Have you experienced this before? You wake up one morning and you feel puffy, bloated, sluggish and uncomfortable. You step on the scale and guess what? You weigh 5lbs more! How could you gain extra 5lbs in less than 12 hours?
You are not alone, I go through this myself occasionally. Let’s first understand that, you didn’t just gain 5lbs of fat overnight, but rather, you gained 5lbs in water weight! Fat takes more time to accumulate, so it isn’t really possible.
Water makes up about 50 to 60% of our total body weight. Water levels can make our weight fluctuate by as much as 2 - 5 pounds in a single day. When water builds up in the body, it can cause bloating and puffiness, especially around your tummy, legs and arms.
There can be a number of reasons for your body to retain water; lack of sleep, stress, eating too much salt food or carbs the day before, hormonal changes during menstruation or even travelling on long haul flights.
Although water retention in the body is not serious, it can cause us to feel sluggish, uncomfortable and even frustrated with our weight loss goal. Here are 5 simple lifestyle changes you can do to lose that extra 5lbs of water weight!!
1) Reduce your salt intake
Your body needs salt to function, but too much salt in your diet can lead to water retention. This is especially true if you are already dehydrated.
This doesn’t mean you should just limit the amount of salt you add into your cooking, but a high salt intake is usually due to a diet high in processed foods such as processed meats, fast foods, canned foods, sauces, frozen ready meals, chips and packaged snacks. Salt is also added a lot into takeaways and meals in the restaurant.
Reduce on your salt intake by cutting back on all the processed food and cook for yourself, because that way, you’re able to control the amount of salt in your diet.
2) Eat Potassium Rich Foods
As an electrolyte, potassium works with the sodium in your body to help regulate the fluids around your cells and prevent you from retaining excess water. Potassium helps to reduce water retention in two ways, by decreasing sodium levels and increasing urine production. It basically acts as a natural diuretic.
Consume more potassium rich foods such as dark leafy greens, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes and coconut water.
3) Drink more water
Yes, your body is holding on to water, and one of the possible reasons is because your body is in a state of dehydration hence it tends to hold onto as much water as it can. By drinking more water, you restore the fluid levels in your body and flush out excess water and sodium in the body.
Replace all your sugary drinks, alcohol and even coffee with water. If you struggle to drink just plain water, then try making your own naturally infused water with fruits and vegetables. This is also one of the easiest methods to lose weight and boost your metabolism.
4) Reduce on Carbs
When you eat carbs, your body uses some as energy immediately and converts the used energy into glycogen. Hear this, for every gram of glycogen your body stores, comes with about 3 - 4g of water. Hence, cutting down on carbs is a quick way to use up the excess glycogen stored in the body, which also helps to get rid the excess water in the body.
This doesn’t mean that you should completely cut carbs out of your diet, because your body needs carb for energy. Reduce on high carb foods such as bread, pasta, rice, tortillas, bagels and pastries and increase your protein intake, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
5) Sweat it Out!
Finally, sweat it out! If I know that I’ve been naughty the day before and wake up feeling extremely bloated, I’d hit the gym first thing in the morning for a sweaty cardio session to get rid of the excess water in my body.
This also helps reduce the swelling in your skin, so you don’t look so bloated and puffy. Exercise also improves blood flow and circulation, which helps reduce fluid buildup in your body, especially in your legs and feet.
When you exercise, do remember to increase your water intake by 0.5 - 1L to avoid dehydration.
It’s very important to figure out why you’re retaining water in the first place and address that problem accordingly. Is it due to too much salt in your diet, not enough exercise, too much stress, or a poor diet full of processed foods? However, if water retention persists or causes a lot of problems in your life, then you may want to see a doctor.
To lose weight and maintain a healthy weight long term comes down to exercising regularly and eating a well balanced diet on a daily basis. There’s no quick fix, so don’t buy into the gimmick of someone telling you that you can lose 5lbs of fat in a day! That’s just water!