Nothing can ruin your day like stepping on the scale and finding that you’ve seemingly gained weight overnight! You were trying so hard to stick to your diet, and were so careful about what you ate… But, it may not be as bad as you think.
Not all weight gain is the same – and fat isn’t always the culprit. Frequently, that extra 2 or 3 pounds you see is just water weight.
Your body is roughly 60% to 70% water, and that water plays a critical role in every aspect of your metabolism. Many different factors can influence how much water is held in every part of your body, and it will affect how much your scale says you weigh.
What is Water Weight?
Water weight is just a symptom of water retention and while it isn’t a serious health issue for most people – it can still negatively impact your appearance and emotional state. Retaining water will make your clothes feel tighter, your face puffy, and can even swell your joints.
Causes of Water Weight Gain
Myriad factors will influence how much water your body retains; from changes in your electrolyte balance, fluctuating hormone levels, the amount of carbs you’ve been (or not been) eating, and any OTC or prescription medications you take – to among literally dozens of other factors.
Let’s take a look at the most common causes of water weight gain and some effective ways to correct the problem so you can squeeze into your favorite pair of jeans again!
Too Much Salt
Excess salt intake is the quickest route to packing on pounds of unwanted water weight.
Do you remember the last time you had a roadside meal and later started to feel like a stuffed sausage in your outfit?
That’s likely because all the salt in what you ate caused a massive increase in water retention. Salt loves water, and sodium plays a huge role in your body’s fluid balance. Worse, if you regularly consume too much sodium in your diet, your fluid retention problems could become long-lasting.
Higher sodium levels in your blood will demand more water volume to maintain homeostasis (balance of nutrients) in your system.
This is also the way that high sodium can cause an increase in blood pressure. Don’t think it’s just table that can get you in trouble — processed foods of all kinds also tend to contain lots of sodium.
Too Much Sugar
Sugar and all other carbohydrates are also triggers of water retention.
When you eat carbs, they’re ultimately converted into glycogen, which is stored in your muscle as a quick energy source.
Each gram of glycogen your body stores can cause your body to hold onto approximately three times that amount in water. So 1205 grams of glycogen could result in over a pound of water weight gain.
Research shows that unless you use up all of your stored carbs, you’re probably retaining some excess water. Whenever you overindulge on sugar or binge on carbohydrate-rich foods; your body will store a lot of the excess as water retaining glycogen.
Not Enough Potassium
What you eat is just as important as what you shouldn’t eat when it comes to fluid retention.
If you eat more foods that contain a lot of potassium, like:
It could help you control water weight problems.
The potassium in your diet helps regulate your fluid balance by working in concert with sodium. A study from Northwestern University demonstrated how dietary potassium can balance out the negative effects of sodium.
So if you don’t already – try increasing your potassium intake by including potassium-rich foods to help your body shed excess water due to an electrolyte imbalance.
You Don’t Drink Enough Water
As odd as it sounds; drinking lots of water can help prevent water retention! Even when you’re just slightly dehydrated – the body will begin holding onto fluid rather than eliminating it to protect against the danger of dehydration. Additionally, drinking more water will help to ensure the proper flow of blood and other bodily fluids.
Research shows that drinking more water will also assist to prevent constipation, another source of that mysterious overnight weight gain. If you find it difficult to drink enough water, you can also accomplish the same thing by increasing your consumption of water-rich foods, like:
- Citrus fruits
Your Monthly Cycle
Women know intuitively that they’ll retain water at certain times in their monthly cycle.
A whopping majority of women will suffer some water weight gain in the week before their period begins. While the water weight gained will vary according to the individual; it’s generally between 5 to10lbs.
Fortunately, once menstrual bleeding begins, the water weight will reduce again.
The use of birth control pills and being pregnant will strongly affect water retention.
Sadly, there really is no solution for this source of water weight fluctuation.
Chronically elevated cortisol levels due to stress will have an immediate impact on water retention. If you’re stressed and feeling bloated or puffy, you can safely blame an increase in cortisol.
Any stress, from insomnia to crash dieting, can elevate your cortisol levels and cause weight gain due to water retention. The best solution is, of course, to eliminate (or try to reduce the effects of) whatever is stressing you to bring your cortisol levels back to normal.
Quickly Get Rid of Water Weight
Here are several sure-fire ways to eliminate excess water weight to feel and look better:
You can lose anywhere from 2 to 8 cups of water after just an hour of exercise, depending on how hard you train and under what conditions.
When you exercise, your body will move lots of water into the working muscles, which can help decrease water levels under your skin and reduce puffiness from water retention.
Get enough sleep:
Use a Magnesium Supplement:
There is substantial evidence that increasing dietary magnesium intake will reduce both water weight and premenstrual symptoms.
Drink more coffee:
We’re all familiar with the diuretic effects of caffeine – especially when consumed as coffee. Caffeine will increase your urine output resulting in a mild decrease in water weight.
In extreme cases of water retention, it may be necessary to ask your doctor about prescription strength solutions to your problem.
Diuretic pills will stimulate your kidneys and increase your urine output – causing a significant reduction in water weight.
But, remember that this isn’t something you want to buy online or from some shady ‘health’ store. Like any serious drug, you should only use them under a doctor’s supervision or after asking your doctor’s advice.
Keep This in Mind
The best way to minimize or prevent excess water weight gain is by following healthy daily habits that include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Reduced salt intake
- Lower carb and sugar intake
- Regular exercise
- Enough sleep
If you do the right things for your body – your body will always look and perform at its very best. Living a pure, healthy lifestyle will keep your appearance, you weight, and your attitude on the right track!