Could low potassium levels make you look bigger than your really are?

It’s vacation time! Amazing! But vacation often rimes with long voyages, and thus … with bloated legs. If you can’t travel because of quarantine in your town than long hours at your desk might make your body hold on to excess fluids making you look bigger than you actually are. Also fun weekends with gatherings that include alcohol and salty snacks and too many carbs can induce water retention making you wake up with puffy eyes and swollen ankles and pants that don’t fit you as well as before. Does this sound recognizable? If the answer is yes, then this article might interest you! Indeed, it talks about potassium, and how this influences bloating of your legs. And getting this fixed can shed some weight and make you look slimmer and less puffy. Let’s have a look at how this works and how to prevent this 😉

What is potassium? 

Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in your body and an important electrolyte, which helps the body to maintain the body fluids in their compartment. Indeed, the amount of body fluids that are contained in a compartment of the body depends on the number of electrolytes it contains. Potassium also plays a role in the balance of mineral levels of your body and a major role in the nerve system and the functioning of the muscles. For this reason, it is an important component of athletes’ diets. Low potassium is also the cause of water retention, which is what happens during long distance voyages.

Potassium is not produced by the body. It is thus important to take into consideration how much you take in. It can be found in very common products such as bananas, avocados, spinach, peas, sweet potato, pomegranate, …

Importance of potassium

Low levels of potassium, called hypokalemia, can be dangerous and may result in bad headaches, dehydration and heart palpitation. Other effects are tiredness, muscle cramps and fluid retention.  Potassium helps reduce water retention in two ways: by decreasing sodium levels and secondly by increasing urine production. As a result potassium may reduce water retention by increasing the production of urine and thus decreasing the amount of sodium in your body.

Good news is, it is not difficult at all to keep your level of potassium high! An average female needs 3,400 milligrams of potassium a day. A banana contains 411 milligrams of potassium, an avocado 412 milligrams and a cup of peas 354 milligrams.

Good to know: potassium is water soluble. It is advisable to steam your food than to boil it, so that the potassium present in the food doesn’t evaporate. It can also be found in the cooking juices of the food you have prepared, so you better eat those delicious juices 😉

An overdose of potassium on the other hand contains risks, such as an abnormal arrhythmia in a worst-case scenario. This is called “hyperkalemia” and is dangerous for your health. Luckily, if your kidneys are healthy, they will keep a normal level of potassium in your body, removing the excess in your urine.

How to increase your potassium intake

You can ask your pharmacist for a potassium supplement to help you flush out excess water your body is retaining. There is a good supplement from Life Extension (Click here to see what they offer and don’t forget you get 5% off if you use this discount code: 60234483) or try a soluble product like Biogam K. If I travel and spend long hours on the plane or in the car I opt for a supplement as it is convenient and works fast.

If you don’t want to rely on supplements it is actually quite easy to add some extra potassium in your day to day cooking routine. Here is a list of some common ingredients (per 100 gram) and their value in potassium (in mg):

Dried apricot 1090
Dried fig 900
Dried raisin 773
Dried date 750
Roast chicken 700
Almonds 668
Pistachio 655
Baked sweet potato 466
Cooked tuna 462
Cooked salmon 414
Avocado 412
Banana 411
Cooked spinach 390
Cucumber 147
Zucchini 261
Cooked Broccoli 293

If you need a boost in potassium, try out this recipe!

  • 1 medium-small bananapreferably frozen
  • 1 cup packed fresh baby spinach
  • half of a small avocado
  • 1 large orangejuiced
  • 1 cup frozen chopped mango(or papaya)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Just blend everything and enjoy! This smoothie will bring you 30% of your daily recommended value of potassium.