So is the Whoosh Effect for weight loss real, or is it just one of those made-up things on the internet?
We’ve all gone through the ups and downs of losing weight. Sometimes, you just seem to plateau in the weight loss journey and can’t lose a pound to save your life. Then other times the weight seemingly falls off effortlessly.
It’s frustrating and all too easy to lose motivation when the scale doesn’t seem to want to budge. Of course, you’re putting in the work by dieting, but you can still feel down in the dumps when you’re on a weight loss plateau.
But don’t quit yet! Both rapid weight loss and significant weight loss might be right around the corner for you. Stay strong even though the scale might not reflect your amount of effort. Your body fluid balance might be out of whack and could be holding back your ability to lose weight.
You may be on the verge of hitting the Whoosh Effect for significant weight loss soon. And with that, you’ll see the scale moving in the right direction again… and quickly!
What Is The Whoosh Effect?
The Whoosh Effect is the weight loss phenomenon where you suddenly lose a large amount of bodyweight seemingly overnight. The theory is as you lose body fat, your fat cells fill with water. This seems to happen more often with those on the keto diet.
They supposedly do this in case if you eat more fat, then they’ll refill back up. But when fat stops coming in, then the fat cells eventually die and collapse. This causes you to flush out a lot of weight at once, bringing the Whoosh Effect.
When your body is retaining water, then you won’t see the scale move. Instead, it’ll seem like you’ve plateaued and stopped losing weight. But according to the Whoosh effect, your fat cells are holding onto the water until it’s time for them to flush it out. This can be a side effect of dieting and will keep you from losing body weight for a temporary amount of time.
The Whoosh Effect seems to be most apparent with the ketogenic diet. As you’re dieting, your body will burn fat, but it’ll then hold onto excess water weight. With the ketogenic diet, you won’t be adding any carbohydrates to your diet. This causes your fat cells to lose the actual fat that fills them up called triglycerides.
Eventually, the Whoosh Effect ends with your fat cells shrinking and/or dying off. This seemingly happens almost all at once, with you seeing a sudden drop in weight after days or weeks of being stuck in a weight loss plateau.
Is the Whoosh Effect Real
Now we’ve all been stuck on a plateau when we’re trying to lose weight. Noticeable weight loss and fat loss hardly ever seem to be on a straight continuous pattern.
And it feels like it just randomly comes out of nowhere. But is this the actual Whoosh Effect, or are you simply just going to lose excess water weight?
According to the Whoosh Effect theory, you essentially lose water weight since your fat cells fill up with water. It sounds like it makes sense since your fat cells, once depleted of their triglycerides, might attract water to keep them filled.
This would explain why weight loss seems to stall, and you might not be getting the results you want. But, it comes down to your body retaining a few pounds or more of water at the end of the day.
Now, if this is your actual fat cells filling up with water or not, then that’s debatable. But your body could be retaining water as you burn off fat, masking your progress and results. Research has found water retention goes up right before a significant drop in body fat (1).
Women tend to have more problems dealing with water retention and can experience the Whoosh Effect more often than men. If you’ve ever felt bloated or puffy, then there’s a good chance you were holding onto water.
And it’s true most of us hit a plateau when trying to reach our health and fitness goals at some point. This can be enough for anyone to become frustrated and give up on their diet and exercise program. But it could just be you need to keep going to experience the Whoosh Effect.
Now that we’ve established the Whoosh Effect is real one way or another, let’s reveal how to trigger it so you can experience the whoosh effect.
How to Trigger the Whoosh Effect
So now that we’ve established that the Whoosh Effect is confirmed in one way or another, how do you trigger it?
One of the most common ways to trigger the Whoosh Effect is by increasing your calories once in a while. For example, if you’re used to eating only 1400 calories per day, then try increasing it by 300-500 calories for one day.
You can also try having a cheat day or even 2-3 cheat days in a row. Just try not to go full crazy on your cheat days but just add in a meal or two per day that you usually wouldn’t eat because it would be too much.
Some have had success triggering the Whoosh Effect by having a high calorie meal and a high carb refeed. This is when you eat a lot of carbs for a day or two and try not to drink a lot of water. The body will then pull the water out of your fat cells and push it into your muscles.
And you can also try drinking alcohol in the evening to trigger it. Alcohol is a diuretic that could help pull out and then flush out stubborn water weight by peeing. Most are really dehydrated the following day after a heavy night of drinking. You don’t have to get super drunk, but a few alcoholic beverages in one evening could enhance the Whoosh Effect.
Lastly, you could hold onto water up to 10 days before menstruation if you’re a woman. This is because there’s a fluctuation in hormones leading up to menstruation resulting in water retention. Many women know what it’s like to be bloated when they’re on or right before their period (2).
The Whoosh Effect on the Keto Diet
When on the keto diet, your body is more likely to have water weight gain than other diets. On the keto diet and low-carb diets, you’re going to need more water in the body’s fat cells.
With more water intake, you could even gain weight and see some noticeable weight gain from this. But keep in mind your body fat percentage could still be going down, and you could still have fat loss.
You’ll still be burning fatty adipose tissue, but you won’t see your fat cells shrink until you flush out the water. Of course, salt intake could also be playing a factor, so it’s essential to make sure you also adopt healthy habits in your fitness journey.
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment in the 1940s looked to see the results of prolonged starvation in a famine-like diet. Instead, the researchers found the participants ended up having a slower metabolism. This resulted in the participant’s weight loss becoming non-linear and in an unpredictable fashion. They expected the weight loss the be a predictable straight path with a controlled calorie deficit (3).
But the body wants to survive, so it adapts to prevent how much weight you can lose. As a result, their metabolisms not only slowed down, but they also started to retain water. This gave the participants both physical and psychological effects along with the significant drop in body mass index.
A trick I use to put myself into “keto mode” is to use Keto Elevate every morning in my coffee while I’m Intermittent Fasting. It’s a keto supplement contains C8-MCTs that your body converts into ketones that signal for your body to start burning body fat as fuel. It works and it tastes just like a delicious coffee creamer.
How Long Does the Whoosh Effect Take
The Whoosh Effect usually occurs over a long night of sleep. Most wake up the following day and notice the scale has gone down by a handful of pounds overnight. It’s always best to get a good night’s sleep if you’re trying to activate the Whoosh Effect.
Keep in mind the Whoosh Effect is only going to work if you’ve been limiting your calories for weeks, if not months. This is because when you restrict your caloric intake, your body can naturally hold onto water as you burn fat.
As you cut calories, your body will lower its production of the hormone leptin and could possibly increase cortisol. Both of which could increase water weight and a slower metabolism. Adding in an occasional refeed or cheat meal could improve these hormones resulting in the Whoosh Effect.
This is why adding a cheat day or cheat meal can be beneficial for weight loss. As long as you’re limiting your calories and carbs, then you could get a Whoosh Effect weekly after your cheat meal. But this is only going to work if you’re cutting your calories the rest of the time.
An example timeline for the Whoosh Effect would be to limit your daily calorie intake to 1500 calories Sunday through Friday. Then on Saturday, have a small cheat day with 1900 or so calories. Then wake up Sunday morning to see if the Whoosh Effect was triggered.
The Last Word
If you’ve been dieting by cutting your calories and carbohydrates but not seeing any results, then do give up yet. Instead, try adding in a cheat day or meal by increasing your calories and carbs. This could end up triggering the whoosh for you.
Many see the scale go down the morning after doing just so. When your body burns fat, your fat cells could fill up with water in its place. Then this water weight will fool you into thinking you’re not making any progress. But all you have to do is flush out this excess water by triggering the Whoosh Effect.
Some say the former fat cells are now filled with water that feels like “squishy fat.” This is because fat cells can change their texture and appearance once the fat inside them is gone. Then when possibly filled with water will feel squishy between the fingers.
As long as you’re staying consistent by keeping your calories and carbs low, then you could get the Whoosh Effect to work. Most on the ketogenic diet seem to have the most experience with getting the Whoosh Effect. This is most likely due to the low carbohydrates coming into the body.
Water weight can deceptively throw off the scale and can end with you feeling discouraged. But trust the process, stay consistent, and you’ll see the results of the Whoosh Effect if you stick with it. Happy whooshing!
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.