Q: I feel bloated and am dreading getting into my bathing suit this weekend-can this be due to excess water weight and is there anything I can do to get rid of it?
A: There are a few reasons your body may be retaining extra water. One may be that you had a high sodium meal. Sodium holds up to 50 times its weight in water and consuming more than the recommend 2500mg (1 tablespoon) of sodium each day is sure to leave you bloated. To limit your sodium intake stay away from foods like canned soups, fast foods, and cured meats. In addition, many Asian cuisines such as Chinese and Japanese food rely on ingredients such as soy sauce, fish sauce and MSG which all contain large amounts of sodium.
Another culprit is eating too many simple carbohydrates (think white bread, white rice, white pasta, cookies, chips, etc). Carbohydrates get broken down into glucose and get stored as glycogen for energy. In order to be stored, a water molecule must attach to glucose. Therefore, the more stored carbs = the more stored water = water weight and bloating. To help combat this, choose high-fiber carbohydrates. Since fiber is indigestible, the less net carbohydrate there is, and the less glucose to be stored. This helps to decrease water retention and also promotes weight loss. Sources of high-fiber carbs include whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes.
On that note, if you feel like you are retaining water and that is causing your bloat, don't despair. Water weight-gain is not body fat and is only temporary. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, drink more water. If you drink more water it will help flush out the sodium and the bloat.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto