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  • Shayna Schmidt

Water Retention & Exercise

If you’ve been tracking your calorie deficit and crushing every workout yet you still aren’t as shredded as that jacked guy or as lean as that bikini model, chances are you need to lower your expectations a tad bit. However, as stated by Max Wishnofsky, MD in a theory derived in 1958, if you’re cutting your calories by 500 per day, you should be losing 1 pound per week. That is fact, that is science. Sidenote-- this notion has its own problems, as many people reach a plateau after 6-9 months due to the body adapting, but that’s a post for another day. The point that I’m trying to make today is that if your diet is on point but you're still not seeing results, there may be another demon at play. That demon may be water. If your diet is on point, you have my permission to read on. If not, leave now and get your eating game up.

If you have received permission to read on, congratulations, you are part of a small group of the world that chooses to eat to live, as opposed to live to eat. We all know healthy habits are not easy to keep up, so truly, congratulations on what is no small feat. This post is going to talk about water retention. When I say water retention I do not mean edema (swelling)... if you’ve been diagnosed with the latter, make sure you visit your doctor. I may be a jack of all trades, but taking medical advice from your trainer isn't the best idea. Water retention signifies an abnormal accumulation of clear, watery fluid in the tissues or cavities of the body. I’m writing about the water retention that gets in the way of your abs, makes your midsection appear less toned, and ensures that you never see those shredded lines between your biceps, triceps, and shoulders. I'm writing about the water retention that unfortunately females are more prone to, due to hormonal changes that your bodies experience. Birth control medication and menopause also play major roles in fluctuations. We gents apologize.

Anyways, here are the three primary causes behind water​ ​retention:

  1. Dehydration. If you don’t consume enough fluids, your body goes into survival mode and begins to store fluids to keep the body hydrated.

  2. Solution: Drink more water throughout the day. It’ll help excrete the fluids your body is holding onto and ensure your metabolism returns to normal. Drink less coffee and other dehydrating fluids.

  3. High​ ​Levels​ ​of​ ​Cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is usually associated with stress levels, so much so, that it’s referred to as the stress hormone. Daily routines that are mentally, and emotionally challenging have a direct link to cortisol levels. The more stress we deal with, the more imbalanced our cortisol levels will be. To all the folks that love working out as much as I do, you’re not going to enjoy this next part... Cortisol levels increase when you’re on a calorie deficit diet (especially low-carb), as well as when you’re on a heavy weightlifting program. Throw in some cardio and you’ve got a whole lot of stress on the body. The good news is that it takes about 6-8 weeks for your body to negatively react and suffer from Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), so hopefully you’re not being THAT intense for THAT long a period of time without taking a rest (the importance of rest days… another post topic for the future!).

  4. Solution: Managing stress levels through:

  5. Getting a good rest (7-9 hours).. Switch off the tv, netflix isn’t going anywhere.

  6. Time management.

  7. Relaxing techniques i.e yoga, deep breaths, meditation.

  8. Living in the present.

  9. Ensuring that you take an active rest week after 4-6 weeks of intense training (6-7 hours a week).

  10. When on a intensive calorie deficit diet plan, ensure that you measure out your calories throughout the week and not through the day. One, it helps stop a cheat meal turning into a cheat day. Two, when on a calorie deficit, your leptin levels drop, which leads to a bigger appetite, depression, low-level libido, and slower metabolic rate.

  11. High​ ​Levels​ ​of​ ​Sodium. Consuming more than your daily recommended intake of sodium (FDA: 2,300 mg per day – that's equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt) can cause your body to retain water. Sodium plays a big part in regulating water levels in your cells, and is a big component of muscle contractions.

  12. Solution: Drink more water, like I’ve said before it gets your metabolism back to normal, and helps your body excrete the excess sodium. Cardio to get you sweating is a go to solution. Ever had sweat sneak into your mouth like a thief in the night? Or you ever drank your own sweat, no judgements, different strokes for different folks. So whether you were violated or enjoying the great taste of your perspiration, you will have noticed that it tastes salty. This is because your sweat contains chloride, potassium, and yup you guessed it high levels of sodium. Sitting in the sauna and drinking water can also be a way of sweating out a good amount of the sodium whilst still staying hydrated.

  13. Increasing your fiber intake cleanses your colon/intestinal tract, ensuring that excess water weight is dealt with. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day. Some added benefits of upping your fiber intake are improving your colon health, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, decreasing cardiovascular disease risk and normalizing bowel movements. But who cares about that, we just want those lean gains, baby!

The bottom line is that water retention is ultimately an effect of how you’re fueling your body. Make sure that the habits you create on your fitness journey are the right and the healthiest ones for YOU, or else your body will react as a line of defense. Did this post stress you out? Contact the Weighted Plate team today and have it explained to you in person and get started ensuring you’re creating those healthy, personalized habits.

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