A swollen belly full of water weight isn't a good look on anyone. It leaves you wondering, how can I get rid of this water weight? And the good news is there are a few simple solutions. Losing water weight is all about maintaining your body's natural balance. It's essential to work out, reduce your salt intake and keep those electrolytes balanced.
How to Reduce Water Retention
Water weight is not something you want to have to deal with. Your pants go from looking fabulous on you one day to digging inches into your stomach the next day. And you know your pants didn't shrink without a trip to the dryer. So you're left to accept that you have water weight.
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There are a lot of reasons why a person might be retaining water. A MedlinePlus November 2017 article explained the importance of water balance. When you're healthy, your body naturally balances your water levels. If you're out of balance, you'll become dehydrated or start retaining water.
In a University Health News article from March 2019, the authors noted just how much water weight a person can gain in a day. Over the course of 24 hours, you may see your body bloating because of a 4- to 5-pound expansion. That's something you're going to notice. They did warn, though, that gaining 10 or more pounds in a day is cause to seek medical attention.
It's All About Keeping Balance
As the MedlinePlus article explained, reducing water retention is all about balance. And your electrolytes play a significant role in that balance. A Roswell Park article from August 2018 discusses the role of electrolytes in your health. They're also often used as a treatment for water retention.
If you're retaining water because your electrolytes are out of balance, there's an easy solution. A lot of natural sources contain these essential minerals. Or you can use today's more popular choice of sports drinks and electrolyte powders. Whichever you choose, the important part is keeping up with it.
Starting your day with an electrolyte drink as an easy way to make the change. If you choose to use electrolyte powders or sports drinks, beware of their sugar content. You don't want to create new problems by tackling your current ones.
Watch Out for Salt
While salt is in some of the best dishes, it's problematic for your body's water balance. The CDC said, in a June 2018 article, that Americans tend to overconsume salt. In contrast, they aren't getting enough potassium. This is problematic because of the role that salt and potassium have on each other.
Potassium helps to regulate the sodium in your body. Without it, your sodium levels build up. Too much sodium can cause several health issues. There are serious health problems, like high blood pressure to cardiovascular issues. And, less threatening, but still undesirable, water retention.
So an easy way to reduce water retention is to reduce your salt intake. While you don't want to cut this critical mineral from your diet entirely, try fewer shakes on your fries. This is especially important for people who love to put salt on everything. It may be making your meals taste better, but it also may be causing your tummy to bloat bigger.
Reduce Inflammation From Water Retention
Edema is inflammation from water retention, according to a Biomed Network July 2015 article. One of the causes of this type of swelling is consuming too many histamines. Or, to put it simply, eating inflammatory foods can increase water retention. So an anti-inflammatory diet will reduce your water weight.
Several different diets have anti-inflammatory elements. The Mediterranean diet is currently a popular anti-inflammatory diet. A September 2016 article in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging discussed the reduction of inflammation in participants who followed the diet. What's great is that it may also help you lose weight, so you can lose the water weight along with some other weight.
If that diet doesn't interest you, several different foods help with reducing edema. A Harvard Health Publishing November 2018 post listed anti-inflammatory foods:
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables
- Such as spinach kale and collards
- Fatty fish
Try Consuming Diuretics
If you have too much water retention, the obvious solution is to get rid of the water. An easy way to help your body release fluids is through diuretics. A February 2018 article in Health Direct explained that diuretics are substances that induce urination. The authors recommend pairing diuretics with other water weight attackers. So don't use them on their own.
A healthy source of diuretics you can easily add to your diet is parsley. A Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences January 2014 article discussed the diuretic effects of the herb. It pairs well with Mediterranean food, which can also be beneficial for shedding water weight. Fennel was also found to have diuretic effects in a January 2015 article from the Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences.
If you're looking to lose weight, you've probably checked out water pills. While water pills can be an effective diuretic, they have their own side effects. A KU Medical Center February 2019 article warns about mineral depletion caused by water pills. They flush your system without discretion, so make sure you're keeping your electrolytes up.
Working Out That Water Retention
If diuretics help reduce water retention, then it makes sense that sweating would as well. You may already be working out or you may be avoiding it with all your might. Either way, it's a healthy habit that will get you in shape. So you might as well give it a try.
A January 2017 article published by Better Health explains that sweating secretes fluids from your body. With proper electrolyte balance, sweating should help you reduce your water retention. But don't sweat too much, or you might make yourself dehydrated.
Exercise is the best way to get your body sweating. You don't have to go to an extreme to get your heart rate up for a good sweat, either. So, if a high-intensity workout is something you know you won't do, plan for something mild. Even a light jog can get the job done.
Don't Stress: It Retains Water
Hearing the words don't stress is probably the least helpful response to stress. But there's a significant relationship between stress and water retention. An American Psychological Association January 2014 article explains that stress causes the body to bloat from retained water. So if you're stressing out, you're keeping that water locked in your gut.
Fortunately, you live in an age of stress reduction techniques. It's really a matter of which one works best for you. Mindfulness is a common practice that a July 2014 study from Sage Journals found to reduce stress. It's an excellent practice for most Americans as stress is a common problem.
Read more: The 24 Best Stress-Relief Techniques
Mindfulness is about being in the present, and you can practice it in many different ways. An easy method to add it into your life is doing your chores mindfully, meaning while you're washing the dishes, only focus on the dish you're washing. Don't let your mind wander into some faraway place with stresses and worries; stay with the soap, the sponge and the plate.
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Foods that Fight Inflammation”
- Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging: “Effect of a Mediterranean Type Diet on Inflammatory and Cartilage Degradation Biomarkers in Patients With Osteoarthritis”
- Biomed Network: “Histamine Intolerance Syndrome”
- KU Medical Center: “The Benefits of Magnesium”
- Health Direct: “Fluid Retention”
- CDC: “The Role of Potassium and Sodium in Your Diet”
- University Health News: “A Daily Weight Fluctuation Is Nothing to Worry About”
- Better Health: “Exercise - The Low-Down on Hydration”
- Roswell Park: “Electrolytes — What Are They? What Happens If You Don't Have Enough?”
- Sage Journals: “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a Stress Management Intervention for Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review”
- American Psychological Association: “Stress Effects on the Body”
- MedlinePlus: “Fluid Imbalance”
- Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences: "Critique of Medicinal Conspicuousness of Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): A Culinary Herb of Mediterranean Region"
- Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences: "Antioxidant Activities of Phenolics, Flavonoids and Vitamin C in Two Cultivars of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) in Responses to Organic and Bio-Organic Fertilizers"