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July 08, 2021 9 min read

Have you ever woken up one morning, looked in the mirror, and then saw bloating or puffiness in your abs, face, and or arms?

Then, even worse, you hopped on the scale only to notice that you gained weight despite eating healthy and exercising? If so, then there's a good chance that you've gained some water weight. With typical weight gain, your body weight increases due to the growth of new fat or muscle cells. 

However, water weight gain occurs when your body holds onto extra water. More likely than not, it's due to a harmless cause and can be fixed with simple lifestyle changes. Say goodbye to your excess water weight by implementing these lifestyle tips.

a glass of water wrapped in a chain and closed with a padlock

What Causes Water Retention In the First Place?

Before diving into how you can fix your water weight issue, consider what may have caused water to build up in the first place. Several different lifestyle and genetic factors can lead to excess water retention.

And, just about everyone on earth will experience it at one point or another in their life.  The odds that it is the result of lifestyle are far greater than it is from genetics. Here are some of the most common causes of fluid retention resulting in water weight gain:

  1. Dietary factors: The most common cause of water weight gain is diet. Several different dietary elements and food groups are more likely to cause excess fluid retention than others. On the other hand, other foods and food elements help prevent and ward off water weight gain.To prevent excess fluid retention caused by diet, all you need to do is either decrease or increase your intake of these specific dietary elements.
  1. Sitting or standing for too long: Sitting or standing for too long causes water to sink into your lower extremities. For example, sitting for hours on end at a desk causes stomach bloat due to water accumulation. In today's ultra-sedentary world, it's more important than ever for people to get up and move. If you find yourself sitting behind a desk most of the week, then be sure to stand up and walk around at least once per hour to avoid gaining water weight.
  1. Being overweight or obese: Obesity can lead to an entire cascade of different health issues, including water weight gain. When you carry around excess weight, there's extra pressure on your veins and arteries. That pressure can cause water to build up throughout the body. If that pressure wasn't there, then the water would have drained out.
  1. Circulatory diseases: Several different diseases of the circulatory system can cause excess fluid retention. Some of them are more common such as high blood pressure. Others are more severe, including heart failure, edema, or kidney disease. However, if you're a generally healthy person, the odds that your water weight gain is due to one of these more severe diseases is very low. Unless you're experiencing other odd symptoms, then your water weight gain is probably due to something far less troublesome. However, we always suggest going to see your doctor if you're concerned.
  1. Hormonal changes: Last but not least, hormonal changes are another likely cause of water weight gain. While sudden hormonal changes are typically attributed to women, especially at certain points in their menstrual cycle, men can still experience it as well. For men, a drop in estrogen levels is what usually causes hormone-related water retention.  Men's estrogen levels most commonly fall due to rapid weight loss, malnutrition, or weight gain.

The good news is that you can tackle all of these common causes of fluid retention by implementing one or more of the following lifestyle changes:

1. Reducing Your Salt Intake

Before anything else, ask yourself if you've recently increased your salt intake. Soups, processed foods, and cured meats are some of the foods with the highest sodium levels. If your answer is yes, then that is what's most likely causing your water weight gain.

Salt attracts water like positive attracts negative.

And, your body needs salt to maintain a healthy fluid balance. However, there is a point where consuming too much salt leads to excess water retention beyond what your body needs.

Moreover, it's all about finding that happy medium between eating salty foods and maintaining that proper fluid balance. Cut down your high sodium intake by opting for lower sodium foods, and you should see a reduction in your water weight.

The FDA currently recommends no more than 2,300 grams of sodium per day. At the same time, they report that the average American consumes around 3,400 grams of sodium per day. Therefore, there's a fair chance that you're currently consuming too much sodium. Cut down on salt to cut down your water weight. 

2. Cutting Down on Carbs

Carbs tend to be a controversial macronutrient in the fitness industry. One minute everyone is on a low-carb diet and the next minute, those same people are all of a sudden on a high-carb diet.

While there's still a debate on how many carbs you need to eat each day for peak health, the facts are clear on how carbohydrates play a role in water retention.

Two aspects of carbs make them very important for water retention:

  1. The storage of glycogen
  2. Regulation of insulin levels

First off, your body stores carbs as glycogen in your muscles. However, glycogen is water-attracting and pulls water along with it into storage. Every gram of glycogen can hold 3 to 4 grams of water with it.

Second, carbs spike your insulin hormone levels. More insulin leads to more sodium retention. And, as you already know, excess sodium leads to excess water retention.

Therefore, we recommend a low-carb diet to help get your water balance back in check. When you do eat carbs, opt for whole-grain sources that won't spike your insulin levels. As a result, you'll lose a lot of that extra water weight.

3. Losing Weight

As we mentioned above, obesity is a precursor for holding onto excess water weight. Therefore, a simple solution to losing water weight is to lose weight by increasing your physical activity and decreasing the amount of junk food you eat.

The key is to lose body fat. Fat loss will take some of the excess pressure off of your veins and arteries. With less pressure on them, your blood vessels will have an easier time removing waste products from your body.

However, opt for sustainable weight loss tactics rather than crash diets. Most crash diets don't help you lose any body fat at all. Rather, they flush out excess water but the fat remains and leaves you more vulnerable to gaining the water right back. 

Fat loss = water loss.

Lose extra body fat to lose extra water.

4. Eating Natural Diuretic Foods

Some common foods have a natural diuretic effect, meaning that they promote the production of urine and the flushing out of the water from the body. Thus, they can help reduce excess water retained in the body. Some examples of healthy and natural diuretic foods include:

  • Melons like cantaloupe
  • Leafy greens like spinach
  • Most other fruits and veggies

What makes these foods such great diuretics? It's that they contain some specific vitamins and minerals including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

All three of these vitamins and minerals make great diuretics. Both potassium and magnesium are particularly great for reducing water retention.

First off, potassium helps reduce sodium levels while also promoting urine production. Less sodium immediately reduces the amount of water stored in the body.

And, increased urine production helps flush out the water that has no sodium to bind with. Some examples of potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes, greens, and, of course, bananas. Second, magnesium has been shown to help reduce bloating in the belly area by reducing water buildup. Examples of magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, whole grains, beans, and nuts.

5. Taking Specific Vitamins and Supplements

In addition to eating foods that help reduce water retention, you should also consider taking supplements that help flush out excess water. A couple of examples of these supplements include:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Dandelion Root
  • Garlic
  • Horsetail
  • Hibiscus

Dandelion root is a natural diuretic supplement that has been taken for hundreds of years to help reduce excess water retention. It helps increase the number of times you pee to help get rid of built-up water. You can take it in the form of a tea, powder, or pill supplement.

Some additional benefits of taking a dandelion supplement include promoting good digestion, lowering cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Each of these benefits can secondarily help further reduce water retention.

6. Lowering Stress Levels

Believe it or not, stress can significantly influence your body's water weight.

This is thanks to the hormone cortisol, which floods your body in reaction to stressful situations. In reaction to high cortisol levels, your body releases another hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

ADH then sends a signal to your kidneys telling them to keep more water floating in your body. Had ADH not been activated, your kidneys would have processed the water and excreted it from the body. Moreover, more cortisol leads to more ADH, which leads to more excess water in your body.

Therefore, lower your water weight by reducing your stress levels. Some simple and healthy ways to lower stress include:

  • Getting enough sleep every night
  • Eating healthy and exercising the right amount
  • Spending more quality time with others or by yourself

Not only does getting enough sleep every night indirectly reduce water weight by lowering stress levels, but it also helps directly reduce excess water weight by helping better regulate the kidneys. 

As you sleep, your kidneys properly reset to filter out the right amount of sodium from your body. And, as you already know, less sodium means less water retention. Additionally, sleeping helps your body rehydrate after long and active days. With better hydration, your body makes use of the water it needs while getting rid of what it doesn't need.

7. Drinking Electrolyte Water

Electrolytes are essential minerals that produce an electrically conducting solution when mixed with water.  They have many functions with one of their most important ones being helping your body maintain a proper fluid balance.

Unsurprisingly, two of the most important and abundant electrolytes are potassium and magnesium.  As you already know, both of these minerals help promote a healthy water weight.

Even if you've never heard the term electrolyte water before, the odds are that you have drunk them in a sports drink before. For example, sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are actually just flavored water with extra electrolytes. These drinks are popular for athletes because they help maintain a proper fluid balance, which is essential for keeping energy levels up.

Even for people who aren't athletes, electrolytes can also help balance fluid levels. They'll get you hydrated to just the right level, then help your body excrete the water it doesn't need. Therefore, grab an electrolyte-infused sports drink the next time you go to the gym and watch your water weight drop.

8. Working Out More

Movement solves many things, including excess water weight.  It’s very simple: Exercise makes you sweat and sweating gets rid of excess water in your body. Therefore, try and do high-intensity workouts that make you sweat such as cardio, HIIT, or spinning to lose extra water weight.  Not only will sweating directly help reduce excess water, but it will also lead to weight loss which further promotes optimal body fluid balance.

athletic man drinking water against gray background

9. Make Sure You’re Drinking Enough Water

Yes, in order to lose water weight, you need to make sure that you're actually drinking enough water each day. How could it be possible that you need to drink more water to lose more water?  When your body is running low on water, it kicks into survival mode by hanging on tight to the little water that it does have. 

That water usually gets stored in your abdomen and causes bloat.  It may look like you have had enough to drink, but it is just the opposite. The simple solution to getting rid of that excess water is to flush it out with more water. 

Find out exactly how much water you need to drink every day according to your body weight, activity level, age, and other factors.  Then, drink that amount every day and you should see a reduction in both belly bloat and excess water weight.

10. Take a Prescription Water Pill

Last but not least, taking a prescription water pill is a last resort solution for solving excess water weight retention.  More likely than not, your doctor probably won’t prescribe these to you unless you’re dealing with a specific circulatory or kidney condition.

While they may sound silly and pointless, water pills are another type of diuretic.  They send a signal to your kidneys to keep flushing water out of your system.  And, no, the pills are not made out of water.  They’re just called water pills because they help get water out of your body.

Because your doctor is unlikely to prescribe you these pills unless you have a qualifying medical condition, you’re better off losing water weight with one of the other 9 possible tactics.

Final Thoughts on Losing Water Weight

Hanging on to excess water weight is super frustrating when you’re working hard to get shredded. The good news is that you can lose it simply by implementing one or more of these tips. And, the better news is that you don’t need to drink any less water to lose the water weight.

In fact, we recommend that you drink more water.  Drinking water will not only help you lose more water weight, but it will also take your workouts to the next level and improve your overall wellness.  The bottom line…. drink more water and get rid of water weight at the same time with these tips. 

Bonus tip:  Need a workout that’ll help reduce your water weight? Look no further than tabata for a full-body, fat-blasting workout!