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Ketosis and Fast Weight Loss: Is it Water Weight, or Actual Body Fat?

You've probably heard the phrase "water weight" bandied about before in relation to weight loss. But what exactly does it mean to gain or lose water weight? Also, are there specific foods which can help increase or decrease the amount of water weight in your body? Furthermore, why are these questions so important for proper diet and fitness? Well, as it turns out, answering these questions is incredibly important if you want to meet your weight loss goals in the healthiest way possible. And we have all the answers you need to do it right.

Low-Carb Diets and (Water) Weight Loss

Water Weight Loss KetoOne of the biggest criticisms of low-carb diets is that much of the weight - especially the weight you lose in the very beginning - is nothing but water weight. Haters claim you aren't actually burning any fat. Some even suggest that you may be cannibalizing your lean body mass in the process, and that if you go off the diet, all of that weight will come back on as pure body fat. While such criticisms aren't necessarily 100% supported by the science which is out there today, the water weight issue is something that should be addressed for people who want to follow a ketogenic (low-carb) diet.

For every gram of carbohydrate which is stored in your body (usually in your muscles, in the form of glycogen), your body needs 3 to 4 grams of water in order to store it. To put that in context, if you eat a pound of mashed potatoes, you will also be adding three to four pounds of total body weight to the number that pops up on your scale. Notice how we said "total body weight" and not body fat; that is a very important distinction! Sure, some of those carbohydrates may end up being stored as fat, especially if you don't exercise much and you eat those carbs later in the day. But the majority of them will be stored as glycogen in your liver and your muscles - not in your fat cells.

Low carbohydrate diets, on the other hand, deplete your body of most of its carbohydrate (glycogen) stores, and take those extra pounds of water weight with them. That's why people who suddenly switch to a low-carb diet experience such drastic weight loss. It's also the reason why some of them may hit a weight loss plateau sooner than they would if they were merely exercising more and eating fewer calories while still following the Standard American Diet (or SAD). Once your body depletes its glycogen stores but doesn't have enough incoming carbohydrates to replace all of the glycogen it needs, it starts a process called gluconeogenesis.

Gluconeogenesis is what happens when your body starts to form "new" glucose from sources other than carbohydrates. Those sources will either be protein or fat. Here's where people on a low-carb diet have to be very careful, though: if you eat too much protein and too little fat, your body will break down the protein first. But this can cause a lot of stress on your kidneys, which will be extremely damaging over time. But if you eat too little protein and too little fat, your body may start eating its own muscles once it burns through the fat and the protein you have already eaten. This is the main reason why people are such big fans of the ketogenic diet for fat loss above other plans; if you get most of your calories from fat, your body will start to prioritize fat burning over protein burning. This protects your lean muscle mass while encouraging your body to melt away fat stores for a leaner, healthier physique.

How to Avoid the Water Weight Plateau and Increase Fat Loss on a Ketogenic Diet

Now, we told you that story to tell you this one: one of the most efficient ways to avoid the water weight plateau and increase your fat loss on a ketogenic diet is to take an exogenous ketone supplement. Part of the nasty symptoms of the keto flu are the result of not just dehydrating your body through massive water weight loss, but the fact that you flush out many essential electrolytes in the process. Thankfully, most ketogenic supplements on the market are made with sodium, calcium, or magnesium salts; some supplements even combine some or all of the above. Sodium, calcium, and magnesium are three of the four essential electrolytes necessary to keep your body healthy and avoid things like fatigue and muscle cramps - both of which are huge challenges if you're trying to increase the amount of exercise you get.

Another way ketogenic supplements can help with the water weight plateau problem is if you aren't necessarily eating the correct ratio of fat to protein to carbohydrates. According to some of the science out there, adding a ketone supplement on top of consuming more dietary fat can help your body learn to prioritize burning fat for energy above protein and carbohydrates. Think of ketone supplements like training wheels for a bicycle: if you start trying to ride a bike without knowing how, you're probably going to crash. But if you put training wheels on and take it slow, you'll be going full speed ahead once you get some practice and you're ready to take them off.

The bicycle in that metaphor is your body's ability to burn fat through ketosis. If you gradually teach it how to do so, you'll have an easier transition with fewer negative symptoms and higher rates of body fat loss. And once your body is properly trained, you'll start burning body fat faster than you ever thought possible.

Some people may not be a fan of this particular process because they may feel discouraged when they don't see the impressive results that other people get when they first start a full-blown ketogenic diet. But just remember: those results are mostly water weight! If you follow that route, you will likely feel miserable and experience a very discouraging weight loss plateau once your body starts to adjust. But by slowly transitioning with the help of a ketogenic supplement, you'll see a more drastic drop in your body fat percentage. You'll also experience the steady, continuous weight loss you need to stay motivated and dedicated to your health and wellness goals. Learn more.

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