Dehydration and Weight Gain

Dehydration and Weight Gain

When weight gain happens, most people blame their diet or a lack of exercise. These can definitely contribute to weight gain, but there are other issues to consider as well, such as hydration. 

Can dehydration cause weight gain? In some cases, yes. 

Every body is different, of course, and there are lots of reasons why a person might gain weight. Sometimes, though, there is a dehydration-weight gain connection. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this potential connection, read on for more information.



How Does Dehydration Cause Weight Gain?

Why would dehydration lead to weight gain? There are actually lots of reasons why this happens.

Here are some of the top examples of the connection between these two issues:


Increased Cravings

When you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to experience cravings. This is especially true of cravings for sugary foods.

If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it has a harder time metabolizing glycogen (the stored form of glucose, or sugar) and using it for energy. When this happens, the body crates sugar to try and get a quick hit of energy [1].  

sugary food sugar and strawberry

Do you find that you’re always craving sweets? Do you give in to those cravings more often than is ideal? If so, you’re likely taking in extra calories (when you may just need water) and making it harder for yourself to reach your weight loss goals (if that’s your ultimate goal).



As you see, your body needs to be hydrated if you want to have sufficient energy to get through your workouts or just make it through the day. 

tired man exhausted fatigue

Do you often feel tired or sluggish? Do you end up fizzling out halfway through your workouts or skipping them altogether because your energy is so low? A lack of water and electrolytes could be the culprit [2]. Perhaps it’s not another shot of espresso that you need, but a glass (or two) of good, old-fashioned H2O. Or even better, grab a Hydrant ENERGY for hydrating electrolytes and 100mg of caffeine from green tea. It’s a hydrating, flavorful, and energizing win-win. 

Remember, too, that when you’re tired, you may be more likely to give in to cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. Especially when it’s combined with a lack of exercise, constantly giving in to your cravings could hinder your weight loss progress. 


Slower Metabolism

Dehydration has an effect on your body’s metabolism, too. 

The term “metabolism” refers to the process by which the body converts food and drink into energy. When you hear people talking about having a slow metabolism, this means that the body is not as efficient as it could be when it comes to burning calories from food and beverages and turning them into energy.

How does dehydration affect metabolism [3]? 

Water plays a key role in essentially every bodily process, including metabolism. A lack of water makes the metabolic processes slower and less efficient. 

Remember, your muscles are 70-75 percent water, and muscle plays an important part in maintaining a healthy metabolism [4]. If your muscles are lacking water, they’re not going to be able to carry out these processes in the most effective way possible.


Increased Water Retention

When you’re not consuming enough water throughout the day, your body is going to be stingier with the water it has left. 

People who are chronically dehydrated may find that they retain water more easily and feel bloated more often [5]. This increased water retention can cause the number of the scale to go up. It can also cause your clothes to not fit as nicely as you would like.

If you find that you always feel bloated or swollen, your initial reaction might be to assume you’re taking in too much water. In reality, though, the opposite could be true. Upping your water and electrolyte intake could help to balance out your system and get rid of excess water. 


Poor Gut Health

Dehydration affects your gut health, too [6]. 

Your gut, or digestive tract, is full of bacteria (both good and bad) that affect nearly all systems of the body, from the nervous system to the skin. Poor gut health can lead to weight gain as well. 

If you’re dehydrated, it’s harder for food to move through the digestive system in an efficient manner. This, in turn, can lead to constipation, which will result in a higher number on the scale.

Dehydration also contributes to sugar cravings, and overdoing it on sugar often leads to us overfeeding the bad bacteria. This can cause overgrowths that slow down the metabolism, increase bloating and constipation, and cause a variety of other unpleasant symptoms.



Signs of Dehydration

The average adult doesn’t drink anywhere near as much water as is recommended. Most consume a mere five glasses per day. For reference, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests a total daily water intake of 2.7 liters per day for women and 3.7 liters for men [3].

How do you know if you’re getting enough water? Start by asking yourself if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased feelings of thirst
  • Dark yellow or brown urine
  • Dry mouth and/or a swollen tongue
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps (especially during or after exercising)
  • Dry skin
  • Sugar cravings
  • Dizziness
  • Less than 4 trips to the bathroom per day

If these signs show up, there’s a good chance you’re under hydrating. If you’re doing everything else right when it comes to your weight loss journey, consider addressing your hydration (or lack thereof).



Tips for Staying Hydrated

Okay, so where do you begin when it comes to tackling proactive hydration? We’ve collected some tips to get you started: 


Drink Water Throughout the Day

Have you ever found yourself so thirsty that you chugged a whole gallon of water in one sitting? 

This approach to hydration might be better than not drinking any water at all. It probably also led to you having to take a bunch of trips to the bathroom shortly after, though. Drinking too much water in one sitting can also cause symptoms like bloating and nausea for some folks.

Instead of doing a gallon challenge at the end of the night, make an effort to be proactive about your hydration and drink water throughout the day. If this is hard for you, try habit stacking. This involves combining drinking water with something else that you do habitually throughout the day, making it a “keystone” of your routine. It can create a “flywheel” effect where it’s easier to keep up with the habit because you’ve anchored it to another one in your routine. 

For example, you could drink a glass of water with each meal and snack. You’re already doing this at regular intervals, so it’s easier to attach drinking water to this existing habit instead of trying to create a brand new one from scratch.


Carry a Water Bottle

It also helps to carry a water bottle around with you. 

Buy yourself a nice reusable water bottle (consider one that keeps your water cold if you want your drinks to be extra refreshing) and take it with you wherever you go. Keep it on your desk at work or put it in your gym bag so that you always have easy access to water when you need it. 

It’s much easier to remember to drink water if it’s readily available. If you’re struggling to create this new habit, try to remove as many barriers as possible. 


Add Electrolytes

Don’t forget about electrolytes. These minerals play an important role in moving water into the cells. Without them, even if you’re technically drinking enough water, you could still find yourself dealing with dehydration and weight gain. 

The most important electrolytes associated with hydration are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Without them, you may be prone to dehydration symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea, and headaches.

Sodium is fairly easy to get in adequate amounts through our diets (although very active people might require more than the average person since they tend to sweat and lose more electrolytes that way). Many people struggle with potassium and magnesium, though.

If you’re worried about your electrolyte intake, one of the easiest solutions is to use a powdered drink mix (like ours!). Adding something like Hydrant to your water can help to improve the taste of plain water and and boost your daily electrolyte consumption. These mixes are especially handy to have on hand for during and after a tough workout session.  


Add Hydrating Foods

Remember, you can also improve hydration by adding or increasing your consumption of certain foods. It doesn’t all have to come from water alone.

slices of watermelon

There are many fruits and vegetables that contain significant amounts of water, including the following:

  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bell peppers

In addition to fruits and vegetables, soups and bone broth are also good sources of water. They may also contain additional nutrients, as well as electrolytes like sodium. 

Keep in mind that some soups and broths may be very high in sodium, though. Make sure you’re not going overboard and neglecting your potassium and magnesium intake. This could result in bloating and water retention.  



Stay Hydrated on your Journey

Wherever you are on your journey, remember the importance of hydration at every step. Proactively hydrated can help you reach your goals and feel your best. If you add any of the tips into your routine, be sure to share with us (and your friends!).




[1] King, R., Jones, B., & O'Hara, J. P. (2018). The availability of water associated with glycogen during dehydration: a reservoir or raindrop?. European journal of applied physiology, 118(2), 283–290.
[2] Fight Fatigue with Fluids. Harvard Medical School.
[3] Thornton S. N. (2016). Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss. Frontiers in nutrition, 3, 18.
[4] Lorenzo, I., Serra-Prat, M., & Yébenes, J. C. (2019). The Role of Water Homeostasis in Muscle Function and Frailty: A Review. Nutrients, 11(8), 1857.
[5] What’s Water Weight. WebMD.
[6] Rethinking fiber and hydration can lead to better colon health. Harvard Medical School.
[7] Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

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