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View Full Version : Do I have the correct understanding of why carbs make you retain water?



Insight
03-14-2010, 04:42 PM
So let's say you're on a high carb diet and you switch to a low carb diet, but keep cals the same. Just to keep the math simple, let's say this is a maintenance diet, NOT a cutting or bulking diet.

So what will eventually happen is that glycogen will deplete, but you'll be taking in more fat, which means your fat cells will end up holding a bit more TAG. However, this will make you lose some SCALE weight because glycogen requires water to do it's thing, and as glycogen depletes, so do you drop all that water. In addition, you'll lose a tiny bit of weight because the 4/9 amount of fat mass is required to hold the same amount of energy present in the glycogen.

Right?

Insight
03-14-2010, 10:58 PM
Bump

Opies
03-14-2010, 11:04 PM
Why does lowering carbs mean an increase in fat? And why would your fat cells be holding any more? But in essence yes that is why you drop water weight on low carb.

trance__dreamer
03-14-2010, 11:30 PM
Why does lowering carbs mean an increase in fat?

in this example, he wants to keep cals the same.

Trillios
03-14-2010, 11:38 PM
the right amount of carbs pulls water into the muscles...the rest of the water not in muscles is spread everywhere else throughout the body...Dr. Joe Klemczewski put it best...carbs make you crisp and water makes you full.

Insight
03-15-2010, 02:26 AM
Why does lowering carbs mean an increase in fat? And why would your fat cells be holding any more? But in essence yes that is why you drop water weight on low carb.


in this example, he wants to keep cals the same.

^^ this. If the energy isn't stored as glycogen, the only other option is to store it as TAG. It would require ~4/9 the mass of glycogen to store an equivalent amount of TAG.

A related question: if you're on a high carb diet but cutting - why do refeeds or cheat days still make your water bump up, sometimes several pounds? Would that indicate that glycogen stores were slightly depleted before, and after refeeding they finally become full?

Trillios
03-15-2010, 01:28 PM
Insight, if you're already on a high carb diet, chances are your muscles are already full and the weight gain that you see is the water filling under the skin or other areas of the body. More carbs = more water retention (to an extent but also has to do with how much sodium you are taking in).

Insight
03-15-2010, 03:31 PM
More carbs = more water retention (to an extent but also has to do with how much sodium you are taking in).

How does this work outside of the Glycogen-h2o connection?

Trillios
03-15-2010, 06:25 PM
That's really asking for more a scientific background which you can easily google. Sodium and water retention (has to do with the body trying to keep a balance with hormones).

Brad155
03-15-2010, 06:40 PM
ive always just assumed it was a property of carboHYDRATES. dip a piece of bread in water what happens? it absorbs it. cook rice, pasta, oats, etc in water and it absorbs it. now dip a piece of chicken in water and nothing happens. pour oil in water, it seperates. my point being that when you eat carbs, they absorb water, the carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles along with the water, thus water weight gain.

idk though this is just how i assumed it happened, i think you may be overthinking it.

Trillios
03-15-2010, 06:53 PM
Bodybuilding is a science and lifestyle. If you're willing to learn it then I suggest you make it a goal to research on the human body and how everything works. It will only benefit you to allow you to manipulate the body better.

Ironwake
03-15-2010, 06:56 PM
I've always heard that an increase in sodium intake lead to some water weight. Sodium is found in pretty much anything, so generally when food goes up; so does sodium.

Also from my experience, my weight seems to fluctuate widely at ANY change in diet. Regardless of macros/micros etc

Edit: Not saying that carbs are not responsible for water weight~

determined4000
03-15-2010, 08:14 PM
Don't "know" if this answers your question but perhaps because increased carbohydrates--> produce more insulin--> kidneys retain salt and water.
increases the permeability of the capillaries too

Insight
03-18-2010, 01:57 AM
ive always just assumed it was a property of carboHYDRATES. dip a piece of bread in water what happens? it absorbs it. cook rice, pasta, oats, etc in water and it absorbs it. now dip a piece of chicken in water and nothing happens. pour oil in water, it seperates. my point being that when you eat carbs, they absorb water, the carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles along with the water, thus water weight gain.

idk though this is just how i assumed it happened, i think you may be overthinking it.

Protein powder absorbs water too. But your theory is that eating more carbs just means you end up drinking more water throughout the day, because they soak up like body fluids and stuff?

I thought they were called "carbohydrates" because the chemical structure is C(m)H(2n)O(n). Also I thought the H2O in the muscles was stored as a byproduct of glycogenesis or because it is required in glycogenolysis or something like that. Could be wrong.


Bodybuilding is a science and lifestyle. If you're willing to learn it then I suggest you make it a goal to research on the human body and how everything works. It will only benefit you to allow you to manipulate the body better.

That's the goal here buddy.


I've always heard that an increase in sodium intake lead to some water weight. Sodium is found in pretty much anything, so generally when food goes up; so does sodium.

Also from my experience, my weight seems to fluctuate widely at ANY change in diet. Regardless of macros/micros etc

Edit: Not saying that carbs are not responsible for water weight~

I have also heard that it's really sodium fluctuations that cause water fluctuations, not just sodium. AKA, if you started eating 1500 mg of sodium every day, your water would drop at first, and then it would top off again. then if you went back to 2000 every day, it would go up at first, and then top off again. Supposedly has something to do with up/downregulation of some hormone (aldosterone?) that is involved with water retention. I could be confusing things though.


Don't "know" if this answers your question but perhaps because increased carbohydrates--> produce more insulin--> kidneys retain salt and water.
increases the permeability of the capillaries too

Perhaps that's it. Didn't think about insulin.

buttabeen
05-01-2014, 09:00 PM
ive always just assumed it was a property of carboHYDRATES. dip a piece of bread in water what happens? it absorbs it. cook rice, pasta, oats, etc in water and it absorbs it. now dip a piece of chicken in water and nothing happens. pour oil in water, it seperates. my point being that when you eat carbs, they absorb water, the carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles along with the water, thus water weight gain.

idk though this is just how i assumed it happened, i think you may be overthinking it. this is by far the BEST an absolutely most simple breakdown of what actually happens.

I LOVE what you just said!!!! ;) ....