Let's talk about water retention!
Water retention must be one of the most misused and abused conditions in the fitness world. Instead of just acknowledging "hey I am a bit fat" it feels better to blame the bulge on aldosterone, PMS, carbs, salt, stress, no sleep.
Women's bodies are more prone to retaining water though since we have the female hormones and their fluctuations over the month, but if you always retain excessive amounts of water which you will see on your ankles and calves, you might need to go see a doctor to check if you have some imbalance in those hormones.
Most likely though medical issues are not the source of water retention for us into fitness. Mostly we call it "holding water" when we are just not lean enough OR you are having one of the bloated days we experience for no obvious reason out of no where now and then. I know, because I have them too.
My body is very sensitive: one day I can be shredded, the next one puffy. One hour I can be tight, the next one smooth.
A couple of years ago this freaked me out, until I just accepted the fact my body will not be a machine that looks perfect every day. I calmed my nerves with knowing you don't gain body fat from what you don't eat.
So, even though I some days weigh 3 lbs more and some days not, I know it does not matter.
Another fact nice to know: the leaner you are the more your body differs in its looks and tightness from day to day and hour to hour.
Remember how bodybuilders manipulate their water and their look for photo shoots? Well, there you go, water can be manipulated fast. Body fat on the other hand can not disappear over a day, so be certain it IS fat if it still hangs around after a few days!
SO, what are some reasons for REAL water retention? Let's assume you are indeed retaining water and not just a bit more body fat than you think:
- You increased your sodium or salt intake drastically. If you are used to follow a low sodium diet (I am not by the way), your body will absorb any sudden increase in salt and it will make you retain subcutaneous water since water binds to salt.
- You consumed a lot of fast carbs during a refeed and the insulin release causes water retention that can stay around for days if you are sensitive. I am sensitive btw.
- You have not slept good for a couple of nights. (I always get puffy around my belly when I do not sleep) due to the stress it puts on your whole body.
- You are on hormone treatment or changing it. Standard is it takes 3 or 4 months for the body to "get" the new hormones.
- You are lactose intolerant or fructose sensitive. both can cause water retention under the skin. Fructose sensitivity is rare and also fructose is present in vegetables just as in fruit. It's not the same 'evil' as highly processed high fructose corn syrup.
- You are fighting an infection. If your body releases a lot of cortisol, you retain water. Cortisol activates water retaining hormones.
- You are stressed. Stress increases cortisol. Cortisol likes to retain water.
- You are worrying. Trust me, when I worry I get bloated!
- You are angry. Which releases stress hormones too. I believe it has to do with adrenaline release, but not sure. However I get smoother looking the hours after I've been really pissed!
What every extreme fitness female should know about her health.
Let’s talk about tests (blood, saliva and bone density):
- Not sure what tests to take to see what is really going on in your body? This book outlines in detail, exactly what you should test, how you should test it, and why you should test it.
- Learn how a “normal” range in these tests compares to the results often seen in extreme athletes
- Find out how some doctors will interpret your results and become educated enough to know when you should question their interpretation