Water weight is a term used to describe excess water retained in the body. It can cause bloating and swelling, making it difficult to go about your daily activities.
Importantly, water weight is not the same as the kind of weight that lives on the body as fat. It is a very specific form of weight and is the weight that comes when extra water is stored in the body’s tissues and which then causes the body to swell up. This type of weight gain is usually temporary and is often caused by dehydration – which we might think is a bit ironic – and also by levels of sodium intake. It can also be a side-effect of certain medications and some medical conditions, as we will see below.
Causes of water weight
The answers to this can depend on the person, but there are nonetheless some common reasons that could explain why water weight affects you.
- In many people, it is due to an electrolyte imbalance from a diet that lacks essential minerals like sodium and potassium.
- Overeating is also a common factor, as is a lack of exercise.
- Not drinking enough water throughout the day can also, paradoxically, lead to water retention and water weight.
- Certain medications or supplements are known to lead to water weight gain, and if you are on prescription medicine you need to chat this over with your doctor.
Benefits of reducing water weight
A primary benefit is the improvement that will come to your heart health. By reducing the amount of fluid retained in your body, you reduce the amount of strain placed on your cardiovascular system.
In addition, and potentially more influentially for many people, reducing water weight can improve your physical appearance and your sense of aesthetic self-satisfaction. Excess water weight can lead to bloating, puffiness in the skin, and the appearance of being fatter. More practically, reducing your water weight can also lead to improved athletic performance, as extra water makes your body heavier and can make certain activities, such as running, more difficult.
Steps to Lose Water Weight
Increase physical activity
This need not be too excessive, but the key thing is to make your habits sustainable. A brisk walk for around thirty minutes a day is among the most sure-fire ways to stimulate the body to regulate its weight and water retention well. Making sure to take stairs instead of using an escalator or elevator is another good habit to get into that will address immediate water retention problems as well as making a return of the condition less likely. And of course you can join a gym or take part in sports. These are all ways to lower the rate of water your body is systematically retaining.
Reduce sodium intake
It is important to reduce your sodium intake, as high levels of sodium in the blood lead to water retention. This is because excessive amounts of sodium draw fluid into the bloodstream, making your body retain water. Cutting back on salt can therefore make a significant difference. Remember that salt is hidden away in many fast food products, ready meals, and processed foods, so look carefully at labels to see that you are not ingesting levels of sodium without knowing it.
Drink more water
Of course, on the face of it, this sounds highly counter-intuitive, but given what we have said earlier about salt, you need to hydrate well in order to flush out the salts or other excess fluids that might be lingering in your system. Water also helps to make the stomach feel fuller, which then assists in ensuring you do not overeat.
Eat more fiber
Fiber is hard to get in our modern diets to the levels the body likes, so pay attention to fiber when you are shopping. You ideally need around 30 grams a day. Fiber works by helping to slow down the digestion of food, which makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients and maintain a healthy weight. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduce bloating, which are absolutely vital processes if you want to lose water weight.
Reduce processed foods
As we said in relation to salt, many of these foods are high in additives that cause us to retain water. By cutting out these foods, you’re giving yourself a notably higher chance of getting rid of any extra water weight. More than that, by eating whole and natural foods, you’re fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and energized.
Get adequate rest
Getting adequate rest is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and one of the best ways to help reduce bloating. Not getting enough restful sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, slowing down your body’s ability to eliminate excess water. Try to keep consistent sleeping and waking times, and aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Additionally, be sure to create an environment that promotes restful sleep, such as keeping the room dark and quiet. The body really needs effective sleep to ensure it flushes itself free of toxins and that it is able to extract the right levels of nutrition, so never underestimate sleep’s importance in maintaining a good weight and in avoiding water retention. Your whole hormonal balance arguably depends on getting decent levels of rest in line with your body’s needs.
Diet Tips to Lose Water Weight
Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks
The sugars from these drinks do your body no good, certainly not when it comes to losing water weight. Alcohol is notoriously calorie-dense and sugary drinks can lead to spikes in blood sugar, which cause your body to retain more water. If you’re trying to lose water weight, do all you can to shun these drinks as they will make your bodily task much harder.
Limit caffeine intake
If you are trying to lose water weight, do not drink excessive amounts of caffeine. Moderation is key here, and, generally speaking, most adults should aim for no more than two to three cups of coffee a day. If, however, you are also drinking caffeinated energy drinks, then you need to cut coffee out altogether, as these drinks can often be extremely high in caffeine. By reducing your caffeine intake, you prevent dehydration and you also reduce the amount of excess water in your body.
Eat a healthy diet of lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables
Diet is critical. As we saw earlier, you need to cut back on processed foods if you are to limit the risk of water retention. But you also need to eat well. Key elements of a good diet are lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables; these are the core to good health. This is because lean proteins provide the essential amino acids your body needs, while fresh fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In addition, they are low in calories, while also helping keep you feeling energized and full for longer.
Track your progress by taking regular measurements
By tracking, in particular, your waist measurements over time, you can build up a really good picture of what foods and habits are making the most difference to you and your weight. There is a lot to consider in losing weight, even weight like water weight, so maintaining a tab on how your weight is responding to various stimuli is wise.
Remember that part of water-weight’s frustration for us is that even though we may actually be lighter, we look just as heavy. These measurements are therefore especially important, as they help you make key correlations between your weight, your measurements, and how you look to yourself.
In some people, of course, water weight may gather on the upper arms or around the legs, so look across your whole body when you are determining what areas to measure. In women especially, the thighs, hips and upper arms can be areas where the skin most notably shows excess water retention, so be sure to keep tabs on those areas too.
Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids
It is worthwhile mentioning again how important water is to your weight loss. Do not be baffled into thinking that your problem is too much water and so you therefore should avoid it. The opposite is the case. Water should be your top choice for staying hydrated. It is calorie-free, and it is also the root of how your body both absorbs nutrients and flushes away toxins and waste. It is also instrumental in helping your body maintain a healthy metabolism which makes weight gain far less likely.
Your fluid levels can also be healthily maintained by eating foods rich in electrolytes. Great examples of these include bananas, oranges, and spinach. These foods also support water balance in the body too.
Talk to your doctor about any medications you may be taking
Before you begin any diet or exercise plan to lose water weight, it’s essential to have an open dialogue with your doctor. The body’s complexity deserves that chat. The doctor can help you decide if your current medications could potentially affect your progress, or if there are ways to adjust your dosages to minimize any complications.
It’s in your hands
Most weight matters we face are down to us. If we want to lose weight or adjust the workings of our body, we can very often make lifestyle changes to do so. Weight is within your control, so make sure you feel empowered to take action to help get the body weight and shape you would prefer. Remember that water weight is almost always temporary, or caused by quite simple lifestyle or dietary factors. It can therefore be tackled by making adjustments to your life, and the benefits can come much more quickly than you might imagine.