Welcome to a new day in Carol's Corner. I was so exhausted yesterday, I decided to leave Lori's story up for an extra day. So here I am ready to be back at it. Today's outfit feature's a blouse I purchased at Burlington Coat Factory yesterday on my anniversary shopping trip. The Ninth of June was my 42nd wedding anniversary and my gift was $100 to shop there. You can get so much for around that amount. I was able to buy three gorgeous dresses and four tops for $100.79. I already had all the pieces to go with the top to make a perfect outfit.

The backdrop for my hand pics, is a stunning bowl which sits in the middle of my coffee table. If something ever happens to it I will be crushed.

So for tonight's topic we are going to discuss fluid retention, something that strikes all of us from time to time, and can be very frustrating to the dieter who thinks they are doing everything right. For this I'm using material from with a very interesting article titled ” Water Retention and Weight Loss:You Can Lose Fat But Not Weight “.


Have you ever been rolling along nicely, and then out of nowhere, had your scale freeze up on you? That is, you go one, two, even three weeks without losing any weight and without looking any leaner?

Weight loss plateaus like these are usually caused by accidental over-eating or under-exercising, and there are simple dietary and exercise strategies you can use to remedy those issues.

That said, increased water retention can also be the cause of “mysterious” weight stagnation. Women can really suffer from this due to the fluid retention that comes with the menstrual cycle. ( Now of course those of us who have gone through menopause don't have that to use as an explanation).

If you're not familiar with water retention and what to do about it, it can really throw you for a loop because cutting calories further and increasing cardio-the two simplest ways to get the scale moving again-can actually make it worse. ( learning something here) This can lead to a nice greasy bout of frustration binging which sets you back even further.

So let's learn more about fluid retention and weight loss, and how to defeat it so you can avoid this aggregating pitfall.


In a perfect world, we would always lose weight in a neat orderly manner.(sure, don't we wish)

We would do our daily exercise and follow our meal plans and wake up a little lighter and a little leaner every morning. On we would go until we eventually have our six packs( something I will never have anyway), we would celebrate with our favorite cheat meal, and that would be that.

Well it usually doesn't work out like that. (don't we know it)

It turns out that weight loss can be very erratic sometimes. You can sit at the same weight for several weeks, and then lose 3-4 pounds overnight, and it can sometimes occur after pigging out.

How is that possible? I mean, as long as you maintain a daily caloric deficit, your body is going to mobilize fat stores, so why would your weight stay the same?

The answer lies in water retention. If you lost a pound of fat in one week, it can be obscured-both on the scale and in the mirror-by an extra pound of water your body is holding.

While daily fluctuations in the amount of water you drink and sodium you eat account for most of the water you retain, simply being in a calorie deficit can cause water retention. A major reason for this is the fact that it raises cortisol levels which in turn increases fluid retention.( I'm always learning something new almost every time I have a new topic.)

So let's take a closer look at this phenomenon and what we can do about it.


Scientific knowledge about this phenomenon goes back decades.

A good example of this is the ” Minnesota Starvation Experiment” conducted by Dr Ancel Keys during World War II, wherein 36 men willingly submitted themselves to a semi-starvation diet of about 1,500 calories per day for 6 months. The purpose of this experiment was to study the physiology and psychology of starvation, and to work out a proper regemin for gradually helping starved war prisoners back to normal diets and metabolic functions.

While there is plenty of interesting information about his findings, I want to call attention to one observation in particular.

Weight loss progressed in a nice linear fashion in the beginning. Men lost about 2 pounds per week, every week. Eventually, however it became erratic. Weight would remain stagnant for weeks with a dramatic increase in fluid retention, and then a “burst” of weight loss would occur as water was rapidly expelled.

I want to repeat this point: the calorie defecit did systematically reduce body fat levels, but the reductions in total body weight were often counter-balanced by increases in fluid retention.

This extra water would suddenly flood out, causing apperant “bursts” in weight loss of several pounds overnight. Body builders are very familiar with this phenomenon calling it the “whoosh effect”.

“What triggered these whooshes in the prisoners?” you might be wondering.

Sometimes they just occurred randomly, but a reliable trigger was a dramatic increase in calories for a meal. For instance, a 2,300 calorie meal was served to celebrate the half-way mark of the experiment, and scientists noted that many of the men woke up several times to pee that night, and in the morning were several pounds lighter than the day before.

If you've ever dieted down to a super-lean level (7% below for men, 15% and below for women{ yeah, we wish}), you've probably experienced this “whoosh” after you do a nice re-feed meal/day. In fact it's common for weight loss to continue for several weeks even after you reach your body fat goal and start increasing your calories. ( this was noted in the Minnesota Experiment as well).


If you find yourself stuck for several weeks despite being absolutely sure that you're in a calorie defecit (weighing food you eat, keeping your activity levels up through exercise), the strategies below will probably un-stick you.


Increasing your sodium intake above your normal daily levels increases water weight. Conversely, reducing it below the daily norm reduces water weight. Thus, an easy way to trigger a “whoosh” is to reduce your sodium intake.

(The author speaking) When I cut sodium, I bring it down to 1-1.5 grams of sodium per day for a few days.( The Institute of Medicine recommends just 1.5 grams of sodium per day, by the way) That means:

No canned or pre-packaged foods(salt is used as a preservative)

No deli-meat( full of sodium)

Reduce your use of table salt and spices. One tbsp of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Use a salt substitute instead, and use it sparingly. Many spices are high in sodium-avoid them.

Watch out for sauces and salad dressings, many of which are high in sodium.

Watch out for cheese, which is often quite high in sodium.

While it might be annoying to count yet another thing in your diet, it's worth reigning in your sodium for a few days to get the scale moving again. The author also says he has yet to see any valid scientific proof of claims about “diuretic foods” like asparagus or celery.


Drinking plenty of water helps normalize your fluid retention. Shoot for around 1 gallon per day.


If you're retaining a lot of water, it may be due to elevated cortisol levels. To get your cortisol levels back to normal try the following:

Cut back on the exercise. Exercise elevates cortisol levels, and when combined with a caloric restriction, this can be a double-whammy of cortisol for your body. Reduce the frequency and intensity of your training for a week to help bring things back to normal.

Make sure you're not in too severe of a calorie defecit. Go over your diet and compare it against your total daily expenditure using a calculation like the Katch McArdle ( whatever that is) (and use the “light activity” multipliers- unless you exercise more than 7 hours per week{ most times I do}, higher multipliers will have you eating too much). Bring yourself to a 500- calorie defecit to avoid the cortisol issues that come with greater caloric restrictions.

Chill out. You can reduce cortisol levels by simply taking some time each day to relax, listen to some good music,drink some tea, and do some deep breathing. Taking a nap and getting a massage can help too.

Get more sleep. Not getting enough sleep csn result in elevated cortisol levels later in the day. Try to get 7-8 hours per night( or day in my case, which usually never happens, maybe 5-6).


Don't you love me( the author) for this one?

As per above, the author talked about the importance of “re-feeding” when dieting, and it's benefits extend to dealing with fluid retention. As was seen in the “Minnesota Experiment”, a jump in calories can trigger a “whoosh” of water.

So have a nice “cheat meal” and enjoy it. For an added bonus, include a bunch of carbs, as it can reduce cortisol levels.

Well I know this was a rather long one tonight, but I found it to be both interesting and enlightening at the same time. I hope you found it beneficial as well. Would love your feedback so let me hear from you. So as this summer progresses, continue to stay focused, stay committed and keep on moving. Till next time, God Bless.


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