Why do we gain water weight?
Most of us have heard that when you lose weight really fast it’s because you’re actually losing water weight. Or, if you stepped on the scale and the number has gone up really fast, you blame it on water weight if you’ve been feeling incredibly bloated.
But what is water weight? Water weight is the fluid that collects in your tissues. It can cause them to swell while also making you feel very miserable. Water is supposed to go to your kidneys, and instead, your body retains it. That is what water weight really is. Instead of your body actually getting rid of the water through your urine, the body holds it between your organs and your skin. Even though it can make you feel uncomfortable, it’s not permanent, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve actually gained weight. Even though we know that it goes away quickly, it doesn’t take away the uncomfortable feeling.
Causes of Water Retention:
- The majority of us know that the most common cause of water gain is salt. When a person has too much salt in their diet, the sodium will actually bind with the water and keep it trapped so that your kidneys can’t get rid of it. The more sodium you have, the more likely it is that you’ll retain water. The higher the sodium, the higher the retention. Another cause of water retention is certain carbs, especially if you just came off of a low-carb or carb-free diet. When you do not use the carbs that you have eaten for energy, the body stores them. Then, the body turns them into glycogen, which will pull in water. And just like sodium, the more glycogen you have, the more water you’ll retain. When you go on a crash diet, you’re happy because you see the number on the scale go down, but that’s not fat you’re losing. It’s actually the glycogen that was stored in your muscles.
- Many women tend to retain water with menstruation and pregnancy. This is due to the fluctuation in hormones. With this type of fluid retention, you can see swelling in different parts of the body, such as your feet and face. Another main water retainer for women is hormonal birth controls. Just like the connection between menstruation and pregnancy, hormonal birth control can also contribute to water weight. Birth control contains estrogen and progestin, and both of these hormones can add on water weight. If this is something that you’ve noticed happening to you, you can talk to your doctor about different options for birth control.
- Do you stress much? If so, this can also be a cause for that dreaded water retention. When we stress, our bodies produce cortisol, which usually helps our body maintain blood sugar levels, increase metabolism, and reduce some inflammation. However, if we have elevated cortisol levels, we can end up retaining water rather than releasing it.
- Traveling can be another cause of water retention. If you take a cross country flight or even have a long drive in the car, you can end up retaining water. This is mainly because your muscles will contract from sitting way too long. In response to this, you may see some swelling in your feet and legs as well as your fingers.
- If you take medications, try reading up on the side effects. Some medications can cause you to retain fluid. Your doctor can let you know if this is a side effect and if there are any alternatives to take. Some medications that may cause water retention are high blood pressure medication, some diabetes drugs, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
How to Prevent Water Retention:
We have all experienced water retention at some point or another. Now that we are aware of how we get water weight, let’s look at how we can prevent it.
- Try to avoid eating super salty foods. You don’t have to worry too much about the actual salt in the salt shaker, but the salt that is in processed foods. Processed foods actually contain 75% of the daily salt intake. Try cooking from scratch instead. This will help keep the sodium levels down.
- Drink more water. Most people think that drinking more water will add more water to their body. That is not true. It’s actually the opposite. If your body needs more water, it will actually hold onto whatever water it has. If you continue to drink water, you will help wash out the sodium intake and flush out extra water.
- Try exercising on a more regular basis. This is a big key when it comes to losing water weight. You will sweat out fluid, which will cause you to be thirsty and drink more water.
- When you go on a trip, take a few extra stops to get up and move around.
- Lastly, eat food that has higher water content. Examples are watermelon, spinach, and other fruits and veggies. When you eat foods that have higher water content, you will stay hydrated. Also, by eating these foods, you will increase your potassium intake, which will help you get rid of any excess salt that your body is retaining.