Muscle for life

Water Retention and Weight Loss: You Can Lose Fat, But Not Weight?

Water Retention and Weight Loss: You Can Lose Fat, But Not Weight?

If you want to know how water retention can prevent weight loss and even make you look fatter (and what to do about it), you want to read this article.


There are many ways you can screw up a well-designed diet.

For example…

  • You can accidentally eat more calories than you should.
  • You can move your body too little.
  • You can over-estimate the amount of energy you burn every day.
  • You can set yourself back with gluttonous “cheat meals.”

These common diet mistakes are elementary.

You run through a quick checklist, realize where you’re leaking water, plug the hole, and voila, you’re back on track.

What isn’t so elementary is the inexplicable weight loss plateau.

You know…when your macros are on point…you’re doing plenty of exercise…you’re accurately estimating energy expenditure…and you’re not bingeing yourself back to square zero every Saturday…

…and you’re still seeing the same dismal sight in the mirror and on the scale every week.

Well, if you’re stuck in such a predicament, don’t do what most people do: exercise more and eat less. It’ll just make things worse.

You see, the culprit is likely water retention , and if you don’t know how to deal with it properly, it can fuel an emotional firestorm of anger and frustration.

Well, I don’t want that to happen to you, so I wrote this article.

And by the end of this article, you’re going to know what causes water retention, why so many people trying to lose weight struggle with it, and how to bring everything back to normal, including your weight loss.

So let’s start at the top.

When a Weight Loss Plateau isn’t a Fat Loss Plateau

water weight loss

In a perfect world, we would lose weight in a neat, orderly manner.

We would stick to our workouts and meal plans like good little boys and girls and would wake up a little lighter and leaner every day.

The weeks would breeze by and before we knew it, we’d be the proud owners of a shiny new set of six-pack abs.

And people say dieting is hard. Hmph!

Well, that’s the dream at least.

But then we wake up and have to accept that in the real world, weight loss can be quite erratic.

You might lose a pound or two per week for several weeks and then, for no good reason, see no change for a few weeks, as if your body suddenly forgot how to burn fat.

Then, just before you get desperate enough to dabble in gluten-free or Paleo voodoo (or literally voodoo), you lose four pounds overnight.

WTF is going on?

How can you maintain what you know is a calorie deficit only to have nothing change for extended periods of time, and then, just as mysteriously, see a dramatic shift in the right direction?

Well, the answer is simple.

The fat you lose through proper dieting can be obscured–both on the scale and in the mirror–by additional water that your body is holding on to.

Many people have heard this but don’t realize how significant the effects can be. It’s not uncommon to lose upward of 3 to 4 pounds of fat over the course of 3 to 4 weeks without even knowing it due to increased water retention.

The fat loss only becomes visible when the excess fluid is flushed out of the body, creating the illusion of extreme fat loss over very short periods.

Why does your body hold onto more water when you diet though? And what can you do about it?

Let’s find out.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

What a World War II Starvation Experiment Can Teach Us About Water Retention

losing water weight

During World War II, Dr. Ancel Keys led a groundbreaking scientific study wherein 36 men willingly submitted themselves to a semi-starvation diet of about 1,500 calories per day for 6 months and hours of hard labor every day.

This become known as the “Minnesota Starvation Experiment” and its purpose was to learn about the physiology and psychology of starvation, and to work out a proper regimen for helping starved war prisoners back to normal diets and metabolic health.

One of the many interesting findings that came from this study was that weight loss progressed in a nice, linear fashion in the beginning. Men lost about 2 pounds per week, every week. After some time, though, it became erratic and unpredictable.

Body weight would remain stagnant for several weeks followed by overnight “bursts” of large amounts of weight loss (3+ pounds).

It’s physically impossible to burn several pounds of fat overnight, so how is that possible?

Well, the scientists looked into the phenomenon further and found the answer: water retention.

What was happening is the men were steadily losing fat even when their weight wasn’t changing because as they lost more fat, they held more water.

This only became obvious once the excess water was expelled, which gave the appearance of very rapid weight loss.

Bodybuilders are very familiar with this phenomenon. They call it the “whoosh effect.”

I want to repeat something:

The calorie deficit did systematically reduce body fat levels, but the reductions in total body weight were often counter-balanced by increases in water retention.

The reason I want to call attention to this is many “gurus” like to claim that this experiment actually “proves” that calorie-based dieting “doesn’t work” because subjects weren’t losing weight despite being in a calorie deficit.












Now, what triggered these “whooshes” of weight loss, you’re wondering?

Sometimes they just occurred randomly, but scientists found that reliable trigger was a dramatic increase in caloric intake.

For instance, a 2,300-calorie meal was served to celebrate the half-way mark of the experiment, and researchers noted that many of the men woke up several times to pee that night and, in the morning, were several pounds lighter than the day before.

If you’ve ever dieted down to a super-lean level (7% body fat and below for men, 16% and below for women), you’ve probably experienced something similar after doing a refeed day.

Why is this, though? What’s happening physiologically?

The answer has to do with a hormone called cortisol, which your body produces in response to stress.

Research shows that a prolonged calorie deficit dramatically raises cortisol levels. This causes quite a few unwanted effects in the body including increased water retention.

And that’s exactly what happened to the Minnesota Experiment patients. The combination of little food and lot of physical activity spiked cortisol levels, which spiked water retention.

(This is why many people subjecting themselves to starvation diets and large amounts of exercise tend to struggle the most with water retention as well.)

Scientists found that the feast that triggered the “whoosh” in the experiment’s subjects dramatically lowered their cortisol levels, which explains the large expulsions of water.

Again, this is why a refeed day will often produce a weight loss “whoosh.” This is also why weight loss will often continue during a period of reverse dieting.

How to Lose Water Weight

bloating weight loss

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably extrapolated a few tips for reducing water retention:

  1. Don’t starve yourself.
  2. Don’t do hours and hours of cardio every week.
  3. Eat large amounts of food occasionally.

And it turns out that those are actually effective strategies for shedding excess water because they reduce cortisol levels.

Let’s look a bit closer at each as well as a few other ways to reduce water retention.

Don’t Be Too Aggressive with Your Calorie Deficit

how to eliminate water weight gain

If you want to rapidly lose fat and not muscle, you want to be aggressive with your calorie deficit…but not reckless.

There are several reasons for this and one of them is eating too little leads to large increases in fluid retention.

To avoid this, maintain a 20 to 25% calorie deficit when dieting to lose weight.

Check out this article to learn more.

Don’t Do Too Much Exercise

bloating weight loss

Yes, this is a weight loss article that’s telling you to eat more and move less, because if you’re trying to lose weight but are holding a lot of water, you can probably benefit from both.

Specifically, I recommend no more than 3 to 5 hours of weightlifting and 1 to 2 hours of cardio per week when cutting.

This is enough exercise to burn large amounts of fat while preserving muscle and minimizing water retention.

Oh and don’t forget your deload weeks!

Have Cheat Meals

water weight loss

Don’t you love me for this one?

A large increase in caloric intake can trigger a “whoosh” of water weight, which is one of the reasons I recommend regular “cheat meals” when dieting.

That said, you need to know how to “cheat” correctly or it can actually hinder your progress. Read this article to learn more.

You Probably Need to Adjust Your Sodium and Potassium Intake

how to lose water weight

We haven’t talked yet about how sodium and potassium intake affects fluid levels in the body, but should.

Sodium is a mineral that brings water into cells, which is why eating large amounts of it can cause a large increase in water retention (or “bloating,” as most people see it).

You’ve probably seen this the morning after eating a large, salty restaurant meal.

This is also why when you restrict sodium intake, water retention decreases.

Potassium is another mineral that has the opposite effect on cellular fluid levels. Whereas sodium sucks fluid in, potassium pumps it out.

This is why research shows that restricting potassium intake can increase fluid retention.

Now, if you’re like most people, your diet is probably very high in sodium and quite low in potassium.

If you want to check, head over to Calorie King and start adding up. And don’t forget to add in guesstimates for how much salt you’ve been using as well (salt has about 2.3 grams of sodium per teaspoon).

I’ll bet money that your sodium intake is at least 50% higher than the USDA’s recommendation of about 2.3 grams per day (and 1.5 grams for African Americans, individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease and individuals ages 51 and older).

And I’ll double down that your potassium is at least 50% lower than the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of about 4.7 grams per day.

(And no, you’re not alone here–insufficient potassium intake is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in Western diets.)

This mineral imbalance contributes to water retention, but it’s a lot worse than that.

A study conducted by scientists from the Center for Disease Control and Harvard University found that people with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium were twice as likely to die of a heart attack and had a 50% higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest ratio.

The bottom line is people with diets very high in sodium and very low in potassium are playing with fire.

(I should note, however, that people that sweat regularly may need more sodium to offset losses through sweating. I personally eat around 3.5 to 4 grams per day.)

So, here are some good rules of thumb for keeping your sodium intake under control:

  • Look at the sodium content of canned or pre-packaged foods.

They’re often loaded with sodium as a preservative.

  • Avoid deli meat.

For the same reason.

  • Cut back on salt and certain seasonings.

Use salt sparingly and if needed, use a potassium-based salt substitute.

Watch out for mixed seasonings as well, like chili or pizza seasoning. They can contain quite a bit of sodium.

  • Watch out for sauces and salad dressings.

Many are very high in sodium.

  • Cheese can be a problem too.

For example, just one ounce of American cheese has nearly 500 milligrams of sodium.

The best way to raise your potassium intake is to include potassium-rich foods in your meal plans, such as…

  • Beans
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Banana
  • Potato
  • Squash
  • Yogurt
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Mushrooms

And if you’re frowning at having to plan/track yet another thing in your diet, don’t worry–you don’t have to track sodium and potassium intake forever.

Instead, you want to plan/track at first to see what works and what doesn’t and then just use common sense in maintaining good habits going forward.

Yes, that means your sodium and potassium intake is going to fluctuate some and occasionally spike plummet, and that’s fine.

So long as your intake is stably in the right range most of the time, and you go back to normal right after occasional spikes, you’ll be fine.

Take Time to Chill

water retention

You can reduce cortisol levels by simply taking some time each day to do relaxing things like…

If you want some more strategies for relaxing your mind and body, check out this article.

Get Enough Sleep

High-quality sleep is getting scarcer and scarcer these days thanks to ever-increasing obesity rates, work hours, TV watching, video game playing, and other distractions that keep us up at night.

Well, one of the many reasons to get enough sleep is inadequate rest increases cortisol levels, which, as you know, increases water retention.

Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and check out this article if you need help getting there.

Drink More Water

The Institute of Medicine recommends that we get about a gallon of water per day, and while we do get a fair amount from food, this requires drinking at least a few liters of water every day.

Personally I drink about 1 to 1.5 gallons per day because I lose a fair amount of water through my daily exercise and living in Florida (sweating).

The Bottom Line on Water Retention and Weight Loss

water weight gain

If you’ve been watching your calorie intake, following a sensible workout program, popping weight loss pills and powders, and you’re mysteriously not losing weight…

…then you’re probably dealing with water retention issues.

Don’t try to fight fire with fire by further reducing caloric intake and increasing physical output. It’s just going to make things worse.

Instead, just follow the advice in this article and you’ll be smiling at the scale and mirror again in no time.


What’s your take on water retention and weight loss? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • All people with weight problems, I recommend an excellent system with which you can lose lose weight fast , this is the page : http://www.fatlose.org

  • Scott

    What are your thoughts on products like Axis Labs Xtract for water loss?

    • Didn’t know about it until now but it looks like it just has a bunch of natural diuretics. I’ve never bothered with products like these so I’m not sure if they’re worth buying. Probably not though–you can get really dry by just manipulating your water and sodium…

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  • Sufyan

    I have experienced water retention after quitting smoking.i was depressed at first but now i think i found something which is helping me,first I knew I need to drink more water so i drank upto a gallon of water but I would drink this water in one go and that didnt help me at all,instead i tried drinking the same water sipping it throughout the day and it really helped,i lost a lot of weight,almost 10 pounds,keep in mind I am a muslim and I perform salaat 5 times a day,that increased my overall fluid circulation in the body and by drinking more water i was able to release the extra fluid my body was holding onto,I dont have the puffy face now but I still keep getting it back sometimes,I think I still have a little water in there,hope I can come over it and it never comes back…….Amen

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of increased water retention after smoking, but great job on handling it.

      The best thing you can do to prevent water retention is to keep your sodium and potassium levels balanced. According to the Institute of Medicine, you want somewhere between 1.5-2.3 grams of sodium per day, and double at in potassium.

  • Doofy

    I need a simple fucking answer as to if im losing fat and holding water and if my skin has the elasticity to fucking get lean like a M&F model. If not ill give up and just jack the fuck off.

    • Michael Matthews


    • Alana

      Holy ish this comment was so funny and I was caught totally off guard! LMBO!

      • Michael Matthews

        Hahaha I know, amazing.

    • fuckface

      Doofy sounds just like me smh…what the fucking fuck dude

    • Beastmode

      Wow. .I had to do a double take. Hilarious!!! Make sure to get some wrist support.

    • JC

      What an idiot…Depends how old you are…I think you lost your brain not fat..

    • This makes me lol every time.

    • P Mort

      The best post on this website.

    • Laurie

      really, was that necessary

  • rumba

    Dear all,
    I have a opposite problem which is extremely frustrating: i cannot retain water.
    It makes me look like i was just taken from concentration camp 🙁 Please, pleeeease, if you know a true reason why that happens, i’ll be eternally grateful!
    I’ve tried :
    1. limiting potassium foods and increasing sodium foods/salt: no effect.
    2. getting MUCH more rest: VERY little effect, almost none. but i can’t rest ALL the time….
    3. simply eating more calorie dense foods. the worst method ever! the more cheese, eggs, meats, bananas, dried fruits, chocolate, etc. i eat the poorer i look……
    and i tell you, i can eat 4-5000 calories per day, no problem.

    I happen to drink a lot of: mineral water, herbal teas, wash hands often, take 2 showers per day (i sweat a lot).
    Is it the real reason why i can’t retain water? Too much water intake?
    Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I’ve never heard of this issue before honestly. What are you ultimately trying to achieve? You want to look bigger or?

      • rumba

        Bigger face, lower arms and lower legs. Currently they all look very, very slim. I know its poor water retention.
        For some reason, i’m thirsty almost all the time and sweat often. I consume enough sodium.
        If somebody is slim, its usually due to chronic stress, but i’m not stressed. Please, if someone knows a solution how to retain water, esp. in the face- i’d be grateful!

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay. Have you tried just eating more food? 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight?

          • rumba

            Yeah, tried that many times since last 5-6 years. I can eat double portions of both lunch and dinner. Each plate is rice or potatoes or buckwheat with meat, some vegetables and sauces. And then beer or red wine.
            Plenty of fruits. Esp. during holidays “all inclusive” i eat huge amounts. And deserts. Result? Maybe 0.5-0.8 kg increase 🙁 Later, if i sweat or just walk too much all that gain is lost.
            People who look like 2x myself eat comparable amounts.
            Now i’m 100% certain its weak water retention. But i eat a lot of salt…. i also slouch, maybe thats the true reason…

          • Michael Matthews

            Hmm but have you actually tried tracking your food intake? Not just eating larger meals, but actually work out a meal plan that has you hitting certain numbers every day?

          • rumba

            No, i don’t track calories- i’m too busy with eating 😉
            Seriously, i eat large breakfasts, then a meal after workout and another one with my girlfriend. Dinners at around 8 pm. between meals: snacks like dried dates, cranberries, almonds. My oatmeal is not just oats- i add sunflower seeds, honey or molasses,dried fruits,flaxseeds. On top of that i rub olive oil on my skin, well most of it is absorped by the body. Caloric intake is very big.
            Thats why i think its a water issue. Yes i pee frequently, but much more when its cold. My blood tests are perfect (sodium, potassium, sugar) Only red blood cells are a bit below the norm. I consume lots of iron from various sources, incl. meat.

            Perhaps its poor blood flow to the head due to slouching? I’m already improving my posture and see if it works…
            Last thing i can think of is too much MUCUS clogging all arteries due to, hm….. too MUCH food, esp. dairy and meats i used to consume in huge amounts.

            When i look around… on the streets, in the metro, etc. the only people who look as bad as me are stressed, very poor folks who probably eat very little and are nervous all the time.
            I can afford any food or supplement on the planet, leave a quiet life and yet- my face is just a distaster. Also, my beard barely grows. This indicates clogged arteries.
            In the next few days, I’ll try fasting, eating only fruits.
            Combined with reduced water intake.
            The strange thing, i don’t really complain about the rest of my body (even gained some muscles), its only the face which looks like you haven’t got any sleep for months…. you can imagine how frustrating it is.

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay well I would recommend you actually track a few day’s worth of food and see how much you’re actually eating. Not just in calories but macros as well. Are you getting enough protein, etc.

            It’s not likely a water issue to be honest.

            Regarding your face, this could be caused by many different things. It’s hard to say.

            Have you seen a doctor?

          • rumba

            Well, i guess 400g of yogurt with oats and seeds, 3 slices of bread with cheese for breakfast, Big portion of fish or steak with spelt or buckwheat for lunch and plate full of cheese&potatoes dumplings two hours later… plus some 3-4 hard boiled eggs – is kind of enough protein for the day 😉 Not to mention cheesecakes, chocolate, large marzipan bars and another yogurt with honey just before bedtime, cause its good for the muscles…

            Do you think fat will be stored on my face even if its not stored in my belly?
            My guess is that i eat way too much and i’m loaded with anti-nutrients like phytic acid, lectins and gluten.
            What these do : inhibit mineral absorption. So i end up with some mineral deficiences.
            I’ve removed dairy, chocolate and deserts from my diet few weeks ago. No improvement. Now its time for nuts, seeds and grains. I’ll increase veggies and meat.

            I’ve weighted 15 kg more ten years ago. Remember not eating nuts and cacao at that time….

          • Michael Matthews

            Again you need to track actual numbers. If you’re not gaining weight despite regular proper weightlifting, you’re just not eating enough.

            Not sure on the face fat.

            You can cut out grains if you’d like. But again, I suspect the problem is a matter of QUANTITY not quality.

            Either that or there’s a health issue, for which you would have to see a doctor to find out…

          • Felipe Nogueira

            I´m not say it is, but it can be a medical problem. Looks like you have polydipisia (to much thristy) and polyuria (to much urine). The polyuria can be caused by or cause polydipsia.
            You´ve said your glucose is normal. But there is a more rare endocrine disease called Diabetes Insipidus, which has nothing to do with Glucose, Insuline resistance or deficiency. Its has to with Anti-Diuretic Hormone (it is also called vasopressin). The cause is, usually, your body fails to produce enough Anti-Diuretic hormone and the result is to much urine, which leads to much drinking. Like I sad, it´s a rare disease, it´s a long shot.
            Other reason is habbit drinking.

            Have you seen a *good* doctor?

          • rumba

            Thank you very much Felipe! It might be associated with ADH. However- i’d not call my thirst as “extreme”, it is just above the norm. I also don’t urinate at night. For example, when i lay on the beach and even swim in the ocean- i don’t urinate for most of the day…
            Doctors in my country are…. a catastrophy. I have bad experiences from the past and tend to avoid them.They just want to prescribe some pills, and never think much what is the underlying cause.

            Whats also very unusual about me, is that i don’t grow mustache and have very sparse beard. Despite being 36 yrs old AND having testosterone above high range (done blood test).
            Combined with dark circles under eyes(even when i sleep great) and too big nose….. i feel TERRIBLE looking in the mirror.
            I hear that polydipisia is connected with zinc deficiency. I have some symptoms of low zinc: very poor pubic and facial hair, stretch marks, poor libido.

            I eat lots of nuts and seeds, little read meat. Nuts and seeds have phytic acid which destroys zinc. I’ve also consumed a lot of chocolate which is also high in phytic acid (but also zinc..).

            Do you think it could be low zinc?

        • Felipe Nogueira

          What about urine? Do you pee a lot? If yes, you can have diabetes. The “normal” one (insuline resistance/deficienty) or even the rare called Diabetes Insipidus.

          Did you make blood works to check this problem out? You should check potassium, sodium, aldosterone, renine, acth, cortisol, and anti-diuretic hormone, glicose and others. You can also check your urine osmolality.

          Be careful with some herbal teas: some of them are diuretic..

    • Guest

      Please have yourself checked for hypoadrenocorticism!

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  • Kelcey Z

    This was a great article and very insightful. I am going through this right now as I have upped my cardio on the stairmaster (50 minutes) and still my food intake is probably under 1000 calories. I freaked out seeing I gained 4 pounds in 2 days! Thank you for relieving some of my scale anxiety!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kelcey! Yikes that’s REALLY low cal. How much do you weigh?

      • Kelcey Z

        As of this morning I’m 110, but typically range between 100-105. I have a really small frame, 5’2, 22 years old

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool and how often are you exercising?

          • Kelcey Z

            About 5-6 times a week. I do the stairmaster for about 40-50 minutes at a pretty fast pace and just lift 7.5 dumbbells and a few planks afterwards

          • Michael Matthews

            Wow okay. I would love to change things up a bit if you’re up to it. A very low calorie diet plus a lot of cardio really isn’t good for overall body composition…

  • Archervet

    Please have yourself checked for hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease).

  • Roschelle

    I finally have recovered from adrenal fatigue.. I am now on day 4 of really working out and tracking food/calories. I am eating super clean and healthy.. No alcohol .. I know that when you first start working out you can gain a few lbs due to fluid retention because of the muscles not being used to the activity you are doing so they rush water into them to protect them. I havent gained in the last few days but havent lost. I am definitely at the most frustrating point with my body i have ever been. I used to be 122 ( I am 5’1) but it was all muscle. I had a great bmi.. Well this last year its just created havoc on my body with stress etc. I gained twenty lbs 🙁 no matter what i would do the weight would NOT come off. Now that i have been on the right natural supplements, i am feeling MUCH better and have very few “bad” days..I stress out NOW feeling like I am going to work out hard and not see results again. I dont think I can manage this again emotionally. I am on 1200 a day for calories (feel like i eat constantly trying to eat healthy and clean and meet the daily requirement lol) I am burning like 700-750 a day on the arc trainer and started doing some light strength training also. Any advice, or encouragement would be awesome. Unfortunately, even though I KNOW that I can’t expect results in a few days of this, but I want it dangit! lol

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m glad to hear you’re doing well again. Adrenal fatigue sucks.

      Yes, you will gain weight when you start lifting because muscles store water and glycogen.

      What type of exercise program are you following?

      • Roschelle

        I am doig cardio about 6 days a week.. I do the arc trainer level 3 for 40-60 minutes and I do leg ass and abs one day then the next arms and back and chest I’m not lifting very heavy as I have lost muscle mass due to this adrenal crap.. For arms and back the most ill do is 30-50 I’m not trying to bulk just tone. 3-4 sets of 10-15 will be a challenge so I stick w that
        For my legs and butt I can do way more
        I can do 90-100 lb on leg press and squats I either add the bar on shoulders or hold the weight whilst doing squat .. Abs I add up to 12 lbs whilst doing them. And I do a lot more sets and reps with abs

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool that’s not bad.

          What do you think about doing more lifting and less cardio? And 20-25 min of HIIT for your cardio instead of the longer sessions?

          • Roschelle

            I am here now I’ll try that :))

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay let’s start with 3-4x weights and 2-3x HIIT cardio, 25-30 min. These articles might help you:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-fitness-plan-for-women/

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /high-intensity-interval-training-and-weight-loss/

            If you like them, then you should really read my book Thinner Leaner Stronger next, as that’s the program I would love to get you going on. 🙂

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/thinner-leaner-stronger/

            Lemme know what you think!

          • Roschelle

            Okay I will look at those links and I’ll check out your book!!! Update for you, also. I lost two lbs.. I don’t really SEE the loss but I was able to squeeze in some old jeans. Progress is progress! I can’t wait to be lean and toned again!! You’re so helpful thank you!!

          • Michael Matthews

            Cool, and great on the weight loss. Exactly–down is down! Keep it up!

          • Roschelle

            So I am just leaving gym I did 25 of hiit on the arc machine
            !! Whoa kicked my butt harder than 60 min of just cardio. Then I did 30 of legs and a bs and butt. Sound good? I did the most weight I could do to get through 3 sets of 10 each thing I did. Then stretched. I burned 318 for the hiit less than normal but it felt I worked harder than I normally do with just cardio.. I read your articles and posted them on my fb page. 🙂 thank you!

          • Michael Matthews

            Nice! Yeah HIIT rocks.

            I would recommend the lifting first, then the HIIT, then the stretching.

            What do you think?

            And thanks for sharing my articles! 🙂

          • Jason Brandt

            The amount of weight lifted has nothing to do with bulking. Lifting weights will never make someone bulk. Calories are the only thing that can make someone bulky. If you maintain normal calorie intake while adding a weight lifting program it will only lean you out by adding lean muscle mass and burning body fat.

          • Roschelle

            I’m Guna have to disagree on that statement

          • Jason Brandt

            You’re not disagreeing as their is no opinion on the matter. Fact is science say’s bulky muscles require not just lifting heavy weights but heavy calorie consumption.




          • Roschelle

            Maybe I read your first comment wrong .. Yes with healthy diet and heavy slower lifting one can achieve the bulk.

          • Jason Brandt

            Roschelle read the articles. Body builders have to eat 5-10k calories a day to maintain muscle mass. Your body will only build what it has the calories to build. If you’re eating under 1500 calories as a female or under 2000 calories as a male your body will only burn fat and build lean muscle mass while doing heavy lifting. When you have a degree in exercise physiology and have found a study proving otherwise you can claim what you’re saying but until then what you said is incorrect. Large bulky muscle mass requires a calorie surplus. Just keep saying that over and over. Eventually you will understand.

          • Roschelle

            I don’t think the rudeness is necessary I agree that a body builder would eat massive amounts of calories with their heavy lifting.. X amount of protein healthy carbs and fat and calories. I’m not disagreeing with you I read your first post wrong

          • Roschelle

            I was also wondering. Was there something on this thread that made you comment about bulking. ? I’m definitely not bulking. My email showed that you posted a bulking comment in response to my thread ..

          • Jason Brandt

            I apologize if you feel I was being rude I am merely trying to get rid of the rumor that a lot of woman think lifting heavy weights will make them bulky. I just want to make sure you’re informed to reach your goals and get in the best shape possible. Lifting heavier weights is how to challenge the body making it stronger and leaner. Best of luck on your fitness journey.

          • Roschelle

            I agree with you whole hearted ly .. I am a certified personal trainer and in school for physical therapy still learning a lot but have some knowledge .. I know so many women that lift so light and just do cardio. I lift to the heaviest I can making sure I can get through the 3 sets fully .. I’ve already gained some strength in less than a week of two weeks of training. I’ve been able to increase my weights! I’m so happy!! Seems I lost more strength in my arms in this last year of being sick … For a whole year… I’ve got my meals prepped w perfect protein and carbs and fats

          • Michael Matthews

            This is true and is the big message of my book for women.

            Remember that women also have a fraction of the average male’s testosterone level, which is the primary hormonal driver of muscle growth.

          • Michael Matthews

            No reason to be rude, as you’re only half right.

            Building muscle efficiently requires a calorie surplus. If you are in a deficit, or just at maintenance, you don’t build “lean muscle,” you simply don’t build muscle at all. There’s no such thing as “lean” or “bulky” muscle.

            You can get stronger while eating at a maintenance level due to neurological improvements in existing muscle fibers. This does not result in growth of the fibers, though.

          • Michael Matthews

            The amount of weight lifted DOES affect your ability to bulk.

            Eat all you want but if you’re not lifting heavy weights, you’re not going to get much bigger.

            Maintenance calories plus proper lifting does NOT burn fat and add muscle.

            A “recomp,” as it’s known, is really only possible in newbies and druggers, and it’s nothing more than maintaining a mild calorie deficit for fat loss and letting the body do its thing in terms of building muscle.

            Anyone past year 1 not on drugs can’t do it though.

          • Roschelle

            You’re absolutely right, Mathew. 🙂

          • Michael Matthews


  • David

    Did you mean to say more than?
    “and use the “light activity” multiplier–unless you exercise less than 7 hours per week”

    • Michael Matthews

      Whoops, yes. Thanks for pointing this out.

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  • Tsungai

    Hi Michael,GREAT article.I’m also one of those whose been on a plateau despite watching my calories, eating veges etc. A few days ago I was on a fast (religious)and didnt eat or drink NOTHING for 3 days and 3 nights and I lost just over 4kg or 9 pounds and came down to 51.2kg or 103pounds. I’m a woman, 5″3. I got one of my tiny dresses out and flaunted my flat belly, thin thighs and less 2 inches body and felt sexy. It was a good day!Started eating gently, drinking tea, watered down fruit juice and watching my carbs and small quantities eating my dinner off a side plate yesterday and I’m nearly back at the 56 kg/114 pounds I started at 3 days ago. I’m mad and angry as you can understand. I hear you about cutting sugar and salt. I’ve been surfing the net on water weight answers and this is by far the best. THANK YOU for the great article. I especially appreciate that you backed it up with scientific research such as the Minnesota experience. How best do I find a balance betweeen exercise to tone up without getting into the zone where I won’t lose weight and my body starts to hoard the water again? Are there any good diet plans out there that you can suggest for me? Also how much exercise, for someone like me 112 pounds and 5”3? Please suggest any good kidney detoxes you know of as well. I want that 51kg body back!

  • Goddess

    I’m trying to loose weight and I’ve been stuck on 150kgs… even with meal replacement drinks…
    I mean you can see me growing smaller. But I still weigh the same. Realized itmight be the mineral water I’ve been drinking. That stuff has sodium in it.
    Urgh time to drink pure water only.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm water retention could be the issue, or it could be related to diet (eating too much daily and/or weekly) or exercise (moving too little).

      This article might help on the diet side:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast/

  • Resh

    Hey Michael, thank you for the informative article! I’ve been struggling with water retention for months and this has given me some great insight. I weight train about 4-5 days a week and cardio 2-3 days. My biggest problem is meeting calorie requirements as I maintain a mostly vegetarian diet. Due to food allergies I’ve cut out dairy and wheat. I don’t have much of a palette for poultry or meats but I do occasionally enjoy fish. I’ve found the best way to get in my protein requirement is by drinking a vegan powder in the morning and evening. Otherwise I eat lots of vegetables and the occasional fruit to meet my calorie intake which usually I don’t. On the occasional weekend when I’m away I notice I lose all ths water weight and I don’t want to return to the gym just to bloat up again. I am so frustrated I could give up!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

      Hitting your calories is very important as too severe of a deficit will result in dramatic water retention, which makes it look like you’re not losing fat due to stagnant weight (you are, but it’s masked by increased water retention).

      I recommend working out a proper meal plan that hits your daily numbers and just sticking to that every day…

      Read about this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      • Resh

        At 5’7″ I weigh about 125-130lbs. I’m happy with my weight but would really like to gain muscle and lose fat. I think I am around 20% body fat. After reading a few of your articles I am still a little confused one what my caloric intake per day should be. Right now I’ve grown to be around 1400 while working out 5-6 days a week.

  • Trey

    Great artical Michael. Just have a question. I rely more on using a tape measure around the biggest part of my stomach vs the scales. I have been hitting a 500 cal. Deficiency almost dead on give our take no more than 50. I measure once in the morning and once in the evening not comparing the two bc I know the morning is going to be smaller. But I have dropped about 4 pounds in 2 weeks and about 2 inches off my waist. But I have noticed that the past 2 days I have put about a half inch back on. Do you think this is water or fat. I have not had a cheat day in 5 days.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah waist measurement is definitely a reliable way to track fat loss and storage.

      Great job on your weight loss so far. That’s just water. Don’t sweat it and keep up the good work. If you don’t see any changes for 7-10 days, then there might be something worth addressing…

  • Heather

    This article is very very interesting. I have been sticking to a lifting program for almost 7 months now. I am female, 31, 5’2, 117lbs. My goal in the beginning was to be 105lbs. I can squat and deadlift over 100lbs and did my first chin-up the other day. I can also pick up my 130lb husband easily 😉 In the beginning I lost 41/2lbs. Then it stopped and I’ve lost nothing on the scale. Or in inches. Nothing. I started at 1500cals, then 1550, 1400. At one point I brought them up to 1700 just to see what would happen. Nothing. I don’t gain nor do I lose. I do HITT cardio when I feel up to it.and walk my dog 1/2hr – 45min almost everyday.

    My body looks strong but I’ve still got visible fat covering my stomach, hips, and booty. What the heck is going on?? I just don’t know what to do anymore. Do I eat 1700 or 1200? 2 days of HITT or 6 days of SS? Honestly, I am at my wits end but my stubbornness doesn’t let me give up.

    How can a body be in a deficit for so long while lifting as heavy as I possibly can + doing cardio and NOT DO ANYTHING?!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Heather!

      Wow great job on your strength! That rocks.

      It sounds like you need to bring your calories up to maintenance for 3-4 weeks to speed your metab up and then go for the final “get really lean” cut, and use some strategies to help burn stubborn fat:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      You’re not in a deficit if your body fat % is static. Remember your metab slows down as you reduce calories, and honestly many people miscalculate how many calories they’re actually eating. They don’t weigh/measure all food, they add little things here and there, they eat too much in their cheat meals, thus negating the deficits on previous days, etc.

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  • pedro

    Hi there, I’m a very active male, 41 years old. 6′ 4″. I
    train 5 days a week – cardio in the am on an empty stomach and do weights 3-4 night
    a week on split routine. I have got my weight down from 99kg to 95.1kg; BF has
    decreased from 14.3% to 11.4% currently… all good and progressing in the right
    way. BUT when I do my fortnightly body composition checks on the machine they
    have in my gym, it is the one that you hold the rods at the side, bare footed,
    and it sends a current thru your body (not sure how accurate they are anyway)
    shows that my ‘total body water’ should be between 44.6kg and 56.2kg for my
    weight/height/age etc… so the upper end is 56.2kg….. Well mine is 66.4kg!!…way
    over the upper end!

    I have always had this ‘bloated’ stomach for a few years now,
    which has decreased recently due to me starting cardio, eating clean, and
    cutting out the crap. I had a blood test done to eliminate all the foods I was
    intolerant too. I really have put the work in to find out what may be causing this
    bloating… I used to joke with family and friends that I ‘really’ was a low 12%
    BF and state that I suffered from water retention… which I really do now – according
    to this diagnostic on the machine in my gym.

    I have read on some forums, to increase my water intake…really? I
    drink 3-4 cups of green tea per day. At least 4 litres of water and 2 proteins
    shakes… you telling me I’m not getting enough fluids? I don’t add salt to
    anything (never have) and use spices moderately in my cooking. Have a very
    clean diet. I just don’t get it.

    I’m starting to get some definition on my abs now, so really
    want to nail this water retention thing once and for all. And get the flat
    stomach/six pack I have yearned for all these years…. Any suggestions would be greatly
    appreciated. Thank you….

    Or maybe just do even MORE cardio!!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      BIA machines can be really inaccurate depending on testing conditions:


      My guess is you just need to get leaner. If you’re relying on the BIA for your body fat reading, that too could be wrong (you could be higher).

      If it actually is a water retention issue, and you’re drinking that much water every day (which is plenty), it COULD be that you need to balance your sodium and potassium levels.

      Your sodium intake should be around 1.5 grams per day and your potassium double that. Either one being off can cause water retention…

      • pedro

        thanks michael – its greatly appreciated. how do i check my sodium and potassium levels? i dont eat bannanas – and i know theyre good for potassium…or do i take a vitamin tablet to up my levels? im not in denile, i do ‘probably’ agree – i do need to get leaner – 🙂 one thing i forgot to mention – when i did the test my mineral and protein levels were also ‘over’ the higher end stated… im actually a hard gainer so am keeping my cardio at 30-40 mins every morning 4-5 days a week on an empty stomach to increase calorie loos/fat burn and not loose too much muscle mass – which by the way i have lost a lot of…. it IS definately working, 6 weeks in and i CAN see a good result, im just impaitient and want to get their quicker with my training and results etc… but naturally, i do need to make some tweaks and address some issues, this being one of them.

        • Michael Matthews


          You have to just look at the sodium/pot levels of the foods you eat, including salt and spices.

          I supplement with about 1.5 grams of pot per day to hit my number, but you can get all from food.

          Cool keep up the good work and once you reach your desired body fat %, you want to start focusing on gaining some size, right?

          • pedro

            cheers mike.

            yes thats absolutley right! i was always under the impression one can bulk up and strip at same time – but being a lanky/skinny/hard gainer (albeit with a small paunch belly) thats now getting flatter by the day and i have lost a bit of my size had recently, but with my renewed enthusiasm and training regime (doing cardio in the am and weights in the pm) im ‘finally’ seeing some proper results… i think my training had plateuaed and i was doing it wrong…. again, the advice here and threads are on point. thanks once again.

          • Michael Matthews

            Perfect! I’m excited for you. Keep up the good work and keep me posted.

          • Nick

            Can you take water weight out with a syringe just wondering

          • Michael Matthews

            No, definitely not.

  • António Alves

    Hey Mike,
    From this article I understand what you should do if you’ve checked your calories and you are in a caloric deficit but are not losing weight. Still, if you are losing fat but retaining water, would you be able to see changes in the mirror which would indicate you are losing fat (just for curiosity)?

    What happens if you are losing more than the recommended 2 pounds a week? How do you know if you are not losing water instead of fat? Is this impossible since you said that being in a caloric deficit causes water retention? This would then indicate that if you are losing more than 2 pounds it is because you are in a big caloric deficit. However, since water retention can happen, if you lose 2 pounds in a week, you could actually have lost 4 pounds if it were not for the water retention, which would mean that you are in a big caloric deficit without knowing.

    My second question, is what do I do if I lose more than 2 pounds in a week. Should I immediately raise my calories by 200 ( I guess), and how would I distribute them ( could I just choose, like protein)? Is there a way of knowing how much water you are retaining without looking at your weekly losses?

    Thanks Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      You may or may not see it in the mirror–it depends how much water you’re holding.

      If your energy levels are good and you’re strong in the gym, you’re okay. You WILL generally lose more than 2lbs/week when you start because water flushes out quickly.

      Use your energy levels and strength as the main indicators. If those are good, then maintain your caloric intake. If either go really south, increase food.

      • Enriq

        Hello! According to this article, how may we continue losing fat but without losing more weight anymore? I’m male 27 years 1,73m and 20%bf, I want to continue losing fat minimum till 10% but the problem is that I’m already in 69kgs!!That is very low, never been here. If I follow my target with my caloric deficit I will be very very skinny! I’m already very skinny and people tell me that is too much, but I still have 20%bf in my body however. I don’t know if always fat lose means also weight loss imperatively. I also ask this because I’ve read in a magazine a director’s transofrmation in 12 weeks and he passed from 72kgs/14%bf to 74kgs/5%bf! His goal was to cut, but he gained weight while reducing his bf%, was he in caloric deficit too or maybe he did it in another way? I’m a little worried about it and I don’t know if I’m doing it OK. Thankss!!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah if you hold a lot of water it can obscure fat loss.

          That said, are you sure you’re at 20%? Check this out:


          • Enriq

            Hi Mike. I read your article, its great! Thanks! Yes, I’m sure of my BF% at least approximately because I have a scale where I have to introduce my age, genre and height. Then it calculates my weight, BF%, water %, muscle % and basal metabolic. So I think everything is OK. This morning I was in 68.7kg 19.9%BF. I think I have no much muscle and lot of fat, I don’t know if that might be my problem.

          • Michael Matthews

            Great! Okay cool. We should focus on getting you to the 10% range first…

          • Enriq

            Perfect! I will continue writing about my evolution in your site.

          • Michael Matthews


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  • lumian

    once i checked my weight 3-4 months nd i saw it was 51 from 48 , I was scared but I didnt do anything as I hate diet and excercise but after 4 day I saw it down
    again 48 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, water retention can really mess with you!

  • jilian

    I started drinking lots of water everyday for 3 days , and i havent lose weight . My stomach looks bigger than it usually is . Is this a good or bad sign ? :/ if its because its just water weight , how long will this take ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Drinking more water won’t necessarily reduce water retention. Balancing sodium and potassium intake are a better way to get rid of water retention…

      • ryan

        can you supplement potassium?

        • Michael Matthews

          Yup. I do.

    • Mike

      Maybe you are pregnant.

    • danah

      Yeah, it’s not just about drinking a lot of water. yOu have to cut sodium, and carbs, and make sure you’re exercising in a way that will not lead to swelling.

      Plus there are a bunch of other things you can do (sauna, sweat suits, etc.) You would probably benefit from this book (How to Lose Water Weight – The fastest way to flush out 20 pounds in 30 days) Google it on amazon)

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  • Brooke_Escalante

    This helped so much. I started just doing push ups and I did get leaner but then a few days later my stomach swoll up and i gained about 4-5 lbs. I was frustrated bc I became less wide but my stomach was big. I’m still not exactly sure how to flush out the water.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Brooke!

      Hmm well balancing sodium and potassium intake is important as well as drinking plenty of water.

      Was this possibly due to your period, though?

      • Dani

        So I’ve been drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day reduced my sodium intake but my weight still hasn’t changed in 3 days I started my period yesterday… When my period ends I should see a difference on the scale .. Right?

        • Michael Matthews

          Possibly it depends on how your fat loss was going. Let’s see…

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  • Dani

    So my period ended yesterday and when I weighed myself today I had lost 4.1lbs I guess I am doing good lol and it was just my period messing with me which sucks because I did loose motivation but did not give up I kept thinking only a couple of more days and we will see what’s really going on and it worked never give up!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha yup, that’s how it goes. Do yourself a favor and don’t weigh yourself during your period. Weigh yourself after. 😉

  • NateMac

    I’ve recently started (we’ll call it) a controlled calorie weight loss plan. Before I would cut back and exercised regularly. Now I’m actually keeping track, and we’ll just say it “taking it seriously”.
    I’m only a week in, and have noticed a plateau very quickly(maybe I’m just being anxious). First day I gained a pound, and the Second lost 1.6lbs. Tomorrow is the end of the week and it hasn’t moved even .1 of a lbs (which I think is a little weird in the first place, to not even move a little). I’ve also have not “expelled waist” in a few days.
    I’m wondering if a “cheat meal” will level me out or if their is another recomendation here.
    “At the moment” I limit myself to 1730 calories a day and some sort of cardio after work for 45 minutes. Unfortunately the rest of the day sit at a desk and try and walk around as much as I can.
    Thanks for the article, this at least made me not so worried about how this first week was going.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm how much do you weigh? Are you a guy or girl?

  • Mike C.

    great article brother. I’m on my 1st official cut (bodybuilding) this past week. And I went down a 1/2 pound 1st few days and up a pound the next 3 I know its not the food in general because it’s all lean and clean. but the last few days I have tried to make my food taste better ( sodium), and my exercise is very intense (go hard or stay home) as well as lack of sleep (I feel its a waste of my life). But after reading this article which I thank you so much for!!!…. I’m going to cut back on my sodium (don’t quite understand how you can measure it) (But i do have 25 % less sodium season salt and salt free Mrs. Dash) and do better on my sleep ,with last resort, reducing exercise intensity. Which is actually what lead me here. My question to google was will 2 hard leg days a week on a cut cause me to retain water weight? But any way thanks a lot brother will definitely be referring others in need of simple straight to the point guidance your way!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mike! Yeah water retention can mess with you big time.

      Drop sodium to the IOM recommendation and make sure you’re getting enough potassium too. Unfortunately it’s another set of things you have to track but it’s important when you’re prepping for a BB show.

      The only way exercise could cause it is if you’re overtraining your body and thus chronically elevating your cortisol levels….

  • William Lim Jr

    Hi Mike,

    Do you think the opposite effect can also happen for someone trying to bulk?

    I have been a little under the weather for the past around 3 weeks, I had mild cold-like symptoms (not sure if was caused by a virus or bacteria) but I felt well enough to still go to the gym and actually manage to progress on both reps and weights. I’m all well now and have been symptom-free for at least the past 4 days. However, I noticed that since this started, I lost about 2 pounds and and was just stuck there ever since. No gain at all even if I’ve been eating already going over my bulk calorie goals. I even laid off on cardio to make sure that I’m on a surplus.

    Do you think I was losing water all this time?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm not sure, could be water. If your weight remains stuck then we want to increase your food intake…

      • William Lim Jr

        Thanks Mike!

        Yeah i’ll see if the scale doesn’t budge again on my next weigh-in. My muscles seem to be growing denser though. I’ve been fluctuating within the 145-147lbs range for the past 3 or so weeks. I stand 5’8″ and I’m already eating 2500+ It’s sort of a good problem to have, but not so good for the budget. hah!

  • Squidgeypaws

    I’ve some data that shows that I appear to lose weight when I’m eating between 1800 and 2000 NET calories per day, most efficiently when it’s around 1800-1850 net. Having eaten below that at around 1400 net for a few weeks I’ve “put on” 3.5Ibs and have had an increase in my measurements, but I’ve LOST fat (as measured by skin calipers). It’s still in testing, but can anyone help me understand why this might be? Water retention from lowered calories….why? To access carbohydrate stores?

    • Squidgeypaws

      Female, 27, 5’5″ (66in), 157Ibs.

      • Michael Matthews

        Great on what you’re doing. You should have no issues losing weight assuming your metabolism is healthy:


        • Squidgeypaws

          Ah that’s a great read – I’ve been reverse dieting since mid-November (when I’d plateued for 8 months eating <1300 calories NET a day and was miserable and constantly hungry!). Since Christmas I've been eating around 2000 calories NET, I've had three weeks of eating 1400 net (quite by accident) – do you think it's safe to go straight back to 2000 net or should I increase it slowly? Great info though Michael, it's answered a lot of questions I've had!

          • Squidgeypaws

            Oh, also, just out of curiosity – the last time I lost weight (before bumping calories) was when I broke a couple of toes and was unable to carry out my usual routine for about 6 weeks. My weight dipped lower than it has since I was about 22 (down to 148Ibs) – lowered cortisol levels? Or loss of LBM? It went straight back to over 150Ibs when I started running again (and then mid-50’s after I started lifting).

          • Michael Matthews

            Could be some water coming out but you will definitely lose muscle from 6 weeks of dropping a routine out. You start to lose muscle around week 3-4, give or take.

          • Michael Matthews

            Good question. Personally I would jump to about 1700 net for 10 days or so, then back to 2000.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing! That HAS to be due to increased water retention via higher cortisol levels (the bigger the deficit, the more stress the body is put under). That’s all.

      • Squidgeypaws

        Thanks for that Michael, it can be quite disheartening when muscles that were previously starting to peep through disappear in puffiness again!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Yeah I understand. Let’s get the water under control and you’ll be fine.

  • Owen

    Finally some answers:) one more thing…….1,500 is considered a semi-starvation diet, according to my calculations my cut intake would be 1,441. My weight is 61kgs. Am i eating way too little or is water retention just a thing i’ll have to deal with in my cutting phase?

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad you liked the article!

      1500 isn’t semi-starvation for your body weight. You can start around 1600 but I suspect you will have to reduce as time goes on…

  • Mara

    I think I’m being too anxious. I bought the TLS book and today is day 1 of week 2 and I made the mistake of stepping on a scale this morning. I’m a female, 29, 5’5′ and 155lb. I have been eating about 1500-1700 calories per day and feeling great (not hungry or tired). I lift weights 5x a week, HIIT 3x and other cardio on two other days (30 minutes). I gained 1lb in one week. I know this might seem dumb, but how long until the scale drops (although this is almost impossible for you to say)? I know I should be patient. Maybe I’m just looking for some validation, I don’t know. It’s just frustrating and I’m afraid I’ll get to the end of the month with the same weight. Thank you, Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome on what you’re doing and the weight gain was simply your muscles sucking up water and glycogen, as well as some muscle growth.

      Keep up what you’re doing and let’s see how your body responds over the next 2 weeks. I recommend taking pictures every 5 days or so and measuring your waist too so you can get a more accurate idea of what is happening, as weight can be very variable.

      • Mara

        Thank you so much, Mike! You gave me one more reason to smile today. 🙂 You are awesome!

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha my pleasure! Thanks!

  • Ella

    Please help. I haven’t lost weight for nearly two weeks. I actually gained last week. I’m 5ft, weigh 154lbs. I’m quite muscly so I thought I would have an advantage with weight loss. Body fat around 25%. Been exercising 5-6 times a week with elliptical, 30 ds shred, weights, hot yoga and hot pilates. Eating 1430 calories a day and hitting my protein macros most days with reasonably low carbs. Been working out this much since the start of January. Considering upping my protein to 90g a day. Don’t know what to do as measurements don’t seem to be changing and stomach looks bloated. Any tips?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm your calories are quite low and it sounds like your macros are off as well.

      Check out this articles of mine:



      • Ella

        Thanks for those. So do you think I should slowly increase my calorie allowance? I can’t quite work out what protein I need to be eating. I think eating 154 grams of protein would be really hard for me to manage on a daily basis. What steps do you think I should take – eating at maintenance is a bit of a struggle for me now I did it yesterday and it made me feel slightly sick 🙁

        • Michael Matthews


          Yeah I would start eating more as described in the metab article.

          150 is pretty easy to hit if you include protein in each meal you eat, and eat some meat and protein powder.

          What do you think?

          • Ella

            Thanks. I’m working out a meal plan that will incorporate around 100g of protein. I really don’t want to go down the route of protein powders as I want to get use to finding sustainable sources of protein for when I go into maintenance mode. Also I would just rather eat my calories. I’ve been looking at things like crayfish and chicken etc. I know that dairy has a decent amount of protein too but I don’t want to go crazy with it. Going to mainly snack on nuts and seeds. Also I weighed myself today and I’ve lost a pound which is great but I’m going to do refeeding and up my cals to 1500 for this week.

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay well 100 should work as well. That’s not bad.

            Dairy is good, eggs are good, fish is great, chicken is easy.

            Nice on the weight loss. Keep me posted on how it goes.

          • Ella

            Chicken is easy but so filling! I definitely will. I managed to hit 100g protein today. Thanks for your help x.x.

          • Michael Matthews

            Nice! 🙂 Keep me posted!

          • Ella

            Hi Michael,
            Had a bit of a stall last week but I’ve lost 2 pounds this week so it’s balanced out. I think it may have been because I upped my calories. I’ve been eating 1500 cals and have actually decreased my exercise as I think I was overdoing it. So thanks for the advice as I finally like what I see in the mirror and I know its only going to get better. My target is another 9 pound loss – maybe more. Thanks again x.x.

          • Michael Matthews

            Perfect, I’m glad to hear it. Let’s keep you where you’re at in terms of cals and exercise and see how your body continues to respond.

          • Ella

            I have now lost a total of 14 lbs this year and I’m down to 147 lbs. I want to lose another 14 lbs. I am really pleased with my results. Do you think it will take another 3 months to lose the remaining 14 lbs? I am still eating around 1500 net cals or less a day. x.x.

          • Michael Matthews

            Great job! Yes, 2-3 months sounds about right.

  • Jackied2311

    So I’m 5’3″ currently 123 lbs. I’d like to get down to around 116, 117. I eat around 1500 calories a day, normally consume around 100g of protein and very little carbs and fat. I also try to drink 64oz of water daily. My scale has not budged in over a month. I workout 5 days a week, doing at least 30 minutes of intense cardio each time along with ab exercises, as well as lift, rotating between arms, legs, back/shoulders, & chest. I have noticed that my stomach is trimming down and my arms are getting crazy toned but I am making myself crazy about my weight. My husband actually had to hide the scales! I want to be lean and strong and I want to do it the right way but the lack of weight loss has me very discouraged. I will keep a closer eye on sodium intake and try to give myself more rest for a week to see if that helps.

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool on your stats, goal, and intake.

      Your intake might be fine but I would change your workout routine to focus on weighlifting and HIIT cardio. What do you think?

      • Jackied2311

        I have been doing some HIIT on the treadmill, alternating between a jog and sprint with incline. I’ll work on some other exercises to mix things up.. Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s good! And lifting? Or some other form of resistance training?

  • Bre

    I think this is my problem. I work out 6xweek eat very little and have actually gained weight. Some days I feel good others I feel squishy. It’s depressing.

  • Brittney

    Hi Michael.
    I am a 25 y/o female. I’m 5’3″ and weigh around 132. I would like to ideally get to 120 but seem to be in a rut. I have been doing MusclePharms live shredded program for women for about a month now. I’ve only lost 3 pounds and that was right in the beginning of the month. I know I should be eating more calories than I do (roughly around 1000), but I gain weight with eating any more than that. I have been to doctors and they all are amazed at the amount of weight I can gain in a week. I mean I have ate normally around 1600 calories and I will gain 10 pounds in a week. I have had blood tests done and it’s not my thyroid but they are not sure why this is. I started eating breakfast recently to jump start my metabolism and saw a pound lost but that was over a week ago. I am just in a rut and am very hard on myself when I know I eat very healthy and exercise hard yet am having a very hard time losing weight. Please help. Thank you.

  • Jessica

    I had my body fat percentage measured this morning and it seemed high. It was first thing in the morning. If I was dehydrated would that make my percentage go up or down? And what about vice versa, if I was retaining water would that make it go up or down?

  • Megan

    Hi Michael

    I work out 6 days each week with circuit and hIIT training. I weighed 102lbs (height: 5’2″), I started seeing some great muscle definition. .Because I reached my goal weight of 102 I increased my calorie intake to 1800-1900 and continued exercising. In the last week I have gained 8lbs, my measurements are going up, my muscles feel like they’re under a sheet of fat. Yesterday I decreased my salt and sugar intake and drank more water, I also ate less. Today I am up by another lb. Help!

  • Mel18

    Hi! I have been looking for some answers about water retention for a few weeks and finally got them in your article! I have starter the Jamie Eason “Livefit” program and it is the first time I’ve lifted weights seriously. I’m in my 6th week right now and I feel like I have an extra “layer” of fat/flab, gained a few pounds on the scale, not the results you want to see after sticking with a program. I’ve kept doing cardio (jogging medium intensity and hiits motsly) at least 3 times a week even though it wasn’t part of phase 1 of the program and trying to eat around 1500 calories a day. I’m 5’6″, 128 pounds, I’m wondering if I’m eating too much/not enough, I really have no idea how many calories to eat while weight training (I don’t lift really heavy). I’m going to try your tips for getting rid of water, if you have any tips for calorie intake/anything else, that would be great!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I’m not familiar with that program but 1500 cals per day sounds about right for your stats. Maybe a little low. That should be every day though–lifting days as well.

      Have you created a meal plan or?

      • Mel18

        I cut back on carbs, lots of veggies ans lean meats, but I still have room for improvement. I’ll work on that, now knowing that 1500 cals sounds about right. Thanks for all the information, loved your article, and I hope your tips pay off! 🙂

    • Treno

      Mel I’m having same issues…..I’m the same weight, eating same calories, doing light intervals though because I’m just starting out and I do yoga on alternating days BUT the scale and my bloating gets worse everyday. I haven’t eaten gluten in two years and get most of my carbs from veggies and fruits. I eat 40/30/30 and prepare and measure my food. And I use a food tracker. So I cannot figure out what we are doing wrong to retain so much water. It’s discouraging. Let me know if you see anything change. I hope that continued exercise will help but I’m feeling skeptical and down because I’m having trouble buttoning my pants:(

      • Mel18

        Wow you’re doing great diet wise! I’m not quiet there yet… can’t seem to let go of my bread and pasta 🙂 I have to say that, after thinking it over a bit today, I realised that whenever I’ve seen change while following a training plan of any kind (the ones I’ve done were more cardio oriented, with really light weights), it was only about 8-9 weeks into it. I’m “panicking” a bit this time around because I’m afraid I won’t get the results I want because of the weight lifting. All I really want is to tone up a bit and lose a few pounds. So I will try out a few of the tips mentioned in the article about getting rid of water, and I’ll let you know what happens… But I guess that, as frustrating as it is, we need time and to stick to it to see results!

        • Treno

          Well I do believe long cardio is not the way to go and I do believe in interval training I’ve had good results before But like you I’m panicking because of the weight gain and water retention and I don’t know what is causing it?? Too much of ??? Or not enough of…??
          I hope that I can get some help at this site 🙂

          • Michael Matthews

            What’s your daily calorie intake like?

          • Treno

            I track my food and it goes between 1300-1500 day.
            But I did have a question after reading many of your articles..
            If the number of meals per day doesn’t matter just cal-in/cal out then you can’t lose weight if you eat several times day because your always burning the food not the fat right?
            Second, should my fat be 20% not 30%? To help facilitate weight loss
            Last, should I eat a high calorie meal to get a water flush?

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay. How much do you weigh? 30% fat is fine.

          • Treno

            127 lbs. 5’4 fat collect in belly and waist. My upper body has always been lean muscular. But what about the eating 6 times even though calories are right?
            Could I do a whoosh meal 🙂

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah sorry I missed that. Meal frequency doesn’t matter at all.

            Yes you should have a refeed day each week where you drop fats and double your normal carb intake. Helps flush water.

      • Michael Matthews

        I’ve found that people tend to hold a LOT of water when they reintroduce carbs. It usually takes a few weeks for the body to adjust. That could be it.

  • Mr. Markis

    thank you! Thank you! For this article. End of January I started my weight loss plan. I lost 10 pounds in a month, and then started lifting weights (heavy) and just like that I stopped losing weight. This has been happiness for 3 weeks. I am 268, 5’10 and eat between 2300 – 2500 cal a day. I work out hardcore 5 days a week and refuse to slow down because this weight must come off. I figure the water retention will eventually fix itself, but it’s frustrating to not see the weight drop even thought you work out like crazy.

    • Mr. Markis

      I meaning happening, not happiness

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing! It could be water or just muscle weight (more muscle fiber, more water and glycogen in the muscles).

      Your calories sound right. How often do you cheat?

  • Nosipho Portia Miya

    Hi Michael

    After loosing a lot of weight last year, I started to work on building muscle this January! I’m a 5ft3 female and I was weighing 122lbs when I started weight training. My daily calorie intake was 1200 and my protein macros was 122g. I would workout 6times a week for up to 3 and half hours! Monday and Friday I would start with a hour cardio followed by an hour bodypump class and last I would do a 1hr 30 minutes of heavy leg workouts using heavy weights!! Wednesday and Saturday I would focus on my upper body starting with 1hr power walk, then take an hour of strength training class and finish with another hour of more weight lifting! Then on Tuesdays and Thursday it would be just an hour of cardio and I rest on Sundays. It was going well, I was seeing some definition especially on my legs, arms and stomach. My scale did go up 10lbs from January to end of February! I wasn’t bothered by the weight gain cause I knew its cause I’m gaining muscle and I was getting learner. Last week I was putting on a pair of jeans and they almost would go up, I had to jump and squat and lunge to get them to go up my thighs and I noticed they’ve become bigger!! Though my waist keeps getting smaller and I keep loosing inches. I knew training legs would make them bigger but I didn’t expect them to get this big so soon and I definitely didn’t want them to get to big! The last month they seemed lean and toned with good definition but this week they look so big and don’t seem to have as much definition as last month and when I jumped on the scale I had gained 8more pounds now weighting 138lbs! I thought my body was retaining water so I started to drink more water, I did an Epsom salt hot water bath, I increased my calorie intake by 250calories (1450 cal a day) I reduced my protein macros to 100g cause I thought maybe I’m gaining to much mass on the 122g. The only thing I didn’t change is my workout routine. My upper body looks amazing, it’s lean and toned and I have great abs (not where I want them yet but their progressing) but my lower body got me so worried,frustrated, and so confused! I don’t know what’s going on. Please help!!

    • Michael Matthews


      Wow that’s WAY too much training. I would definitely dial that back to 5 x lifting per week and 3 – 4 x cardio per week. Lifting sessions about 45 min, cardio about 30.

      And if your legs are progressing too quickly, I would reduce volume and frequency. I would train them once per week for 9 heavy sets.

      What do you think?

      • Nosipho Portia Miya

        Ok Sounds great! I’m gonna try that. I cutout sodium on my diet this week after reading your article and increased my calorie intake again to 1600 a day and I think my body is finally letting go of the water because yesterday and today my legs look leaner and toned. They not as thick as they were last week. I haven’t weighed myself though to see if the scale will drop cause I’m scared I may not like the number, even though I’m happy with how my legs look today. Seeing the scale moving closer to the number I first started on, freaks me out a little!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool. You don’t want to completely cut out sodium though–you just want to keep it in check.

          Weigh yourself to know for sure. 🙂

  • Pingback: The Best Eating Plan For Building Muscle Starts With Clean Food - Venus Factor Review - Is John Barban's Female Workout & Diet Program Good?()

  • YouSoWould

    Quick question – what specifically causes water to get drawn into fatty tissues?

    I’m currently at about 10% bf, but some days, for seemingly no reason, after a meal I’ve deposited upwards of 3lb of water, which takes a few days to clear. I’ve got extremely elastic skin, which makes it immediately visible and unsightly. A dry carb load usually gets shot of it. I suspect it may be the sodium content.

    I usually drink at least 1 gallon, 500 cal deficit, 45 mins weights 5 days/week.

    I’ve taken to not drinking when I eat my large post workout meal at about 5pm, as this seems to help.

    Cheers for any info

    • Michael Matthews

      What you’re seeing is subcutaneous water–water between your muscles and skin.

      Physiologically speaking your muscles can only hold so much water and there’s a “spillover” that occurs when we throw our sodium and potassium levels out of whack.

      Practically speaking it’s nothing to really worry about. You just keep your NA and K levels balanced and drink plenty of water. Once you get down to 7-8%, it doesn’t really matter much anymore.

      • YouSoWould

        Thanks for the reply, appreciated. Going to do some reading up on potassium/sodium.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure. 🙂

  • Drew O’Connor

    I have a misporportiend body. (can’t spell for shit) I’m lean in my upper body, and in my calves from the 5 mile run’s that I do 3-4 times a week. Yet, my thighs remain huge. It’s driving me crazy since it makes me feel freakin huge whenever I put on jeans or shorts. It probably sounds weird for a guy to be complaining about that, but yeah I just wanna either trim down the fat in my thighs to the point where my legs dont look mismatched. I eat/drink sugary stuff,and seem to be incapable of giving it up completety. What should I do.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm do you know your overall body fat percentage?


      • Drew O’Connor

        Ummm, no. How would i found out that? Btw, I tried one of the things suggested with sleeping with my thighs elevated. They don’t seem to be quiet as big today so thats good.

        • Michael Matthews

          Check the article I linked.

          If the swelling in your legs is abnormal, have you seen a doc? It could be a health issue?

          • Drew O’Connor

            A health issue? Hmmm, I dunno. I mean, I thought it was just cause I didnt run enough but it dosent make any sense. I do a lot of running, and I guess Im just wondering if that only helps my calves, and not my thighs at all? Like how often would i need to run for my thighs to be affected?

          • Michael Matthews

            Training your legs won’t reduce body fat in them. If your legs just look less DEFINED than other body parts, that’s not an issue. But if they’re holding an abnormal amount of fluid, that could be a health issue…

          • danish

            Hi, michael … i am a boy of 22, weigh 150 pounds with ht. 5’9″…..my
            problem is that from last august to this January i engaged in my full my
            apprenticeship where my most of the time goes in working with computer
            so there is no time left for exercise & with eating much i become
            victim of obesity…now from january onwards i lifted weight &
            involved in serious exercises & reduces my weight from 180 to 150
            pounds & at that i will take a calorie of 2250 to maintain weight
            since i become some muscular & left obesity at full extent but upto
            that time MY FACE LOOKS CHUBBY & doesnt make hiearchy with my whole
            body since my physique is good bt face looks some fatty …….. kindly
            guide me for facial fat loss…. i am waiting for your response…..

          • Michael Matthews

            There’s really no way to reduce fat in just your face. You can reduce your overall body fat % and your face gets leaner as a part of the process…

          • danish

            Thanks for reply, ya i found some fat in my hips & stomach area….can you tell me which is the most effective exercise to remove fat but not to reduce weight because i want to maintain current weight…..i am doing hard weight lifting from last three months

          • Michael Matthews
  • Milani

    Ok so used to weigh 103 and suddenly I shot up to 107. Its been over 2 weeks and I’ve been drinking alot of water. I tried to cut back on how much I was drinking a bit but my weight is staying the same or even INCREASING. I’m exercising 3-4 times a week, sometimes more often, and making sure my calories are on track. My stomachs very bloated and I just can’t loose this weight.

    • Michael Matthews

      Are you getting your period? Are you keeping your sodium intake under control?

  • Annika

    Hello! Your article was very educational for me. I have a couple questions though! I’m a 16 yr. old female and I’m currently at 131.1lbs. In July 2013, I took a body fat test and I have about 17.8% of fat (about 111.2 lbs of lean muscle at that time since I dance a lot). My goal is actually to be about 120lbs. but I’m not sure if I will just plateau at the weight I am at now.
    I recently started counting my calories and I am trying to eat about 1200 calories a day (because I know my metabolic rate of losing calories is about 1450 and my exercises burn about 500 calories). I’m hoping that soon I will start to see some results from this. I’m also trying to lose some of my thigh muscle since I feel like I have too much and I’m really trying to slim them down.
    What do you recommend I should do to reach my goal of about 120 lbs. and losing some thigh muscle (and still staying toned)?
    PS: I have been trying to run everyday for about 45 minutes and I kind of see my thighs slimming. Also, I do pilates about twice a week, and maybe once in 2 weeks I go to CrossFit.
    Thanks! Please respond soon!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Annika!

      Cool on your stats. You’re in a great shape!

      Be careful with calorie restriction at your age as it can stunt various aspects of body development. Make sure you’re always eating a bit more than your BMR and use your exercise to create the deficit (this is quite different than dropping intake below BMR).

      Don’t worry about losing thigh muscle until you’ve reached the body fat percentage you want. You might find you actually like your leg shape once you’re there.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Annika

        Alright! Thank you so much for your response! I will follow through with your advice!

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure! Sounds good!

  • M

    Hi Michael,

    This article was a great read, it definitely came in at the right time. I’m currently discouraged with my progress at the moment and I think it may be due to as you mentioned, exercising too much. I’ve been going to bootcamp 5x a week and on 3 of those days would even stay for kickboxing. On top of that I would also have days of strength training. 3 months in and I have lost zero pounds! I’m tired, aching and have been having constant headaches. My caloric intake has been at 1770 on mfp and have been eating half or at least all of my calories back as mfp recommends. Where should I go from here? I feel so discouraged as if all my efforts have gone down the drain!

    Thanks for all your words of wisdom!

    • M

      Sorry Michael I just realized I didn’t add in my stats: 134 pound 5ft girl :). Started off my journey at 155 pounds last year and was able to drop to 130 from Jan to June of 2013. Sept-Dec I gained back 10 pounds. Jan of this year to feb I lost 4 pounds. I can’t seem to shake off the last 4 anymore. I also noticed in seem to have a lot more body fat this year than last year. My exercise routine currently is: Mon/wed/fri – crossfit style bootcamp with some strength training incorporated for 1 hour and then stay for kickboxing another hour. Thurs and Sundays (sometimes Tuesdays) would add in an hour of strength training. My macros are: 50% carbs 25% fat 30% protein. Where am I going wrong? :'(

      • Michael Matthews

        Cool thanks for sharing. Fortunately you’re eating plenty so your metab hasn’t slowed down a bunch.

    • Michael Matthews


      Holy crap that’s a lot of exercise. Let’s do this:

      3 – 5 x weightlifting per week

      3 – 4 x cardio sessions per week, ideally HIIT no longer than 30 minutes each

      Work out a proper meal plan as discussed here:


      • M

        First of all let me say you’re amazing! Thank you for taking the time out of your own schedule to reply to each and everyone of us. Shows your passion and how much you really care. I paid for a trainer and he was not willing to give me any information like you have unless I paid for another 5 sessions :(. Thank you again Michael! I will follow your recommendations and keep you updated.

        Ps, looking forward to reading your book. All the best, you’re the best! Haha <3

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks so much! I really appreciate the kind words.

          That’s really lame with the PT. Bad business practices!

          Talk soon! Thanks for your support!

      • M

        Hi Michael,

        Sorry it’s me again, another silly question. I looked into your meal planning blog and calculated my tdee and the calories added up to 1377. Seems quite low, but I will try it! Just want to make sure I’m doing this right hehe. Also I wear a hr monitor, do you recommend I eat those calories back?

        Thanks again for all your help! 🙂

  • wcb123

    Hi Michael can you help?

    I eat super healthy – most days its either chicken or salmon with cauliflower rice and a mix of asapargus, sweetcorn and mushrooms. I never add salt to anything but i do use cayenne pepper and chilli sauces quite abit. I dont eat breakfast and for lunch il usually have a salmon sandwich

    I go to the gym everyday from anywhere between 20-45 minutes – 10 minutes on the cross trainer on level 17 (=140 cals burnt) then 10 or more minutes on the weights machines (using the stomach cruncher and arm ones) then back to the cross trainer for another 10 minutes where i burn another 100 cals or more. I will sometimes do planks for a minute each side but not everyday.

    I have bad habits – i drink beer (every night) smoke shitloads and drink even more diet cokes. I never drink water either, even in the gym i drink coke!

    Despite the bad habits though i am always in a calorific deficit because of how little i eat.

    Although im losing weight, the water retention seems more present since ive started this regime at the gym. Esecially in my face which is bloody annoying.

    Do you have any tips despite the obvious of stopping drinking beer ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Unfortunately drinking too much will cause water retention as can other unhealthy habits…

  • Hokey

    Hey Micheal I’ve been working out for 4 months now and I can not get lower than 187, I usually weigh about 192, I’ve been eating more though now too since I increased my lifting (haven’t been counting calories since I’m in college and good healthy food is hard to come by). I just weighed myself and I’m like 197. But I ate a lot last night. It seems I am almost always hungry now, but I also need to be more cautious about what I eat. Also my friend said I look to be about 10% body fat, and I told another friend of mine the same story and he says it sounds like I just need to lose water weight. Any thoughts?

  • Jesse

    Not sure if you already answered this Michael, but what is the best balance of sodium/potassium for losing the water retention? 1 to 1?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah just balance them out. Most people eat WAY too much Na and too little K.

  • Leslie

    Hey Mike… I’ve been reading your articles the last few weeks but when ever I use your formulas to figure out my calorie intake it gives my right around 1400 which doesn’t seem like enough I am five feet five inches about 125 pounds with around 23% body fat I weight train 5-6days a week and try to so cardio twice a week I do want to lose body fat without losing weight I drink at least a gallon of water a day I eat clean and do a cheat meal on Sundays which is also my rest day so any more help/advice would be appreciated

    • Michael Matthews

      Hi! That sounds perfect for your size. When smaller girls want to lose fat, they don’t get to eat very much, haha.

      • Leslie

        Well that hardly seems fair but thanks! Your articles are very good reads with great advice!

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha I understand. 🙂 Thanks!

  • UKBFF bikini competitor

    Everything in this article is perfect and in line with Lyle McDonald’s blog on a similar matter too. No broscience, I like.

    Anyway I want to get your opinion. Im 5’1 at 123lb. 5 weeks into contest prep, 10 weeks more to go. Since i started cutting i have lost 0 weight. In fact i’ve gained a pound. I started cutting at 1750 cals, then dropped to 1600 then 1500 and now 1340 cals through the past 5 weeks. Gradually added more cardio/HIIT (currently at 3x30min LISS, 3x10min HIIT). Weight training 3x a week. STILL no weight loss?!

    Why do you think this is? Have I simply been eating too many calories for the past 4 weeks until last week where i’ve been at 1340? Or am I retaining water?

    • Michael Matthews


      This definitely sounds like a water retention issue. Are your Na and K intakes in check? Are you refeeding once per week?

      • UKBFF bikini competitor

        I’m refeeding every 6th day as suggested by my coach. Yep my sodium levels are consistent. I went off birth control 5 weeks ago and am currently quite stressed from my studies. Do you think my (potentially) high levels of cortisol are causing water retention or was I eating too many calories before? (i wasn’t on 10-12cal/lb until last week)

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s possible.

          What’s your refeed like?

          • UKBFF bikini competitor

            refeed I am just above maintenance, 270 carbs, 40fat and 120 protein – so high carb and low fat .

            And the refeeds haven’t been getting rid of my water weight! I know it’s normal to weigh in a few pounds lighter after a refeed but it isn’t happening to me 🙁

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay. I would drop the fats lower on a refeed personally. I try to go as low as possible.

            How many grams of Na and K per day?

            Are you sleeping enough? Cortisol might be messing with you.

          • UKBFF bikini competitor

            I don’t track my sodium or potassium! I assumed this wouldnt be an issue, as long as my sodium levels are consistent (they are a normal range anyway) and im getting enough potassium. And I am sleeping enough but I am stressed from exams so perhaps that is it?

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. I know it’s annoying but I would highly recommend you start tracking both Na and K intake and follow the IOM’s advice: about 1.5-2 grams Na and 4-5 grams K per day.

            Stress could be causing it, yes, but you may also be overtraining and under-eating.

            1400/day with your training schedule is pretty low.

            What are your macros like?

          • ukbff bikini competitor

            Okay thanks! I wil try to track my Na and P. My macros are 100c, 145p and 40f currently, and my calories are 1340 which is 11cals/lb – which is an appropriate number for fat loss (10-12cal/lb) and i weigh 123

          • ukbff bikini competitor

            also, given my situation what do you think could be wrong with my Na / K balance which is causing water retention/no weight loss?

          • Michael Matthews

            Too much Na too little K.

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool. Yeah 1400 should be good.

            One other point is you may be doing too much cardio, which can put quite a bit of stress on the body, which raises cortisol levels, which can lead to more water retention.

            Personally I never do more than 4 x 30 min of HIIT per week when cutting to 6-7%.

          • ukbff bikini competitor

            now that i think about it i dont think i am getting enough potassium! thanks so much for your input I really appreciate it!

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. That can definitely cause issues…

        • danish

          Hi, michael … i am a boy of 22, weigh 150 pounds with ht. 5’9″…..my problem is that from last august to this January i engaged in my full my apprenticeship where my most of the time goes in working with computer so there is no time left for exercise & with eating much i become victim of obesity…now from january onwards i lifted weight & involved in serious exercises & reduces my weight from 180 to 150 pounds & at that i will take a calorie of 2250 to maintain weight since i become some muscular & left obesity at full extent but upto that time MY FACE LOOKS CHUBBY & doesnt make hiearchy with my whole body since my physique is good bt face looks some fatty …….. kindly guide me for facial fat loss…. i am waiting for your response…..

  • basavaraj

    Hi micheal
    for the first time seeing this article different from other fuild retention suggestion. im also suffering from fuild retention in face..actually I gone through poor dieting which in turn reduces my weight around 71kg to 62 kg in week..after that my face become puff and big..by seeing water retention on many websites I start exerise then it become even worst fatter…now i know who to fix it ..

    • Michael Matthews

      Interesting. Have you tried using the strategies discussed in the article?

  • pushinlimets89

    hey mate wat about water pills and just eat 700gs of boiled chicken a day iam about 5 kgs from where i want to be and i think this will work …oh and wats with this HIT stuff the best in the world still do an hour walks for there cardio and some do it 2 times a day and u talk alot about ….to much working out but i was in the army and we trained all day every day and in no way eating 6 meals a day u have to think right ……every ones so scared to push them self’s but i think its how u get to no your body and thats 90% of it and it all so comes down to your life style ….right wat does a normal day look like for u …wat do u eat how much time do u spend in the gym or training …?

  • Flowers

    This just happened to me. I was 167 for 5 weeks then I stopped eating everything with artificial sweetners, I relaxed and ate one day 2500 calories then another at 2100 calories and all of sudden dropped to 159 that next week!!! I was peeling like crazy. Very informative article thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice! Gotta love that. 🙂

  • Rachel Counts

    I got to ask. I’m definitely stuck in the cortisol/water retention “loop.” I am 4’9″ and currently 119.5lbs. I originally was at 125lbs for a while until I started working out and watch what I ate through MyFitnessPal. I can’t seem to lose any weight the past month or two. I admit the weight scale is driving me crazy. I currently am on 1330 calories per day. Should I up it? I feel like I’m eating too much or I just am not losing any. I am looking to lose at least 10lbs. I do 30-40 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week! That means treadmill or elliptical. I walk a lot as well when it’s very nice outside. Usually that means 30-60 minutes of walking/brisk walking. I’d appreciate the help! I’m getting married in December so I was hoping to figure out this issue and get those last lbs down. 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      MFP’s standard recommendations for cals/macros kinda sucks. Check this out:


      Cool on what you’re doing. I’d recommend working on some resistance training as well. You can kill the walking and lift weights instead. 🙂

  • paris

    Hi Michael:
    I’ve been trying loosing fat around my belly for several months,I’ve been working out and eat good, plus I’m active (working as a waitress 4-5 nights a week) no sugar no junks and not much alcohol, I gained 7-8 pounds last couple months for no reason! didn’t change anything….do you think I gain water weight?
    any tips? :(((

  • TXDeadlift

    Hey! I’m a 31-year old female, weighing between 140-144, depending on the time of week. I have been incredibly fit a few times before in the past 8 years, and WHEN I’ve been in my healthy stages, I’ve always concentrated the the basics: eating as close to my body weight in protein as possible (between 90 and 150 grams a day), lifting heavy and using compound movements, and eating 1500 calories a day or less for 5-6 days out of the week. I also do 4-5 cardio sessions a week, mostly HIT. I have recently started intense running/jogging intervals. The first couple of times I got into health and fitness, losing weight wasn’t difficult for me (although gaining strength has always been. I generally gain strength for about 3 weeks after I resume lifting, but then plateau. I am going to try to switch to heavier weights and fewer reps to address that).

    I just went through an almost 1-year period of little to no exercise and a diet I paid no attention to whatsoever, and I have been back on track for about 8 weeks now. Surprisingly, my body didn’t take a huge hit during this period. I’ve lost probably 3-4 pounds in 8 weeks (when I first resumed working out and dieting, I was between 144-147 during the week). My body definitely looks better and I am happier about how I feel, and I’m stronger. But the other times I was in good shape, I was much, much leaner. I was down to 125 lbs at one point. I have increased lifting, however, so I understand that I probably can’t weigh 125 and lift the way I do… But I don’t understand why I’m not losing fat. My caloric deficit seems to be appropriate. I did notice that my macro-nutrient percentages all over the place, however. Does that make a huge difference in weight if have have a caloric deficit?

    Also, I don’t watch what I’m eating or exercise too much over the weekend. I always have a “cheat night” Saturday night, which includes alcohol, and sometimes this moves into Sunday sometimes. I rarely watch my numbers on Sundays, but I’m mindful. I was able to make significant gains doing this the previous times I was lifting and dieting.

    I’m wondering if sodium could be the problem. I eat protein bars and drink post-workout drinks, and use spice packets to flavor meals. I also definitely like to salt my food. But again, my sodium intake hasn’t changed from the previous times I was super fit. Which leave me wondering, could this me age?

    Any tips on how to give my situation some motion?


    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing!

      Yes macro ratios matter a lot and it sounds like you just need to follow a proper meal plan:


      And chill out on the cheating. Make it ONE meal per week and make it moderate. A little alcohol is okay but don’t go overboard.

      What do you think?

  • Shane

    Hi Mike, are you familiar with metafit? It’s good HIIT and it’s good for me as a rugby player. I need to keep fit in the off season and I also love it. At the minute I’m doing 4 x weights (following the BLS programme), 1 x rugby fitness session (basically playing touch rugby for about an hour, fairly good exercise and bursts of sprinting with recovery periods as a natural part of the game) and 2 metafit sessions. They’re bodyweight and cardio but I feel like they keep me fit and I love burst exercises like burpees. I know you recommend onlt targeting each muscle once a week but metafit will hit them on other days. What do you think?

    I am currently doing:

    Monday – metafit
    Tuesday – break
    Weds – legs
    Thurs – back and bis followed by rugby fitness
    Fri – shoulders and abs followed by metafit
    Sat – Chest and tris.
    Sun – break.

    I love your way of doing things but feel like I want to do metafit as it helps my rugby game and, by playing the sport, I can’t avoid doing long stretches of cardio. I’m interested in your thoughts. I really love BLS 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      No I’m not but if you like it and it helps, that works. Your schedule sounds good. I like it.

      How is your body feeling and responding?

      Thanks man, I appreciate it. 🙂

      • Shane

        Thanks Mike. Really good. I feel fit from it. Not sure how familiar you are with rugby but basically I need the strength to put the fat boys on their asses and doing lots of quick burst movements, burpees, hitting collisions quickly etc (I suppose like American football). This is why I feel it’s ideal. If you google
        Mets got you may like it. I certainly find it tough and am fairly fit.

        Also just to say, I’ve read some
        other books, magazines etc and it’s nice to see you’re literate with the skills to be critical and analytical with your research. You must have got a good degree lol 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          Great, then keep it up. Yeah I’m totally familiar with the sport. 🙂 Hardcore shit.

          Random tip: supplement with glutamine. You’re very active and it will help fight off overtraining. 15 g/day should be good for you.

          Thanks for the kind words brother. 🙂 Never went to college actually.

  • Prada

    well.. i can completely relate to the whoosh effect mentioned here….
    in april, 2012 i decided to go on a calorie control and a fierce workout plan made up entirely of zumba and dance routines. after dropping 8 kgs my weight stopped at 51 for like, a couple of truly depressing months, i was following a complete raw vege and fruits diet and excessive water intake. this rather mindless approach landed me with a situation of severe, severe water retention and instead of looking lean on my b’day, i looked like violet from willy wonka’s chocolate factory!
    but due an even more intense dance session that stretched to a week with very low diet and minimal to moderate water intake, i finally underwent the whoosh effect, and in a matter of 3-4 days the scale dropped down to a freaking 42 kg mark!!!
    and there came my celebration time!!

    • Michael Matthews


  • Codi

    Wow!! Thanks so much for the information!! Also, it’s really awesome that you take the time to reply to everyone… I’m definitely following your articles moving forward!!

    I’m doing the 6 week transformation challenge with bodybuilding.com, so Im going really extreme for 6 weeks.. about 1300 cals and day (the right kind of cals with high protein low carb, lots of fruits and veggies), minimum 15 hours a week of cardio, and a few hours a week of strength training. After the six weeks, I will bring the cardio down and the cals up a bit to level out to a more sustainable program (I’m realllly trying to win this and I honestly feel great so far).

    I do have a question for you, I read an article about how body builders drink up to 3 gallons of water a day, a couple days before a competition to “trick” their bodies into dropping the water, then stop eating and drinking 18 hours before just for the definition during the contest. Have you heard of this and know if there is any validity to it?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Codi!

      I’m glad you’re liking TLS.

      Honestly I wouldn’t recommend that approach under any circumstances. You can be a little over-aggressive on your calorie cutting, but I wouldn’t do all the cardio an dlifting. I would limit lifting to 5 x per week and cardio to 4 x HIIT sessions per week for no more than 30 minutes each.

      For your diet, you could go low-carb:


      Don’t worry about water manipulation. If you’re not also using diuretic drugs it’s not really going to do anything.

      • Codi

        Thanks so much!! I really thought I had a good approach until I stumbled across your info… Goes back to what you were saying about all of the contradictory info out there from a million unverified sources! I will definitely follow your advice and keep you posted on the results 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Yeah exactly. LMK how it goes.

  • Kelcey Z

    Hi Mike. Read this article 3 times already haha. All your articles really do help me out so much. I wake up bloated a lot now, and I just started cutting out so much of the artificial sweeteners in my diet to help. However, I still am waking up feeling pretty fluffy and bloated and i know that this can’t be fat gain, I still have my obliques and abs in good shape but the scape keeps going up. I have two questions: Is there any way to get rid of water weight WITHOUT taking the supplements that other bodybuilders have recommended (Cellucor CLK, HD, L2, etc is what Ive been told) or water pills, etc. ? Someone in the Vitammin Shoppe said to take Dandelion pills but that did nothing when I bought them. Im trying to drink more water too. Also I have a problem with getting enough carbs in but I eat a TON of protein, probably 1.3g per pound of bodyweight. Is it possible to be bloated from eating too much protein possible and not enough carbs? I am getting about 7 hours of sleep so that’s good, and I exercise 5-6 days a week, lift about 3-4 days for 45 minutes. I still do cardio most days since it’s a bit hard for me to give up. Not sure if I should also decrease that too and maybe I’m in too much of a deficit like you stated above? Sorry for the long question(s) — any response is greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks!

      Hmm how are your Na and K intakes? Are you paying attention to this?

      Are you eating a lot of dairy protein?

      • Kelcey Z

        My sodium intake isn’t high, and I drink so much fluids throughout the day I really don’t know if thats the problem. Have not been watching K intake. My dairy intake isn’t too high either, and it’s never something that has affected me in the past. My only form of dairy is usually Greek yogurt (0% plain), i have about 2 6oz servings a day.. sometimes low fat string cheese. Literally the water weight is getting so uncomfortable haha, i really don’t want to have to just take water pills or something to have to shed that.

        • Michael Matthews

          Balancing Na and K is important. ideally you’d get around 2 grams Na and 4 grams K per day.

          Cool on the dairy. It sounds like it’s not that.

          Have you gotten your hormones tested recently? If your estrogen levels are too high this can cause a lot of bloating.

          • Kelcey Z

            Went to Vitamin World and they recommended I start taking Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics.. I also increased my intake a bit and lowered my cardio as I think possibly I wasn’t eating enough — don’t know if that can cause bloat but I feel a bit better now! 🙂 Haha thanks!

          • Michael Matthews

            These can help but FYI any probiotic that sits on a shelf without refrigeration is dead/worthless.

  • Renée Kohncke

    I calculated my calories via your suggested method and I came up with the total 1594.45 that seems quite low for me. I am a runner and on the weekends on my long Slow runs (usually 2 hours) I burn about 1200 calories just concerned 1594 cals wont be fuelling my body enough … thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm 2 hours of slow running = 1200 cals? That sounds wrong. When I do 30 minutes of HIIT, it estimates about 250 cals burned…

  • ekimo

    hello, just to begin. I have been drinking water now everday instead of coke zero, I’m a housekeeper so I get a lot of exercise I think. is the water I drink and the exercise I do to much cause I work 6 days a week but only for 5 hours a day. I’m not sure I’m loosing weight .

  • Verda Peters

    sorry not sure if you received my first question or not but I was wondering I’ve been drinking more water and less soda I’m a housekeeper and work about 5 days a week for 5 hrs a day though I don’t think I’m loosing any weight am I exercising too much and drinking too much water

  • Ali

    I think I’m having this happen to me, I eat 1200-1400 calories a day, never over 1400, 75oz if water a day, I do HIIT 3x a week and do strength training 5-6x a week. I weigh myself 142lbs, next day I’m 146lbs, then I’m 148lbs, then back down to 144-146lb and I stay there for a while, then it happens all over again, I’m trying to get to 126-130 before my wedding next year.

    • Michael Matthews

      Few questions:

      1. Are you SURE those are your daily cals? Are you planning/tracking?

      2. What are your macros like? High protein?

      3. How often do you eat more than that? (How often do you “cheat”?) Does this include alcohol?

  • Julie

    Have lost 29 pounds in 6 months. This past month is nothing and I think it is water retention. I workout, diet, no salt due to HBP ( which is almost gone…yay). I sem to lose weight fast my mensteral cycle but not any other time. Can you please give me some advice.

    • Michael Matthews
      • Julie

        Thanks, I intake about 1200 calories a day. I eat protein and veggies, do cardio and light weights. I don’t want to intake a lot of calories that may store fat. I have a lot of weight still to lose. Have and suggestions?

        • Michael Matthews

          If you’re eating 1200 cals per day and exercising several times per week and you’re not losing weight, you need to speed your metab up.

  • Anna

    I calculated the amount of calories I should be eating using your method and got 1311, which seems a little low. Should I try it anyway? I’ve just recently started my weight loss journey. MFP calculated 1580. I’ve been doing cardio for 30-45 mins a few times a week, and I’ve just begun the 30 DS (don’t do it every day, because I can’t always find the time) I’m female, 5’5, and last I checked ~2 months ago, 155lbs.

    • Michael Matthews

      1300-1400 is correct for your stats as your TDEE will not be higher than 1900 or so.

  • Madi

    Hi Michael,

    I’m looking to lose water weight over the next few weeks, and I’m wondering to what extent should I cut down the exercise? I’ve been wanting to train for my first 5K, but I’m also trying to get down to 120 lbs (I am currently about 123, I started out at 135 a few months ago) This past week I’d been working out nearly every day for at least 30 minutes, some days an hour, and I would go running 3 times a week on top of that. This is after I’d slacked off on my fitness training for a couple of weeks. I didn’t lose any weight, I actually ended up GAINING a bit of weight, and I’m thinking that a lot of this is water weight. Do you have any suggestions for what I should do in terms of exercise? Perhaps go walking 3 times a week for about 30 minutes? It is my goal to have at least 10 cups of water every day for the next 10 days to see if I lose some water weight.

    Thank you so much!

  • jalpsearl

    This article is encouraging as there isn’t much information out there on gaining weight while training and I’ll keep hoping for the whoosh to happen.

    I started a weight training program 6 weeks ago, a glute program, and I have consistently gained weight. I know it’s not muscle and I know it’s not excessive calorie intake. I am a female, 5’4″ and started weighing in at 126 and wanted to get back to 120. I did the bod pod and my BF % is 14.5%. I eat around 1400 calories, some days less and follow a ULC program with one reefed. I have now gained weight and I am at 130. WTF?!! I have had success with ULC before but it doesn’t seem to be working this time. I could care less about the scale if my clothes were fitting properly. I’m super frustrated and can’t seem to find the right information because all I can find is if you weight train you’ll lose weight or your clothes will fit better. Neither have happened for me. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Hmm let’s first see how your macros look:


      And how often are you eating more than 1400 cals per day?

      • jalpsearl

        Not very often. A typical day puts me with F 80-100g, C 20-30, P around 100. I use the Myplate food diary to track my food.

        • Michael Matthews

          Cool. The first thing i would do is get off the low-carb diet:


          And how often are you overeating and what are you eating?

          • jalpsearl

            I’m trying to up my carbs as an option. Maybe 2-3 times a week I’ll eat 1550-1600. I usually eat more the days I lift because I find I’m more hungry. Again, I’m still low carb on those days. I follow a primal diet eating meats and vegetables. I do not eat grains, gluten, legumes, tubers, sugar, dairy, etc. I also follow Kiefer’s advice on when I eat my carbs – in the afternoon.

            Is it possible that my steady weight gain is actually muscle and I’m more the anomaly in terms of women being able to gain muscle quickly?

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. Step one is we need to get your intake steady and regular. We don’t want it changing one day to the next because this almost ALWAYS leads to overeating (people tend to eat more than they think if they don’t follow a strict meal plan).

            This will help:


  • Ruesroad2fitness

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you so much for the replying you do to every comment. I am 6 months into starting a healthy lifestyle and sometimes I get stuck and I dont know what to do but I dont want to give up because I have come too far. I am 169 cm and have been 85 kg since I started 6 months ago. I am a woman and we always seem to want to see the scale go down. I am a bit frustrated because I have not lost any weight on the scale. I have noticed that since changing to healthy food, my waist line is a lot leaner. I have lost almost all of the back rolls I had and a bit of boobs. My thighs however havent changed at all, I still wear the same size. this is my routine. I started off with the simplyshredded strength training program for women who are starting and did it for 12 weeks. After that I moved on to do the bizzy diet exercise plan only for 8 weeks (combined intense cardio and strength training for 70 min 4x a week) and then after that I have been so confused because i do not know what works and have been working out 3x a week mainly strength training with cardio for 1 hr sessions. In terms of food, initially I was not very good at keeping within my macros but have improved over time. I use IIFYM calculator and eat 1500 cal broken down as 34g fat, 92g protein and 241g carbs. I moved to IIFYM recently after trying a ketogenic diet for 4 months. Would you know why I am not losing weight? the calculators say I have 38% body fat.

  • Murre

    Hi Michael !

    Thanks for the great artical, but i have a question for you:

    So i think it is the fact that i have been workingout everyday that made me gain more water weight. I workout 7 days a week and burn about 1500 calories a day ( according to a very accurate treadmil where you insert your age, weight, height and gender ) and i gained 4 pounds in 1 week insted of losing 4 pounds which should have happened. So my question is: even tho im gaining water weight can i still lose fat ? i mean can i like ignore the fact that im gaining water weight and keep working out the same way im doing and it will eventually go away ? or will it complicate things up ? My calorie intake is about 1500 – 1700 / day, so what you think i should do ?

    Thanks! ( sorry for my english, its not my native language )

    • Michael Matthews


      Yeah that could definitely be water retention due to elevated cortisol levels.

      Let’s first address your diet as it sounds quite low for how active you are:


      Let me know how this looks and we’ll go from there!

  • Bren

    Thank you for this article . I’ve been retaining water on my butt hips n thighs. Going to try what you said!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Okay! Let me know how it goes!

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  • Dallas

    Great article! I have a question, though.

    I’m a 19-year-old 4’11” female at 118 pounds (bounces between 117-119), but I have a good bit of body fat (there’s a definite bulge of stomach fat when I sit down). I had hypotonia as a child, so my LBM is lower than it should be (only allowing me to lift 15 pounds max, and that’s just barely getting it off the ground). I do occasionally work out.

    I know for my size, my BMR is about 1200 and my TDEE is roughly 1400. A 20% deficit puts me below my BMR, but most days I max out at maybe 900 calories and feel fine. I think water retention may be the problem based on the fact I’ve been stuck at the same weight despite having such a deficit. It could be sodium intake or just the purely large deficit, but I’m not sure.

    What might help?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! Are you exercising?

      • Dallas

        I have been from time to time, but I haven’t been doing it on a schedule. I was planning to start on a basic running regimen until my campus’ gym opens back up in November.

  • Francois Jordaan

    I have found that I also struggle with water retention. Only spice I eat is cayenne pepper. No salt, no pepper, no sauces. Yesterday i had my no carb day. That’s after refeeding on Sunday. I was quite lean. But today now I have an extra layer of water around my waste. I drink about 3 liters of water a day minimum. Any advice?

  • Steven

    I’m packing a lot of extra water weight and want to know how it can be reduced quickly without losing any more muscle tissue. I’m also lactose intolerant so I tend to put on water weight very easily.

    • Michael Matthews

      Go low-carb and make sure your Na and K are balanced.

  • Nick B

    I have suffered from light water retention for years now and am a very athletic person but I have increased my training since January and have gained 7 lbs. I know muscle can weight more than fat but I know that it is water as my whole body feels pumped up and hard the day following training (my calves feel like they are going to split sort of feeling and fingers like sausages) I am getting to a point where I am very conscious of what I eat bearing in mind I have always avoided take aways, fatty foods, fry ups etc. My weekly training consists of 2 – 3 runs usually covering 5 miles each at an average pace of 9 min miles and a high intensity spin class which lasts an hour with a calorie burn of 700 on average and a distance of 26km. I must point out I do sweat a lot during training. Please can you point me in the right direction. I am a 43 year old female, 147 lbs 5ft 7 inch and want to get back to under 140 lbs. Ideal weight 136.

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  • Nic

    Hey I need some advise pleaseee. I’m 6 weeks post baby, I’m 2lbs off my pre preg weight. For 2 weeks now my weight hasn’t budged. I’m eating 1400 calories a day, walking 4miles daily and this last week iv started interval sprinting again (short distance) & the 21day fix DVDs (30mins medium intensity weight training) to ease myself back into lifting after 2months off (very active pregnsncy)
    I’m wandering if my body is holding onto water because I’m still full of hormones & iv reduced my calories & started exercising all at once… What do you think or suggest? Please help 🙂

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  • Shiwali Joshi

    This is a very good article and quite useful. I read all the responses and was surprised to see so many people facing same problem as I am. I am 5′ 4″ female with 158 Lbs. I lost 10 lbs in last 2 months. However, my weight is stuck now. I am losing fat though, but weight doesn’t go down a single lbs. Sometimes even increases. I exercise almost daily with around 1500-1800 calories burnt daily. My intake would not be more than 1000 calories or may be lesser. I am vegetarian, so most of diet contains greens (juice, blend, salad). I have seen water retention many times. I want to reduce 30 lbs more. How do I do that? Please help.

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  • Shyuan

    I’m 25, female, 5″1′. I was 98kg, I then managed to gradually reach 92.6kg in 9 weeks, was very happy. Until the 10th-12th weeks, my weight fluctuated up (to 93.2kg) and down (to 91.6kg) and then stuck at 92.8kg. FYI, I weigh myself at the gym once a week. Also, I haven’t been eating fast food since 3 months ago, I don’t eat dessert or drink soft drinks (merely because I don’t really like sweet stuff).

    At the very beginning of the workout routine, I burnt only “400 cals x 3 days per week” without doing situps/resistance machines. I slowly increase it until recent weeks I burn 800 cals x 4 days per week + doing quite a number of resistance machines + some situps. My weight started to fluctuate and stuck since the week I started to burn 700-800 cals. And we just entered winter, I drink far less water.

    I do have two questions which I hope you could provide me with some insights, preferably based on female (because I’ve been getting too much info based on male).

    1) Should I reduce what I am currently burning? Last week I tried to go only 3 days per week, to see if helps, not too positive.
    2) How much water do you recommend me to drink? I think my problem now is, I probably drink only 1-1.5L of water per day due to the cold weather, and I do notice i go to the toilet less frequently these days.

    Thanks in advanced. I am really glad I found your article, especially that you mention about fluid retention due to menstruation cycle!

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  • J

    Michael I am 180 and 5’2 ..how many calories should I be eating and what type of exercise should I be doing ?

  • Lauren N

    Hi! I’m a 17 year old girl, 5’4, and 135 last time I checked almost a month ago. I’m pretty lean, but want to lower body fat. I lift 5x a week for 60-70ish minutes, training something different each day. Also I do 30 minutes of HIIT 3x a week and regular cardio for 30 minutes on the days I don’t do HIIT. I eat 1550 calories a day and do not eat any of my calories burned back. I get 160-190 grams of protein daily, under 200 carbs, and 20-35 grams of fat. I have tried EVERYTHING under the sun and I can’t lose anymore fat. I exercise for 7-7.5 hours per week. Am I not eating enough to lose fat? I’m so stuck.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Lauren,

      Great on what you’re doing. I would lower your protein and raise your dietary fat a bit. About 150 pro and 50 fat.

      That said, that’s not what’s hindering the weight loss. Here’s what you’re probably running into:


  • josh mendoza

    Thanks so much for this article! Ive aleats struggled with this mystery from looking good for a week then looking fat again for weeks! This really informed me as to why.

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad you liked it! Yup if you blast K or Na you can hold quite a bit of water and wonder WTF happened.

  • EagerToGetFitNHealthy

    I’m 185 lbs and the last time that I was this heavy was when I was pregnant almost 30 years ago. I take medication that contributed to my drastic weight gain. Never went over 200lbs but I’m not to far away from that so I decided to get back on track and do high and low impact aerobics like I use to when I was in my 20’s. My ideal weight is about 140lbs. I’ve been weighing myself daily but maybe I shouldn’t cause it gets depressing. I know that what I see on the scale are muscle, water and fat weight, fluctuating between 181 lbs to 189. I am scared. Don’t ever want to see 200. I drink a protein shake after my workout and consume less than 1700 calories a day. I’ve been doing lots of reading on what to eat and what not to eat but I know that I need help.

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    • Scruggy

      Hi Michael great article love your book Bigger Leaner Stronger, i have a serious water weight issue when i was in my 20s i lost alot of weight and kept it off was about 15-20% bodyfat not ripped but good lifted 3xweek walked everyday! im now 38 with the past 8 years ive had alot of stress with work workouts went out the window! till i had enough and packed in my job i had gained about 3 and a half stone! i lost most the weight inside a year with intermittent fasting which worked great till the plateau! im now on this plateau over 3 years wasnt budging unttil i read about water weight what they discribed looked and felt exactly like what was going on with me! eventually i bought a bodyfat scale thats measures everything it showed i was 170lbs fat 9%, muscle 40% and water 66%, now i know these scales are not 100% but give good estimate as my wife and two friends weighed themselves and there reading were on point! Now when i was in my 20s and fit lean i wasnt close to 9% fat! so i assume its all water weight! now for 9% you expect me to be quite lean, WRONG i look fat as fuck one of those skinny fat guys fat belly 35in waist and fairly noticeable bitch tits! its frustrating as fuck as diet and excersise is on point little to no sodium!
      Now after reading your post got me thinking my intermittant schedule is as i wake late due to work i fast from 12 – 6pm and finish arround midnight been doing this a few years! could my body be under stress from the fasting till 6 and screws up my cortisol levels as when i do eat i eat enough?

  • Ruth Gumba

    I am on a low carb diet. I lose weight quite quickly in the first week, 3 kgs mainly, then one in the second week. and that is it. after that I start gaining. yes i tried drinking a lot of water for a month, yes I cut down on salt but nothing worked. I am 47 years old, had a hysterectomy, gall bladder removed too. when i touch fruit i put on weight. I swim 500 3 -5 day a week. spend some time in sauna and steam room. Recently I have started doing pilattes; is that too much exercise? Have fibromylgia but weaned myself off the medication. I am taking supplements, except calcichew. I am 5.5 but currently weigh 77.7Kgs. Want to be 60-65 kgs. What can I do?

  • V

    Any advice on that IF calculator for the Macro part? I find the way it calculates based on the goals confusing; it seems to think I want to gain weight most of the time when really I want to recomp if possible or loose and then put on muscle ( certainly don’t want to gain 100s of lbs!!!)

  • Terry

    This is an excellent article. I am a yo-yo dieter and I am intimately familiar with weight loss plateaus. I’ve known for quite some time now about the whoosh effect, but could never find an article online to explain it. Most articles on weight loss plateaus only say that it is because you are inadvertently eating too much, not working out enough, or your metabolism slowed down.

    • Thanks! Yeah those are the standard issues to look for but there’s more at play, as you now know. 🙂

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  • rams

    Hi, i am a 25 yr old girl, height 5.3and on steroids from almost 10 years and i have gained lots of weight due to fluid retention in my body. my weight used to be around 50 kgs . now it has come to 80. I cannot drink more than 1 and half litre water per day since am a lupus nephritis patient. Please suggest as to how to lose weight .

  • Miguel Rodrigues

    What is your normal sodium intake when you re not cutting back on purpose to flush water out?thanks in advance mike you re great

  • Shanna

    Hey Mike, thanks for all the awesome info you post, I’ve learnt a whole bunch since I found your site.
    I am a 26 yr old, 5’1 girl weighing around 106 pounds. According to my gym, my BF is at around 28%, most of this is stubborn fat around thighs, butt and abs. I am currently eating 1200 cal, 106g protein, 134g carbs, 26g fat, following your TLS lifting program 5 x a week and doing HIIT 3 or 4 times a week.
    I don’t add salt to my meals, and the only spices I eat are the occasional bit of pepper and dried basil. However I am not so great with my water intake, most days I end up drinking around half a liter. I also struggle to reach my carb goal a lot of the time so I end up eating in the region of 110 carbs. Could this account for my struggle to lose this fat?


    • Thanks Shanna!

      Cool on your stats and what you’re doing.

      We should definitely bump up water intake to at least 2 L per day. Ideally you’d be around 3.

      We could drop carbs to 100 and increase fats by 15 g if you’d prefer that. Some people do.

      Stubborn fat is slow-going. There’s no way around it. Check this out:


      That said, how are things progressing? Are you losing at least 0.25 to 0.5 pounds per week?

      • Shanna

        Thanks Mike! Managed to hit 2 litres so far today. Replacing carbs with fats sounds good too.

        Thanks for the link – I am training fasted and using MRM Reload.
        The weight loss seems to be erratic – the scale shows 1 kilo lost one day and 1 and a half put on the next. I only recently decided to use the tape measure instead of the scale and I’ve seen more of a difference that way, mainly around abs area.

        Definitely increasing in strength too though, so I’m not sure if the lack of change on the scale is due to water, or muscle, or maybe I’m just impatient 🙂

        • Cool on all. Waist measurement is most reliable.

          You can also weigh every day and average every 7 to 10 days. That’s a great way to see the bigger picture, you know?

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  • somevelvetmorning

    I need help! I just started working out a month ago. I have a high metabolism but have gained some weight because I am addicted to food. It is a depression issue for me. I have always been able to eat a lot and stay small, but in the past year I’ve been eating 3 huge meals a day. I’ve gained 9 pounds in the last year from doing this consistently. I know for a fact my metabolism is on the high side. As long as I don’t eat till it hurts, I can eat out twice a day and have desert and I will stay exactly the same. That extra big meal per day though, will make me slowly but surely gain fat.

    I started out at 5’3″ and 130 pounds. My waist was 28.5 and hips 38.5. A month later, and I’m 127 pounds with a little under 27 inch waist and 37 hips. When I am lean, my waist is 24 and hips 35.

    Diet is good. I am a good cook, I eat lots of veggies, brown rice, chicken/fish, etc. Lots of protein most days and alternating between 1500 cals per day and a little less or a little more. I have had some cheat meals, but only meals, not entire days and not like, a bunch of soda and sweets in addition to the meal. Last week, after a few days of not being able to exercise because I was out of town, I “cheated” but still did not overeat. I ate small portions of not-ideal foods. I weighed myself after that trip and I was at 126 pounds. Now I am 127 after getting back to the gym??? I read that lifting weights can cause water retention and I am starting to wonder, because as soon as I got back to hitting the gym, I gained a pound of weight. I am lifting weights and doing 45 minutes of steady state cardio at 80% of my max. Some days I will also incorporate 20 minutes of HIIT followed by 30 minutes of steady.

    I am just confused. My salt intake can be high, so I wonder how much that is coming to play. I just don’t understand how I can eat so much without gaining weight, yet when I try to lose weight, it is not flying off. I know this comment is super long, but any help would be appreciated. I should also note that I have definitely gotten stronger in the past month as well.

  • terri

    Right help me I had two babies I am 13st 12 am trying to get to ten stone within the next 7 weeks before I go on holiday what do I do to achieve this

  • MJ

    Hi Mike, on on my last day of a MINI cut (5weeks) and i lost 1.36lbs a week (6.8lbs total) for the past 5 weeks….now last night I hit my macros but sodium went through the roof…woke up .3lbs heavier! Should I prolong my cut to remove the excess water or go back on 80% of bulking macros and adjust accordingly weeks in?

    • Great on the fat loss. Haha no don’t worry that will balance out naturally. Just get your Na and K balanced.

  • Molly Seay

    Hi, I have ulcerative colitis, and periodically gain about ten to 20 pounds of phantom weight, although I eat a low carb diet. My doctor said it’s because my body holds on to everything when my condition flares up. Honestly I care more about the ugly weight gain than my physical body since the puffiness hurts. Any suggestions on how to lose the water weight when I get a flare up? Also he said drink Gatorade. So I drink about two or three a day, plus a few bottles of water.

    • You’re the first person I’ve heard from with that condition so I’m not familiar with it but if it makes you hold a lot of water, that explains the weight gain…

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  • bgillila

    hi michael, i loved this article.. definitely gave me some new insights but i am still stumped as to whether or not this is me or if i have a different issue going on. i am 5’7″ and stuck hovering around 160. i started around 156 when i started exercising again 2 months ago and haven’t seen that number again since. i am under the impression that water retention falls off after the first two weeks or so of the initial starting back up again. in any case, i am eating btwn 1200 and 1500 calories per day and exercising 6 days a week: 3 days i run 3 miles and the other 3 days i do a jillian michaels 45 minute hiit workout. i just can’t budge the scale and my measurements/appearance don’t seem too different either. what do you think could be going on here? i used to work half as hard 5 years ago and could get down to 140 in a matter of a couple weeks. in saying that, i appreciate your advice as i am extremely frustrated right about now!!!

  • Sirine

    I am a kick boxer who’s competing soon so overtraining is definitely happening, I train for a 2hours daily/6 days a week. I take BCAA for recovery. Though I feel like my muscle’s have been changing over the last week or two and I just can’t seem to get my eating balance right i am either so hungry I eat everything in sight or eat nothing. And I feel like Ive gained so much water weight around 3/4kgs actually. Any tips on how to get rid of it asap? It is so frustrating to be working hard, get results then look like a ballon haha

    • Damn that’s really intense. Are you eating enough protein too? Personally I would be doing around 1 gram per pound of body weight. I would be supplementing with glutamine as well (20 mg per kg of body weight).

      I don’t have any great advice for dropping water weight quickly, sorry.

  • Mario

    OMG ! I just calculated how much salt there’s in my daily meal plan. It’s 6 grams ! And I don’t add any salt to any of my meals.

    My weight goes up on training days but goes down on rest days.

    I will start drinking 1 gallon of water/day and see how it goes.

    What is the rate for potassium/sodium ? Thinking about taking potassium

    • Haha yeah that’s quite a bit. I would drop to 3ish g sodium and 5ish g potassium per day.

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  • james

    Will i lose more water weight if i have no sodium in my diet and stick to 1500 calories a day?

  • msd1979

    Could you please help me? I have been struggling to even maintain my weight, let alone lose weight (which I’d like to do). I am a former triathlete, I just completed my 6th 1/2 marathon, I exercise 6 times a week (crossfit, hiit, running, swimming) and I log everything I eat. I am 5’4 and currently 150 pounds. I’d like to be about 138 pounds. I eat around 1500 calories per day at 50% carbs, 25% protein and 25% fat. I also drink a gallon of water a day. I am gluten free and try to avoid grains. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

    • Hey hey!

      First let’s make sure your intake is accurate. Check this out:


      And then let’s make sure you’re not killing yourself with cheat meals and such:


      And last but not least let’s see if a reverse diet is the next step:


      • msd1979

        Thank you for your response! It’s taken me awhile to go through those articles and check myself against them. I’m still working with the info, but I’m pretty sure I need to try the reverse diet. I just finished a half marathon and tore up my adrenal gland and apparently my metabolism doing it on top of everything else I have going on. I’m going to focus on high intensity intervals and weights for awhile and watch my diet even closer to see if it helps. Thanks again!

        • YW! Okay cool it sounds like that’s the right play then. Let me know how it goes!

  • Matt

    I am not sure if you answered this somewhere, but how do you supplement potassium? I did some research and there are several compounds available (chloride, citrate, gluconate, etc). What product do you use?m

  • Mischa

    This is a great article! Very useful for me. I drink more than 6 pints of water a day, watch what I eat and exercise and I find that if I have a rest day/cheat day then I lose weight after plateauing. I always felt slightly guilty and stressed out about this but thanks to this article it has made me realise I can relax every now and then! For the good of my health!

  • Chris Cole

    Michael this helps a ton, I’ve been lifting heavy at the gym for about 3 almost 4 months now and I’ve kept my intake at around 2000 a day, sometimes less because I’m just not hungry. Now I realize because my lifting I’m going to gain lean mass but I’ve been sitting at 236-239 for about a month now. Water retention seems like the problem to me. I have noticed that sometimes I’ll get general Taos chicken and rice and then lose 2-3 pounds over night. Also I started around 30.2 bf now I believe I’m around 25-26% not sure though

    • Hmm it sounds like your calories probably aren’t exactly 2000 per day, especially if you include “cheat” meals and such.

      Are you SURE on that intake?

      • Chris Cole

        5/6 days a week yes, I track with my fitness pal. I do see a problem that my protein has not been 1g per pound of target body weight which is 180. I have trouble getting that much protein. Most days it’s berries/bacon for breakfast or the occasional chic fil a spicy biscuit with egg and cheese(half circuit) with fruit. Then I snack on olives until lunch, lunch is a salad with Italian dressing and veggies and pepperoni, and a bowl of ground turkey and black beans. By the time I get home I’m not hungry enough to eat dinner and I have not been refueling aside from whey protein after late night workouts

  • james

    Hello it is james again. I have tried low sodium for weeks now and have had no change with water retention.

    I want to take diazyde as i hear it will get rid of water retention. Would the water retention come back after i stop taking a few pills during the course of a short time? I have no medical issues.

    I took a deca-dibodazol steroid cycle for two weeks and that was what caused the swelling in my face and hips which will not go away. So frustrating! I know it isnt fat and something to do with my genetics as im actually a smaller waist now (30 inch) then i was before taking the deca-diboldazol pill so there is no reason i should have a puffy face.

    This is the dodgy website i bought them from


    I just want my old face back!!!!

    I’d appreciate all the advice you can give me.

    • Sorry man I’m really not familiar with drugs so I won’t be able to help here. :/

      • james

        If i were to stick to your low sodium diet for a few more weeks what is there to say that the water water weight will come back again if i eat lots of sodium? Will i have to watch my diet indefinitely to avoid recurring water weight?

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  • Shalav

    I suspect that the sudden weight gain I am having for last 1 month and a distended belly is due to some kind of water retention. Can you tell me a definite sign, by which I can be sure it is water retention and not plain old fat? Then may be I can take corrective steps.

  • Nick Raol

    You are right on the money. I was 3 lbs lighter after HIIT so that was all water. No way you can lose 3 lbs in 15 minutes HIIT. Sweat all the water out.

    Hey Mike: Do you recommened any fat burning supplements? I dont really believe in supps but i thought to give it try. Right now, i only take Protien, Creating and BCAA on my cardio day. You know everyone wants to lose fat so the fat burning supp is a huge market. Any reccomendation would be helpful or how can i lose that last 3% fat? Been trying for a month and dont see any results and ofcourse dont want to lose muscles.

  • Tony

    I read your article and it’s exactly where I’m at. I have lost weight and just at a stop right now at 189 I don’t eat more than 1,000mg of sodium I drink at least a gallon of water a day but I did notice a difference in my body that I’m more slim and toned than I was a month ago I have pictures that I take to look at my results each month but it’s messing with my mind because I’m more lean now than I was a month ago but the scale has been the same for about 3 weeks now. Please help.

  • TPfReAk

    i fast on monday and wednesday this is my 5th fasting day(3rd week) and i think i lose about 2-3 KG am i doing this right? and what about the water weight loss/fat weight loss i am really afraid that i might end up regaining the weight if we consider the possibility of it being a water weight loss. (sry about my english)

  • Tiffany

    Hi! This is a perfect article for me right now. I’m 5’9 and currently hovering between 142-144. The past 5 months I’ve upped my workouts to 4-5 days per week. Cycle, running, power pump and boot camp type classes. I feel stronger and faster than I have before but my body always seems to retain water after a work out. I’m guilty of not drinking enough and must likely not eating enough Somedays and then more on others. Last winter I was working out much less 2-3 times per week and possibly eating more. My weight hasn’t changed but my legs always feel swollen and I can no longer fit into my skinny jeans that I wore all of the time last winter. I am beyond frustrated. I’m working harder and I feel worse! Help please. I want my nice lean legs back.

  • Federico

    Hey Michael, the article gave me an other perspective of what’s happening to me, but I’m still confuse. I’m 1,64m and weight 66kg and around 13 to 14% bf, since a month that I haven’t drop weight, I’m oscillating between 68.1 to 65.3, but I feel that I’m loosing fat, because I feel more loose and at the touch it feels like less mass, and I’m seeing some definition here and there, but at a slow pace and because the scale does not go down, I don’t know if it’s normal, the rate of fat loss, or I’m going too slow. I’m eating 1500kcal with an activity that I should eat 2350kcal, an aggressive approach. I’m doing 6 days a week of weight (strength/hypertrophy) and 4-5 days of hiit, 15 min after training. Ah, other think I think I’m bigger, but it’s contradictory in such a deficit. I eat with a protocol of intermittent fasting (16:8) with a macro ratio of 50 prot., 30 carbs. and 20 fats. and I do a refeed/cheat once a week but it does not seem to work. I know I should not maintain this deficit for long (it has been 3 weeks, and to get to this deficit I dropped 100kcal from an initial 1900kcal deficit) not enhance it. But I think that if I reverse dieting I will get fat and the fat loss will end for the time that I’m doing the reverse. Please help men…

  • Stephen

    Hi Mike, I am 17 years old, 5’9 and about 172 pounds. I started 2 weeks ago at 170 to burn fat. I was not happy with what I saw in the mirror. I lowered my calorie count to 1500-2200 a day, ran for an hour every morning, and lifted 4-5 times a week. I feel much stronger, but I have gained weight, and saw no noticeable changes in the mirror. I still have a thick layer of tissue over my chest and stomach.

  • Jeremy

    Hi I’m 5/7 352 lb iv lost 40 lb this year alone. Over the last month my weight has stayed the say but my lean mass is up 40 lb and fat mass is down 50 lb why haven’t I seen it on the scale

  • Zain

    Hey mike…
    i am 25, turning 26. My height is 5feet 5inch and i am 66kg . It was 80kg thoug 2 months ago. However it ameliorated a little. But the fat on belly is not burning. + i am witnessed to see my face more skinny over to which i am glad enough. Suggest what to do burning my abdominal fat quickly.

  • Ana Mejia

    Hello Mike, Im going Keto but Im having a lot of water retention, I wake up everyday bloated,even my eyes,my face Im a woman btw….Im taking green tea but that doesnt help….can increasing my veggies could help??
    Thanks in adavance!

  • Clint Burns

    Hi Mike, I’m going through a similar experience. My body is leaning out, but my weight is constantly up and down. In addition to cutting back on sodium, will cutting back on carbs assist with this as well?

    • Not really no. Cutting carbs will reduce the amount of water your body holds but the fluctuations can still occur.

  • smjohan

    Epsom Salt Baths to draw out dead cells/excess fluids and to calm you. Also, if you are like me and you hold your water weight in your thighs (crazy, I know!) then laying with your butt to a wall and your legs up the wall will relax you and rid you of extra water weight.

  • Francisco Rendon

    First of all, Thank you so much for all this information. I rarely see anything as informative on fluid retention online, so this is really a life saver.

    Water retention has always been a BIG issue for me when I try to loose body fat. And it’s always the reason why I end up giving up, unfortunatley.

    This comment may seem long, I apologize lol, but I have 3 questions that have been bothering me if you wouldn’t mind answering them. 1st, I feel like my bloating periods are always much longer and more frequent than my brief “lean” periods. Say for every one good week where I feel great about my progress, I have to suffer through an entire month of water retention. Which always makes it feel like the diet/exercise isn’t even worth the trouble. Is this normal?

    2nd question; when I bloat, my butt literally drains and becomes flatter, while simmultaniously my love handles get swollen with water. The two seem connected, because later during my good/lean days my butt becomes full again as my sides drain. (This makes all my jeans fit VERY uncomfortably). Do bodily fluids actually shift around this way?

    3rd question; Is it possible to still burn fat while retaining excess water? In your article you recomended less exercise and maybe even eating a big calorie & carb packed meal to trigger the “whoosh” effect. Does this mean that it’s best to focus on flushing the water instead of trying to burn fat during the bloat periods?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Thanks Francisco!

      1. Hard to say what’s normal and not to be honest because I’ve seen so many different scenarios.

      2. Yeah I’ve heard of this happening.

      3. Yup you lose fat but it can be obscured by the water retention.

      Check this out:


      It’s similar to this article but has a bit more in the way of strategies for overcoming the bloat.

      Give them a go and let me know how it goes.

    • Bonnie

      I find that daily yoga (20 mins or so in the morning) is a good way to keep water retention down. I suspect it has something to do with lymphatic stimulation. Other types of exercise tend to promote water retention in my experience, so yoga helps mitigate that.

    • Marina Schulz

      i have the same with the weird butt thing xD!

      • PandaPandaPanda

        Hopefully you’ve figured it out by now, but if you haven’t TRUST me when I say that leg lifts & pelvic thrusts are your friend. They’ll build your butt without building your legs.

  • Kyle

    Hey Mike, How do you know if you’re sodium/potassium levels are on or off?

    • Hey Kyle,

      Did you read the article?

      • Kyle

        Ok let me be more specific. I’m mostly referring to potassium, I’m not a person who eats many fruits and veggies even tho i do eat cleaner foods i know about how much sodium i’m getting a day (3 to 4g) but i’m sure my potassium levels have to be low cause i’m not really getting it thru food or supplements so to be more specific to that, how do you know it’s too low or affecting water retention?

        • Oh okay. You’ll want that to be higher for health reasons alone. I would recommend bringing it up.

          • Kyle

            Oh ok yea i figured that, what would be the best way to go about that?

          • Food or supplementation. I prefer a bit of both. 🙂

          • Kyle

            True that, any recommendations on a supplement for potassium?

          • I just do potass citrate from NOW.

          • Kyle

            Great i like now products as well they’re good quality, but i see it’s 99 mg per serving which seems a bit low, I’ve seen the recommended amount for potassium a day is around 4,700 mg a day which i MAY be getting a quarter of that from food maybe, so you think i should take like 3 g from this supplement a day to get there?

          • Yeah 99 mg per pill for safety reasons (OD = heart stops) and you COULD but it’s a bit unfeasible. I would revise your diet instead to get to around 3 g through food and supplement the rest.

          • Frank Yoo

            Whole fruit is the best way to get potassium and because of the antioxidants/fiber it can actually lower your blood sugar despite being full of sugar and carbs. Look into it. It’s waaay safer than a supplement. You can’t OD on potassium from fruit because you couldn’t eat it quickly enough to do so (you’d need like 300 bananas in 30 seconds). Good luck!

  • anon209340293

    You basically copy and pasted Martin Berkhan’s article on Leangains and changed the words around a little. What a fraud!

  • Etai Tarazi

    Hey Mike, So my issue is I think I eat perfect but I still have that smooth puffy look which seems to be water weight.

    My Diet:
    5 egg whites in the am with avocado and every 2.5 hours 5.oz of grilled chicken with steamed asparagus. I do this routine on Monday and Tuesday on Wed its all the same I just add oatmeal in the am and a sweet potato with 2 of my meals only because my wed and Fridays are my back and leg days. Friday typically my leg day and also my cheat meal which i may have pizza or panini etc..
    I also drink a minimum of 1 gal of water a day and a crystal light for taste.

    i put in 20 min cardio before all my workouts. i also train like a mad man I sweat like a pig and STILL I have water weight. PLEASE explain to me why I cant get rid of my water weight and have that hard ripped looked.

  • Ania

    hey mike…so fact is : I am in a definite weight loss plateau at the moment…I am working out about 2 hrs every day, most of the time 7 days a week- with a high intensity (weights included) tarining session abou 1 hr in the morning and another 45min t0 60 min in the evening after work…while this really eases my mind before bedtime and a nice dinner ( I am vegan, so just raw veggies at night) I hold a lot of water..and I do not get any leaner…instead i feel puffy and bloated most of the time really..
    I tried to calculate my calories with fitness pal and your recommendations (IF calculator to) but i really have trouble with setting my macros to the right point..
    Can you maybe help me to just set my calorie intake / macros right so I can work with that?
    Also my sodium was just tested and it is far too low! so this can not be the reason..
    Let me know what I could do…btw : listening to your podcast alllllll the time , you are so amazing and I really trust all your recommendations…please never stop your awesome work!
    Thanks Anna

  • Richie Gaona

    Hello mike, Officially started bls 8 weeks ago. Im now 27 yo 5″11 170 lb Started at 184 lb 16% Bf (4 spot skin caliper)(14.5% bf bio electric impedance) so I decided to cut first. 8 weeks later I’m down 14 lbs and am increasing weight accross the board on all exercises. I lost half a pant size and can begin to tell a difference in the mirror. but when I checked my bf% today skin calipers read 19% and bio electric impedance read the same as before 14.5%. Not sure what to make of this. I followed my diet decently these first 8 weeks although not perfectly guess I’d say on a scale from 1-10 I followed at an 8. I purchased a meal plan from you and have readjusted my macros and cals according to formula in bls since with weight loss. Workout is the 5 day split with 3 20 min hiit cardio sesions on bike. Should mention that I have lost a lot of weight over the past 3 years, around 70lbs. But hadn’t been trying to lose anymore til 8 weeks ago. Not sure if losing weight previously would be affecting this time around but thought I’d mention it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Kal-El

    Hey Mike,
    I’ve been cutting for two months now. Started at 22%. Was losing 0.7 kg per week and dropped to 16-17%. Lost about 5 kg totally. However, the scale hasn’t moved in the last two weeks. I’m on a 500 calorie deficit, doing fasted training and fasted HIIT. And I went all out the last two days and ate a lot. Today the scale says I gained a kilo in two days.
    What should I do to get back on track? I think I have about 5-6 kg to lose to get to 10%. I’ve made a start by ordering yohimbine ?

  • Texas Gal

    Where do I begin? I am a 5’6, 45-year-old woman. I’ve also had kids. When I was a teenager, I developed a bad habit of skipping meals. It got to the point where my stomach stopped growling. I gained massive weight over the decades. I am now 309 lbs. I was 330 at my heaviest. I don’t know how I lost what I’ve lost. And nope, I didn’t have an eating disorder. I just skipped meals basically because I didn’t care. I do now! Anyway, I cannot seem to lose weight to save my life. I don’t diet because I don’t know how and I don’t know what to believe. Is it a fad or what? So, I do what I know to do. Also, I retain water like nothing. I am the queen of water retention. If you press on my shin, it literally leaves an indention for a minute. It never goes away. I feel like I’m carrying around stale water in my body. I obviously want to lose weight. Every site I’ve been to calculates my calorie intake to be around 1600 or 2600 (minus the calorie deficit). Those number are drastic in comparing amounts of food to be consumed. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what number are right. How do I get the right formula for me? Or… do I not listen to any of that? I just need help. I need to be assisted from ground zero. Meaning, I need to be told what is my true BMR, How many calories am I supposed to be consuming daily (to lose) weight, and how to jump start it all. The only thing I can do is yoga. It’s easy for me. I’m top heavy so that matters. Any wisdom you share will help. Thanks in advance.

    • Hey!

      I would start here:


      Let me know what you think!

      • Texas Gal

        Thank you. I will keep you posted. Of all the sites I’ve been to, this is the most well put together one I’ve seen. Very informative and very detailed. That’s exactly what I like. Job well done!

  • Hayden

    I am a flight attendant, I fly between 80-120 hrs a month depending on the month. Traveling on my days off is not included in the numbers. I try to drink about 6 liters of infused water or plain water a day. I know its bad to drink too much but I can feel it when I don’t. I’ve been doing Jillian michaels everyday and working out in hotel gyms. I want to incorporate more of your ideas into my regimen. I cant afford a gym membership but I am passionate about my health. I want to be in the best shape i can be so badly. Is my water intake safe? If i go up in weight classes with Jillian michaels will i still get to be “thinner, leaner, stronger”?

  • Aikas

    It’s a pain in the ass to stick to 2.3gr of sodium so I go at least 1 gram above.. Oh and I wanted to ask you if it is really necessary to hit 4.7gr of potassium per day, I find this hard as well. And what happens if they are not in 1:2 ratio?

    Take care <3

    • That’s okay. I also am between 3 to 4 grams of sodium per day.

      And yup it’s tricky. I do 2 bananas per day plus a good amount of K-rich veggies.

      Too little K is a micronutrient deficiency that has various ramifications. It isn’t catastrophic, of course, but it isn’t ideal.

  • John

    Good article. Nice to see you’re picking up British words like “bollocks” 🙂 http://www.lostinthepond.com/2013/09/4-british-swear-words-that-are-slowly.html#.VnxZ_8aLTnA

  • Lois Zarculea

    thanks so much for this article, Mike!
    i have a few questions, and prior to that, a hint:
    i suffered 11 from eating disorders (bulimia), lifting weights became my therapy almost 5 years ago; now it’s not a therapy, it’s a routine that i love and can’t think of it anymore, as i see how much i benefit from it, mentally and physically.

    since 1 1/2 years i’m completely cured from bulimia. i’m 5’2 tall, weighed about 99lbs back then, now i weigh somewhere around 141lbs. it sounds a lot, yet i definitely am muscular. i’m a soft gainer, legs are my strength, i work a lot on the upper body, my weakness.

    the big dilemma is 1.) water retention though. especially my face shows EVERY little change. it fluctuates on almost weekly basis. sometimes my face would be edgy for some days, the next week rounded again. it’s a pain in the a**, since i really work hard. i am not sure if my body is still recovering and adjusting things, as my metabolism is perfectly working now (i’ve been at the doctor to see if my metabolism causes water retention, but it is perfectly fine…) or if others face the same issue.
    i do take rest days once a week, and 2.) my workouts are pretty lengthy. between 1 1/2h-3h daily, depending which muscle group i train. (i also incorporate a HIIT after each workout, either sprints or a short Tabata, what i feel like)
    3.) i also use creatine, for strength and recovery. i tried training with and without it, yet i don’t see clearly if intake truly affects the water retention.

    any experience with female clients with a background such as mine? as i want to compete in the fitness class in austria 11/2016 for the first time ever.
    if yes, what are your recommendations?
    I would highly appreciate everything from the PRO!

    thanks a lot in advance!

    • Great on beating the eating disorders. I’m glad to hear that. 🙂

      Haha my face swells and shrinks noticeably as well–my fat cheeks in particular. 😛

      Do you know what your sodium and potassium intakes are like?

      How many hours of exercise do you do every week?

      • Lois Zarculea

        oh, so it’s not only me!
        but why the heck is that so? it frustrates me to death!

        i mentioned it above – i take a rest day – generally on sundays – so that means i work out 6x a week – an estimate total of 20 hours per week. ( 3 upper-body , 2 lower-body, 1 HIIT session weekly)

        honestly, i can’t tell.
        i do avoid processed foods, don’t overseason my foods. i like it pretty simple. also i avoid diary as much as i can (i use skim milk though, IF i ever drink coffee, a yoghurt with chia seeds here and there). basically i have a pretty balanced diet with a considerable amount of greens and other veggies, healthy sources of fats like avocado, almonds, proteins from eggs, chicken, fish. i get my carbs mainly from rice.
        i’m somewhere between 1900 – 2300 cal a day (i track my cal on myfitnesspal)
        BUT: once/twice a week i’d have a treat like nutella on my oatcake or similar cruelties.

        and yeah – i follow the 18/6 intermittent fasting protocol. means i would perform all of my trainings in a fasted state, and eat only one hour after.
        i feel i have a better focus during the workout and i benefit from the low insuline levels 🙂

        any clue?

        once again, thank you so much for the solid content you’re pouring out to the hungry crowd 🙂 that’s so valuable. truly, you are a role model.

        God bless!

        • Genetics mainly. I have fat cheeks.

          Damn, that’s a shitload of exercise. Your cortisol levels may be out the roof. Your calories are quite low too.

          IMO we should dial this back. How about doing something like 4 to 6 hours of weightlifting and 1 to 2 hours of cardio per week?

          • Lois Zarculea

            hehe, okay.

            i already feel nervous about the thought of working out ‘so little’ it’d be a radical cut.

            but i’ll give it a try at least.

            what do you suggest in view of the macronutrient split?

            a ratio. and how many cals per training and non training day.

            i’m 158cm tall, currently around 65kg heavy, 33years.

            there’s so much stuff out there, on the carb thing, it’s so confusing.

            i’m totally curious about your opinion 🙂 excited to hear!

          • Let’s do it and see how it goes. 🙂

            For the macro split, use this:


            Keep the cals the same on training and non-training days.

            Set up your intake and macros using the article I linked above and LMK how it goes.



  • Franc

    Hi Mike
    Although I agree with a lot that you said and also learned a bit from your article, I feel that you should have talked about how carbs can cause water retention and even a cheat meal can cause a bunch water retention (each gram of glycogen binds to 3 grams of water), so the opposite of what you said, when you have a cheat meal, can also happen (weight gain due to water retention) wouldn t it?
    Thanks in advance, keep on going, this site is entertaining and informative.


    • Thanks Franc!

      Remember we’re talking about subcutaneous water here as opposed to water sucked into the muscles. The rapid improvements in hormone profile caused by a dramatic spike in carb intake can cause the “whoosh” of subcutaneous water regardless of what happens in the muscles…

      • Franc

        Thanks a lot for the reply, especially for being so swift.
        So even though you re losing weight with a cheat meal due to the flushing of the subcutaneous water you re also gaining weight due to the water in my glycogen reserves in the muscle? Or may it be due to the sodium content of said cheat meal?
        Also would one cheat meal really be sufficient to improve your hormone profile significantly?
        Sorry to be bombarding you with questions I am only asking you this because usually after a cheat meal I can get up to 3 kgs heavier (6,6 lbs) the next day and I thought that was mostly due to water retention because if I go to the gym the 3 days after the cheat meal I can get back to normal weight (I sweat a lot). I never weighed less the day after a cheat meal actually.

        • My pleasure!

          That’s right. 🙂

          Yup just one day of significantly more calories (and carbs) can help quite a bit.

          No worries.

          Whoa, WTF are you eating in your cheat meals?

          • Franc

            From granola to oreos, I guess I must reach the 6000/7000 calorie mark.
            Its more kind of a binge.

            Right now I am trying to do some tweaking in my diet so I can get completely rid of said cheat meals or have some moderation at least. But I still cant quite understand how is it I still end up binging…I think that probably my calculation of my TDEE is way off (2600 cals a day and I am eating around 2000 to lose fat sometimes less).

            I am 5´8″ (173 cm) and weigh around 184 pounds probably around 17% bodyfat, currently doing IF and flexible dieting, going to the gym 5x a week for 1h10m doing 45 minutes of supersets (8 exercises 3 sets each 8-10 reps 60 seconds rest) and 20 minutes of cardio.

            What do you think my TDEE might be?

          • Lol.

            Hmm I’d say 1.5 to maybe 1.55 for your activity multiplier so 2600 to 2800 sounds reasonable?

          • Franc

            Hahaha, yeah thats what I thought 2600/2700.

            I eat around 1900/2000 cals a day for fat loss so I dont compromise to much muscle. But sometimes I eat only 1400 cals in the 3 days after a binge usually because I feel kinda shitty and full (probably oreos still roaming around in my system lol).
            Unfortunatly after 7, 8 days I end up binging….usually due to a minor stressor also.

            Kind of envy you as I heard in one of your podcasts that you dont feel hungry even on a deficit…lucky.

            Are there any tips you recomend to avoid this nightmare weekly binge?

            And for maximum fat loss how many calories or how big of a deficit?

            Thanks for the help anyways and I once again apologize for the shitload of questions you must have a ton of things to do already.

          • Sweet.

            I don’t recommend you do that regularly. Going that low-cal will slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight.

            To help with the binge eating, check this out:


            Yep, I don’t really get hungry haha. I just feel like I have less energy.

            I recommend a 20-25% deficit. The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

            NP. Happy to help. 🙂

          • Franc

            Unfortunatly I feel the 2 most of the times (I get HAngry and feel low energy).
            Yeah I just do it 2-3 days after a day or 2 of all out binges.
            Have already read it some time ago but i´ll check it out again.

            Thanks for the tips Mike, I really appreciate it.
            Keep it going.

            I will continue following you here and on youtube.
            BTW you should do more vids on youtube, more podcasts maybe, they are really cool and informative (probably one with Dr. Jacob Wilson about IF)…just a suggestion.


          • That does make it tougher.

            Are you having weekly refeeds or cheat meals? That should help you stay on track as well.

            Give it another read and LMK what you think. 🙂

            My pleasure Franc!

            I appreciate the support! I haven’t had much time to spend on YT, but I’ll be stepping my game up this year!

            Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll see if we can work something out.

            Talk soon!

          • Franc

            No I am a little bit sketchy about having a refeed or a cheat meal a week, it can go south easly I am afraid of binging.

            Though because I do flexible dieting I eat probably a whole chocolate bar twice a week and some ice cream if I feel like it, as long as I dont go too much over my calories.

            Liked your youtube vid about how much you can gain in a day, although I dont believe that eating less fat on a cheat meal will make that big of a difference, but i dont know, did you see that in a paper or journal?

            As I understand and research has shown, even after a high intensity workout 20+ sets you only get a depletion of about 15-40% of your glycogen/carb stores in the muscles and 3 to 5 grams of carbs per kg of bodyweight is enough to replenish them after that it will increase fat. So I think that the difference of having a high fat or high carb cheat won t make a significant difference.


          • Oh okay. Well check this out:



            Just good information to have.

            Check this out on the overfeeding:


          • Franc

            Nice. I´ll check it out.

            Thanks a lot for you re time.
            You re the best man!

            Cheers and keep on going.

          • NP Franc!

            Will do. 🙂

            Talk soon.

  • Ameen

    Thank you Mike for all this info

    I really have Though time to track my weight because of all the binging and water retention .

    I went on a calorie deficit for 7 month 1200 kcal a day i achived 6 % body fat then i reverse dieting to 1800 but from there i couldn’t stop binging and controlling myself

    I want to go on lean bulk .. Any suggestion for my situation ?

  • amos

    Does water retention also affect your body fat % (thickness of skinfold) and how to identify if it’s water of just fat in skinfold?

  • Esmeralda Freire

    I was prescribed diuretics by my doctor for my water retention, one of the side effects, was weakening of muscle and a horrid attack of gout. I should have read the pamphlet before taking the pills, it would have saved me a lot of money too because I was seeing a physiotherapist because of the intense pain in my knee.
    I am now going to try it your way, naturally.
    I do wish doctors in South Africa recommended the natural route.
    Now I have to wait another two days before the effects of the diuretic leaves my body, am taking anti inflammatories for the pain.

    • Damn. Sorry to hear about all that. 🙁

      Sounds good. LMK how it goes.

  • Mark

    Hi Mike,

    Can low levels of potassium in my diet be remified alone by increasing the amount of water I drink? For example, some days I simply don’t have high-potassium foods on hand and my sodium levels are very high. Would drinking a ton more water fix this? I always thought as long as your water intake is high enough it will offset high sodium levels regardless of how much potassium i consume? Any truth to that?


  • Byron Ong

    Hey Mike,

    Big fan of your stuff, especially your YouTube podcasts!

    I’ve got a question about fat loss. I’m currently 23, 5’9 at weigh in at 155/156 lbs. My best guess for my bf% is 12-13% and I’d like to go down to 10% or lower. Based on calculators, I have 4-5 pounds of fat left to lose, and ideally I’d like to achieve this within the next 4 1/2 weeks.

    Unfortunately, this stage has always been a sticking point for me and I’ve never actually gotten leaner before.

    Given my activity levels ( I lift 5-6 times a week and do about an hour of moderate cardio in total), a modest estimate for my tdee would be 2200. I’m cutting on approximately 1750 daily. I started my cut on about 2000, gradually decreased my cals each week and have managed to lose 7 pounds over the last 8 weeks.

    However, for the past 9 days, my weight has plateaued though my waistline has shrunk a little (from 30″ – 29.5″).

    I’m hoping this is a case of water retention. In any case, do you think I should remain at this cal intake till the end of my cut or should I cut my calories by another 100 or so? Thank you so much in advance! 🙂

    Apologies for the lengthy post. Hope to hear from you soon Mike.

    • Happy to hear it! Thanks for the support, Byron!

      Thanks for the info, and cool on what you’re trying to do. Let’s make it happen.

      I hear you on the sticking point. To help keep things moving, check this out:


      No worries. Check out the article and LMK what you think!

  • glenn

    hi my body is kinda stock to water once i did a died from 94 kgs i got to 73 kgs in 3 and a hafe months and was eating about 1900cal ea day now im dieting again and atm im 88 kg 19% body fat 23 % muscle and im kinda stock to the same wieght ea time i weight i see progress on muscle and fat loss but keep the same weight and im kinda stock to water retention now i cant lose the wieght that i lost about 3 years a go im going to the gym ea day doing about 30 mins-40 mins cardio ea day plus about 45 minutes of weight training i cant get rid off this water retention been training now for allmost 7 weeks

    dont now whats happining cant it be my sleeping sleeping about 5-6 hrs a day or maybe the food im eating ?

  • Verity Auty

    Wow!! After reading this article and some others. I changed one thing yesterday morning, I ate more carbohydrate, did my normal workout and the same again today and I’ve already lost a significant amount of water weight and feel more energetic!!! The water has been talking out of me 🙂

  • Ertjie
  • Thank you for this very helpful article. I think my cortisol is at a lethal level right now.

  • Carrie

    When I work out, I turn bright red, even a purplish red when I’m really working out hard, but I rarely ever sweat. I asked the doctor about it and he said that sometimes people just don’t sweat that much and unfortunately that is me. I know this is why I cannot lose the water weight. Any tips?

    • That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that so I have no idea…

      That said, you don’t shed the type of water weight we’re talking about here through sweating so it shouldn’t be an issue?

  • Courtyard Broadway

    This is a great article!!! I’m 33. Lost our baby 2 months ago in the second trimester. Eat well and have always trained hard but still managed to gain 25kgs in approx 6 months. To the extent now that I can barely walk at times. I’ve definitely been a culprit of under eating over training. At my best I was leg pressing 210kgs. 70kgs weight but a size 8/10 with a 6 pack. I now weigh 100kgs. And even now the diet and attempted 20min slow walk a day is doing nothing to get rid of the weight. 6 different people have told me its water retention and a lot of it but nothing works. People just think I eat crap and don’t train. My husband sees me try and cry when I can’t do it. I used to be a runner. 10kms every second day!! And now struggle to even walk 100m at times. Definitely going to feed my body more and hope and pray it works.

  • jr smith

    Great Article. I have a question. I experience excessive sweating. A lot more than the average individual. I may suffer from hyperhidrosis(excessive sweating) I’m talking about just walking outside in normal temperatures and starting to sweat, especially when I’m going outside to inside. Now do you think my sodium level have an affect on this? I’ve been experiencing excessive sweating since I was a kid but now it has gotten a lot worse compared to my adolescent-teenage years, I’m 25 now.

    Am I sweating more because of the amount of sodium I’m intaking? Am i retaining more water than usual which is causing me to sweat more? I want to get down to the root of the issue and understand why I’m sweating a lot more. I know I have to go to see a doctor but I would also love your insight. This article was very informative and the “flushing” process has helped me understand why my scale wasn’t moving.


    • Thanks!

      Yup my business partner has the same issue. I’m familiar with it. He has looked into it extensively and unfortunately it just seems to be genetic. Nothing has really worked for him.

      • jr smith

        I see, how does he cope with it?

        • Well, we’re in FL so stay in indoors where the A/C is, haha. Also, moving to somewhere with colder weather would help. We’re moving to DC next month. 🙂

          • jr smith

            haha well, i live in Toronto Canada and i still sweat like shaq in the 4th quarter. Even during our cold winters I sweat. Its that severe. Well Thanks anyways.

          • Haha. Damn. Yeah, not many places colder than that that are still comfortable to live.

            NP! Also, if you do use stimulants, they don’t help the sweating issue at all.

  • Mac

    Hey Mike great info! I experienced a whoosh after a plateau this past week. As soon as I started eating more towards maintenance I lost 2.5lbs during the week out of nowhere. Completely unexpected because most say on a diet break you will most likely gain some weight. My question is, when I go back to a caloric deficit, that weight should continue to stay off and drop correct??

    • Thanks! That’s awesome!

      To answer your question, yes. Go back to the deficit, and you’ll continue to lose weight. 🙂

  • Ash

    hello, I wanted to ask about ur body fat percentage, and if u maintain this percentage year after year. Also how many calories u eat/day. Do u have cheat meals and if u do than what do u eat and how many calories roughlyu have that special day? thank you

  • Andrew

    Hey Mike, thanks for the article! I do have one question:
    I’ve just started my cut two weeks ago at 156lbs. Since then, I’ve seen the scale tick down a little bit, but my weight increased well over my initial.

    According to my diet, I should be at 154.5 right now, but I’m sitting at 160. Is it normal to actually GAIN weight from water or is it usually just maintaining that original weight/plateauing?

    I mean, I know it isn’t legitimate body weight that I’m gaining, unless I’ve managed to eat 19,250 cals while trying to cut weight somehow.

    • Hey Andrew,

      Have a look at this article:


      • Andrew

        Well I’ve been pretty stressed this past week (aka when I started to gain weight) and I haven’t paid attention to my sodium/potassium levels (they haven’t ever been a problem before).

        One thing I was speculating was carbohydrates; I woke up in the middle of the night twice last week and binged on carbs. I eventually balanced out the binge by eating less during the day so I would eat to my goal calories for the day (and I’m usually pretty accurate with tracking everything I eat—even at night—it’s 2nd nature).

        I remember reading that every gram of glycogen can hold around 3g of water. Since I’ve been eating pretty few calories (made up largely of carbs), I thought that my body could potentially be holding onto carbs in response and that those carbs were absorbing water.

        I even budgeted so I could eat at maintenance calories today, that way my body might let that water go and my diet would still be on track.

        Again, this is what I speculated, so I’m not 100% sure that I’m even correct. If not, do you have any other suggestions, or should I only watch my sodium and stress?

        • Big carb binges can make you hold on to water, but I bet there’s more to the 4lbs gain. Stomach and bladder contents also can add to a weight measurement. Are you certain you followed everything in the article I linked to the T?

          • Andrew

            Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve read the article before and I read it again when you posted the link; what I noticed was different in my diet was that I binged twice and ate more carbs than usual (and probably more than recommended). I’ve never paid attention to my sodium and I don’t remember ever needing to, so it is a possibility…

            As far as exercise goes, I have been exercising less often this particular week but I compensate for that in my diet. Perhaps it’s sodium and less exercise? I don’t know for sure, but I am a little lighter since going to maintenance yesterday, about 2 from the 6 pounds gained lighter.

            Again, thanks for the feedback!

          • Activity level can play a part, and so can water retention from both carb loading and perhaps sodium.

            Any time man!

  • catherine

    I am a 47 year old woman who has always been thin. For the last twenty years I have been about 129 lbs. at 5’8″. I had two surgeries this past year which had prolonged my getting back into the workout routine. Long story short. I am entering menopause and have gained 10 pounds. I know that 7 pounds of it is water because I know my body. I am very strict with eating and have pizza and a dessert once a week. No soda, candy, cheese, butter or any of the bad stuff you listed. Any advice for getting rid of the water? Thanks.

    • Hi Catherine, sorry to hear about the surgeries. Have you been able to get back into the workout groove since?

      This article highlights the strategies you can use to start reducing your water weight. Give them a shot first, and LMK how it goes. Sounds like you’re doing your best. But, let’s cover the basics first.

  • John

    so you really can lose fat when you have water retention? but you just can’t see it?

    • Absolutely!

      • John

        Wow.. But how does tht work? Cuz you can’t really see it right? Or does it do not only belly fat but maybe have a higher % of losing the fat somewhere else 1st or something? I thought you can’t Becuz it slows your metabolism

  • amos

    I’ve stated bulking just recently, went up from 127lb to 131lb on the first week of bls. I stated off pretty lean and noticed my skinfold getting noticeably thicker. Each time I pinch it hard, it will leave a depression on my skinfold and later return to normal. When I take my caliper reading, the measurement starts from 12, goes down to 11, 10, 9, and stops somewhere at 8-7. I swear I’m taking the exact same spot, I even used a permenant marker to mark the spot to be pinched. Is it fat or just water? And which reading should I take on the caliper?

    • Give it at least 15s before you take another reading from the same location. You’ll get better results for multiple measurements.

  • Raj

    Hi Mike, great article man!
    I started lifting and went on a single digit body fat percentage quest a year ago after stumbling on one of your articles. Since then I’ve gone from 17% BFP to 5% and in maintenance mode. Naturally, my diet is super clean but maintaining such a small amount of body fat triggers low metabolism and yeah, it’s kinda insane. So, refeeding and cheat meals are essential for avoiding metabolism crashes and preserving one’s sanity. The first time I experienced severe water retention after one of my all-out binges I totally FREAKED OUT. My hands, feet and torso were super bloated with love-handles and all. Since I had know idea what was going on, I did exactly what I was not supposed to do. Went on a major caloric deficit, more excersice and severe cardio. After learing about this phenomenon from great articles such as this one, dealing with it became soooo much more easier. My body usually retains water for about a week, so during that period I completely ditch the scale and the mirror. Keep on eating enough clean foods, maintain a comfortable lifting regime and most importantly drink bucket loads of water and be patient. One day, Voila!!
    Anyway, thanks again Mike for triggering an exceptional journey for me. I look better, feel better, and also am a better cook than a year ago!

    • Thanks Raj! Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for sharing your experience. Great work! Keep it up.

  • Janet

    I have a question i went from a 50.1 body fat % to an 34.1% in two months but i cant see the change in my body whats happening i lost 30 lbs but i cant move the scale ?

    • Hey Janet, what do your other measurements look like? Clothes fit better? Workout performance increased? Could easier be water retention and muscle you built. Although, I don’t understand what you mean by losing 30lbs yet not seeing the scale move?

  • Steph. B

    I used to drink Mountain Dew for a really long time.I stayed around the same weight since age 13. 128-130 lbs. I began having ulcers from the BVO inside the citrus drink, so I decided to go to water. I drank filtered water and smart water. I retained my diet and workout routine. Walking daily, 15 to 30 mins of cardio and for what ever reason, the water made me fat.
    Water made me so fat, that I gained 60 lbs in 3 months of drinking only water. My meals, workouts, everything stayed the same. So I became frightened. I originally thought it was water weight, and I cut down on the water a little bit, which didn’t help anything. Just made me thirsty most of the day. I tried working out more. eating less, working out more, eating more. Nothings helping me lose any weight.
    I have stayed at this weight and stopped gaining after I cut down on water and went back to soda. I am drinking Fanta orange now, and yet I can’t lose any of this water weight. I have stayed here, At 180 for almost a month now. Its stable when I am not dirnking water. So I know water is what caused the weight gain. Why? Tea didn’t help either, why? I even stopped eating salt , and tried putting potassium back into my body. Is there anything else? Anything I could be missing? What could jump start me into losing weight? I’m sweating for almost an hour daily, even on just my walks I make a good sweat, yet I am still 180 lbs after all this time? I have only seen one other women complaining the same thing and she needs help to. Any thing I can do? BTW, doctors tell me I am fine. No thyroid issues. Thank you for this article.

  • Bart Ellebaut

    Hey Mike, always love reading your articles. I have been the victim of water retention, so checking as much as possible.
    I read on a personal trainers facebook that someone had water retention by not eating enough carbs. I’m guessing so was just in a calorie deficit that was to agressive, but not sure. Have you ever heared of that?

  • Gregory

    Hey I have a question. Let’s say that I eat 1,000 less calories than my body needs but I don’t eat enough grams of protein. I know that I would lose some muscle, but woul I still lose bodyfat even if I do HIIT (spriting stairs) on top of it?

    BTW, I read here on your website everything about water retention and how it works.

  • Gregory

    Hey I have a question. Let’s say that I eat 1,000 less calories than my
    body needs but I don’t eat enough grams of protein. I know that I would
    lose some muscle, but woul I still lose bodyfat even if I do HIIT
    (spriting stairs) on top of it?

  • Caim Astraea

    Hmm this makes no sense does water retention works like ths ?
    This morning i went to the gym and dropped down from 96 to 91 kgs which must be water(sweat).
    For lunch I ate some grapes and 2 slices of watermelon and drank a glass of water and I’m back at 95… What the heck is going on? There’s can’t be 4 kg of water in grapes and watermelon

    • 5kg is an awful lot of sweat! I doubt the difference is due to that alone. I’d first check to see if you’re scale is consistent. Whether or not you’ve used the restroom, stomach contents, clothes, shoes, all contribute to variations in scale weight.

  • Amanda

    Hi Mike. I’ve been struggling with losing weight for about a year and a half now. I started my journey at 238-242 lbs. I am now (was) 200-204. I’ve lost about 6 inches off (tight 36 inch) my waist but I can’t seem to get it down any further. I literally bust my ass walking to work 5 times a week. And im going hard (almost jogging) It’s about a 40 min walk and I’ve put 25 lbs of weight in my backpack in an effort to lose more. Nothing is working. I started a probiotic about a week ago and I’ve actually GAINED I am now 206.5! Ugh so frustrated. I should mention I don’t diet because I want to be successful for life and I don’t intend on eating only salad for the rest of my life so I refuse to do so while losing weight but I am making healthy choices. I also KNOW i dont drink enough water. Less than half of what i should actually. I thought I would be at my goal of 160 lbs by now but I’m STILL over 200. Suggestions??

  • Bec

    Hi Mike,

    I really love the work you do. You are pretty much the only trustworthy fitness guy online and I really trust your advice. I am pretty sure I have an issue with water retention. I would say I am relatively lean (160cm, 56.5kgs and around 20-21% bf, 24.5 inch waist) but would like to get leaner. I weight train for around 7 hours per week which includes three leg days. I use a mixture of strength and bodybuilding style training and train hard. I initially cut my calories to around 1700 (I think I was eating around 1850-2000 pre-cut) around a month ago and saw no change in my weight, I am following a 40c/40p/20f macro split which is challenging as I am vegan. After seeing no results for a month I cut my calories to 1550 – my weight increased to around 57.5kgs and has stayed there but the number fluctuates every day. I feel “watery” if you know what I mean. I tried to cut my calories again to 1450 at the start of this week but felt terrible, anxious and absolutely starving. I don’t know what’s happening as to my eyes I look leaner, can see more abs and my clothes are getting too big. Do you think I should keep cutting my calories of stick at 1500 for a while?

    I am feeling frustrated with the seeming lack of progress. Is it only a matter of time before the weight on the scale drops? If I’m not going to lose any weight I may as well just go back to eating 2000 cals! Truthfully 1500 is no picnic either 🙂

    Thanks so much in advance!

    • Hey Bec,

      I recommend that you track your BF% in addition to your weight. Looks like water retention and maybe bloating going on if your weight is fluctuating so much. Have you tried the tips in this article?

      At 6+ hours a week of training with your stats, you’re looking at about a 1538kcal/day target (approximately). Sounds like 1450 is working for you far as weight loss goes. If you are able to throw in an extra HIIT session, you can stay at 1538 and see if that gets the weight moving without feeling terrible.

  • Mike, I see your recommendation to not lift > 3-5 hours and do > 1-2 hours of cardio when on a cut. I’m currently at the peak of my marathon training, lifting 5-6 hours a week and doing between 3-7 hours of long-distance and speed training running. I often do 2-a-days to fit my workouts into my work schedule. Do you think this could, as you suggest, be too much exercise and have an adverse effect on water retention and increased cortisol levels? I’m currently following your cutting program.

    • Hey hey! That amount of cardio makes sense with you training for a marathon and all, but it will negatively affect your strength and ability to maintain or build muscle. Check this out:


      And yeah, you’re most likely overtrained which will affect water retention and cortisol leveIs as well. To help, I recommend reducing to a 3-day split during your marathon training. Other than that, just make sure you’re eating enough!

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Thank you, Mike! My marathon is this next Saturday (the Air Force Marathon) and after that I’ll scale WAY BACK on the cardio. Thank you, as always, for your help and advice!

  • Andrew

    Hey Mike, I just started my cut after reverse dieting about 5 weeks ago. I’ve been on an average of a 30% caloric deficit.
    I haven’t had any cheat meals, and I’m in XC (i.e. I do a TON of cardio as a result).
    What I’ve noticed is that I’m holding onto a lot of the food I eat; I’m still digesting food from 3 days ago!
    Given the 30% deficit and excessive cardio, do you think that I’m holding in both food and water as a result?

    Thanks again for the article!

    • Oh my. That’s a huge deficit. Let’s go with 20-25% instead and stay above BMR. Potentially, all that cardio and restricted cals are causing water retention.

      • Andrew

        20-25, got it. Just for the sake of knowing, how much water could I be retaining because of cardio and low calorie levels? 2 pounds or so?

      • Andrew

        Also, I know that it’s only been a little over 5 weeks, but do you think my metabolism may have slowed down significantly from all of the cardio and restricted cal intake?

  • Eugene

    Hey OP! Thank you for this article. I’ve read it many times. I need an answer from anyone as I think I’m experiencing water retention.

    I have started weight loss again and do everything right. I eat 2 times per day usually and walk fast 2-3 hours each and every day. The first few weeks I went from 221 lbs to 215 lbs but then very quickly I’ve went up to 221 lbs again. I don’t eat more and I continue taking long walks. It says I burn at least 1000 calories each day from walking alone. But now after a month my weight just won’t decrease from those 221 lbs that I have started a month ago. The measuring thing and appearances have me and someone else sometimes see my stomach has become smaller. The measuring thingy shows 2-4 varying cm it seems. I think it was 118 cm before and now it’s 114-116 cm. I know one day it said I was 212 lbs whereas the day before and the next day were 221 lbs. I really feel all these signs show that I’ve gained a number of water weight pounds. So my question is is this water weight I’ve gained and I’ve burned fat? Also if I continue this weight loss will my fat burned eventually overcome this water weight gain so I’ll lose weight? Please help me out!!

    • Hey Eugene, yeah it sounds like water weight or bloating. Have you tried the tips in this article?

      As you lose fat, you can still hold on to water. Follow the guidelines above and you’ll start to see less retention happening.

      • Eugene

        Hey I had a cheat meal once. But I don’t see that it has helped a lot. I ate extra calories of candy from it. I just want to burn as much fat as possible and well my stomach/waist is much smaller now after a month of weight loss. My weight seems to be going down now. I guess I could decrease my calories burned from this for a week and see if my water weight decreases, but I don’t want to. I want to burn as much fat as possible. I guess after I lose to 200 lbs I could decrease my exercising and that might get rid of some water weight further decreasing my weight. What do you say?

        • Hey Eugene,

          I don’t recommend easing off exercise later on. The focus is fat loss, not weight loss, so water weight isn’t all that meaningful. Check what foods are making you bloated, check your salt balance, and perhaps even destress!

          • Eugene

            Hey so that’s what I was thinking, RogerT. I want to continue my diet and exercise to burn fat even if I don’t lose weight. My weight has been decreasing though. Isn’t Obesity more about weight than fat though? I am determined to lose my big stomach/waist.

  • Roxanne

    Hey Mike! I have a question about water retention….. for a little background, I started by reverse dieting to my maintenance which is 1900-2000 calories. I stayed there for a few weeks. I tried to go into a deficit, but unknowingly went below my BMR which is 1498 and I was at 1450. I got an InBody scan and my body fat isn’t as high as I thought. I actually started gaining weight steadily over the 2 next weeks so I stopped and went back to maintenance. Now after a few more weeks, I’m trying again at 1600 cals using your macros and I’ve gained a couple lbs in the last 5 days. In the past I’ve lost immediately with the lessser food and it’s just so frustrating!! I also have thyroid issues but I’m on thyroid replacement for that. I guess my question is, could I be retaining water just by going into a deficit and should I just wait it out??

    • Hey Roxanne, I understand that the scale can be pretty frustrating to see. What I recommend is that you stay consistent with your deficit and start tracking your BF% and waist measurement. Some of this is definitely water weight if you’re packing on a couple lbs in a week.

      Have you tried the strategies listed in the article to get rid of the water?

      • Roxanne

        Hey Roger T! I was going down the list and I l cook at home for my
        Family mostly all from scratch and stay away from soy sauce and processed meats because i KNOW those make me bloat! I also do crossfit 5 days a week and an extra HIIT class 3 days a week so I don’t think I’m overtraining? I am coming from a pretty big calorie deficit way of eating for a while but like I said, I reverse dieted up to my TDEE and stayed there about 2 weeks. I guess I just want to make sure my body is ready for a deficit and the weight isn’t crazy cortisol levels or something :/ thank you!

  • P Mort

    OK, so I’m finally getting back into the swing of things after the past few weeks of sleep troubles, sleeping better now (minus usually waking up in the middle of the night once to pee, but get back to sleep). To recap, I’m on a cut, I’m tracking my calories, macros are spot on (I need to check on my spreadsheet back home and can get back numbers but I’m within 5 grams on each and I eat to that), stick close to my meal plan, drink 1 gallon of water/day, yet I’ve been stuck at a little over 210 for the past three weeks. I think it might be this but I’m not sure the cause of it. I got the spare tire and it will not go away (mostly obliques, little bit in belly).

    As I mentioned I’m on a cut, but I’m doing fasted morning lifting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday (5 day plan from BLS), and doing HIIT Monday afternoon and fasted Friday morning on a recumbent. So I’m not sure if I’m doing too much, I do feel very tired and the single day of rest isn’t enough (the HIIT cardio sessions feel good though).

    My sleep could be a little better but I can’t factor that being the cause of all the extra bloat around my midsection. As I mentioned elsewhere, I did get laid off and had a bit of a hiccup on my training and I admittedly ate like shit at the time, but I did land back on my feet and have been eating better for at least two months. Still, I’m not seeing any results. I know this kind of thing is expected for new lifters but I don’t consider myself as such, I was doing great earlier in the year, down to about 190. Also, up until a few weeks ago I was severely undereating and after my layoff and up until two months ago before the sleep troubles began I was having giant cheat meals on Saturdays (usually a frozen pizza followed by an entire panfull of brownies…and no they weren’t any recipe from this site). I figured I’d have lost something by now but it just won’t budge.

    Anyway, at wits end. Would like some guidance but I know you guys are busy.

    • Hey man! Good to hear you’re back on your feet and training again. Have to gone through this article and double checked each point yet?


      • P Mort

        Yes. I check my calorie intake carefully. If I’ve eaten more than what I’ve listed on there, it’s minimal. Not enough to erase the calorie deficit for sure. And I don’t dine out, so I know how much I’m consuming. And no alcohol consumption of any kind.

        Most workouts aside from cardio leave me still pretty stiff & sore & achey when I complete them. Being on a cut I wonder if I’m going too long/heavy each day. Even today I did shoulders & abs and my right shoulder isn’t liking something I did. And I’m tired pretty regularly.

        Prior to about two weeks ago I was slacking on water intake, but once I picked it up I went from 207 to 213, and it’s held there pretty much ever since, so I guess that’s kind of why I posted in here.

        • Hey man! Mike here.

          Hmmm. You sound overtrained. Let’s take a week off and see how you feel.

          From there, you’ll need to continue adjusting your intake and activity level to get results. I don’t recommend more than 2-2.5 hours of cardio weekly, and I don’t recommend going below BMR. So, if you find yourself at both of those, and still not getting results, it’s time to RD:


          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • P Mort

            I’ve taken a few days off since last Friday but still did HIIT on Monday afternoon and did a weight session of squats, bench, & pull-ups today. Should I just take the remainder of this week off and hit it on Monday again? And when I get back to it, should I start slow with just doing weights three days/week?

          • No, take a full week off with the deload. You can jump right back into it afterwards.

          • P Mort

            OK, more confused now…deload or resting entirely? Thought I was doing the latter.

          • yeah that’s right. no weights, as per Mike’s suggestion.

  • asylumguy

    Hey Mike !

    I hear that spending time in a sauna helps reduce water weight as the body sweats a lot – any truth to this?
    Also, I am on medication that was prescribed to me and upon reading the experiences of many other people on the same medication, I feel that it is the reason for the excess water weight – will the tips in the article work just as well?
    Thanks for the article 🙂

    • Hey man, sweating in a sauna can help you shed some water weight, sure. These tips could potentially help. Give them a shot!

  • JJ

    Hi Mike, Your library of articles is awesome. I just started a 6 week challenge after not exercising consistently for a number of years. The challenge is both nutrition and exercise (heavy lifting and HIIT) four days a week, along with walking an hour 6 days a week with one rest day. Diet is high protein and I’m eating every couple of hours and has a number of potassium rich foods. I’m two weeks in and scale has barely moved down a pound. I’m 5.2 and have 35% body fat (started at 153lbs). I’m assuming this is water retention and that my muscles are holding onto water. I’m trying to keep the faith and trust the process, but the scale does do a number with my head. I checked all the items in your article and I think I’m on point with pretty much everything, but I was just wondering how long after starting a new program should this water weight flush out.

  • Laurie

    Does Recharge/creatinine will/can(?) cause water weight gain in your muscles. I’m a 57 yr old female and am 4 wks into a weight program. The first 3 wks I grew stronger and my leg size didn’t change. YEAH!! Now on wk 4 my thighs have increased in size. I ordered Recharge and then someone told me I’ll gain weight on it. Is that true? I also order Pulse and Phoenix.

    • Slight water weight gain is normal, and no need to worry about. As you build more muscle, the size of your legs will change. If you want to slim them down, the best thing to do is to start cutting and lose fat:


      • Laurie

        Thanks Roger. My order is on it’s way and I’m excited to start. I’m going to get The Shredded Chef too. I’m trying to figure out my calories/macros. I’m 120 lbs. and 20% body fat so my calculations for daily calories is 1298. If I eat at a deficit I’ll starve to death. Also how do I figure how much protein/fat/carb should I eat. I don’t need to lose weight but I want to trim and tone my legs without adding size. I want to add size to my upper body though. Am I dreaming.??

        • Any time! Awesome. TSC will give you lots of meal prepping recipes 🙂

          At 20% body fat, you’re pretty lean already, but if you want to trim and tone your legs without adding size, you’ll have to lose fat so that the muscle definition will give it the shape you want. Assuming you’re new to this way of lifting, you’ll see muscle gains too during the cut for lower and upper body.

          I suggest a 4 or 5 day split plus 4 HIIT cardio sessions:
          P 144g
          C 139g
          F 31g

          • Laurie

            I’m struggling. Trying to figure out my macros ?? I’m 57 yrs old. 5’6″ 120# 20% BF. I do Beachbody Hammer & Chisel 5X wk and do HIIT # X wk. My goal is to build my upper body but trim and tone my lower, I don’t want ANY size increase in my thighs. Calculating to cut (is that what I should do) Cal 1417, Prot 144, Carb 142, Fat 31. Does that sound right? Would it be worth it for me to buy the eating plan from Mike? Do they figure the foods I like? 7:20am [https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-1/p48x48/14900329_10211291655916530_2559120887070674994_n.jpg?oh=dfce88fdba52989f175616aea60c1a06&oe=58FF100F]

            Let me redirect you to our meal plan director, Sam. He’ll be able to go over the details of the service with you [??]
            [email protected]
            so how do I contact him? When I typed [email protected] it is Mike’s page [https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-1/p48x48/14900329_10211291655916530_2559120887070674994_n.jpg?oh=dfce88fdba52989f175616aea60c1a06&oe=58FF100F] Shoot him an email at that email address
            this is the web page https://www.muscleforlife.com/services/custom-meal-plans/ Custom Meal Plans | Muscle For Life
            How would you like to know exactly what to eat and when to build muscle, burn fat, and get healthy… without starving yourself or following strange, overly muscleforlife.com
            Chat Conversation End

            Type a message

          • Those macros work. If you aren’t seeing fat loss, then increase your activity level and/or reduce 25g from carbs. An MFL meal plan could help if you’re having trouble putting together one yourself. It is fully customized based on the information you provide us when we send you a survey to complete. So, please be as thorough and detailed as possible when filling it out so that it can be built to your desired specifications 🙂

          • Laurie

            I’ve stuck to these #’s for 3 wks. From reading more it looks like my protein is too high and my fat too low. How should I adjust my #’s

          • Protein looks fine at 144g. (120*1.2) and fat as 20% of your total intake works as well. Are you at a fat loss plateau? If that’s the case, check this out:


      • Laurie

        I’m taking Pulse and have been for quite some time. I rec’d Phoenix and Recharge last week. I’ve been taking the Phoenix but just leery about taking the Recharge from the comments on facebook about adding water retention, whether in my muscles or not I don’t want that. Some comments have said not to take when cutting, only when bulking which I don’t plant to do. I was told I could return it, I opened it but have not used any. How do I return it, maybe exchange for more Pulse or Phoenix.??

      • Laurie

        I’m taking Pulse and have been for quite some time. I rec’d Phoenix and Recharge last week. I’ve been taking the Phoenix but just leery about taking the Recharge from the comments on facebook about adding water retention, whether in my muscles or not I don’t want that. Some comments have said not to take when cutting, only when bulking which I don’t plan to do. I was told I could return it, I opened it but have not used any. How do I return it, maybe exchange for more Pulse or Phoenix.??

        • That’s great you’ve been taking Pulse and are now taking Phoenix! The water retention is negligible and it’s not like you’re putting on fat anyway.

          The comments are incorrect, BTW. You can take recharge on a cut without issue. It’s great for recovery! If you want to return or exchange it, shoot an email to: [email protected]

  • Christine McKinley

    This was really interesting and answered my question of the day. I workout 4-5 times/week and after several months had really not experienced any weight loss. I realized that without meaning to I had been starving myself. I bumped up my intake yesterday and was up 3 times in the night to pee! Very interesting.

  • meliketat

    For how long max do you think that water retention can mask the fat loss on the scale?

    I have been on a %30 caloric deficit ( % 28-28 Bf) and I am currently in my 4th week. I started to lifting again after a 2 years break. And I hardly lost 2 lbs in that 3 weeks. I am quite sure that I am eating correctly, I nearly went to the point of being obsessive about the numbers in my MFP account. I lift 3 days a week, coupled with 20 min HIIT thereafter. Sometimes I add an only cardio day and do an extra 30 min. of HIIT.

    oh also, I am about to get my period nowadays.

    I am having a hard time to keep my motivation and not to go back to that ugly starving diets that made me sick for a long time.

  • Andrew

    I know that “whoosh effects” can get rid of excess water, along with hydration and sodium balance, but I was also wondering if it’s possible to sweat most of the retained water out through exercise. I’m thinking specifically about cardio (which I know probably exacerbates water retention). Would going on a run potentially be able to get rid of some/all of the water, if only temporarily?

    • Hey Andrew! Temporarily, yes. a long run or any form of exercise that makes you sweat a lot would work.

  • Taylor Kuzik

    This website is starting to become addicting, Mike. Lol. Anyway, the past 2 weeks I had an intense craving for cereal like Frosted Mini Wheats. It’s strange because I never had a craving that intense in my life. I guess that was a sign that a whoosh was about to happen. To help initiate the whoosh, I up my calories slightly for example, my dinner for Sunday of last weekend was a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats with skim milk topped with one medium banana and one egg white on the side. I don’t have cereal every single day, I usually keep it around workout days. I know nutritionists say cold cereal is bad for you but I think it can be part of a healthy if you choose the right brand and look at the ingredients list. If it’s short and lists whole grain as the first ingredient and unprocessed stuff in it, it’s a much better choice than say Frosted Flakes which is sugar laden. I sometimes choose cereal over old fashioned oatmeal not the packets because I don’t particularly like old fashioned oatmeal even though you can add toppings like fruit to make it taste better.

    • Haha glad to hear you’re enjoying the content! And yeah, as long as the label looks good, you’re fine.

  • Mary M


    I’m just commenting here to thank you, Michael.

    I started my fitness journey about 10 months ago, and I kinda hit my second plateau in the year (!!!) and I was rather upset. My %BF was going down – it was being replaced by muscle – but my Water Retention was going up, and it was so disheartening to see the numbers on my scale go up week after week. I’ve increased the amount of water I drink, and it hasn’t had an effect on me at all. But after reading your article, I feel at ease. I’m definitely going to try all your tips to reduce my Total Body Water, and bring it back to normal levels. I’ve also read SO many of your other articles since I discovered this one, and they’re just amazing. Thank you, again.

    • Great, Mary! Let me know how it goes, and keep up the good work! Glad to hear you’re enjoying my content 🙂

  • Samson Pablo

    HELLO OUT THERE. I’m so amazed to witness the great power of dr Odoma herbal medicine remedy. i was diagnosed of HSV-2 since i was 17years i inherit the disease from my parent and since then me and my parent have tried to get a cure from several places but all was to no avail. until i was surfing on internet on my friend website. then i saw comment of dr Odoma on how he has miraculously helped so many individual from HSV-2 disease. i was so bewilder by the miraculous way dr Odoma cured this woman on the testimonies.i was drown to contact him on his email: [email protected] after writing about my situations to him. i got a quick immediate response from him that he will help me to cured my virus and and once he prepare me medication that the virus will never come back to my body again.i believed him and he prepare a herbal medicine for me which i received and i used in 2weeks and i went back to the clinic and was confirmed negative.all thanks to the great dr Odoma for his herbal remedy he used to save my life….

  • Nat

    This article described my situation to the T. I took a high carb refeed day yesterday, and my body dropped most of the water but not all of it. Still a decent indent of water sitting in my lower abdomen… any recommendation on how I can get that to come off quickly??

    • That’s great it helped! Have you implemented the rest of the solutions yet?

  • האסאנ

    Hello, I was wondering if there is a way to calculate my BMR as a recovering anorexic. To be honest, knowing just that one number will change everything. According to calculators, my BMR is around 1650 cal, however I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I ate that much as it is no where near what I eat at the moment. On average, I consume about 1000-1200 calories a day now as I recover, which in itself is a giant jump from my previous 200-500 cal/day. If I could just figure out my BMR right now, I can decide how much I should eat and exercise. I’m a male, 17 years old, 5″9′ and weigh around 132lbs. If someone can help give me advice as to what I should do, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Sirisha Brennan

    This has been super helpful! I am on a weight loss journey and things were moving at a great clip. Then suddenly for 3 weeks I saw minimal change on the scale. I was dieting and exercising consistently, but what had changed is that I decided to decrease my blood pressure medication which has a diuretic in it. As soon as I went back to my prescribed dose – whoosh! 🙂 4 pounds came off in 2 days. Very helpful article for the frustrated folks who are doing everything right but seeing no change on the scale. Also, when I am able to eventually get off the medication I plan on following your other tips to prevent that darn fluid retention! (Also, we have an infrared sauna at home which causes fluid loss as well as decreased cortisol levels, and I will be using that regularly.) Thanks for the great information!

    • Haha glad you solved the issue. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the support!

  • Michael J Sweeney

    It has boiled down to this for me. Thanks for the reassurance. I tried to restrict calories, eat less, and do way too much cardio and add some extra taxing body building on to it 5 days a week. Now I’ve just learned so much i don’t need to court Marshall myself. I make sure I eat fruit, veggies, beans, potatoes, etc.. to make sure I get potassium and I eat one big meal with about half my salt for the day and try to not nickel a dime myself of salt. My sleep has healed from my torturous insomnia. I’m coming back, not doing tortuous workouts 5 days a week. I learned it through a huge yoyo that spanned a couple years, I learned most that stuff but it’s painfull. Especially with the sleep thing.

    • Great to hear, Michael! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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