What does it mean to retain water and what causes it?
We all get nervous to step on the scale, but, we have some good news. If you happen to weigh yourself and realize you’ve gone up 3 pounds in weight overnight, remember it is almost impossible for those 3 pounds to be fat! In order to gain 3 pounds of fat in one day, you would need to consume more than 10,000 extra calories! Retaining water means you are carrying extra water around in the tissue between cells. Fifty to sixty percent of our total weight consists of water. Many people ask why they are retaining water. Simply put, salty foods, excess sugars (carbs), and even dehydration can all trigger your body to carry that excess water weight! Every 1 gram of carbs requires 3-4 grams of water to process and store it within our body.
For women, water retention is always more complicated. Most women know that retaining water weight during a certain point in our cycles is just part of life. The amount of water weight gained varies differently, even up to almost 10 pounds. Hormonal contraceptives, NSAIDS and some heart medications also affect your water retention. Elevated cortisol levels are another reason our body increases in water weight, that’s why stress makes us puff up! We all know why… Once we get stressed, we usually tend to go towards the high-carb, high-sugar or high-salt meals while dealing with stress.
How to lose water weight safely and effectively:
Stay away from diuretics and laxatives which may cause electrolyte imbalance and often lead to drowsiness, fatigue, muscle cramps and dry mouth and in return are only a quick fix and give temporary results. Decrease your sodium intake, as we mentioned previously sodium plays a major role in water retention. Cutting down on sodium will give you drastic results, as well as eating foods that are high in potassium.
Steer clear of any processed foods or foods like cheeses, soups, or cold cuts that are available in the deli. If you must have something processed make sure to look at the nutritional values and choose an option with low-sodium. Avoid drinking juices. Increase potassium intake whether it be from green vegetables such as spinach, chard, and broccoli, and fruits such as cantaloupe and apricots.
Protein plays an important role in maintaining fluid, if you are protein deficient or don’t eat enough fiber throughout the day this may also cause your water weight to increase. Fiber absorbs large amounts of water as it moves through the intestines, reducing water weight. Many of us work a 9 to 5 job and find all of the excuses to not hit the gym or to go outside for a 30-minute walk, but this is where physical inactivity comes into play. Sitting behind your desk or just walking around the office is unfortunately not enough physical activity. Physical inactivity can lead to water retention as well as swelling, especially the feet and ankles. Sometimes we cannot control water retention, many times we have to face the fact that it’s going to happen at times and there’s not much we can do. Practice a healthier lifestyle with balanced diet, keeping hydrated and regularly exercising to help flush out excessive water and added pounds.
It may sound counterintuitive to drink more water when you are retaining water weight, but it may be the key to helping you rid your tissues of excess water. It is recommended to drink 25 to 50 percent of your body weight in ounces each day and if you’re looking for a way to incorporate more water into your daily routine, try drinking a glass of water before each meal and snack. Drinking more water will relieve any dehydration you have, which may be causing your body to store any water it can find into your tissues as a reserve. Drinking more water will also help flush out any excess sodium you may have in your body.
A note on losing water weight when you begin a low carb diet….
If you have just started a calorie restricted diet and began exercising regularly, you may have noticed that the pounds are coming off drastically, somewhere between 5 to 10 pounds. This is because your body is burned off stored carbohydrates in the body called glycogen, and carbohydrates love water, so that means they release water when used up by the body, dropping water weight. After the first few days, this may not be the case because you have burned those stored carbohydrates and now your body has turned to the second source of fuel: body fat.