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Calorie Count Blog

Beat Water Weight Gain

By +Elisa Zied on Oct 28, 2010 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

By Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN

We all go through it at one point or another--our pants get snug, our fingers swell, and we feel puffed out. To make matters worse, the number on the scale goes up even though we’re sticking to a healthful routine. Most women retain water for several days, or for even a week or two, before menstruation. Although the causes aren’t quite clear, experts believe fluctuating hormone and blood sugar levels may play a role.

The good news is while we can’t completely sidestep Mother Nature altogether, these 4 diet and lifestyle tweaks can help us minimize bloat and help our bodies get rid of excess water weight in no time flat.

Pump Up Potassium

Many fruits and vegetables boast potassium, a mineral that helps maintain the body’s water balance. Potassium-rich fruits include canned pumpkin (just in time for Halloween!), papaya, bananas, plantains, and dried fruit including dates, raisins, and prunes. Choose fresh, dried or canned fruit made without added sugar and aim for 1.5 to 2 cups a day.

Potassium-rich vegetables include spinach, sweet or white potatoes, beet greens, mushrooms, bok choy, parsnips, and tomato products (paste, sauce, or pureed). Choose fresh or canned products made without sodium or added sugar, and aim for 2 to 2.5 cups a day. Visit to learn more about serving sizes.

Sideline Sodium

Current dietary guidelines recommend capping sodium at no more than 2,300 milligrams per day; those with high blood pressure (or a family history of the condition), diabetes, or kidney disease, adults over the age of 40, and African Americans are encouraged to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.

When grocery shopping, look for foods and beverages labels that boast “sodium free,” “very low sodium,” “low sodium,” “unsalted,” “no salt added,” and “without added salt on labels;” choose fresh meats and poultry over “deli meats;” and choose fresh fish and shellfish over processed, canned options (though you can rinse canned fish to remove about half the sodium).  Reading Nutrition Facts Panels on packages (and on Calorie Count) is a great way to find lower sodium options.

Float Your Bloat

While sodium contributes to bloating, water does not.  In fact, good old H20 can make us eliminate excess fluid and sodium. Women should aim for about 5 to 6 8-ounce cups each day (you can add one or two cups of skim milk, up to one cup of 100% fruit juice, and even a few cups of coffee or tea can also count towards meeting your daily water quota). It’s okay to have sparkling water or club soda, but be sure to read the fine print on labels since many of them have added sodium.
Work up a Sweat

Even though being bloated may make you want to do nothing but drown yourself in comfort foods while sprawled out on the sofa, taking time to go on a brisk walk, a bike ride, or to do some other vigorous activity to help you sweat out even more sodium and feel lighter on your toes.

Your thoughts….

How do you beat water weight gain?

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and award-winning author of "Nutrition At Your Fingertips," "Feed Your Family Right!," and "So What Can I Eat?!." She is also a past national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. For more information, go to, and Follow Elisa on Twitter ( and Facebook (


Steam bath...daily.

If I eat bad sugar ie jelly beans and crap like that I get instant bloat

sugary stuff goes right to your gut and makes you feel really awful

had to learn that late in life lol

Great Article! Love the tips

The reason menstruating women retain fluid around the time of menstruation is physiology from the days of old when salt was not abundant.  After ovulation, a woman's body prepares for a pregnancy. Salt is retained and thus, fluid with the salt.  If she is not pregnant, and menstruation begins, then the body releases the fluid and the salt.  We've still got this mechanism.  It accounts for the loose stools many women experience in the days after menstruation starts.  

How to help yourself?  It is hard in this modern world where everything has NaCl in it --- salt!  First avoid prepared foods --- especially deli counter stuff. Don't use any added salt at the table or in cooking.  It will make a huge difference in fluid retention and overall sense of wellbeing.

PS to the above post.  I forgot to add that you need to avoid salt starting about 7 to 10 days before you expect your next period.  

Piano MD

it's ironic that this article was in my inbox this morning.  i was just looking at myself after a hard work out at the gym and was thinking 'holy crap!!  this water weight gain is really out of control!!'  (of course 'my friend' is due to arrive any day now).  so, believe me, i'm happy to see these tips. 

i need to make sitting in the sauna a regular habit after working out.  :)

This article is very helpful. I cut back on sugar a lot and practically lived on greens. However, recently I have started adding it back into my daily intake (indulging in half a spoon of condensed milk? thats like living in sin-land!) and a couple more "innocent" inclusions and two weeks later? I feel like a balloon... Thanks for explaining sugar might be the reason... i often need a check on the things I do.

Salt is something I really cant resist... infact I have this high salt intake,... a compulsive table salter. It will take more than time and willpower to reduce my salt intake, and also keep it that way.

Thanks for the helpful comment too, pianomd, I get very icky around that time. This kind of bloating, although we should be used to by now... doesnt really help when you want to feel fabulous each and every day.


thanks for this. ive been drinking lots of water and limiting my sodium as best as i can but i did not know potassium plays a role. I strggle VERY hard to get enough of it everyday! even when i eat potassium rich foods i never even make it CLOSE to the 4000 some mg CC recommends me to get

i drink Parsley tea every 2 days to keep myself clean inside and outside and also helps me release Sodium and toxins

I also heard that adding lemon juice to water is a natural diuretic?

Also, Asparagus is as well.

Even if I sit in the sauna after a work out, I just *don't* sweat - I think there's something wrong with my skin. My skin just gets damp, but no rivulets of sweat coming down my face or whatever. I drink copious amounts of water, at least 8 glasses a day if not more. I've never sweat. I see those gatorade commercials and other people at the gym and I think there's something wrong with me. Probably why I have such bad acne issues.

Jamina1....same thing happens to me.  I never sweat.  My skin gets a little dewey, but that's it.  You are not alone!  :)

I agree on never getting close to where I should be with Potassium - even when trying to eat healthy fruits and veggies high in it. Is there a supplement for Potassium?

I drink around 3, 16 oz cups of green tea a day, and the excess water leaves my system so quickly!

it feels great.

I actually crave more salt and red meats when I'm having my period. It could be because I bleed a lot and for over a week and it just generally puts a lot of strain on my body. I also know from frequent blood tests where they often have to take a lot, that is what I crave. I'm big on eating what I crave. It is true that during this time I'm always 1kg heavier. But once it ends in about 8 days, that weight goes down and meanwhile I can actually eat as much as I want and what I want. It's probably the only time I'm not prone to weight gain. Though it is true that during every period I barely eat for 2 days, because then I'm so sick, I can hardly keep anything down.

I bought a bottle of potassium supplement from Walmart when I realized I wasn't getting enough. Unfortunately, each caplet is only ~100mg. To make up the deficit between my foods and my daily target? Yeeeah, I'd have to take something like 23-27 of those cute little white pills, even though breakfast and lunch are almost completely fruits and vegetables, every day, with more veggies added in at supper. You can only eat so many bananas! Anyone have creative ideas on what else to do?

Also, when I'm feeling bloated at That Time of The Month, I find that a big motivator for me in still getting to the gym (which does help, too!) is spending 20-30 minutes in the sauna afterward. I know it doesn't work for everybody, but for me it's so relaxing! Plus I feel better about the bloat by the time I get out... even though I still retain water like crazy. *makes face* Ah, well...

Posted the last comment, then found this forum: 3654 . Have a look, you potassium boosters!

I'm so sick of hearing about consuming less salt to reduce bloating. It isn't the only cause. I eat TONS of salt (the fda would hate me) but I don't get bloated. I don't know. I guess drinking enough water, eating enough vegetables, and getting regular exercise is all I personally need to prevent bloating.


I DO feel bloated though, if I drink 3 cans of diet soda in quick succession, or eat 3-4 meals worth of food over the course of a couple hours. And the best remedy for that bloat, is to wait a few more hours until my stomach empties again.

ive been wanting to take potassium supplements but ive heard that if you get too much in your blood it is a bad thing.. so im not sure what to do. Ive also noticed that the pills are in low doesages...maybe to prevent the above stated

I'm very sensitive to Potassium.  If I consume too much I get a horrible migraine.  In fact when the migraines began I had to carefully figure out my banana quota, among other things.  I used to eat one banana with breakfast nearly every day.  Now I can't eat more than 3 in a week.  I drink plenty of water, I always have and avoid most sugars, unless its natural sugar found in fresh fruit.  Any other suggestions for bloating if I can't really increase my potassium intake. 

I've never really had an issue with bloating, but I ensure I eat a lot of fiber as well - fresh fruit and veggies and whole grains (I'm a big fan of Wasa crackers at lunch). I'm certain it helps.

Potatoes, Avocadoes, Raisins, dried prunes, yogurt, milk, orange juice or oranges, cantalope are all some of the highest potassium sources!  Sometimes I can go up to 8-10 lbs in water weight up to the point where my joints start hurting!  I hate it but it helps to know that it will be over after period...I accepted it and have created a few outfits that are loose and make me feel good druing that time! That is how I fight it!

To the "non-sweater" sauna goers...

You do sweat in the sauna but because of the dry heat, it almost immediately evaporates.  Just an FYI.

^Ohh okay. Thanks, im one of them. lol.

I cut out several things in my diet to get rid of the excess water weight and it actually worked. My doctor said off the dairy and see how you do. First, and foremost yogurt, cheese, butter and milk being a big part of my diet now gone.   Well i lost 4 pounds within 2 weeks. Then I was told to lay off the bread,  or if i do eat bread only eat half of the slice. Cut out white rice and potatoes. Life is truly a blessing when you don't feel bloated anytime of the month.  First thing when you get up in the morning is to drink a glass of water, and water before you eat a meal or with a snack. If I drink anything that has sugar in it, i take only 1/4 cup of it and fill the rest with water and I also drink black tea no sugar by a chinese herb company and i swear that truly helps get rid of the water weight when i was eating the dairy products but because I'm being hormonally challenged I was told to lay off the caffeine, but it was great along with the exercising. I also don't sweat much except for my underarms a little.

The sauna actually has a lot of great benefits BESIDES water weight loss.  I recommend people sauna for ten to fifteen after there workouts.  Nevermind that it is super relaxing!

I think the single best thing for water weight is to limit your carbohydrate intake.

You'll see a loss of two - four pounds in a couple days.


after a workout I lose 2 lbs all water but I do drink water right after

I used to be a non-sweater, but now that I eat healthier and work out I sweat normally now...maybe I just wasn't doing enough to sweat before, who knows. Undecided  Anyway, I find I am the least swollen when I am rings fall off me, and I feel like Kate Moss (if she happened to weigh 180 pounds)  I wonder why though?  Anyone know?

Fingers swell and shrink in hot and cold weather due to blood circulation and our bodies mechanisms for temperature control ;)

Original Post by: toroneh

after a workout I lose 2 lbs all water but I do drink water right after

I absolutely agree! I notice if I limit carbs I avoid bloat. I especially try to avoid too much bread (maybe one slice per day if it's multigrain, and no white bread) and too much rice (I live in Korea and rice is a staple here with every meal).

Oops! I was replying to beccam0125 but I hit the wrong quote button. Sorry.

I find a watercress salad makes me pee and pee Smile

Tomatoes are a type of FRUIT....¬_¬ 

I'm on the master lemon cleanse and only have about 1500 calories (elsewhere) per day which are "mainly" liquids such as slimfast plus one nutri grain bar and some veggies, fruits ... the things I need that won't constipate me because at the end of the day (in a Lemon Cleanse) you take a laxative. The only problem is you end up drinking A LOT of water. I've had 35 cups today! Yes! 35 cups! ... and people tell me there is no such thing as too much but ... man am I glad I found your article.

I think I'm a rare case. Should I cut back on the water?

Original Post by: the1cbiz

I'm on the master lemon cleanse and only have about 1500 calories (elsewhere) per day which are "mainly" liquids such as slimfast plus one nutri grain bar and some veggies, fruits ... the things I need that won't constipate me because at the end of the day (in a Lemon Cleanse) you take a laxative. The only problem is you end up drinking A LOT of water. I've had 35 cups today! Yes! 35 cups! ... and people tell me there is no such thing as too much but ... man am I glad I found your article.

I think I'm a rare case. Should I cut back on the water?

Dude, you really shouldn't be drinking THAT much water...Here's an article for you: Be careful...

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