Did you wake up one day feeling heavy, bloated, and puffy? You ran to where your weighing scale is (if you have one) and boom! The weighing scale is telling you that you are 5 lbs or 2 kg heavier today! Oh no! Okay, before you panic, inhale, exhale! Relax! It’s just water! You cannot gain that much of fat overnight, so just chill.
Here’s the thing, water makes up 50-60% of our total body weight and the water level in our body can make our weight fluctuate by as much as 2lbs-5lbs in a single day. So when water builds up in the body it can make us feel, bloated, fluffy, heavy, and yes, fat! We usually feel it around our tummy, legs, and even arms.
So, What are the Causes of Water Retention in the Body?
- Lack of Sleep – getting enough sleep is as important for health as diet and exercise. A good night’s sleep may help your body manage its fluid and sodium balance and lead to reduced water weight in the long term.
- Stress – Long-term stress can increase the hormone cortisol, which directly influences fluid retention and water weight. Stress increases cortisol and the anti diuretic hormone (ADH), which directly affect your body’s water balance.
- Eating too much salty foods or consuming too much carbs – Sodium plays a major role in hydration levels. If sodium levels are too low or too high, it will lead to imbalances within the body and therefore fluid retention. On the other hand Carbohydrates, or carbs, also cause the body to store extra water. When we eat carbs, the energy that we do not use right away is stored as glycogen molecules. Each gram (g) of glycogen comes with 3 g of water!
- Hormonal Changes – Ladies! You feel me on this? Yes, I feel you! Premenstrual water retention is likely caused by fluctuations in your hormones. We women are more prone to suffer from fluid retention and bloating as a result of normal changes in hormones, particularly during our menstrual cycle or around menopause.
- Long Haul Travel Periods – Long periods of sitting can cause swelling in the abdomen, ankles and legs and is a particular problem on flights where changes in pressure can add to the problem.
5 steps to lose extra water weight
Reduce salt intake
While our body needs salt to function but too much salt on your diet can lead to water retention. High salt intake is usually due to a diet that consists of processed foods. In order to reduce your salt intake, avoid processed foods as they contain high sodium resulting to that water weight gain. Examples are processed meats, fast food menus, canned goods, salsas, frozen ready meals, chips (I am so guilty on this!), and those packaged snacks. Takeout foods from restos are also usually packed with high sodium. Eat foods that you cook yourself as much as possible so you get to control the amount of salt you put into your food.
Eat Potassium-rich Foods
Potassium + Sodium helps regulate the fluids around your body and it prevents the retention of excess water. Potassium decreases sodium levels and increases urine production. It basically acts as a natural diuretic. Examples of these foods rich in potassium are : Green leafy vegetables, bananas, avocados, sweet potatos, tomatoes, cocounut water.
- Wait why? We avoid water retention but we need to drink MORE water? Okay, our body retains water especially when it is in the state of dehydration, hence it tends to hold onto as much water as it can. By drinking more water, you don’t put your body in the state of dehydration as it restores the fluid levels and flushes out excess water and sodium. Replace sugary fluids, alcohol, even coffee with water. You can try to infuse your water with fresh fruits and vegetables if you want a little flavor.
- Bonus fact: drinking more water aids in losing weight and boosts metabolism.
Reduce on Carbs
- When you consume carbs the body uses some of the energy immediately and it converts the unused energy into glycogen. What is glycogen? When we eat carbohydrates, our body changes it into a form of sugar called ‘glucose’ that can be used for energy. The glucose, in turn, is changed to Glycogen, It is a form of sugar that can be easily stored by our muscles and liver.
- So here it is, for every gram of glycogen your body stores comes about 3 grams of water. What’s the fix? Cutting down your carbs intake. It is a quick way to use up that excess glycogen stored in the body. NO! YOU DON’T HAVE TO TOTALLY ELIMINATE CARBS on your diet because our body needs carbs for energy and to function effectively.
- Reduce on foods that are high in carbs such as bread, pasta, rice, tortillas, pastries, and desserts. Increase your protein intake such as lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, legumes.
Move and Sweat it Out!
When you wake up and feeling extremely bloated and puffy, by all means, go out and sweat it out! Go for a morning cardio, Run, Dance, or hop into the treadmill and sweat it all out. Doing this reduces the swelling of the skin minimizing if not totally eliminating the feeling of being bloated and fluffy. Furthermore, exercising improves blood flow and circulation which reduces the built up of fluid in your body especially in your legs and feet. When you exercise, do INCREASE your water intake by half to one liter to avoid dehydration.
With all those said, go ahead and evaluate why you are suddenly feeling bloated and fluffy or why is your body retaining so much water. Is it because:
Too much consumption of food that is high in sodium?
Lack of exercise?
Too stressed out? Not enough sleep?
Too much processed foods?
Remember that to lose weight and maintain weight long term, exercising regularly and a well-balanced diet on a daily are keys. There are no easy fixes so don’t fall and be fooled into all these advertisements promising you to lose 5lbs of fats in a day, there is no such thing! That’s just water babe!