Water makes up about 60%-70% of your body. But even though water is essential for your body to function properly, water weight can be a problem.
Water weight can cause unwanted bloating and puffiness in the body. It’s different from edema, which is excess water retention that is usually associated with underlying health conditions such as heart, kidney, or liver problems.
7 ways to lose water weight
For healthy people, reducing water weight can be done with these 7 tips.
1. Reduce salt intake
If you consume more than 2300 mg of salt in a day, your body is bound to retain more water, which leads to weight gain due to water buildup. Water retention can cause your weight to fluctuate as much as 2-4 pounds in one day.
Many of the processed and packaged foods we eat are high in sodium, including frozen meals, cheeses, cold meats, soup mixes and savory snacks. Cut back on these types of foods and look for low-sodium alternatives, like nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
2. Drink more water
Drinking less than 8 cups of water a day can actually increase water weight. This is because when your body has too much salt, your kidneys retain water to dilute bodily fluids. Constant dehydration can be taxing on your kidneys.
Increase your intake of water each day to improve kidney functions and help your body flush out excess water and salt.
3. Reduce carb intake
Eating more carbohydrates also makes your body store more water. Carbohydrates that aren’t used for energy production are stored as glycogen, which binds to water. And it is the stored glycogen, not the carbs, that causes water weight gain.
Replace some of your daily carbohydrates like rice and pasta, with rich protein sources like eggs and lean meat.
Exercise helps your body get rid of excess water in three ways:
The American Heart Association recommends doing at least 150 minutes of exercise per week or 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. It’s important to replace lost fluids by drinking plenty of water after a workout to avoid dehydration.
5. Eat foods rich in potassium and magnesium
- Potassium-rich foods:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Magnesium-rich foods:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
6. Water pills
Water pills or diuretics are prescription medications and need to be taken under medical supervision. Diuretics help flush excess water from your body by making you urinate more. They are often the first-line drugs used to treat swelling in the feet, legs, and face caused by kidney, liver, or heart problems.
These are not, however, an alternative to diet and exercise to lose water weight. They are also not intended for long-term use due to their side effects, including loss of bone mass, gout, electrolyte imbalance, and severe dehydration.
Some herbs, such as dandelion, ginger, parsley, hawthorn, and juniper, have natural diuretic properties. Consult your doctor before incorporating them into your diet, whether in the form of teas or soups. Proceed with caution before taking any of these products if you have any underlying health conditions.
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Denning DW, Dunnigan MG, Tillman J, Davis JA, Forrest CA. The Relationship Between 'Normal' Fluid Retention in Women and Idiopathic Oedema. Postgrad Med J. May 1990. 166(775), 363-366. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2371185/