When I work out, my body feels pumped and shows definition. On my off days, my body looks flat and undefined. I want my body to show definition all the time, it’s like two different bodies. Please help.

– Joey


Your personal experience intrigues us, Joey. We wondered how that could be. Lean and fat mass don’t make rapid shifts, leaving water fluctuations as the possible culprit. The cause of a temporary “cut” look may be the shift of water from outside the cells to inside. Potassium helps to do this, as do carbohydrates.  Big enough changes in carbohydrate consumption can affect muscle glycogen stores. Water is bound with glycogen. So when you’re in a deficit, you lose the plumpness. During a subsequent carbo boost when glycogen and water refill, your muscles may seem to perk up.

It’s not uncommon for eating habits to change on workout days, not to mention any supplements you might be taking on those days, many of which may contain diuretic components like caffeine. For the most consistent physique, I’d recommend a very routine diet with stable sodium intake and to only increase fluids on workout days.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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