Very often we may be doing all of the right things and still wondering why we are gaining weight from one week to the next. However, something we may see as our best friend may also be the culprit: water.
There are a variety of factors that may cause water retention such as:
* Dehydration: although it may seem counterintuitive when one does not give their body enough water, fluid retention may occur. The body knows that it is not receiving sufficient water and will work hard to keep the little water that it is getting as a protective mechanism – as it does not know when it will receive water again. By drinking sufficient water, the body realizes that water is not scarce and will allow the water it has stored to be released once again.
* Salty Foods: while it is true that sodium is needed to balance the water in your cells (intracellular water), as well as facilitate proper nerve and muscle function, and allow for proper nerve and muscle function, an excess of salt, or sodium, may result in increased water weight. The recommended minimum daily intake of sodium is 180 mg, while the maximum daily amount deemed safe for consumption is 2400 mg. For every 400 mg of sodium consumed, the body can store up to 32 ounces of water, which can essentially be 2 lbs! One teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 mg of sodium; if the body has already reached its daily need, this can result in an additional water weight gain of 6 lbs. This can be avoided by minimizing sodium consumption and being more cautious about reading labels. Also, increasing water consumption can help to balance out sodium levels and flush out some of the water weight.
* Vigorous Exercise: when we work out intensely, our muscles retain water which helps to repair and nourish the muscle cells that were worked. You may have experienced this if you ever did a high intensity or heavy workout, such as higher weight squats or leg press, and felt like your legs were bigger the next day. Ensuring you are well hydrated and consuming sufficient amounts of potassium will help to balance the water and electrolytes in and around your cell. Great sources of potassium are spinach, bananas, yogurt, coconut water, and sweet potatoes.
* Stress: If an individual is constantly stressed, their cortisol will be elevated. The body begins to hold onto water weight as it is preparing its organs and muscles to enter “Flight or Fight” mode. Managing stress more efficiently and incorporating adrenal support could help reduce this water retention. During the days leading up to your period, the hormones are changing: high levels of Estrogen can lead up to 10 pounds of water retention! Avoiding sodium, sugar, and caffeine can be beneficial as these can lead to additional water weight or dehydration. A Magnesium supplement will help reduce stored water weight as it works by absorbing water and eliminate additional intestinal waste out.
* Carbohydrate Consumption: When you are sticking to a diet and following a protocol, but decide to have a cheat meal it will definitely be reflected in your scale weight. The body needs 3-4 grams of water to process every 1 gram of carbohydrates you consume. To put that into perspective, if you decided to cheat at dinner with 1 cup of pasta, 1 breadstick, 2 glasses of wine, and a slice of Black Tie Mousse Cake, your body would easily store at least 1.5 pounds of water weight. However, most restaurants serve anywhere from 3-4 cups of pasta in an entrée so if you eat that, in addition to more cheat items, the stored water weight could easily amount to 3 pounds or more.