By Debra Pivko
Ever wonder how you gained 5 pounds overnight—even when you’re cutting calories? The usual culprit is water weight.
If your stomach feels bloated, your face looks puffy, or your hands and feet swell, it’s likely that your body is retaining water. And this may show up on the scale as a few extra pounds. Not fun.
Here’s why it happens. Your body is constantly trying to rid itself of the salt you consume. When it can’t purge all the extra salt, your tissues react by holding on to water, so the ratio of salt to water is always at a safe level.
But if you want to determine your real weight, see how close you are to your fitness goals, and button up those old jeans with ease, follow these quick tips to lose the extra water weight—fast.
Drink more water.
It may seem counter intuitive, but not drinking enough water every day can actually make you retain more water! Dehydration causes your body to go into panic mode, and it’ll hold on to water the next time you take a drink. Diuretics like alcohol, tea, and caffeinated soda can actually have a dehydrating effect on your body since they flush water out of your system.
What to do? Drink at least eight to ten glasses of water each day so your body will maintain its fluid balance, and you won’t gain those extra pounds. Water is the best diuretic you can give your body and it’s all natural, and usually free! If looking thinner and feeling less bloated isn’t enough motivation, here’s some more. Drinking water before each meal has been shown to help promote weight loss and even to help keep your skin healthy, which is particularly useful if you don’t want your skin to sag once you lose weight.
So keep a water bottle at your desk, send yourself “drink water” reminders if you have to, track your water intake for motivation, or do whatever it takes to remember to drink enough water. The extra hydration will prevent those false pounds from showing up on the scale.
Sweat it out with exercise.
When you sit in one place for a long period of time, your circulation slows down and your body can begin to swell. Exercise promotes blood flow and circulation (not to mention sweating). So when you get in some serious cardio, you’ll literally sweat out excess fluids and pounds. Make sure to get your daily exercise to help rid your body of water weight.
The exercise program that leaves my workout clothes most drenched in sweat would have to be Chalene Johnson’s TurboFire®. When I eat too much salt or just too much food and feel extra bloated, Chalene’s latest program is my savior that helps me get my stomach looking flat, fast. I just pop one of the high-intensity interval training or cardio kickboxing discs in the DVD player to work up a serious sweat and burn major calories. I think it’s the awesome music remixes that keep me going through the intense cardio conditioning. After big holiday meals, like the annual Thanksgiving feast for example, I can expect to find my coworkers ready for some TurboFire to fire up our weight loss and sweat it all out.
Limit the sodium in your diet.
To give your body a break from retaining water and working hard to eliminate sodium in the first place, try to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day and avoid adding salt to foods.
Watch out for sneaky salt in boxed or packaged foods by reading nutrition labels carefully. Some of the foods where sodium is often hidden are canned soups, fast foods, pickled foods, processed/deli meats, cheeses, frozen meals, and soy sauce. Make sure to look for labels that say “reduced sodium” or “sodium free.” You may also want to choose fresh vegetables over canned. While canned veggies can be a handy substitute for fresh, they’re typically laden with preservatives or sauces and seasonings that add extra sodium. A cup of canned cream-style corn, for example, contains 730 milligrams of sodium.
Also, food at restaurants and fast food establishments often contains high amounts of sodium. Eliminate all table salt and try using pepper or other spices on your food instead. Or, maybe try nothing and remind yourself what the food actually tastes like.
Another great way to keep track of your sodium intake is by getting your own customized nutrition plan with Team Beachbody’s My Meal Planner. It’s an awesome new benefit of the Team Beachbody® Club membership. You’ll get a week’s worth of recipes that include low-sodium options, or you can modify and make substitutions to the recipes for even lower sodium options. I use it to track my progress throughout the week so I know all my nutrition stats. You can even use the food analyzer to search any food and get the nutrition information for it. I’m obsessed.
Eat more protein.
Deficiencies in protein, along with vitamins B1, B5, and B6, can lead to water retention as these nutrients assist with fluid balance functioning. Some good sources of these nutrients include lean beef, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. You should try to eat two to three appropriate portions of lean protein per day.
Don’t starve yourself.
Under eating can also cause you to gain water weight. Eating fewer than 1,200 calories a day may cause your body to retain water and, ironically enough, cause you to gain more weight.
Limit your sugar intake.
Having too much sugar in your body can cause your insulin levels to rise. High levels of insulin may make it harder for your body to get rid of sodium, which in turn causes water weight gain.
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fresh fruits and vegetables—especially those naturally rich in water, such as watermelon, onions, celery, and cucumbers—can make you urinate more frequently, reducing water retention. Fruits and vegetables also provide ample sources of potassium, which assists with fluid balance within body cells. I love going to the farmers’ market on Sundays and picking up fresh fruits and veggies, but let’s face it—making constant trips to buy fresh produce doesn’t always fit into my lifestyle. Thank goodness for Shakeology®. It’s an easy way to get my fruits and veggies without having to set up shop in the produce section of the market. And that way, my veggies come in the form of a delicious chocolate-flavored treat. I sometimes toss a mini banana into my shake for some extra potassium, which also helps discourage water retention and keeps my muscles from cramping up during workouts.
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