One of my lean legs girls asked me the other day, “How do I reduce water retention? I feel puffy all over!”
I actually used to wonder this myself all the time.
I’d be feeling great, then suddenly my body seemed to increase in size. Like literally overnight. Or sometimes it would happen straight after a workout.
I was a bit confused.
Had I somehow put on weight overnight? I knew that that wasn’t possible. After all, I’d been eating well (or so I thought) and exercising every day.
Then it hit me – must be water retention.
So I decided to do some research and learn more about what water retention really is. I wanted to make sure I could avoid it in future so I could always feel comfortable in my skinny jeans!
What I did find is that it is really common, but I wish I had known more about it sooner. With a few small lifestyle and diet changes, you can reduce water retention or even avoid it.
Here’s what you should know.
What causes fluid retention?
The body is made up of 70% water. We need it for our blood, bones, organs, and muscles to function properly. When we don’t have enough water, we become dehydrated and don’t feel well.
Sometimes, our body chooses to hold on to extra water, and we can feel this from the puffiness and swelling all over our body.
Water retention symptoms include:
- Bloating, especially in the lower tummy area
- Swollen ankles, feet, legs and fingers
- Puffiness in the hips and face
- Stiff joints
Some people get it more than others, whilst some may never really experience it at all. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to determine exactly why it is happening.
This is because there are different causes for retention, including the following.
Sodium is something that our body needs to function, but consuming too much salt can be a problem. Having too much salt in your body can lead to water retention, so think wisely about how much you eat. It’s a good idea to check the sodium level on the food packaging of products you buy.
Not drinking enough water will actually cause water retention. If you’re not drinking enough, your body will hold onto all the water it can to survive. So after (and during) an intense workout, make sure you drink lots of water, so that your body doesn’t try to hold onto what it can.
Sitting or standing too long can cause your body to retain water. It’s common for people to have water retention after standing up all day on the job. Or, after coming off a long haul flight.
You may feel extra puffy in the days before your period starts, or if you are taking birth control.
Other hormone conditions such as hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue can also cause water retention and leave you feeling puffy.
Some medications such as antidepressants, pain relievers, and high blood pressure medicine do include water retention as one of the side effects.
Heart or vein problems
Water retention can sometimes happen if blood is not being pumped around your body effectively.
Serious medical conditions
Conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary edema, cancer, kidney disease, severe malnutrition, and liver problems can also cause water retention.
How do you lose water weight?
When it comes to water retention treatment, unfortunately, there is no magic pill that you can take to fix the problem. There is no water retention diet, but I can give you some great tips on how to reduce water retention.
Avoid sodium-rich foods
Canned vegetables, crackers, chips, fast food, and soft drinks usually have high levels of sodium. Increased sodium levels lead to increased fluid retention.
Keep sodium levels balanced
By eating potassium-rich foods like bananas and spinach you can balance out any excess salt in your system. If you can’t get rid of the craving for a bag of chips, eat a banana afterwards. Potassium also increases how much you need to pee, which means you can flush out your system faster.
Increase Vitamin B6 levels
Vitamin B6 is found in meat, walnuts, potatoes, and bananas. It is extremely important for the formation of red blood cells, and can help to reduce water retention.
Taking a B complex vitamin (which includes all B vitamins from B1 to B12) can also be great just for general health!
Drink plenty of water
This may seem counterintuitive, but drinking more water helps to flush out your system. Make sure you are drinking at least 2-3 litres of water every single day.
Have some dandelion tea
As a natural diuretic, dandelion extract will help you pee more and naturally reduce water retention.
Have more magnesium
Increasing your magnesium intake may help to reduce water retention. Plus, magnesium can help with PMS – bonus! Try eating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate and leafy vegetables. Or try out a reliable brand of magnesium supplements, such as Bioceuticals or Thorne Research.
Reduce refined carbs intake
Refined carbs are not good for our diet. When we eat them, our blood sugar levels spike leading to high insulin levels, which can be stored as fat. Then, our bodies also retain more sodium which leads to water retention.
Since sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause water retention, moving around can only help. If you are on a long journey, try to take a break to move around every hour. If you are stuck at a desk all day, go for a walk around the office regularly. TIP – set a timer on your phone to remind you!
Look into herbs for a natural remedy
Our ancestors used herbs to combat many ailments and had their own water retention remedies. It’s quite incredible really.
It’s thought that in many parts of the world, herbs and plants such as parsley, garlic, fennel, nettle, and hibiscus were used to reduce water retention. Definitely worth a try!
How do you lose water weight in a day?
I remember Googling “how do I get rid of water retention fast?” when I couldn’t fit into my jeans that day.
While we would all love the answer of how to reduce water retention fast, I’m afraid it can take some time.
Drinking 2-3L of water and reducing sodium in your diet will both help a lot. Also reducing any inflammation in your body and balancing your hormones will also help too.
If you have tried everything and you still can’t reduce water retention, then it might be time to visit your doctor or naturopath to get a checkup.
How do you reduce water retention?
I’m sure there are many more tips on how to reduce water retention, so would love to hear some! Let me know what you do in the comments below.
Love Rachael Xx