No, you didn’t mysteriously gain three pounds of fat overnight. And if your fingers, ankles or belly feel swollen or bloated, water weight is probably the culprit of your climbing scale.
Water weight isn’t as concrete as muscle or fat, but it is real and it can affect the number you see on the scale each day. While some people experience chronic fluid retention brought on by hormones, kidney issues or medications, bloating or temporary water weight is likely caused by one of the following lifestyle choices and can be treated and avoided without medical attention.
Too much sodium: If your diet is high in salt content, your body will retain water to dilute the salt in your body and balance the sodium to water ratio, then it will flush the excess out.
Lack of activity: A sedentary lifestyle slows your body's fluid and waste processes, as you aren't burning fat and releasing sodium from your body.
Dehydration: When you’re dehydrated, your body tends to hold water so as to maintain balance between salt/fluid. Until you’re fully hydrated, that water isn’t being flushed out of your body and can make you appear bloated.
>> Read more: Drink Up! 4 Signs You're Dehydrated
So how do you get rid of this pesky water bloat and reveal those abs and lean muscles you’ve been working so hard for? Try a combination of these five tips to reduce water retention and create a healthy balance for your body.
1. Sweat it out: Sweat is mostly comprised of sodium leaving your body, so intensify your workout or attend a hot yoga class to activate those sweat glands. You’ll flush out the salt that’s creating an imbalance, as well as other toxins, allowing your body to start fresh. Make this step one on your journey to living healthier!
2. Say no to salt: Since excess sodium is the most common culprit of water retention, try to limit the salt you consume daily to avoid waking up feeling bloated. Choose low-sodium options when available and avoid frozen dinners, fast food or takeout.
>> Read more: Say Na, Na, Na to These High Sodium Foods
3. Skip Sweets: Sugar raises insulin levels, which slows your body’s ability to rid itself of sodium. Avoiding high sugar treats or feeding your sweet tooth with fresh fruits and veggies is an easy way to beat the bloat.
3. Drink up: It may seem counterproductive, but dropping water weight is all about finding a water/sodium balance for your body. Drinking between a half gallon and gallon of water each day will keep you hydrated and will cycle fluid through your body faster.
>> Read more: 8 Easy Ways to Drink More Water
4. Limit alcohol consumption: Unfortunately for some, a nightly glass of cabernet doesn’t take the place of water. Alcohol dehydrates your body, so if you’re looking to keep belly bloat down, say no to a night of drinks or drink a glass of water between rounds and set limits for yourself.
5. Eat natural diuretics: Consuming high-fiber foods that aid in digestion will help regulate your waste-removing processes and flush excess water from your body. Try adding yogurt, brown rice, dandelion root or all-natural cranberry juice to your diet!
>> Read more: The Best Foods to Help You Poop