It happens to the best of us: We indulge in some sugary or salty carbs, and suddenly we can’t button our skinny jeans. The scale moves up several pounds, and we feel puffy and miserable.
You would have to eat a truly massive amount of calories to gain 5 pounds of fat in a single day (somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000). But it’s painfully easy to gain 5 pounds of water weight when you’re bloated.
Bloating is usually caused by three things: Over-consumption of sugar, over-consumption of sodium, or dehydration.
Carbohydrates attract water molecules, which leads to water retention and a puffy appearance. This is why professional body-builders eat carbs to make their muscles appear larger, and cut carbs when they want to look as lean as possible. If you go overboard on the carbs, especially on refined carbs like desserts and bread, your waistline could quickly expand.
Sodium is another common cause of bloating. The typical modern adult eats far more sodium than they need. That’s because so many of the processed foods we eat, even “diet” foods, are packed with sodium as a flavor enhancer and preservative. Too much sodium causes inflammation inside the body, and the body attempts to hold on to fluids to dilute the irritating sodium. And, of course, retained fluids = bloating.
The same thing happens when we don’t drink enough fluids. Insufficient water intake causes dehydration, which also causes fluid retention. Deprived of water, the body tries to hold onto every drop. The result is a decrease in sweating and urination, and an increase in water weight.
Fortunately, bloating is easy to beat. You can get rid of it by drinking plenty of water (1 ounce for every 2 pounds of body weight) and limiting your food intake to lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and fibrous fruits and vegetables. You could also drink a cup of coffee or a few cups of green tea to “push” the fluids from your body faster. Avoid sugary sweets, carbonated drinks, and refined white flour products when you’re trying to beat bloating.