How to retain water?


Fluid retention: What it can mean for your heart

Heart failure may start with injury from a heart attack or develop as a result of damaged valves, infection or disease of the heart muscle cells. Many times, it is the product of years of toil against high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Regardless of what triggers the decline, heart failure culminates in a progressive weakening of your heart’s power to pump.

Consequently, blood circulates through your heart and body more slowly; your cells thirst for fresh oxygen and nutrients. To compensate for its weakened state, the heart undergoes a series of structural transformations. Other physical processes also come into play. When the kidneys detect the diminished blood flow, they activate hormones that prompt the body to retain fluid and sodium in an effort to boost the volume of blood in circulation.

What to look for

The good news is that you can tell if you’re beginning to retain fluid merely by getting on the scale. “Weight change is the earliest sign of a problem with fluid balance. Most people will retain 8 to 15 pounds of excess fluid before they see leg and belly swelling. However, symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, loose stools, nausea and feeling full when without eating much may develop at the 5-to-7 pound mark” says Dr. Lewis. He instructs his patients to take action as soon as they notice their weight going up. “Don’t wait until you don’t feel well, you may have gained 5 or more pounds by then and could be well on your way to a serious problem.”

Daily weighing

The best method to monitor your weight is daily weighing. Your goal should be to keep your weight as close as possible to your “dry weight.” This is your regular weight when you are not retaining fluid. If you recently have been in the hospital or had your medicines adjusted, you may already know your dry weight. If not, your doctor or nurse can help you determine the right number. To get an accurate picture of your weight trends:

  • Record your dry weight and compare you daily scale readings to this number, not the previous day’s scale weight. Write down your daily weights in a log or small notebook and bring this record to your doctor visits.
  • Stick to a regular daily routine. Even small changes to your regular pattern can alter your weight by 2 pounds or more.
  • Weigh yourself at the same time every day using the same scale. A good time is in the morning before you have had breakfast, but after you urinate (a full bladder can add as much as a pound). Weigh yourself without clothing or in underwear only.

Taking action against fluid retention

If you gain more than 2 pounds in a day or 4 pounds in a week, Dr. Eldrin advises taking these steps:

  • Think about the foods you ate in the days before your weight gain and look for sources of extra sodium or fluid in your diet that you may be able to eliminate. (For example, did you eat out at a restaurant or indulge in a salty treat?)
  • If your weight doesn’t return to normal in a day or two, call your doctor or nurse for advice. You may need to increase your diuretic medicine (water pills) or reconsider how much fluid you are drinking.

Image: Rostislav_Sedlacek/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

9 Warning Signs Your Body Is Retaining Too Much Fluid

If you notice that your body is swelling at times, without a reasonable cause, it can simply be excess fluid due to a change in lifestyle or condition. Detecting the signs that your body is retaining fluid and understanding what can trigger such water weight can help you decrease inflammation and swelling all around. No one likes to feel bloated, so getting to the root of the issue ahead of time can help save you the stress and insecurities.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling comfortable and confident in their shape, size, and skin. However, when you’re retaining excess fluids and holding more water weight than usual, it can make you feel insecure and pudgy, very unlike how you want to feel each day. Holding excess fluid doesn’t equate to pounds, so sometimes you might feel larger than you really are simply because of the appearance of the fluid itself on the exterior of the skin. Don’t let it rock your confidence. Here are 9 ways to know that your body is holding on to too much water and needs to decrease its inflammatory response. With a few simple tweaks, you’ll start to feel back to normal in no time.

1. History Of Disease

According to Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle, you can swell from different health conditions. “When I worked in clinical dietetics, I saw a lot of edema (aka fluid retention) in patients who were suffering from an underlying condition which manifested in extreme swelling in the legs, ankles and feet. It’s important if you have a history of kidney disease, diabetes or other cardiovascular conditions you work with your physician to discuss the proper diet and medication regimen to prevent fluid retention which can often be very uncomfortable too,” Shaw advises.

2. Eating Salty Foods

If you’re eating a diet that is high in salt, which can be in hidden places, such as cured meats, packaged soups, breads, and condiments, you’ll likely become dehydrated. Dehydration will cause you to hold more water and be inflamed, advises CEO and co-founder of FOODSTAND app, Rachna Govani and have been vetted and supported by Shauna Keeler, NYC-based Chef, and RD, over email with Bustle.

3. History Of Digestive Issues

If you’re experiencing digestive issues that pair with the excess fluids and bloating, it could be related to greater stomach troubles, advises Dr. Lisa Ashe, medical director at BeWell Medicine over email with Bustle. These diseases and conditions can include irritable bowel syndrome, poor gut flora, Crohn’s, and candida overgrowth.

4. Constipation

According to holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno at J.B. Fitness & Nutrition, over email with Bustle, if you’re having trouble making bowel movements or are experiencing constipation, it could mean that you’re retaining too much fluid and can’t eliminate toxins.

5. A High Sugar Diet

According to healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines, over email with Bustle, if you’re eating a high sugar diet, which will even include natural sources, such as fresh fruit, you might be holding on to excess fluids. Make sure you exhibit proper portion control, instead.

6. Thyroid Disease

Bruno says that having a thyroid disease, such as hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, can cause you to retain excess fluid and show signs of bloating, and even weight gain. If you have this disease, try and find ways to tame your bloating and stay hydrated to nix the buildup of toxins.

7. Irritability & Stress

If you’re totally cranky and stressed during the day, you’re going to produce excess cortisol, which in turn will increase inflammation and water retention in the body, advises running coach and personal trainer Susie Lemmer over email with Bustle. Try and find healthier outlets for managing your stress and irritable mood swings, such as yoga, meditation, or social events.

8. Injuries & Sore Joints

If you’re injured or have sore joints and muscles, you’re probably going to be showing signs of inflammation, which can lead to excess water weight and a sluggish metabolism. Foam roll regularly to get rid of tightness, and see a doctor for help if you think you might be injured.

9. Chronic Fatigue

If you’re super tired all the time, it could mean that your body is under stress and is overworked, which will cause you to hold onto fluids, advises Lemmer. Plus, if you’re actually not sleeping, that will increase cortisol levels and slow the metabolism. All of these attributes will make you more bloated.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make some lifestyle changes to fix the problem and decrease the bloating. With a few tweaks, you’ll be able to trim down and feel more comfortable in your body.

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Last modified on May 30, 2018 11:43 BST Sluggish, stiff and bloated. These are some of the dreaded symptoms associated with water retention.

Sluggish, stiff and bloated. These are some of the dreaded symptoms associated with water retention. It can ruin your mood on a good day, making you feel uncomfortable and irritable, while swollen ankles or fingers mean you may not be able to accessorise with your favourite shoes or rings. It’s an annoying condition, but thankfully there are steps you can take in your lifestyle to reduce that horrible bloating feeling – be it adapting your diet, exercising more, taking supllements or simply resting when water retention is at its worst.

Here’s what causes water retention and, more importantly, how you can get rid of it.

What is water retention?

Water retention (Oedema) occurs when fluid isn’t removed from the body tissues, including the skin. There are two types of oedema: generalised, all over your body, or localised, in particular parts of your body.


There are many symptoms of water retention, but the swelling of your body parts, particularly ankles, feet and hands, and feeling stiff and ache are common ones. See below for more symptoms.

  • Bloated stomach
  • Feeling stiffness or aching
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Joints may feel stiff
  • When pressed the skin may hold the indent for a few seconds


Swollen ankles, hands and feet can be symptoms of water retention

Causes of water retention

There are numerous causes for water retention, particularly in the summer months when the weather is hot. Pregnancy is also a trigger because your body’s hormones encourage it to hold on to excess fluid. See below for more causes.

  • Hot weather – the body tends to be less efficient at removing fluid from tissues in the summer months
  • Gravity – standing for long periods of time
  • Burns – including sunburn – skin retains fluid and swells in response to burn injuries
  • The pill – can trigger fluid retention
  • Hormones associated with menstrual cycle
  • Dietary deficiencies – such as insufficient protein or vitamin B1
  • Medications – certain drugs including high blood pressure medication, corticosteroids and non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Chronic venous insufficiency – weakened valves in the veins of the legs
  • High salt intake

Treatments to reduce water retention

Water retention could be a sign of a serious medical condition such as heart, kidney or liver disease, so if you are concerned you should go and consult your GP. Otherwise, there are many small changes, particularly when it comes to diet, to help you prevent fluid retention.


Bananas can help stop fluid retention

  1. Step up your protein intake – eating more protein encourages your body to shed excess fluid
  2. Change any medication you are taking, or the dosage – consult your GP first.
  3. Eat more bananas – they are rich in potassium which is helps to eliminate fluid retention
  4. Add more cabbage, cucumber, parsley and salad leaves to your diet as they are natural diuretecs
  5. Calcium, magnesium, manganese, evening primrose oil and chaste tree are all helpful ways of preventing water retention.
  6. Cut back on dehydrating drinks such as coffee, tea and alcohol
  7. Cranberry juice has mild diuretic properties
  8. Drink more water – water retention come from a lack of water because your body doesn’t know when it will get more so it retains the water it has.
  9. For girls – check your menstrual cycle as plenty of girls retain water for a period of time during their monthly cycle
  10. Write a food diary and make connections between certain foods and periods of bloating/swelling
  11. Cut high sodium foods out of your diet – salt absorbs water and causes water retention
  12. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains a lot of vegetables, grains and other high-fiber foods
  13. Deficiencies in protein, calcium, magnesium and vitamins B1, B5 and B6 may lead to problems with water retention
  14. Exercise has been known to help control water retention – try to do at least 20 minutes a day
  15. Lie down and sit with your feet elevated when resting and taking breaks – standing or sitting all day can cause fluids to drain into your feet and legs
  16. Try a natural duiretic (water pill) – some herbal remedies are known to increase the kidney’s fluid output which helps to control water retention.
  17. Try essential oils when taking baths or going for massages, including lavender, rosemary, geranum and cypress


A healthy diet is key to preventing water retention


Keep a food diary to help you make connections as to what causes bloating

December: the time of three festive drinks sessions in one week, your meal prep and sweat sesh regime getting knocked out of the window and that feeling that pulling your Nike leggings on used to feel a whole lot smoother than this. One potential culprit of this bloat is water retention.

Now picture this scene. Instead of your fluid retention gradually dispersing – as might be the cause with water retention around your period – it lingers.

One week passes, two weeks go by, and another. And you are still as ballooned as ever. Sucky, yes. Course for concern? It could be. In fact, it could be the sign of a more series underlying health issue.

Whilst you’re quick to Google how to get rid of bloating, director and GP at Your Doctor, Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa, explains that fluid retention is complex.

He says: ‘It can occur for a number of reasons. Some of these are nothing to worry about; others are more serious and require medical attention.’

⚠️ If your water retention hasn’t settled down within two weeks, continues beyond three to five weeks, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as pain and redness of the skin, Dr Cuffa advises visiting your GP.

So, before you immediately start blaming your period and booking in for a massage, read on to see whether you’re experiencing any other symptoms and should rain check for an appointment with your GP.

How do you get rid of water retention, fast?

Well, it’s not that simple. First, scroll on to find out what type of water retention you might have, and then follow the advice for nixing it.

How do you tell if you are retaining water?

Common signs of retaining water are:

  • You’re persistently bloated
  • You’re experiencing unexplained weight gain over a short period of time
  • Your hands and feet are swollen – do your rings no longer fit for, example?

What is water retention a sign of?

Straight up, fluid retention could be a result of a number of things. Keep scrolling for 9 possible causes.

9 unknown (yet common) causes of water retention

1. Your ‘healthy’ lifestyle is a little off

When was the last time you made every meal in the week from scratch? Be honest. If you are regularly hitting that target – kudos to you.

But for most of you, chances are, a sneaky vegan ready made meal or takeaway creeps its way in. ‘Convenience foods are a godsend,’ says Lang.

‘But the salt they contain can make your body hang onto water to maintain a balance in your cells: hence that bloated face in the mirror.

And you all know that white refined carbs make your blood sugar levels spike, which causes a speedy release of insulin. But too much insulin can also trigger your kidneys to re-absorb salt, causing your body to hold onto even more fluid.’

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Should I visit my doctor for this water retention?

Yes. A high-salt diet can increase your chances of high blood pressure and chronic water retention, which, over time could lead to kidney and heart disease. Lang suggests swapping in complex carbs and eating small meals across the day to keep blood sugar levels stable.

And going easy on the salt. ‘Boost flavour with herbs, spices and citrus,’ she says.

2. It’s almost your period

Water retention in your period is super normal. ‘Many women will notice water retention in the two weeks leading up to their period,’ says registered nutritional therapist Kym Lang. You’ve those pesky hormones oestrogen and progesterone to thank for that.

‘Their changing levels, around the time of ovulation, control how much water your body retains,’ Lang says.

You don’t need an expert to tell you that everyone’s hormone levels are different and this is why some of you puff out each month, like clockwork, whereas others might experience a little bit of mild bloating, now and then.

No. Period-related fluid retention will gradually disperse once your hormone levels change again and you start your period.

Lang suggests reducing your salt intake and supping your magnesium in the run-up to your period to alleviate symptoms, and, when your period starts, drinking plenty of water to support your kidneys and encourage them to flush out more liquid. You could also try these other tips for preventing period weight gain.

3. You use a hormonal contraception

It may help keep you regular but chances are that pill your on is also responsible for your monthly bloat. According to Dr Di Cuffa, many contraceptives offer water retention as a side effect – how kind of them – and it all comes back down to hormones.

‘Oestrogen and progesterone affect your body’s ability to excrete water meaning you temporarily gain what is essentially a water weight,’ says Dr Di Cuffa. ‘That should normalise when your period starts.’

Should I visit my doctor for this water retention?

No. It’s just a bit of a nuisance. And not something to consider coming off the pill for. Fill up on foods containing vitamin B6, which are thought to help reduce water retention – a bowl of porridge topped with a banana should get you off to a flying start, says Lang.

Then when your period strikes, switch to a low-bloat bowl of Bircher muesli, instead.

4. You’re pregnant

Who hasn’t heard a pregnant friend complain about swelling in their legs and ankles during pregnancy? It’s part of the course, right? ‘Water retention during pregnancy – and water retention in your legs – is perfectly normal, says Lang. ‘It helps your body to soften and expand as your baby grows.’

It’s also the result of the baby itself. According to Dr Di Cuffa, the unborn child places additional pressure on the abdominal area, obstructing the blood flow around the body and leading to pooling in the ankles and legs.

Not really, but take it as a warning sign to elevate those legs when you’re sitting down or sleeping, or to go for a gentle swim.

‘Muscle contractions stimulate your blood and lymph vessel walls to contract rhythmically, boosting lymph flow and the return of blood to the heart,’ says Georgios Tzenichristos, nutritionist and director of the LipoTherapeia clinic.

5. You’re showing symptoms of menopause

‘Hormone levels fluctuate dramatically around the time of the peri-menopause, making fluid retention more likely and more frequent,’ says Lang.

‘You’re even more susceptible if you experienced water retention or other PMS symptoms when you were younger.’

If you’re showing other menopause symptoms, then it’s worth getting yourself checked out as there are treatments available. If it turns out you’re experiencing monster PMS symptoms, this might help.

6. You’ve been on a long-haul flight

It’s the reason so many of you like to travel in your gym kit – who wants the discomfort of tight jeans after take-off? It’s partly the result of all that sitting down – exercise is essential for lymph function – but it could also be that a change in your routine and diet means your bowels aren’t moving quite as they should.

‘Constipation obstructs blood and lymph flow in the abdominal area leading to swollen ankles and legs,’ Tzenichristos says.

No. It shouldn’t be but it’s why it’s always best to bag an aisle seat. Ankle rolls, flexing your feet, pointing your toes and regularly walking around the plane will all help to increase circulation and reduce swelling.

And if you can, swerve that glass of Sauvignon Blanc for an orange juice – vitamin C supports your blood vessels and improves their contractions says Tzenichristos.

7. You’ve got a problem with your kidneys

Kidneys are like little recycling plants. While you’re busy enjoying Happy Hour, they’re filtering your blood, sorting out the bits (think fluids and minerals) in it that can be reused by the body, from those that need to be excreted as waste.

So, if they stop functioning properly, the waste – which will also include water – will build up, leading to water retention.

Yes, according to Dr Di Cuffa, this could be a warning sign of kidney failure, which is often symptomless until the advanced stages. Watch out for other giveaways such as anaemia, an increased need to pee, difficulty sleeping, muscle cramps, headaches and unexplained weight loss.

8. Your thyroid is out of whack

Your thyroid plays a key role in keeping your energy levels up. So, if it goes a little haywire – something which is typically caused by your immune system accidentally attacking it – you’re going to start feeling tired, headache-y and continuously cold. You also may experience heavy periods and, you guessed it, fluid retention.

Yes. Best get checked. Left untreated, an under-active thyroid could lead to heart disease, pregnancy problems and, if the gland swells, difficulty breathing.

9. There’s been a change in temperature

It’s not your imagination that the body swells during hot weather – it does. And normally on the day when you’re about to strip off and already feeling a tad anxious.

Obviously, no. The solution – drink more and cool down. ‘If you’re dehydrated, your tissues hold on to water due to the water scarcity,’ Tzenichristos says.

It also happens if you have too many iced lattes. ‘Excessive caffeine leads to poor fluid drainage and water retention,’ says Tzenichristos.

‘Switch to a diuretic herbal tea, such as dandelion leaf tea, or simply water. Alternating hot and cold temperatures in the shower will also help to boost circulation.’

Now that you’re clued up on water retention causes, find out if intermittent fasting is actually beneficial.

Emma Pritchard Contributing Health Editor Emma interviews the world’s leading sportswomen, top health experts, and women who have turned their lives around through fitness – women like you.

Table of Contents

When you’re cutting, you want to see your abs popping out and show off your hard work. You deserve it! After all, you’ve been eating clean and hitting the gym religiously for ages.

There’s one problem, though.

Despite your best efforts, you’re struggling with water retention.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon can affect anyone, from elite bodybuilders to the average Joe. The excess fluid keeps your arms, chest, and abs from looking their best and makes you feel bloated and heavy.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for cutting water weight. It all depends on what caused it in the first place. A high-sodium meal, for instance, can make you look like you’ve gained 10 pounds overnight.

Fluid retention actually is one of the biggest obstacles that bodybuilders face before stepping onto the podium. Luckily, it’s just a temporary condition.

Let’s see why it occurs and how to address it without risking your health.

What Is Water Retention?

The human body is up to 60% water. Every cell and tissue contains this vital fluid. Water regulates your temperature, support hormone production, and lubricates your joints, among other functions.

Water retention is the water excess that accumulates in the body’s tissues & cells.

Without water, your body wouldn’t be able to digest and process food. This fluid keeps your skin hydrated, forms saliva, and helps you flush out metabolic waste. It also plays a key role in muscle function and physical performance. Even the slightest dehydration can affect your endurance, reaction time, and mental focus.

Water is necessary for the body for hydration & to digest & process food.

The problem is that excess water can accumulate in your tissues and cells, causing the number on the scale to go up.

Sometimes, the extra fluid collects in your hands and feet. In this case, it’s known as peripheral edema. Other times, it builds up underneath the skin or around the brain.

Swelling around the eyes is a sign of high sodium intake and much more.

Periorbital edema, for example, is a fancy term for swelling around the eyes. It can have a wide range of causes, from high sodium intake to insufficient sleep, heavy drinking, and medical problems like thyroid disease or conjunctivitis.

When it comes to water retention in bodybuilding, we’re talking about subcutaneous fluid buildup.

In plain English, it means that excess water accumulates underneath your skin, keeping you from achieving a shredded look. Too much salt, hormonal fluctuations, prolonged sitting or standing, and menstrual changes are all potential causes.

Warning Signs Your Body Is Retaining Too Much Water

A puffy face is one of the most common signs of fluid retention.

Bloating is a sign of water retention.

The symptoms will vary, though, depending on the affected area. You may experience any of the following issues:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Swollen fingers or ankles
  • Bloating, especially after eating
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Discolored skin
  • Unexplained weight fluctuations

In general, gaining weight within days indicates that those pounds are just water. Fat gain takes longer to show on the scale.

Bloating from water retention is due to retaining above 15 pounds of excess water.

As the experts at Harvard Medical School point out, most people will retain up to 15 pounds of excess water before experiencing bloating and swollen legs. Sometimes, fluid retention can indicate a more serious problem, such as heart failure.

Under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t gain more than four pounds of water in a week.

Why Are You Retaining Water? Sodium Might Be the Culprit

Have a love-hate relationship with salt? The truth is that few of us can resist the urge to eat a slice of pizza or cheese, especially on cheat days. Unfortunately, some people are more sensitive to sodium than others and can pack on pounds after just one salty meal.

Sodium, the active ingredient in table salt, is the water retention’s main culprit when consumed in excess.

Sodium, the active compound in table salt, isn’t harmful. On the contrary, it’s one of the most important electrolytes in your body. It helps maintain blood pressure and blood volume, supports nerve and muscle function, and keeps your fluid levels within a normal range.

The average man has about 92 grams of sodium in his body, according to a research paper published in Advances in Nutrition. About half of it is found in the intracellular fluid.

A common cause of water retention is excessive sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends up to 2,300 milligrams of this mineral per day. Ideally, you should aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams a day.

Processed foods are high in sodium.

Yet, the average American consumes around 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily. Over 70% of it comes from processed foods.

High-sodium diets not only cause fluid retention but also increase your blood pressure. In the long run, hypertension can lead to stroke and heart disease.

According to a 2013 meta-analysis featured in The BMJ, cutting down on sodium reduces blood pressure without affecting kidney function, cholesterol levels, or triglycerides. Over time, it may lower the risk of cardiac events.

Cut Back on Salt without Giving Up Flavor

The first step to losing water weight is to cut back on salt. While it’s true that some foods are naturally salty, they contain significantly less sodium compared to their processed counterparts.

Raw salmon is a good source of sodium.

Raw salmon, for example, provides 37 milligrams of sodium per serving (3 oz). Smoked salmon, by comparison, boasts a whopping 1,020 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Here’s another example. One ounce of cheddar cheese has 185 milligrams of sodium. The same amount of parmesan contains 480 milligrams of sodium.

What about processed foods?

In general, packaged and processed foods are the worst offenders. Deli meats, for instance, are much higher in sodium compared to unprocessed meat.

Potato chips are one of the products that are high in sodium.

In case you’re wondering how to get rid of water retention, avoid the following products:

  • Potato chips
  • Smoked meat and fish
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Canned soup
  • Canned vegetables
  • Ready-made meals
  • Canned fish
  • Commercial salad dressing
  • Packaged broth
  • Processed cheese
  • Dried meats
  • Luncheon meats
  • Pickles
  • Bread
  • Tomato sauce
  • Frozen meals
  • Bacon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Aged cheese
  • Soy sauce
  • Pizza and junk food

Let’s take cottage cheese. We all know that it’s one of the sources of slow-digesting protein out there. What you might not know is that a half-cup contains more than 459 milligrams of sodium — that’s nearly 20% of the daily recommended intake.

Love cheese? Here’s a trick you can use to reduce its sodium content. Rinse it with water for at least three minutes before consumption. This will lower its salt content by up to 63%.

Do the same with canned tuna. A three-minute rinse can reduce its sodium levels by up to 80%.

Processed meats are another foods high in sodium.

Steer clear of bacon, jerky, and other processed meats. There are more than 620 milligrams of sodium in one ounce of beef jerky.

If you’re addicted to salt, switch to a low-sodium brand. Check food labels for monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrate, baking powder, baking soda, and other additives that contain sodium. Season your favorite dishes with spices and herbs instead of salt.

Beware that restaurant meals, such as salad, can exceed 4,500 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Carbs — an Overlooked Cause of Water Retention

Just like salt, carbs may lead to fluid retention when consumed in excess. After ingestion, carbs are broken down into glucose and used for fuel. Excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. Each gram of glycogen holds up to 3 grams of water.

Excess of carbs may lead to water retention.

High-carb foods like sweet potatoes, rice, or quinoa are more likely to cause water retention than steak or leafy greens. But you can use this to your advantage.

Carb loading and carb depletion are common practice among bodybuilders. These strategies date back to the late ’60s.

The bodybuilding legends of the Golden Era knew how to manipulate carbs to put on mass or torch fat.

Tom Platz increased his carbs intake before competitions.

Tom Platz, for instance, decided to go against the flow by increasing his daily carb intake to a whopping 300 grams before the 1980 Mr. Olympia. During that time, he achieved the best condition of his life.

Ketchup and sauces are sources of hidden carbs.

Carbs are not the enemy. You just need to find the right balance. If you’re struggling with fluid retention, watch out for hidden carbs like:

  • Processed meats
  • Protein bars
  • Cheap protein powders
  • Fruit juices and smoothies
  • Low-fat snacks and “diet” foods
  • Ketchup, BBQ sauce, and other condiments
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Starches
  • Sugar alcohols
  • Ready-made meals
  • Canned foods

Peanuts & other nuts have a decent amount of carbs per gram.

Nuts, for example, are considered high-fat foods, but they also pack a lot of carbs. One ounce of cashews provides around 8 grams of carbohydrates, while chestnuts have nearly 14 grams of carbs per serving.

1. Switch to a Ketogenic Diet

Another way to lose water is to go on a ketogenic diet. This eating pattern is high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein. Some versions limit carbs to 20 or 30 grams per day, making it easy to flush out excess water.

A ketogenic diet is low in carbs & will help you get rid of water retention.

The lower your carb intake, the less fluid you’ll retain.

Real Keto fat burner is designed for low-carb dieters.

For best results, try the Real Keto Fat Burner, our latest thermogenic formula. It’s specially designed for low-carb dieters and contains no MCTs, exogenous ketones, and other ingredients that hamper fat loss.

2. Manipulate Carbs to Get Ripped

As an athlete, you need carbs to perform at your peak. Carbohydrates help replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores, improve recovery time, and keep your cells hydrated, leading to better performance.

Strength training uses glycogen as its main source of fuel. The key is to manipulate your carb intake to lose water and fat without sacrificing your gains.

An older study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine compared the effects of a moderate-protein, high-carb energy-restricted diet, a high-protein, moderate-carb hypocaloric diet and a placebo on muscle function. Weight lifters who followed a high-protein, moderate-carb diet preserved more lean mass compared to the other groups.

Lowering your carb intake through low carb meals will help you get ripped.

To keep it simple, you don’t need a ton of carbs to maintain your hard-earned muscle. However, it’s not smart to cut out carbs just to get rid of water weight (unless you’re competing).

Pro bodybuilders, for example, gradually reduce their carb intake prior to competitions. This strategy, which is known as carb depletion, allows them to get shredded to the bone and flush out excess water.

Over the last two or three days before competing, they take in complex carbs to push water into their muscles and achieve a fuller appearance. This practice is called carb loading and can significantly improve your performance.

Bodybuilders manipulate their water & carb intake to achieve the desired physique.

Elite athletes also manipulate their water and sodium intake before photo shoots and competitions. These strategies — combined with carb loading and carb depletion — result in a lean physique with impressive, well-defined muscles.

Beware, though — eliminating excess water to make your abs pop will only work if you have low body fat.

High Estrogen Levels and Fluid Retention

Another common cause of water retention is excess estrogen. Both men and women produce this sex hormone in varying amounts.

Excess estrogen causes an increase in water weight.

Women have higher estrogen levels than men, so they’re more likely to gain water weight, especially before and during their periods.

A research paper published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews highlights the impact of sex hormones on body fluid regulation. As the researchers note, estradiol (the primary form of estrogen) and progesterone influence fluid and sodium levels in the body, altering water distribution.

Estrogen levels influence fluid & sodium levels s it’s always good to test your levels.

Furthermore, estrogen levels tend to increase at the beginning of the luteal phase when the female body starts to prepare for a possible pregnancy. This leads to fluid retention and bloating before the menstrual cycle. At the same time, the body begins to release more progesterone, which results in constipation.

Beware of Estrogen Dominance

Men can have excess estrogen too. This hormone regulates their libido and sexual behavior. Too much of it, though, can lead to diminished sperm production, testicular atrophy, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.

Cardiovascular problems are a symptom of high estrogen in men.

Other symptoms of high estrogen in men include:

  • Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts)
  • Weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Fluid retention
  • Cardiovascular problems

For example, a 2007 study featured in Neuro Endocrinology Letters has found that estradiol levels were significantly higher and testosterone levels were lower in men with acute myocardial infarction.

Another study, which appeared in the journal Neurology, suggests that older men with high estradiol levels face a greater risk of stroke.

Additionally, your testosterone levels decrease with age. If left unaddressed, this problem can lead to hormonal imbalances, such as estrogen dominance.

One way to prevent these complications is to boost your T levels and reduce estrogen. Dietary and lifestyle changes may help.

Easy and Natural Hormone Hacks for Higher T Levels

Before resorting to hormone therapy, there are a few things you can do to balance your hormones naturally.

First of all, cut down on estrogen-rich foods.

Soy products, for example, are high in phytoestrogens. Despite their potential health benefits, these compounds can disrupt your hormonal balance and skyrocket estrogen levels.

Eating soy doesn’t mean you’ll grow man boobs. However, some guys are particularly sensitive to phytoestrogens. A diet rich in soy-based products, flaxseeds, legumes, and other high-estrogen foods may cause them to pack on pounds and retain water.

In a small study, men who consumed two scoops of soy protein powder per day for four weeks experienced a 19% decrease in testosterone production. Their levels returned to normal two weeks after they stopped using the supplement.

Other studies, though, show that soy has no impact on male hormones.

As you see, the research is conflicting. However, if you’re retaining water despite eating clean, it’s worth trying an alternative approach.

1. Cut Back on Estrogenic Foods

Flaxseeds are an anti-estrogenic food.

Switch to anti-estrogenic diet for a month or two and see how your body reacts. These include but are not limited to:

  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Soy protein powder
  • Red clover
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Multigrain brain
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Dried fruits
  • Beans, green peas, and other legumes
  • Pistachios
  • Papayas
  • Tomatoes
  • Dairy products
  • Red meat

Pistachios are high in phytoestrogen content.

Pistachios, for example, are considered healthy. What you may not know is that they have the highest phytoestrogen content of all nuts. These compounds also occur in meat and dairy foods.

If you carry extra pounds, take the steps needed to lose weight. According to a recent study published in the journal Metabolism, being obese or overweight results in higher estrogen levels. This applies to women too.

When produced in excess, this hormone not only increases fluid retention and weight gain, but it may also contribute to breast cancer.

2. Try a Natural Testosterone Booster

After age 30, your testosterone levels decrease by about 1% each year, which can lead to hypogonadism and hormonal imbalances. Weight gain, infertility, low libido, mood swings, breast enlargement, and fatigue are all common side effects.

Low testosterone doesn’t directly cause water retention. However, an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen may contribute to this issue. Testosterone replacement therapy has its share of side effects, including fluid retention, acne, and enlarged prostate.

Vintage Boost works with the body’s self-regulating hormonal mechanisms for a natural testosterone boost.

One way to increase your T levels naturally is to use testosterone boosters. Choose a formula with proven benefits, such as Vintage Boost™.

This supplement contains a unique mix of ingredients that stimulate testosterone production and balance estrogen levels. Unlike anabolic steroids, our formula works with your body, not against it.

To fully reap the benefits, use Vintage Boost™ as part of a balanced diet and strength training program. Lift heavier, prioritize compound movements, and get adequate rest.

Stress can wreak havoc on your hormones, so try to squeeze more “me” time into your schedule. Also, give your body time to recover between workouts. Overtraining increases your stress levels too.

Have you ever cut water weight before a photoshoot or contest? What’s your strategy for dealing with water retention? Let us know in the comment section below!

The Menopause and Bloating

If you were to look at the many online questions about menopause you would find quite a few along these lines:

  • Can perimenopause cause water retention?
  • Can hormones cause gas and bloating?

The answer is yes; in fact bloating is frequently experienced during both perimenopause and menopause.

Bloating symptoms vary from women to woman but typically include

  • A feeling of fullness/tightness in the stomach
  • A swollen stomach
  • Increased burping or flatulence
  • You may also experience constipation

Some woman will experience this for a few days and then not again for some months whilst others will experience this for much more prolonged periods. The reason of course is hormones.

  1. Firstly oestrogen has an effect on water retention, indeed this is the reason many women experience a higher level of water retention coming up to their period. Unfortunately when oestrogen levels become erratic during perimenopause and menopause water retention is often a consequence.
  2. Oestrogen also influences the production of bile and this acts as a lubricant in the intestines. When this process becomes less efficient fats are less thoroughly digested and bloating can occur.
  3. Increased oestrogen levels lead to the adrenal glands producing aldosterone which effects the kidney function so that there is a water/salt imbalance leading to feelings of bloating and retention of water.
  4. Finally progesterone usually acts as a natural diuretic which helps to relieve excess fluids from the body. If oestrogen levels become much higher than progesterone this will again lead to bloating and retention of water. However if progesterone is high food will move more slowly through your intestine which again leads to bloating.

So fluctuation is the problem. Your hormones function in an interdependent and interconnected system so a changed level in one hormone will trigger a change in another. Generally speaking oestrogen levels go up and down and progesterone falls consistently and continually so sometimes oestrogen will dominate.

In order to help with this condition it is a good idea to cut out well known trigger foods such as onions, beans and sugary snacks.

You should also cut out dairy foods and go for low salt foods, increased exercise can also help.

I usually put my patients on probiotics for three months as this also seems to assist.

However, you may also want to consider hormone replacement therapy to treat the root cause of the problem which are those delightfully fluctuating hormone levels 🙁

We make every effort to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date. However it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional. As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals we cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can we be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.

Water retention: Symptoms, causes, treatment

We all know that approximately 70 per cent of the human body comprises of water, present both inside and outside of the cells.

Our organs, muscles and even bones have high water content. Water is the essence of our existence but sometimes our body holds on to too much of it. Such excessive fluid build-up in the body leads to water retention.

“Sudden swelling, puffiness or bloating of feet, ankles, hands, fingers and face can seem like weight gain. But, when no amount of dieting or exercise helps and the swelling persists with pain, it can be water retention,” said Dr. Pooja Chaudhary, Wellness Consultant, Healthians.

Also read: Freezing one of your nerves might help you lose weight. Will you do it?

What is water retention?

Water retention or fluid retention (medically known as edema) is defined as an excessive build-up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues or cavities in the body which can lead to swelling of the hands, feet, ankles and legs. Water retention or edema can be triggered by a lot of different things.

Causes of water retention: Water retention could be caused due to many reasons, some of the common ones include:

Diet: Salt (sodium) rich food which are mostly include the processed food like meat, crackers, chips, canned vegetables, soups, fast food and even soft drinks can cause water retention.

Malnutrition and poor diet: A diet that is low in protein can result in low levels of albumin, which can also lead to water retention.

Also read: Move aside, Veganism. Wildevore diet is the newest trend to hit the market

Physical inactivity: very long period of physical inactivity, also increase the chances of fluid retention in the body. Sitting or standing for too long can cause the tissue to hold water and cause swelling and pain in the affected areas. It is common after a long journey by car or on an airplane.

Hormones: Women normally feel bloated or fluffy during the days when they have their menstruation cycle. Fluid retention, associated with hormone changes during the menstrual cycle, can cause breast tenderness, uncomfortable swelling in your hands and feet, abdominal bloating and weight gain. Certain kind of hormonal therapies can also cause water retention.

Hot weather: During hot weathers, our body tends to be less efficient in removing fluid from the tissues.

Chronic venous insufficiency: Weakened valves in the veins of the legs fail to efficiently return blood to the heart, resulting in pooling of blood which leads to varicose veins.

Also read: Cut off this one food from your diet to make weight loss super-easy

Water retention can also be the symptom of serious underlying medical conditions:

  • Kidney diseases like nephrotic syndrome, acute glomerulonephritis
  • Heart failure
  • Chronic lung disease like emphysema
  • Malignant lymphoedema is a problem caused by cancer and cancer treatment
  • Thyroid disease
  • Arthritis
  • Allergic reactions
  • Autoimmune reactions like lupus
  • Water retention symptoms: The most common water retention symptoms are:
  • Swelling in the affected body parts (feet, ankles and hands)
  • Bloated stomach
  • Pain in the affected body part
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • An unexplained fluctuations in weight
  • A rapid weight gain over a few days or even weeks
  • Diagnosis of water retention: In order to get rid of water retention, the most important thing is to get the correct diagnosis and start the treatment accordingly.
  • The diagnosis procedure includes:
  • Proper physical examination
  • Medical history of the patient
  • A detailed questioning about the fluid retention including when it started, factors that worsen the swelling and whether it is constant or recurrent
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Liver function tests
  • Kidney function tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Heart function tests such as electrocardiogram (ECG)

Also read: Eating salads but not losing weight? It could be the hidden calories…

Treatment for water retention: Once the problem has been diagnosed the treatment can be started. The treatment mostly includes following changes in diet, exercise and treating the cause directly.

  • Treating the causative factor for water retention
  • Lifestyle changes according to the underlying medical condition
  • If drugs are the cause for fluid retention, then a change in the medication or dose. This has to be supervised by the doctor
  • Water pills (Diuretics) can help in reducing the water retention by increasing the frequency of passing urine
  • Moving around or light exercise is also helpful
  • Home remedies and dietary suggestions to prevent water retention:
  • Have a low salt diet, as high intake of sodium in the salt can cause water retention
  • Increase the magnesium intake in the diet. Good source include nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate, leafy and green vegetables
  • Vitamin B6 intake should be increased. Foods rich in vitamin B6 are banana, potatoes, walnuts and meat
  • Include potassium rich food as they decrease the sodium levels in the body. Bananas and tomatoes are rich source of potassium
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid having refined carbs
  • Avoid drinks like tea, coffee, alcohol and soda as they can cause dehydration
  • Add cranberry juice in your diet
  • Include fresh fruits and dairy products in your diet
  • To improve circulation, try raising your legs several times in a day
  • If the water retention is in lower limb then wearing supporting stockings is advisable
  • Avoid sitting and standing still for too long, keep moving between work
  • It is advisable to avoid extreme temperatures like hot baths or sauna

What You Need to Know About Water Weight and How to Lose It

We’ve all had those annoying moments when you look in the mirror and think, “That is so not my body.” You’re bloated, puffy, and completely confused about that belly bulge that popped out of nowhere. Not the #IWokeUpLikeThis moment you want in the morning.

First off, don’t panic! You’re probably experiencing some extra water weight—totally normal to have every now and then, especially considering there are dozens of things that make you bloat. And you’ve likely heard about water retention before, but do you really get what that means for you? No worries, we got you. Here’s everything you need to know about water weight, from what it is to how to lose it ASAP. And don’t forget to check out these fascinating weight loss tricks you haven’t tried yet for more great ways to slim down and love what you see in the mirror!

What is water weight?

When you’re holding onto excess water weight, you’ll notice that your ankles, hands, and other extremities will look a little swollen. Annoying, yes—but totally normal.

” is extra water that’s hanging around the tissues, joints, and body cavities between cells,” says Abbey Sharp, RD, owner of Abbey’s Kitchen. Another downside of water weight? Minor weight gain. Usually, the water weight will make you five to 10 pounds heavier and can easily be a reason for why you gained weight this week.

Water weight gain is different from fat gain.

As mentioned, water weight does make you gain weight, but it’s a different kind of weight gain than body fat. For one, water weight is not linked to calories consumed or expended; meanwhile, fat weight is linked to an imbalance of energy and is manipulated by eating fewer calories than you expend. The upside to water weight gain is that it will go away (eventually). It’s not permanent nor contributes to long-term fat gain, says Sharp.

Water weight is more prominent in women than in men.

What a bummer! Since women generally have smaller bodies than men, there is less space for water. So, women are (sadly) going to notice their differences in weight more than men.

What are the causes of water weight?


Consuming too much sodium

After eating a delicious restaurant meal or any of the saltiest meals in America, you might notice a little belly bloat. “Your body reacts to higher levels of salt intake by storing more water to keep sodium blood concentrations at a healthy level,” says Sharp.


Eating too many starchy carbs like pasta and bread

Let’s put the “carbs make you fat” rumors to rest. However, feasting on bread and pasta does indeed result in more water weight. One gram of carbs tends to store 3-4 grams of water—so if you’re consuming more carbs than you can efficiently use in one sitting, they’ll end up getting stored as glycogen and make you hold onto more water.



Ironically, skimping on your H2O is the result of water retention. “When you’re not drinking enough , your body holds every drop to prevent severe dehydration,” says Sharp. That goes for alcohol, too. Since it’s a dehydrator, boozing makes your body hoard water even more, causing unwanted bloat the next morning. On the plus side, there are at least health benefits when you stop drinking alcohol!


Hormones and mensturation

And here’s another culprit as to why women can’t escape from the water weight mayhem. “Our hormones affect how the kidneys function and how much fluid your body retains. Changes in a menstrual cycle can influence in water weight gain,” says Sharp. This is why you’re so bloated during the premenstrual week and then deflate and once aunt Flo arrives.


Medications and supplements

People who take medication for high blood pressure may notice an increase in water weight gain. Bodybuilders who take supplements such as Creatine will notice water weight gain because their muscle draws water into the cell. The same goes for people who are on birth control. The added hormones can influence water weight, which is why people usually associate the pill with weight gain.

How to Lose Water Weight


Exercise Daily

Ever notice that after a hard workout, your muscles look swollen? It’s because your muscles are filled with water, preparing themselves to grow. But in the long term, working out stimulates blood flow that flushes out any excess water your body has, helping you get rid of water weight, says Sharp.


Avoid Salty Foods and Carbs

Nix the salty, processed foods. Instead of packing on the salt, try experimenting with different seasonings, suggests Sharp. And as for carbs, try to space them out throughout your day. If you’re not going to do anything active, you might want to limit your intake to lose water weight.


Avoid Juices and Cleanses

A long-term juice cleanse may sound like a fast solution to drop the pounds, but in reality, it’s packing on the water weight. Not only are you skimping on vital nutrients like protein, but when you’re consuming just juice for a long time, your Lymphatic system weakens and can’t keep up with the fluid balance and all that liquid wastes ends up hanging out between cells says Sharp. And that’s not all; here, are what happens when you do a juice cleanse.

5 Best Foods for Getting Rid of Water Weight



We know that protein is essential for reaching your weight loss and muscle-strengthening goals, but did you know that skimping on this nutrient can actually set you back and make you gain water weight? “Be sure you’re eating enough protein and calories to meet your muscles needs,” says Sharp. Even if you’re not a big meat eater, you can still get your protein with these best vegetarian sources of protein.



Like we said, not drinking enough H2O can actually result in more water retention due to dehydration. To counteract the bloat, Sharp suggests trying to hit minimum of 8 cups of water a day to beat the bloat. There’s also a different recommendation for how much water to drink per day to lose weight.


Water-Rich Foods

Foods with a high percentage of H2O can help you flush out excess sodium that’s lingering in your body. Some of these best foods for instant detox include:

  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Grapefruit
  • Celery
  • Peaches


Magnesium Foods

Studies have shown that women who took 200 grams of magnesium a day can reduce water retention before your periods says Sharp. Great food sources of magnesium to lose water weight include:

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard)
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews)
  • Beans (edamame)



Eating high-potassium foods can help reduce water retention. These foods are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas

Electrolytes, like potassium, work oppositional of one another to decrease sodium levels and increase urine levels, says Sharp.

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