Water Retention - How To Look Lean And Reveal Those Abs
Written by Kieran Shutt
So, you're on a great diet, you're eating all the right foods and doing all the right exercises, but, you've still got a thin wobbly layer over your abs that ripples when you pull on it. What's going on?
Well, there's a good chance that you're carrying 'subcutaneous fluid', aka water weight. So how do you get rid of it?
What is water weight?
Your body has it's own way of maintaining your nutrient and vitamin stores, carrying excess water is one of them. It's essentially water that hasn't left your body as your body is unsure of when it'll be getting more water, and that water is now sitting around your cells in case it's needed.
What's the cause?
There are quite a few common factors that'll make you retain water, a high sodium intake for instance, is a sure-fire way to hold onto that extra water. Sodium absorbs water and dehydrates the body, so of course the body reacts by storing even more water.
It might not even be your fault, the body isn't very efficient at regulating the water in your cells and tissues in warmer weathers, therefore you'll notice your feet and hands are likely to swell in the hot sun.
Other factors are
- Oral contraceptives
- Pre-menstrual hormone changes
- Lack of protein and other nutrients
What can I do to get rid of it?
Now, I imagine most of you are already doing this. If not, now is a great time to start! Exercising has so many health benefits that we won't go into right now, but for the topic of this article, let's talk about sweat. A great way to reduce excess water is to exercise. If you're working hard, you'll be sweating out that stored water, just be sure that you're still staying hydrated during your workouts. You'll lose around 0.5-2 litres during an hour of exercise and your body will be pulling your water stores into your muscles and away from the spaces outside of your cells.
Drink more water. Now this might sound counterintuitive, but If you stop and think about why your body is clinging onto that water so much, you'll start to realise. If you keep yourself well hydrated, your body will realise it doesn't need to regulate your sodium levels quite so much, and so stops holding onto the water.
So how much should I be drinking?
This varies from person to person; you can use the formula below to work out how much is recommended for you.
Your weight (kg) / 30 = recommended water intake in litres
You'll also need to factor in any exercise that you do, so for each 30 minutes of exercise, add 350ml to your daily water intake.
Potassium rich foods contain electrolytes that will act in reducing your levels of sodium and increasing your water output (urine).
High potassium foods include:
- Dried apricots
Cut that sodium down!
If your sodium level exceeds the required amount, your kidneys, which are responsible for the balance of water and sodium, will retain water to dilute the sodium. Ideally, you should limit your intake of sodium to 1500mg a day. In a world of easy processed foods, it's extremely easy to massively exceed this. Cut down on these foods and moderate how much you put into your cooking, you'll be within your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) with no problems.
Believe it or not, dandelions are actually natural diuretics AND they're high in potassium and magnesium. Win win win. By taking dandelions, I'll tell you how in a second, your body will be flushing more of that water away from your cells and into the toilet. Perfect.
Dandelion flower tea
- Wash the dandelions to get rid of any dirt or debris
- Pull away the petals and set them in a jar or bowl and throw away the rest of the plant
- Put a handful of petals in a teapot and steep for 3 minutes
- That's it! Pour and add honey until you like it
Need help staying hydrated during your workouts? Try Go Nutrition's Electrolyte Powder
or CoCopure Coconut Water Powder
. High in electrolytes and a great way to replenish energy stores.