According to the US Geological survey(1), water constitutes 60% of your body weight. Any amount of water content more than this is water retention in your body.
Water weight is the excess fluid that the body retains instead of flushing it out. It gets stored in your tissues, organs, and between cells. Water weight is also the weight that you instantly lose when on a diet or a strict exercise regime.
Symptoms of water retention include
- Bloating in the abdominal area
- Puffiness on face, neck
- Swollen legs, feet, and ankles
- Weight fluctuations
There are various causes of water retention including
- Hormone fluctuation in women before the menstrual cycle
- High sodium, salt intake
- The side effect of certain medications such as over the counter pain medications
- Pregnancy weight can lead to water retention in the legs if you don’t move too often
- A weak heart is unable to pump blood well and causes water retention
- Standing or sitting for too long, either as a part of your job or while traveling long hours
The excess of water/fluids in your body can have certain side effects as listed below:
- It can make you inactive/lethargic
- It can make you feel heavier than usual
- It can make you look puffy
- It can cause swelling in your feet and ankles
How to Get Rid of Water Weight
One can get rid of water weight in a lot of natural ways. We discuss some methods of how to cut water weight below:
CURE 1: Diet Modifications
1. Reduce Salt and Sodium Intake
Sodium is the main constituent of table salt and is an electrolyte. Electrolytes are responsible for maintaining the fluid balance and hydration levels in the body. However, excess sodium in one’s body will lead to high water retention.
The sodium intake can be managed by lowering the consumption of processed foods, as they are high on salt. Try to avoid extreme changes in salt intake, whether it is an addition of excess salt in your diet or complete elimination.
[ Read: Lose Weight Naturally ]
2. Reduce Carbohydrates from Your Diet
Carbohydrates are part of most daily diets. They are stored in human muscles and the liver as glycogen(2). Glycogen has a tendency to pull and store water. Thus, reducing the intake of carbohydrates will also reduce the storage of excess water.
Each gram of glycogen in the body stores 3-4 grams of water. Also, Carbohydrates contain sugar and increase the hormone insulin levels. Raised insulin levels increase sodium retention in the body, thereby leading to water retention.
Substitute the carbohydrates in your diet with healthy alternatives like protein and good fats. Ensure to not eliminate them entirely from your diet. Reduced carb intake will maintain the insulin levels and thus help with the water retention.
3. Drink Water
As necessary as water is to human life, one must ensure that they are drinking appropriate quantities of water. Dehydration or overhydration both can result in water retention.
When you are dehydrated, the body stores more water in order to prevent the levels from going low.
But if you are well hydrated and you still keep on having water, it may lead to an increase in the water weight.
A well-hydrated body on a regular basis with optimal water consumption leads to good kidney and liver health in the long term.
Monitor your water intake. Only drink when you are thirsty and stop when you feel well hydrated. Another way to monitor water intake is by checking the urine color. A light yellow and clear urine is indicative of an optimally hydrated body.
[ Read: Drinking Water At The Right Times ]
CURE 2: Supplements
1. Vitamin B-6
The deficiency of vitamin B-6 is known to be one of the reasons for water retention. Hence, taking vitamin B-6 supplements or including it in your diet can help with the excess water in your body. It is also considered a natural diuretic.
Vitamin B-6 can be obtained by including vitamin B-6 rich foods in your diet like bananas, avocado, dark and leafy vegetables, fish, and meat.
Magnesium, like sodium, is another essential electrolyte and helps in maintaining the water levels in the body. It acts with other electrolytes present in the body to control the body’s water balance.
Include magnesium-rich foods like leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your daily diet. Vegetables like peas, broccoli, and cabbage are good sources of magnesium. For non-vegetarians, seafood like mackerel, salmon, and tuna is useful in supplementing magnesium in your body.
[ Read: Magnesium And Weight Loss ]
Dandelions are a species of flowering plants and are a natural diuretic. Dandelions help remove the excess water from the body and also provide relief for swelling.
Take a few leaves of the dandelion flower orally once a day until you feel a reduction in water retention. These leaves will increase the amount of urine your body produces, thus getting rid of the excess water.
CURE 3: Lifestyle Changes
Exercise makes the body sweat out excess water and toxins. This causes water weight to come down almost instantly. Regular workout also helps with proper blood circulation in the body and thus regulated the fluid buildup.
Exercise daily for about 30 mins, at least 5 times a week. Apart from helping with water retention, exercise also has various other benefits and can help one lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
[ Read: Exercise for Weight Loss ]
2. Proper Sleep
Sleep is known to help in the functioning of renal nerves that are responsible for regulating sodium and water levels in the body. Inadequate sleep can lead to imbalance and water retention.
For an average human, 7-9 hours of sleep is adequate. Make sure you get these hours of sleep on a regular basis.
3. Keeping your Feet Elevated
If you have excess water retention in your feet and ankles, keeping them elevated can help the water move upward and away from your lower body.
Place a couple of pillows under your feet whenever you are lying down or while you are sleeping. It helps with reducing the water retention in feet and also helps if you have swelling and pain.
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As discussed above, water retention has various causes, but whatever the cause, most can be treated with the methods discussed. It is not a permanent condition and can be corrected with correct and appropriate lifestyle choices.
However, if the problem of water retention persists and makes you uncomfortable, it is advisable to see a doctor at the earliest.
1. Does water retention occur only in women?
No, water retention can occur in both men and women, but it is more common in women because of factors like premenstrual symptoms.
2. Are over the counter diuretics helpful?
There is no clinical proof of over the counter diuretics helping with water retention. However, a lot of people use them because the doctor does not prescribe diuretics for normal water retention unless it’s critically needed because of any other medical conditions like blood pressure or improper kidney functioning.
3. When should one visit the doctor?
If you have tried all the methods discussed above on how to reduce water weight and the problem still persists, it is advisable to consult a doctor.