The human body contains around 60% water, which plays a key role in all aspects of life.
However, many people worry about the weight of the water. This especially applies to professional athletes and bodybuilders who want to meet a weight class or improve their appearance.
Excess water retention , also known as edema , is a different problem. Although generally harmless, it can be a side effect of serious medical conditions, such as heart, liver, or kidney disease.
Women can also experience fluid retention during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.
This article is for healthy people and athletes who want to reduce their water weight. If you have severe edema, swelling of the feet or arms, see your doctor.
Here are 13 ways to lose excess water weight quickly and safely
1. Exercise on a regular basis
Exercise can be one of the best ways to reduce water weight in the short term. Any form of exercise increases sweat, which means you will lose water.
Average fluid loss during one hour of exercise is between 16-64 ounces (0.5-2 liters) per hour, depending on factors such as heat and clothing.
During exercise, your body also transfers a lot of water to your muscles.
This can help reduce water outside the cell and decrease the “soft” appearance that people report of excessive water retention.
However, you still need to drink plenty of water during your training session.
Another good option to increase sweat and water loss is the sauna, which you can add after your gym session.
Regular exercise can help you maintain a natural balance of body fluids and sweat away excess stored water.
2. Sleep more
Research on sleep highlights that it is as important to health as diet and exercise.
Sleep can also affect the renal sympathetic nerves in the kidneys, which regulate sodium and water balance.
Adequate sleep can also help your body control hydration levels and minimize water retention.
Try to get a healthy amount of sleep per night, which for most people will be around 7-9 hours.
A good night’s sleep can help your body control its fluid and sodium balance, and reduce water weight in the long term.
3. Less stress
The stress long term can increase the hormone cortisol, which directly influences fluid retention and weight of the water.
This can happen because stress and cortisol increase a hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as antidiuretic hormone, or ADH.
ADH works by sending signals to your kidneys, telling them how much water to pump back into your body.
By controlling your stress levels, you will maintain a normal level of ADH and cortisol, which is important for fluid balance and long-term health and disease risk.
Stress increases cortisol and antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which directly affect your body’s water balance.
4. Take electrolytes
Electrolytes are minerals with an electrical charge, like magnesium and potassium. They perform important functions in your body, including regulating your water balance.
When electrolyte levels become too low or too high, they can cause changes in fluid balance. This can lead to increased water weight.
You must adapt your electrolyte consumption to your water consumption. If you drink large amounts of water, you may need more electrolytes.
If you exercise daily or live in a hot or humid environment, you may need extra electrolytes to replace those you lost through sweat.
In contrast, large amounts of electrolytes from supplements or salty foods, along with a low water intake, can have the opposite effect and increase water weight.
Electrolytes control water balance and cell hydration. Electrolyte supplements can be beneficial if you drink a lot of water, exercise a lot, live in a hot climate, or don’t eat salty foods.
5. Manage your salt intake
Sodium, obtained daily from salt, is one of the most common electrolytes in the human body.
It plays an important role in hydration levels. If sodium levels are too low or too high, it will lead to imbalances in the body and therefore fluid retention.
High salt intake, usually due to a diet with many processed foods, can increase water retention. This is particularly true when combined with low water intake and no exercise.
However, this appears to depend on the individual’s daily sodium intake and blood levels.
One study suggests that you only store excess water if you dramatically increase or change your usual daily intake.
Salt or sodium play a key role in fluid balance. Try to avoid extreme changes, such as excessive salt intake or elimination of salt.
6. Take a magnesium supplement
Magnesium is another key electrolyte and mineral. It has recently become a very popular supplement for athletic and athletic performance.
Research on magnesium has been extensive and shows that it has more than 600 functions in the human body.
Studies in women show that magnesium can reduce water weight and premenstrual symptoms (PMS).
These changes occur because magnesium plays an integrative role with other electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Together, they help control your body’s water balance.
Magnesium supplements have many other potential health benefits for people who lack it in their diet.
Magnesium intake should be optimized as it plays a key role in hydration levels and body water content.
7. Take a dandelion supplement
Dandelion, also known as Taraxacum officinale, is an herb used in alternative medicine to treat water retention.
In recent years, it has also become popular with bodybuilders and athletes who need to drop water for cosmetic reasons or to meet a weight class.
Dandelion supplements can help you lose weight by signaling the kidneys to expel more urine and extra salt or sodium.
This is supported by studies showing that taking dandelion supplements increases the frequency of urination over a 5 hour period.
However, even though it is already in popular use, more research is definitely needed on dandelion supplements.
Dandelion is a popular herb often used by bodybuilders and athletes who need to lose weight.
8. Drink more water
Paradoxically, being well hydrated can reduce water retention.
Your body is always trying to achieve a healthy balance, so if you are constantly dehydrated, your body tends to retain more water in an attempt to prevent water levels from getting too low.
Achieving optimal daily water intake can also be important for liver and kidney health, which can reduce long-term water retention.
The benefits of drinking more water don’t stop there. Other research shows that good hydration is also important for general health, including fat loss and brain function.
As always, striking a balance is optimal. If you drink excessive amounts of fluids, you can increase your water weight.
Just drink when you are thirsty and stop when you feel well hydrated. You should also drink a little more in hot environments or when you exercise.
You can also monitor the color of your urine to assess hydration. It should be light yellow or fairly light in color, which is a good indicator that you are well hydrated.
Dehydration or overhydration can lead to water retention. Make sure you drink balanced amounts of water every day.
9. Focus on certain healthy foods
There are several foods that you can include in your diet to combat water retention.
Foods high in potassium are often recommended, as potassium can help balance sodium levels and increase urine output, helping to remove excess water.
Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and yogurt or other dairy products are all healthy and high in potassium.
Magnesium supplements or foods rich in magnesium are also recommended. These include:
- Bitter chocolate.
- Dark green leafy vegetables.
- Whole grains
The following foods and herbs are often recommended by alternative professionals to reduce water weight.
- Corn silk.
- Horse tail.
Although bloated belly is not usually caused by water retention, you can also temporarily limit or eliminate foods that can cause bloating.
These include highly processed foods, foods high in fiber, and sometimes beans and dairy products. You can also try holding onto low-FODMAP foods for a while to see if that helps.
Certain foods and herbs can act as diuretics and reduce water retention. Combine them with easily digestible foods that do not cause bloating or intolerances.
10. Avoid carbohydrates
Avoiding carbohydrates is a common strategy to quickly remove excess water. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, but glycogen also draws water out of it.
For every gram of glycogen you store, 3-4 grams (0.11-0.14 ounces) of water can be stored. This explains why people experience immediate weight loss when switching to a low-carbohydrate diet, which reduces glycogen stores.
Carbohydrates also lead to an increase in the hormone insulin, which can increase sodium retention and water reabsorption in the kidneys.
Low carbohydrate diets lead to a decrease in insulin levels, which leads to a loss of sodium and water from the kidneys.
Try altering your carb intake and see what works best for you.
A low carbohydrate diet can cause a rapid decrease in water weight due to reduced glycogen stores and lower insulin levels.
11. Take caffeine supplements or drink tea and coffee
Caffeine and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee and tea, have diuretic effects and can help reduce water weight.
It has been shown to increase urine output in the short term and reduce water weight slightly.
In one study, participants were given a glass of water with or without caffeine in doses of 2 mg per pound (4.5 mg per kg) of body weight.
By combining caffeine with water, the participants’ urine volume increased significantly.
That said, even though caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, it does not lead to dehydration in regular users.
Moderate amounts of caffeine from coffee, tea, or caffeine supplements can help you flush out excess water.
12. Change your habits
One of the best changes you can make is to reduce your intake of processed foods and excessive salt intake.
Also, avoid sitting all day or for long periods of time, which can reduce blood circulation. Physical activity can improve circulation and help you sweat out excess water.
Certain medications can also cause fluid retention, so check with your doctor or physician if you take medications on a daily basis and think they may be causing swelling (edema).
Although it is not related to water retention, consider paying attention to the foods you eat and making sure they are not causing digestive problems or bloating.
Finally, excessive or insufficient consumption of water, alcohol, minerals, caffeine and salt can cause water retention. Find a healthy and normal balance.
Avoid eating excessive amounts of processed foods, salt, and caffeine, and limit your alcohol intake.
13. Consider Prescription Diuretic Pills
Prescription diuretics and water pills are sometimes used to treat excess water retention.
They work by activating your kidneys to eliminate excess water and salt through your urine.
These water pills are often prescribed for people with heart or lung problems and to help with blood pressure, prevent fluid build-up, and reduce swelling.
It is important to note the difference between prescription diuretics and online or over-the-counter water pills.
Prescription pills have been clinically tested for long-term safety, while over-the-counter pills may lack clinical research and have not always been tested for safety.
Any of these types can help combat medically diagnosed edema or excess water weight.
Talk to your doctor before trying this.
When looking for water pills or medications, consult a doctor and take prescribed medications under supervision.
The bottom line
If your water retention problem persists, seems severe, or increases suddenly, it is always best to seek medical attention.
In some cases, excessive water retention can be caused by a serious medical condition.
At the end of the day, the best way to combat excess water weight is to identify and treat the cause.
This can be excessive salt intake, lack of electrolytes, inactivity, excess stress, or regular consumption of processed foods.
Some of these are also among the top causes related to poor health and disease, which can be even bigger reasons to avoid them.