You’ve reduced your calories and checked them twice.
You’ve bought every supplement to help and tried every diet under the sun.
You exercise daily and feel like you’re just doing EVERYTHING right.
And you’re still not losing weight.
What the hell?
If you’re still reading this, it likely means that you’re feeling frustrated with your stubborn, water weight fluctuations – despite your best efforts.
If you think your diet is correct, you’ve lowered your calories and you still feel stuck, please don’t be hard on yourself. I’m sure you ARE trying your hardest, it’s just that there really are so many factors that come to play when it comes to weight loss and reaching your own healthy weight. This is what I constantly research every day, to bring you answers that are outside the box.
It’s not just about calories in, calories out!
Please slap anyone in the face who tells you it’s only that haha. It’s so much more….
Important: This blog is for those of you who have already
Cut out refined sugars and carbohydrates from your diet
Tried calorie counting and upping your exercise but feel frustrated with the results
Eat an otherwise “clean” diet, free of most processed foods and high in vegetables
I don’t want to talk about the obvious! Because I’m sure you see that all the time. It’s a no brainier that poor eating habits (like eating junk food and lots of refined sugar and carbs) with little movement can cause weight gain and fluid retention.
Here, I am going to talk about some common causes of fluid retention, ie false fat that you may not have heard of before. We are talking about the water that sits underneath your skin, making you feel puffy and a few kilos heavier, that can sometimes change from week to week!
So, what causes these fluctuations? Could that extra kilo or two be fluid retention (water weight) and not fat? YES!
This blog will help you understand what some of the most common reasons for this is, and how to avoid or manage them…
I have also included links that go into greater depth, as I can’t possibly cover it all here! I have chosen links from my favourite doctors and reputable sources that you can trust.
1: You have a food sensitivity!
So, what is a food sensitivity first?
This article explains it beautifully… just stop when you get to the elimination diet part – I think it’s a little restrictive and hard as step 1!
How do you know if you have one? What to do?
If you suffer from digestive complains such as bloating, diarrhoea and constipation, it is very likely that you have a food sensitivity or a few! Complaints such as acne and fluid retention are also common! The first step would be to eliminate gluten, as this is by far the most common food sensitivity amongst humans. The second is dairy! This is why hundreds of women have experiences drastic reductions of weight on the 3 Week Body Reset Plan, along with all of my other plans as I always make them gluten and dairy free, as well as sugar free of course!
Then, it’s good to be conscious and write it down whenever you eat something that causes you to feel off. It may not even be digestive concerns, it may be acne, dermatitis or headaches.
The other most common foods that cause inflammation for people are
If it all gets too hard and you can’t pin point the foods (I don’t blame you, I certainly couldn’t) I HIGHLY recommend getting a food sensitivity test. Even though they’re not 100% accurate, they give you a great idea to which foods cause inflammation in your body, and you can use that together with your detective skills to get to the bottom of it and eliminate those foods. When I did, I noticed incredible improvements, not only to my fluid weight, but to my IBS and energy levels. Mine were eggs, wheat/gluten, dairy, peas and pineapple! I can now tolerate a small amount of eggs and dairy, but I’m extremely diligent with gluten and peas and pineapple aren’t staples of mine anyway so they’re easy to avoid.
Want to do a test?
This one is great! You can simply order it online.
It’s also really important to boost the bacteria in your gut. So, taking a good quality probiotic containing at least 10 billion CFU of bifidobacteria species and lactobacillus species is recommended.
2. Your balance of sodium to potassium is out!
Please watch this quick video to help you understand the sodium/potassium link.
When you have a large ratio of sodium to potassium, your body can hold on to water. So, we want to minimise sodium and increase potassium in our foods.
Potassium appears to help reduce water retention in two ways, by decreasing sodium levels and increasing urine production.
These foods are all super rich sources of potassium. The ones in italics are high in carbs though, so, if you’re following a low carb diet – aim to eat lots of spinach, avocado and moderate amounts of pumpkin., And if not, you may consider taking a supplement to help boost it!
- Coconut water
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Black and white beans
Now, obviously it’s very important to not go OTT with sodium too! As the more sodium you consume, the more water you hold. But remember, this article assumes you are eating a clean, wholefoods diet which should already be low in sodium as sodium is high in processed foods!
Unsure if you’re meeting the recommended needs of potassium and staying under the maximum intake of sodium and want a clearer idea? My 3 Week Body Reset Plan does it all for you. It will give you a feel for how what and how much of certain foods you should aim for to create balance and rid that dreaded fluid.
3. It’s your hormones!
Weight fluctuations are super common with hormone shifts throughout your cycle. So, when it is the 2 weeks lead up to your period, please don’t be hard on yourself if you feel bigger! It’s very likely your dreaded hormones. However, there are things that we can do to help minimise this annoying PMS symptom!
Increase vitamin B6 and magnesium intake
Both of these have been found in studies to reduce PMS related fluid retention in women. So, if your diet is already high in foods like leafy greens, nuts and meat, which are rich sources of B6 and magnesium, try a supplement!
Here’s a supplement I have found and recommend:
Remember, these tips are assuming you are following an otherwise healthy diet, full of healthy fats, lots of vegetables and a moderate amount of protein from animal sources, like all of my recipes. If you are following a low-fat diet, you may way to re-assess as your hormones are made from fat! So, without them, hormone imbalances can certainly occur.
Oestrogen excess is also common amount women. I strongly suggest that you read this https://atpscience.com/product/alpha-venus-women/ BUT please don’t go ahead and buy the supplements. I mean, you can.. but if you’re suspecting a hormonal imbalance, nd your diet is in check (once again), I think the smartest thing to do would be to go straight to a well trained, experienced functional medicine doctor and see where our hormones are at FIRST. Then decide. It’s far to easy to pop supplements these days, you may aswell actually find out what’s going on with your body first.
Low progesterone also causes fluid retention. This is a topic that deserves another blog post as there are A LOT of causes for this, however for now, please have a read of this!
One of the biggest causes for low progesterone is stress… because your body produces the hormone cortisol instead of progesterone when you’re stressed, depleting your levels! This brings me to my next point….
4. You’re under too much stress (once again, not the obvious type of stress here)!:
I’m not just talking about the typical, daily stress of life. Of course, these counts! But these things also raise cortisol which may surprise you!
- Over exercising
- Calorie restricting for too long or going too low
- Not getting enough sleep
When your stress hormone (cortisol) is too high for too long, it can cause the build-up of fluid in your body. This is because cortisol causes sodium levels to increase in our blood, and this (like spoken about above) causes you to hold on to fluid.
So, ask yourself, how much exercise are you doing? What is too much?
Well, everyone is different here. But I definitely recommend having at least 1 or 2 rest days per week. I love this recommendation from https://www.organicauthority.com…
The U.S. health guidelines state that most adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week.
Divecchio's own spin on the guidelines includes HIIT and weight training.
"Three days a week of weight training for 60 minutes and three days a week of 20 minute HIIT cardio is reasonable for the average individual," he says. "The 60 min of weight training gives you plenty of opportunities to hit each muscle group throughout the week without overtraining, and the 20 min HIIT cardio is a quick effective way to burn fat without spending mindless hours on the treadmill."
How many calories should you be eating?
The worst way to lose weight is to starve yourself and do a ton of cardio. Yes, it is important to reduce your calories to be less than you burn, but it’s not good to go too low!
I generally recommend a deficit of 20-25% of your daily needs maximise fat loss, minimise muscle loss and manage metabolic adaptation.
Any less than that and you also won’t meet your nutritional needs. So, as an example, a female doing light exercise, weighing 60 kgs may burn 1700 calories per day. So, for weight loss, she wouldn’t want to eat less 1275 calories per day.
See this link to estimate your calorie intake for weight loss. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-calories-per-day
AND, you guys will love this, I recommend to eat more , by having “re-feed” days, where you up your calories and carbs for 1 day a week. Eating a little more on another day won’t hurt either, I think it’s realistic to aim for calorie restriction for a minimum of 5 days a week, then relax a little more on the other 2. I recommend eating up to the amount of weight maintenance. This is exactly how I have set out the 3 Week Body Reset!
These refeed days can help you shed excess water weight that may hang around when you’ve calorie restricted all week, as it causes the high cortisol to drop.
On this refeed day, your body can also reverse the other negative effects that can happen inside your body from calorie restricting all through the week, including a reduction in metabolic rate and increased appetite.
So…sometimes the “secret” dropping water weight is simply indulging in some tasty food! Wahoo.
Are you getting enough sleep?
A lack of sleep (the recommended amount is 7-9 hours per night) also raises your cortisol levels. And this is only one negative side effect that it has. It will wreak havoc on your good efforts too as it effects your hunger/fullness hormones and signals, causing your food intake to naturally jump up, along with raising inflammatory markers which also halt fat burning.
Please see this article written by one of my favourite doctors to give you a whole heap of sleep tips to help you! I can’t stress this enough
5. You’re not drinking enough water!
Are you drinking enough water? The recommended amount if at least 1.5-2L per day. If you don’t give your body enough water, it actually holds on to water as it is not getting it! It does this by releasing hormones like aldosterone and vasopressin, which increase water retention through various mechanisms. Our bodies are smart little things!
Try filling a large water bottle up and making it a rule to have it finished by night time or setting reminders on your phone through the day. This app is also awesome! “My Water Balance”.
So, are there foods that can naturally act as diuretics to help?
Possibly. These foods have been found to posses some diuretic effects…
- And more…
However, these foods won’t act as a magic quick fix unless you address the underlying causes behind your fluid retention weight and fluctuations. Of course, they will help and offer temporary assistance, but I strongly encourage you to really focus on eating an overall clean diet, free of sugar, your food sensitivities and refined carbohydrates as your starting point! I carefully structured the 3 Week Body Reset to do exactly this, the guesswork is taken out for you!
Also, the less carbohydrates you consume, the less water you hold. This is another reason why I love a low carb lifestyle, and why fitness models and competitors also restrict carbohydrates before a photoshoot or event.
Are there natural diuretic supplements that work?
There are! But once again, these should only be used occasionally and wont address the underlying cause. Here’s ones you could try!
Please think carefully about these things, and certainly read the links that I have attached in each point. If you feel like you have exhausted all avenues and your water retention persists, it could be a sign of a bigger problem with your kidneys or liver. In this case, please see your doctor!
I would love to hear your thoughts, please comment and let me know what you think and what works for you?