What Does Water Weight Look Like? 

If you’ve been following your diet rigidly, and feel as though you’ve been making every effort to stick to it properly, but the water weight is holding you back from seeing the progress, you’re not alone.

What Does Water Weight Look Like?

It can be so frustrating when you step on the scale after a slightly carb heavy meal, or after a session at the gym, and the number has jumped up.

You might feel worried about whether or not this extra weight is far or merely some extra water weight.

Fear not, we’ll show you some ways you can identify water weight from fat below. 

What Is Water Weight? 

Before we jump straight in, first let’s take a look at what exactly water weight consists of.

Also known as edema, water weight is an extremely common phenomenon, despite how uncomfortable it can feel at times. 

Human beings are made up of about 60 percent water, this means that any extra water that is being held by the body is termed ‘water weight’.

It can build up in the body, fluctuating anywhere from two to four pounds, which seems like quite a lot.

This can cause your body and face to look bloated or puffy. 

If you suffer with severe water retention that you can’t alleviate and it’s causing your significant distress, make sure that you see your healthcare provider.

Severe water retention can be a symptom of kidney or heart disease. 

What Does It Look Like?

Now, on to our main question. What does water weight actually look like, and how is it different in appearance to fat?

The answer is that water weight will feel softer and more puffy than fat.

Fat can actually feel quite hard when you press against it, whereas water weight will be more soft to touch. 

If you can see puffiness visibly in your face, legs, hands, or feet, this is also likely to be water weight.

These are the main areas where water weight accumulates and is most visible.

A test that you can do is pressing on your legs or feet, then waiting to see if the imprint of your fingers has stayed.

If it remains for more than a couple of seconds, then you can rest assured that it is indeed, water weight. 

Another, albeit strange, way that you can check if you’re carrying around some extra water weight is by wearing socks, then seeing if they’ve left a big imprint.

If the imprint left by the socks is redder and more noticeable than usual, that means that your feet have swelled up and they’ve been more constricted by the socks than they would normally. 

Other Methods For Identifying Water Weight 

In addition to paying attention to the visuals of your body, there are some other ways that you can identify if what you’re seeing is water weight or not. 

The main port of call will be to step on your scale.

If the scale is up, but you’ve been following your diet plan and haven’t gorged out massively, then it will be water weight that’s registering.

Like we mentioned before, you can fluctuate up to 4 pounds heavier just by carrying water weight in your body. 

In addition to owning a scale, you should also probably invest in a body fat measurer.

These are fantastic tools if you’re serious about weight loss.

They will tell you if your body fat percentage has increased, and if this is the case, then you will know that it’s fat.

What Does Water Weight Look Like?

Otherwise you can just relax in the knowledge that the number on the scale is due to water. 

What Causes Water Weight Gain? 

Now that we’ve covered some of the means of identifying water weight on the body as opposed to fat, let’s take a look at some of the things which cause water weight increase in the first place. 


This one seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? If you’re making the effort to drag yourself to the gym at 5am every morning, but the scale is going up instead of down, this can be disheartening.

But don’t worry, this number is just because of extra water weight which will eventually drop off once you get used to your new regime. 

This is because when you work out, you experience micro tears in your muscles.

These micro tears in the muscle fibers cause water to accumulate in the area in an effort to repair the muscle.

This can influence the number on your scale. 


Some people can tolerate carbohydrates better than others, and some people may struggle to see weight loss when their carb intake is high.

That’s because carbohydrates lead to a rise in the insulin hormone, which can cause sodium retention and reabsorption of water into the kidneys. Thereby resulting in a higher number on the scale. 

This is why low carb diets are so popular and work for so many people, because their body simply flushes all of the water weight out of their system. 

Menstrual Cycle 

Women will also likely see a rise on the scale leading up to their period.

This is because of the increase in the progesterone levels, which cause sodium to be retained.

Progesterone then activates the aldosterone hormone, which makes the kidneys retain water.

This is only a temporary rise, and should drop down naturally around a week after your period has finished. 

Final Thoughts

Water weight is easily identifiable, not just in terms of appearance, but also just by practicing mindfulness surrounding your body.

If you pay attention to what you’re feeding yourself, you won’t be too disheartened when you step on the scale and the number has increased, because you’ll know that it couldn’t possibly be fat.

Jenna Priestly