Ever heard of the Whoosh effect?
Have you ever been stuck at a weight plateau? Nothing seems to work – the needle is like glued to the scale. If not, it might be because it does not really exist! The Whoosh effect is merely a theory used to describe the change from a weight loss plateau – for days or even weeks – to a sudden significant loss overnight.
The theory, in short, is that when you burn the fat, your fat cells release the fat BUT the cells fill up with water – hence maintaining you at the same weight because of the “water weight”. Until, of course, the cells decide to release the water – and that it when it says “whoosh” and the weight is gone!
The thing is that the Whoosh effect as described does not really exist. Fat cells do not fill up with water when fat is released as a consequence of fat burn.
However, the experience of a plateau is absolutely true, and it can last for days, weeks or even months. The frustration is real! And, given that you are indeed burning fat through a caloric deficit, water weight might very well be the culprit – it is just not stored in your fat cells. So, a whoosh is still a real possibility when your body decides to release some of all that water.
Why the water retention?
The next logical question is then how to get the body to release the water in order to experience that wonderful whoosh? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the question. The body consists of approximately 40-60% water with a number of factors having an impact on the levels; heat, weather, stress, hormones, menstrual cycle, activity level, electrolytes, diet etc. Unfortunately, it is not possible to pinpoint exactly which factor is the cause of undesirable water retention.
In order to lose weight (fat) it is necessary to be in a caloric deficit. Mathematically, it is said that you need to burn about 500 calories MORE than you consume daily to lose 1 pound of fat per week. 1 pound is not a whole lot, and this might make it easier to understand why a bit of water balance variations can hide an actual weight loss. It is, however, demotivating to not see the scale move – and it might lead to people giving up and going back to overeating since “it is not working so I might as well enjoy myself”.
So why is this relevant?
It is relevant because it shows that weight loss is typically not linear. Hardly anyone will experience a steady weight loss of 1 pound a week – some weeks there will be nothing, other weeks might show 3, 4 or even more pounds of loss.
On the Keto diet, many experiences a significant loss in the beginning followed by a plateau or even a slight gain and then eventually another loss. The thing is that if the plateau makes you give up, you never get to experience the joy of the loss!
The best advice is to make a plan and give it time. Stick to the plan for 4 weeks and make sure to both weigh and measure yourself. Sometimes results will show in the inches but not on the scale. If you are still not seeing any results after 4 weeks, it is time to adjust the plan as you are probably not maintaining the needed calorie deficit. Be particular and work through what you are eating and drinking, use an app if it makes you feel more in control and be realistic and truthful in your evaluation.
If you are burning fat, it will show on the scale sooner or later.
Trust the process
In conclusion, the message is that you got to trust the process. There is no magical pill or super food – if you maintain a calorie deficit, the weight will come off (eventually). One of the many strengths of Keto is that the food makes it easier to feel full and satisfied, thereby helping to maintain the calorie deficit required over a longer period of time. And think about it like this:
In the short run, your results might not seem fair given your dedication but…
In the long run, you WILL be rewarded for all your hard work.