Whether you over-did your weekly cheat meal or the Memorial Day BBQ gave you the excuse to really loosen up the reins on your clean eating, here are my 7 go-to moves to help de-bloat after a day/night of starchy-boozey partying, good luck!
#1: Wake up and immediately drink 1 L of plain water, preferably with freshly squeezed lemon in it, and continue to drink throughout the day. Obviously not only are you dehydrated, but you are retaining water like crazy. This reminds me embarrasingly of the summer I spent living & working on Martha’s Vineyard when I was 21. I lived there with my best friend and I hate to admit that I was either hungover or boozing the entire time, and sometimes doing the latter to avoid the former (hair of the dog, anyone? NOT recommended for fat loss lol!). I remember waking up the morning after partying, looking in the mirror and thinking I may have actually LOST weight, considering I was so sunburned/dehydrated that my stomach was sucked up and skin basically dry and scaley. Not a good look–but note the obvious ridiculousness of a 21 year old naively thinking that perhaps splitting a case of beer with a friend may have actually led to weight loss…lol! Anyway, despite the daily tanned-and-dehydrated morning stomach, by the end of the summer I was the heaviest I had ever been…the only time in my entire life I have ever went more than a week without exercising (how about 2 months!) AND resorted to sporting sun dresses all summer because shorts no longer fit–I mean, because I wanted to be cute! lol :) The bottom line is this–despite the false sense of leanness that dehydration may give you (anyone who has ever had a stomach bug can relate here), the second you begin drinking water and eating normally, your body becomes a sponge. However, one of the most powerful ways to rehydrate and then begin shedding subcutaneous water (under the skin) is to drink lots of water. Start with 1L upon waking and drink AT LEAST 4 liters total by the end of the day, up to 5-6 liters is ok.
#2: Eat fibrous greens like it is your job. Green veggies like spinach, asparagus, kale, mustard greens, collards, cucumbers, celery, romaine, broccoli, etc all contain a high percentage of water and contain lots of minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium to ease water retention. Celery, dandelion root, asparagus and others pack a powerful diuretic punch too. I recommend eating 5 small meals throughout the day and stuffing yourself with a variety of these veggies at each meal.
#3: Avoid starchy carbs. Good, clean carbs like oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice and pumpkin are all great staples of a fat loss nutrition plan, however, the day after a binge fest, I highly recommend going psuedo-Paleo. Eating “paleo” means doing only lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Starch breaks down into glucose in the body as part of the digestive and absorptive process and glucose is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. With this storage, glucose brings in water particles with it, retention. This is the phenomenon that occurs when people embark on low-carb diets–there is a large initial water weight loss because glycogen stores deplete. Going paleo for a day after indulging will decrease glycogen stores and help shed water. Add clean carbs back in the next day as desired.
#4: Avoid skipping meals, get back on your clean eating plan. As tempting as it may be, do not wake up and fast, it will slow your metabolism even further. Eat 5-6 small meals with protein and veggies and/or fruit at each meal throughout the day–every 2-3 hours. Besides, we know from Metabolic Effect’s Preemptive Eating strategy that putting off eating earlier in the day ultimately leads to cravings and increased hunger at night–the opposite of what you want to do after the previous day’s indulgence, yes? Even if you not hungry, eat something clean and lean, here’s why.
#5: Supplement with a B-vitamin complex. Water-soluble B vitamins, in general, are involved in energy production in the body, and also act as potent diuretics. You will notice your urine is bright yellow after you supplement with a B-vitamin complex from the excretion of riboflavin–this is normal and it is because they are water-soluble. Another reason why eating lots of green veggies helps shed water, they are packed with B vitamins, and ultimately discouraging water retention.
#6: Exercise intensely. After indulging in lots of carbs and booze, your metabolism is most likely in a funk. Similar to eating small meals throughout the day, intense exercise will also rev the metabolism, in addition to getting a good sweat on. Sweating is a good way to detoxify (think intense exercise, sauna, bikram yoga, etc) and considering much of sweat is sodium (with other electrolytes), this will also help de-bloat (remember from your chemistry classes–water follows sodium). Intense interval cardio and/or heavy weight training is best. Here is one of my faves!
#7: Sleep your ass off the next night. Sleeping raises growth hormone and aids in fat loss. It also gives your body the opportunity to recover and metabolize all the crap you have been eating and drinking. It allows your metabolism to get back to its homeostatic normality and begin to burn fat again. It is also a potent stress reducer as well, lowering cortisol over time and decreasing stress-hormone induced water retention. I recommend 8-10 hours…yes, 10 hours :)