Ever feel a bit bloated, particularly around your stomach region? Chances are you’re retaining a bit of water.
Also known as water weight, this kind of bloating can puff up your tummy, arms and legs.
So what exactly is it?
Your body is made up of around 50 to 60% water. When those levels push higher, the extra water is referred to as water weight. This water alone can make your weight fluctuate by 1 to 2 kgs in just one day.
Although severe water retention can be a sign of something serious like heart or kidney disease, milder cases are generally pretty common and less of a worry.
However, the bloating and puffiness that comes with it can be uncomfortable, so why not take some steps to try and miminise it?
1. Reduce your salt intake
Consuming too much salt can cause immediate water retention. Why? Because the body needs to keep its sodium-to-water ratio in check, so it will hold on to water if you take in too much salt.
Aim for no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. It’s not as simple as pushing the salt cellar to the back of the cupboard as salt is hidden in most processed foods. We’re talking things like cheese, cold meat, bread, frozen meals and snacks. In fact, 75% of the salt we consume is from these sources.
Instead of processed food, try to eat more natural things like veggies, nuts, and seeds which are very low in sodium.
And opt for foods which can even help reduce sodium levels, like bananas, avocados, and leafy vegetables.
2. Sip more water
Believe it or not, water retention can actually be a sign of dehydration.
When you’re parched, the body holds onto its water to keep you hydrated while no new water is coming in.
In addition, water improves kidney function, helping excess water and sodium to be flushed out of the system.
So how much should you be aiming for? Around 2 litres per day is the standard recommendation for adults but sometime you may need a little more, for example if you’re exercising.
3. Cut down on carbs
Consuming carbohydrates can also make the body store water.
Here’s the science. When we eat carbs, the energy that we do not use right away is stored as glycogen molecules. Each gram of glycogen comes with 3 g of water attached.
Cutting down on carbs is a quick way to use up your glycogen stores, which means that the water weight will also be reduced.
If you’ve been going too heavy on the carbs, try switching with high protein foods like lean meat, eggs and soy to help reduce water retention.
4. Get a little extra help
Some supplements can act as remedies for water retention.
For example, vitamin B-6 and magnesium oxide help the kidneys flush extra water and sodium from the system.
Both have been shown to help reduce abdominal bloating and swelling in the legs.
But talk to a professional before you start taking any new supplements to avoid any unwanted side effects.
5. Hit the gym
A sweaty session in the gym will help you get rid if any excess water pretty much straight away.
Not only that, but exercise will boost blood flow and improve circulation. This can help reduce water retention, particularly in your legs and feet.
It will also burning through your glycogen energy stores (see above) thereby reducing water weight.
But that doesn’t mean you should forget to hydrate before, during and after your workout. You still need to keep those water levels topped up to prevent dehydration.