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Up to 60% of the human adult body is made up of water, and how much water someone retains fluctuates depending upon their eating habits.
For example, eating a high-salt diet can trigger your cells to soak up and retain water. Any excess water that your body is holding onto is called “water weight.”
Water retention occurs in the circulatory system, and can lead to swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, and legs. It isn’t really a cause for concern, but holding onto water weight may cause some discomfort and unwanted bloating. That said, excess water weight might be a major reason why you're struggling to lose a few pounds.
Although water weight isn’t permanent, or related to your calorie intake, and doesn’t contribute to long-term fat gain, it does influence a person’s weight, making it fluctuate by as much as two to five pounds in a day.
Severe water retention may be a sign of heart or kidney disease. Most of the time, however, water weight is temporary and goes away on its own, or with some easy lifestyle changes.
So if you’d like to shed those extra pounds, this article will show you seven specific strategies you can use to lose water weight quickly, but also in a safe manner.
But first, let’s talk about five different reasons why you might be seeing an increase in water weight.
Let's get to it…
Side bar: One simple health habit you can build is to drink this superfood green drink, which gives you a boost of energy and supplies your body with the nutrients it needs to get through the day. (You can also read the review of it here.)
What You Will Learn
- 5 Reasons You Have Increased Your Water Weight
- 7 Ways to Lose Water Weight Fast
- How to Lose Water Weight (the Healthy and Natural Way)
5 Reasons You Have Increased Your Water Weight
1. Eating Too Many Carbs
Carbohydrates can lead to water retention because when you eat carbs, the energy that you don't immediately use is stored in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
Every gram of glycogen has three grams of water attached to it, which means the more glycogen your body stores, the more water your body will retain in the process. When you eat more carbs than your body needs to use for energy, the rest gets stored and therefore makes you feel full and bloated.
Some common carbohydrates that can result in water retention include cereal, sugar, baked goods, bread, rice, and pasta. When you choose to eat these foods over high-protein food options such as lean meats, eggs, and nuts, you will increase the amount of water weight that your body is holding.
Reducing your carbohydrate intake is a quick way to reduce the amount of glycogen your body is storing, which will result in your water weight being reduced. While adults need at least 130 grams of carbs to function on a daily basis, the average American diet includes a much larger amount than this.
And if you'd like to reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace it with protein, then be sure to check out these articles:
- 53 Best Healthy Low Carb Snack Ideas and Recipes
- 63 High Protein Breakfast Ideas for Weight Loss
- 5 Best-Tasting Protein Powders
- 7 Best Protein Bars for Health Conscious Individuals
2. Hormonal Changes During Menstruation
Estrogen spikes during menstruation and high levels of this female sex hormone can cause your body to retain water, making you feel full and bloated. The other hormone responsible for water weight during menstruation is progesterone, which spikes during the latter part of the menstrual cycle, and leads to water retention and breast tenderness.
The good news is, both of these hormones return to normal levels after your period is over. Another reason that women may retain more water than normal during menstruation is that cravings for salty foods and carbohydrates are common during this time, which adds to the amount of water that the body hangs on to.
3. Too Much Stress
Excessive stress can increase your levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that directly influences water retention. This may happen because stress and cortisol influence an anti-diuretic hormone that controls how much water your kidneys pump back into your body. This helps determine your body's balance of water.
4. Eating Too Much Salty Food
Sodium is one of the most common electrolytes in your body, and greatly impacts your hydration. If you have too much or too little sodium in your body, it will cause your body to become imbalanced and retain fluid.
A large amount of sodium consumption (usually due to a diet consisting of processed foods) can increase water retention, especially if it is coupled with low hydration and little physical activity. The amount of water you retain depends on your current daily sodium intake and the amount of sodium in your blood.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
The interesting thing is, being well-hydrated actually reduces water retention.
Your body is constantly looking for a healthy balance, so if you’re dehydrated, your body will retain fluid to try to prevent your water levels from becoming too low. Drinking enough water is also important for optimal liver and kidney function, which can also reduce water weight.
Just remember, it is always best to achieve a balance. If you consume too much fluid, you may increase your water weight. Monitor the color of your urine to assess your hydration. If you are properly hydrated, your urine will be fairly clear.
Now that you understand why you retain water, let's dive into the seven ways to lose water weight fast, but also naturally…
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Want to build a new habit that will stick for the rest of your lifetime? In this video, you will discover a simple 9-step process about building habits that you can immediately implement.
7 Ways to Lose Water Weight Fast
1. Reduce Your Daily Salt Intake
A simple first step for reducing water weight is to replace foods in your diet that are rich in sodium with low-sodium alternatives. The most recent dietary guidelines recommend that people consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day, but the average American typically eats over 3,400 mg per day.
Too much salt in your diet (especially when coupled with low water consumption and no exercise) can cause immediate water retention. This happens because your body must maintain its sodium-to-water ratio in order to properly function, so it will hold on to water when you eat salt in excess.
To prevent experiencing a spike in your water weight, keep your daily sodium intake consistent so it doesn’t stray from what your body considers to be a “normal” range. One study discovered that water retention increases if you suddenly or drastically change the amount of sodium you eat.
2. Exercise Regularly (Even Daily)
Regular exercise is a good short-term solution to losing water weight. Sweating water out through daily exercise helps you lose all the excess fluid that has accumulated in your body quickly. The average amount of fluid loss during an hour of exercise is anywhere between 16 to 64 ounces, depending on the intensity of your workout and the heat.
While you are exercising, your body also filters a lot of water into your muscles, which reduces the amount of water outside of your cells. Exercise also improves blood flow and circulation, which helps reduce fluid buildup in your body, especially in your legs and feet.
Exercise can reduce water retention even more by burning through your stored glycogen. But replacing your lost fluids after physical activity is critical to avoid dehydration. The American Heart Association recommends getting in 2.5 hours of exercise every week to keep your body active and prevent fluids from building up.
If you'd like to build the exercise habit, here are a few resources that can help:
- 11 Good Morning Exercises to Boost Your Metabolism
- 31 Workout Apps to Improve Your Fitness
- 51 Fat Burning Exercises That Fit Into Any Schedule
- 15 Habits to Maintain Your Daily Exercise Routine
- 32 Resistance Band Workouts You Can Try
- 30 Office Exercises to Stay in Shape at Work
- 23 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out
3. Stay Hydrated
As I said before, one of the best ways to prevent water weight is to stay hydrated. If you constantly keep your body dehydrated by not drinking enough water, your body prepares itself to run out of fluid by holding onto more water.
Also, as previously mentioned, staying well-hydrated is good for your liver and kidneys, helping excess salt and water to be flushed out of your body. If you drink a sufficient amount of water every day, your body will use it and get rid of it properly.
It is also a good idea to eat hydrating foods. Make sure your meals contain water-filled fruits and vegetables to help you stay hydrated and decrease bloating. Foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, celery, asparagus, and leafy greens are healthy foods that contain a high amount of water.
Adults should drink about two liters of water every day. An easy way to start doing this is to replace sugary drinks with pure water. Remember to increase your water intake if you are exercising, or if you are in hot weather.
If you feel like your water intake is not enough, then here are a few resources you can use to help you drink the right amount of water:
- The Ultimate Guide on Increasing Your Daily Water Intake
- 3 Best Water Pitcher Filter Options
- 5 Best Water Bottles for Working Out
4. Manage Your Stress Better
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced by the adrenals in response to stressful situations and low blood sugar. When you have increased cortisol levels in your body, it leads to water retention. While research has shown that cortisol helps break down fat, having chronically elevated cortisol levels as a result of a stressful lifestyle or extreme dieting leads to excess water weight.
Almost every cell in your body has receptors for cortisol, so its impacts are innumerable. Under normal conditions, this hormone doesn't lead to water retention, but when your stress level increases, it does.
If you'd like to learn natural ways to reduce your levels of stress, these articles can help:
- 16 Books on Dealing with Stress
- Eustress vs. Distress (How to Benefit from Good Stress)
- 19 Proven Ways to Deal with Stress
- 5 Great TED Talks on Stress Management
5. Eat Healthier Carbs
Although cutting carbohydrates from your diet can help you lose water weight quickly, there’s a tendency for your energy to plummet. Also, when you limit the number of unhealthy carbs that you eat, your protein and fat consumption will automatically increase in terms of your calorie ratio.
Because both protein and fat encourage water loss, this can also help decrease water weight. When you do eat carbs, choose to eat healthy ones like fruits and veggies instead of going completely carb-free.
6. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium has been shown to help reduce water weight in two ways. First, it decreases the sodium levels in your body, and second, it increases urine production.
As an electrolyte, potassium works with sodium in your body to help regulate the fluids around your cells and prevent you from retaining excess water. Some healthy foods to include in your diet that are high in potassium include beans, dark leafy greens, coconut water, fish, avocados, bananas, raisins, dates, cooked spinach or broccoli, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
If you'd like to add more potassium-rich foods to your diet (and other healthy options, then be sure to check out this post on 30 Natural Foods That Give You Energy Throughout the Day.
7. Take Magnesium Supplements
Studies have shown that women who take 200 mg of magnesium oxide every day have a reduced amount of premenstrual water retention. Further, adding vitamin B6 to your magnesium supplements can help relieve other symptoms that women commonly experience before their periods, such as bloating, swelling, and breast tenderness.
Magnesium and B6 work with your kidneys to help your body flush out excess sodium and water from your system. Magnesium levels in cells are also strongly linked to the amount of potassium in your cells, so these two minerals can work in synergy to reduce water retention.
Here are a few great options for magnesium supplements:
- Natural Rhythm Triple Calm Magnesium
- Life Extension Magnesium
- MgSport Magnesium
- Pure Encapsulations Magnesium (Glycinate)
- Morning Pep Magnesium
All of these options are great if you'd like to add more magnesium to your diet, but I recommend MgSport Magnesium because it also includes the B6 supplement.
How to Lose Water Weight (the Healthy and Natural Way)
Water weight is not usually a concerning health issue, but it can lead to discomfort. The right way to lose water weight is the healthy and natural way.
Also, retaining water is normal for the human body, but you might want to consult a doctor if this happens to you on a regular basis. Sometimes, it can be a symptom of a more serious health condition. Severe water retention may cause your skin to appear to be tight, or it may lead to skin that keeps a dimple when you press down on it, which is referred to as pitted edema.
If your fluid retention is coupled with coughing and shortness of breath, especially when you are lying down, it may suggest that you have fluid in your lungs or are experiencing heart failure, which requires urgent medical attention. Even if your water retention does not seem that severe, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor if you are worried about your symptoms.
Well I hope these seven ideas helped you come up with a few practical ideas to help you cut down on excess water weight.
Focus on the simple strategies that don't take a lot of brainpower to implement. Like: 1. Drinking more water. 2. Taking a magnesium supplement with B6. 3. Eating more potassium-rich foods (like bananas). 4.Adding more movement and exercise throughout the day.
You'd be surprised at how these simple strategies can help you naturally lose that excess water weight!