Beat Water Weight Gain
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 MyPyramid.gov to learn more about serving sizes.
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.
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 www.elisazied.com, and www.nutritionatyourfingertips.com. Follow Elisa on Twitter (http://twitter.com/elisazied) and Facebook (http://bit.ly/3XQucL).