If you are frustrated with that ever-fluctuating scale, you may want to ask if fluid retention is the cause of your weight gain. Many healthy women experience fluid retention, and excess water weight can account for extra pounds on the scale. Learning why your body retains fluids will help you to control weight gain.
Understanding Fluid Retention
You can easily retain as much as 5 pounds of water by the end of the day depending on the types of foods you have consumed, your hydration levels, and your activity levels for that day. Carrying excess weight means you tend to retain more fluids during the day, especially if food intake consists of fatty, processed products.
An increase of sodium in the diet is one of the main causes of excess fluid retention. Unfortunately, sodium is present in nearly all processed foods, as well as some natural foods you consume. Your kidney and hormones naturally regulate a delicate balance of sodium and potassium in your system. Consuming high-sodium foods knocks this system out of balance, causing a condition called edema.
PMS and Excess Fluids
British researcher Katharina Dalton suggests that a fluctuation in blood sugar levels during PMS may lead to water retention. Low blood sugar levels cause the release of adrenaline, signaling the body to let go of stored glucose. Once this glucose is released, the empty cells fill up with water, causing bloat and weight gain.
Other researchers suggest that PMS-related water weight is also caused by sodium. A week before your period, your blood breaks down progesterone, prompting your kidneys to retain water and sodium.
Identifying Water Retention
Water retention is easy to spot. Weight gain of 2 to 5 pounds within 24 hours is usually a sign of edema. Also, you will notice swelling in your hands, feet, ankles, face, and fingers. You may feel bloated or feel as though your clothes have suddenly become too tight. You may also experience pain in swollen areas, especially your ankles and feet.
One of the best ways to reduce water weight is by keeping your sodium intake at 1,000 milligrams per day. Read labels on foods and stay away from processed products as much as possible. Also, avoid adding table salt to your foods. Lightly salt meals with sea salt when cooking, and do not add extra salt at the dinner table.
Calcium supplements reduce your risk of fluid retention. Researchers recommend taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Other ways to reduce water weight include eating small meals during the day and trying natural diuretics such as grapefruit or lemon water. Never take over-the-counter diuretics because you run the risk of potassium depletion.
Exercising is very beneficial when trying to rid yourself of water weight. Physical activity widens your blood vessels, leading to an increased amount of fluids to the kidneys. Once the fluid reaches your kidneys, it will be excreted. Always remember to stay properly hydrated throughout the day as well. Surprisingly, the more water you drink, the less you retain.