I just returned from a fun trip to Colorado Springs, which is more than a mile above sea level at an elevation of 6,035 feet (higher in some places).
We were told to drink a lot of water leading up to & during the trip to avoid altitude sickness.
I did drink my water (which made for lots of breaks throughout the trip – lol). Fortunately did not experience any effects from the change in altitude.
Often when I travel, my ankles will swell slightly. And I always come home weighing a few pounds heavy due to water weight. I assume that has something to do with flying.
This time I did not experience any of that. And it made me wonder…
Does a higher altitude affect your water weight?
I did a quick search on Google and came up with some interesting articles on the topic. Apparently a higher altitude DOES affect your water weight, as well as other things.
For example, in this article they discuss how altitude affects your metabolism & energy expenditure. Also your appetite (lowered), water intake vs water loss, what types of foods to eat at higher altitudes to maintain your energy balance (carbs lol), etc…
Interestingly, I didn’t suffer from “altitude sickness” outside of getting a little more winded than usual on a walk. But by the 4th day in Colorado Springs I was able to take a nice 1-2 mile walk (in 90+ degree heat) with no problem at all.
Another article suggests that Weight Loss is easier at higher altitudes:
“Researchers found that basal metabolism increased at high altitude, though it’s not clear why. Levels of leptin, a hormone known to suppress hunger, also increased, perhaps in response to decreased oxygen. Participants ate less, even after symptoms of altitude sickness had disappeared.” source
Several articles I read, including this one, recommended higher water intake and eating carbohydrates as a means of avoiding the common altitude symptoms. While I did make it a point to drink 2-3 glasses of water each day I was in Colorado Springs, that obviously isn’t more than I’m supposed to drink. I also stayed on my low carb diet. Two things that I assume contributed to my loss in water weight.
And fortunately, without causing me to get the “altitude sickness”. In fact, I felt fabulous while there – better than usual even.
At one point during my stay, about 48 hours into the trip, I even had to tighten my belt another notch!
All very interesting. As I said, I usually come home from a trip weighing in a few pounds heavy, which pans out on the scales after a few days. Not this time. I arrived home weighing the same as when I left!
I expect I’ll see the scales move (down) over the next few days, as flying alone does tend to cause water retention. Or in my experience anyway…