that we come to you quickly. Our registered nurses typically arrive at your location within an hour of your appointment request. Call us at 833-483-7477 to learn more, or book your IV therapy appointment online.

About the author

Brad
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D.

Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D. is a licensed pharmacist and co-owner of Mobile IV Medics. With over 16 years of healthcare experience, Brad is bringing his expertise and passion for patient care to the Mobile IV Medics patient population. Prior to Mobile IV Medics, Brad worked in varying areas including both direct patient care and hospital leadership at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, nationwide health system pharmacy consulting for Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), and professor of pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy. He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Arizona, a pharmacy practice residency from USC, and a lean six sigma green belt from Johns Hopkins.