The human body consists of a lot of water – about 60%, to be exact. But just like anything else, too much water can be a bad thing. When the body contains excess liquid, this leads to bloating, puffiness, and swelling – also known as water weight. So in this post, we’ll try to figure out how to get rid of water retention in the most effective ways.
What is water retention?
Water retention results from the veins and lymph vessels’ inability to properly remove water from the tissues. You can experience symptoms almost anywhere on the body, including the stomach, face, arms, legs, and hips.
Many people will confuse water weight with body fat, which is completely understandable! Sometimes it can be difficult to tell, depending on where the water retention is showing on the body. But if you notice a gain of a few pounds overnight, it’s just water weight and can be shed quickly.
What causes water retention?
Many things can trigger water retention. It can be a combination of these factors or just one:
Diet high in sodium. Excess sodium results in water retention. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the recommended daily intake of sodium in a healthy diet is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. But the average person consumes more than 3,500 mg of sodium every day.
If you eat many processed foods, restaurant meals, and frequently use table salt, you may be overconsuming sodium. It’s always a great idea to look at the nutrition label on food packages to check the sodium level before purchasing. Limiting the number of times you eat at restaurants can also help.
Try not to add extra salt to your meals and also avoid using sauces – they usually packed with sodium!
Lifestyle. If you work a job where you’re sitting or standing all day, this can also lead to water retention due to poor blood circulation and increased pressure in the blood vessels.
Long-term stress is another lifestyle and hormonal factor that can cause water retention. The stress hormone cortisol can increase the antidiuretic hormone that controls the body’s water balance.
Kidneys. People who have kidney diseases or kidney failure may start to release fewer fluids over time. When the kidneys fail to work correctly, this can result in water retention, also known as edema.
Hormones. Due to hormonal fluctuations, women are more likely to be affected by water retention than men. This is why women tend to feel bloated before starting their menstrual cycle. Birth control directly affects a woman’s hormones and can also cause water retention.
Medication. Water retention is a side effect of some medications, such as high blood pressure medication, pain relievers, birth control pills, antidepressants, and chemotherapy medication.
Consulting with your doctor is the easiest way to find the underlying cause of your water retention. If this is something you struggle with frequently and you can’t seem to pinpoint the cause, your doctor may be able to run tests to narrow down possibilities.
How to get rid of water retention fast
Now that you know what could be causing your water retention, let’s look at ways to eliminate water retention quickly and prevent it from reoccurring.
1. Try a low-sodium diet
As mentioned previously, you’ll want to keep your sodium levels at the recommended daily intake of 2,300mg per day. If your sodium levels are too low or too high, this will result in imbalances in the body, thus, leading to fluid retention.
Diets high in sodium mainly consist of processed foods and meals from restaurants. Table salt can also contribute to your sodium intake. However, the majority of sodium intake for most people comes from packaged and processed food.
An example of foods high in sodium that you should avoid are:
- Boxed meals
- Canned vegetables
- Canned soup
- Instant noodles
- Hot dogs and other processed meats
Eating packaged foods here and there won’t cause any harm, but if you eat these foods daily, you’re more likely to experience fluid retention. If possible, opt for low-sodium equivalents instead.
Restaurants also tend to use more salt to season their meals and enhance the flavor. It’s no wonder why your favorite restaurant’s meals are too delicious to pass up! Although seasoning salts add a tasty flavor to many dishes, this can lead to continuous fluid retention if consumed regularly.
I recommend starting slowly by reducing the amount of salt you use for cooking, avoiding packaged sauces (you’d better make it yourself at home!) and saying “no” to pickles/pizzas and other meals that are really high in sodium.
Give yourself time to adjust. Firstly, you may feel that foods feel tasteless without salt. But in a while, your senses will get used to it and you’ll recognize the real taste of natural food.
Believe me, if you want to get rid of water retention fast, you have to give this diet a try. That’s what always works great for me. And I’m sure it will give your quick results too.
A list of foods you should be eating more of to combat water retention include:
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy green vegetables
These are magnesium-rich whole foods that provide many health benefits. Magnesium is an essential mineral that keeps the body functioning properly. For women, Increasing your magnesium intake is beneficial if you’re experiencing premenstrual symptoms, including water retention.
2. Reduce carbs
Cutting carbohydrates, also known as carbs, is a common strategy to drop excess water weight quickly. Excess carbs are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. For every 1 gram of glycogen stored in the body, there are 3 grams of water attached.
Reducing your carb intake allows your body to use the stored glycogen as a source of energy, which also reduces water retention. The average American consumes more than the recommended daily intake of 130g per day, according to the Dietary Guidelines For Americans (2015-2020).
Foods high in carbohydrates include potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, pastries etc. If you want to learn more about carbs, check out my post “Low-glycemic diet for weight loss“.
A great way to reduce your carb intake is to eat more protein. A protein-rich diet aids in weight loss and keeps you fuller for longer.
To increase your protein intake, eat foods such as:
- Other poultry
Try eating some of these protein-rich foods every morning for breakfast to have more energy throughout the day and shed water retention quickly.
Cutting carbs also helps to reduce appetite because your insulin levels become more stable. You may feel less cravings for sugar and junk foods. So try to reduce carbs and add more protein and healthy fats to your diet.
3. Take diuretics
If you want to get rid of water retention fast, you can consider taking diuretics. Diuretics, also known as water pills, help the body release extra sodium and fluid through urinating. Water pills reduce your blood pressure and can be used in combination with other medications.
Also, you may want to try natural herbs that are used in alternative medicine to treat water retention. Herbs are safe, effective, and can provide additional health benefits. This is a great option for treatment if you’re opposed to traditional medicine.
Dandelion, also known as Taraxacum officinale, is one of the best natural diuretics that allows the kidneys to drain excess water. This herb is high in potassium and also contains antioxidants to help boost the immune system.
Besides dandelion, other herbs that you can use as a natural diuretic to drop water weight include:
And if you’re a coffee addict reading this article, you might be thinking, isn’t coffee a natural diuretic?
The answer is yes! Coffee is a natural diuretic and can reduce water retention short-term; however, excessive caffeine consumption can actually cause water retention.
By limiting your caffeine intake to just one cup of coffee per day, you can still get the amazing benefits of drinking coffee without the risks of excess caffeine.
4. Take electrolytes
Electrolytes are essential minerals that consist of sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They play a critical role in the body, including regulating water balance.
According to researches, low electrolyte levels can cause dehydration, fatigue, headaches, nausea, blood pressure changes, muscle cramps, and low energy.
Potassium is both an electrolyte and a mineral that reduces water retention in two ways:
- Reduces your sodium levels – When potassium increases, sodium decreases. And when potassium decreases, sodium increases. Keeping your potassium intake at sufficient levels can keep sodium levels low to prevent and shed water weight.
- Increases the need to urinate – high potassium can increase urination output, but the frequent urge to urinate can also be a sign of Hyperkalemia, which occurs when there’s too much potassium in the blood.
There isn’t an official recommended daily intake for potassium; however, potassium consumption of around 3,500 – 4,700mg daily through food is sufficient.
Many people aren’t getting enough potassium through their diets, which means their sodium levels are high. Foods high in potassium you can implement into your diet include:
- Cooked spinach and broccoli
These foods also contain other necessary electrolytes and can help you achieve a well-balanced diet.
5. Drink more water
Contrary to what many people believe, drinking more water can actually reduce water retention. Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon per day.
The body will hold onto more water when dehydrated to prevent insufficient water levels. Proper hydration also supports your kidney function, allowing the body to release excess water and toxins.
A great way to increase your water intake is to drink a full glass first thing in the morning.
Unless you drink water in your sleep (which I’m sure nobody does), your body tends to get dehydrated overnight. Drinking most of your water in the morning rehydrates your body and makes it easier for you to reach the daily recommended water intake.
6. Manage stress
As mentioned previously, cortisol can increase the hormone that controls the body’s water balance. Unfortunately, many people live stressful lives, which has a detrimental impact on health.
Complications due to stress aren’t always easy to identify; therefore, many people don’t recognize this issue. The symptoms and intensity of stress are different for everyone. Symptoms can include frequent headaches, insomnia, problems with memory and concentration, etc.
Practices that can help reduce stress include:
- Lighting a candle
- Taking a warm bath
- Drinking tea
- Taking a day off from your stressful job to relax
According to the American Institute of Stress, job pressure was the top cause of stress for Americans. If you’re like the majority, I’m sure you can relate to this. Try taking a sick day off from work to focus on your mental health, if possible. One day off may not seem like it’ll do much, but it can make a huge difference. If taking a sick day is not an option, implement the tips listed above throughout the day. The bottom line is that taking the time to focus on self-care and your mental health can significantly reduce stress. In turn, this can easily allow the body to shed water weight.
Another great tip – if you know that it’s impossible for you to avoid stress altogether, be ready to help your body to deal with it: take calming herbs and natural supplements, participate in activities that you enjoy, have enough sleep every night. It will help to reduce cortisol levels and prevent water retention.
Whew! You’ve made it to the end of this article, and now you know how to get rid of water retention fast!
But water weight is tricky and may never completely go away. There will be times in your life where your body is going through changes (periods, pregnancy, age etc). There will also be times where your eating habits change. The human body is complex. You may have thought one thing caused your water retention, only to find out there may be another cause.
But following the tips from this article, you can change your lifestyle and diet in order to see the results quickly.
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