Your weight can easily swing up or down by about five pounds, simply through gaining and losing water weight. So what causes your body to retain more water weight? Four things.
First, there’s cortisol- the stress hormone I mentioned in lesson 6. It causes some water weight retention.
Second, there’s estrogen, better known as the female sex hormone. Actually, it’s a group of three hormones, and both men and women have it, but women have more. Estrogen causes the body to retain water, which lubricates your joints and keeps you hydrated, but too much can also make you look puffy and bloated.
Third, there’s sodium. Since your body needs to keep water and sodium in balance, consuming more sodium causes you to retain more water.
Fourth, there’s carbohydrates. Carbs are stored in the body as glycogen, and glycogen is stored in a fluid medium within your cells. Your body stores about 400-800 grams of glycogen in your muscles and liver, and for each gram of glycogen, it also stores about four grams of water.
So with that said, here are some strategies for reducing water retention.
Strategy 1: Fight stress to reduce cortisol. This was already discussed in lesson 6; nothing new to add here.
Strategy 2: Lose fat (if you’re male). Losing fat will reduce your estrogen levels, particularly if you’re male, because fat produces a hormone called aromatase which converts testosterone into estrogen. For women, losing fat won’t lower estrogen, but you obviously want to do it anyway.
Strategy 3: Cut out sodium. If you cut out sodium, you’ll start to lose water weight over the course of a couple days. This can be sped up through the use of diuretics, which I’ll discuss in a bit.
Strategy 4: Glycogen depletion. You can deplete your body’s glycogen stores by cutting back on carbohydrates while also burning calories through exercise. The best form of exercise would be full-body cardio; the workout I gave you in lesson 5 is perfect for this. Performed on a mostly empty stomach, it can cause you to lose several pounds of glycogen and water weight.
Strategy 5: Diuretics. You can use diuretics on their own to lose water weight, but they’re most effective when used to accelerate water weight loss in conjunction with the other four strategies. The best diuretic for this purpose is dandelion extract; in fact it’s widely used for this purpose by bodybuilders, bikini competitors and fitness models. A small amount of caffeine in the morning and/or alcohol in the evening can also be helpful for speeding water weight loss.
Of course, water weight comes and goes all the time, so this isn’t a long-run strategy. In the long run, losing fat is the main way you get a flat belly. But if you want to make yourself look good for an evening, or a weekend, it helps to know how to shed water weight.
Tomorrow I’m going to revisit the subject of diet and show you how to accelerate your fat loss. After that, we’re almost done with this course.