What is Water Retention Weight Gain? How to Stop It?

What is Water Retention Weight Gain?

Our body is generally around 60% water. So naturally when we consume food and drinks, our bodies would retain some of that water. Water retention is also known as fluid retention or edema. It occurs when excess fluids build up in your body. Water retention may also cause swelling in your hands, feet, ankles, and legs. The water retention we are talking about here is not the water our body would normally have, but is the excess.

Water Retention is often accompanied with the feeling of being bloated and puffy.

How Does It Happen?

In order to prevent it from happening and to get rid of water weight when it happens, we should first understand why and how it happens. Key causes of water weight include (1):

Your Food Choices

Too much sodium and high carb diets can lead to water retention. Potassium and magnesium deficiencies can also cause extra water weight to be retained in the human body. At the same time, food deficiencies in certain nutrients may cause water retention. Eat potassium rich foods to resolve this issue.

A severe protein deficiency can cause kwashiorkor, a condition characterized by fluid retention and an enlarged stomach (2). Obesity may be associated with increased water retention in the core, arms, and legs (3).

Excessive intake of Carbohydrates are also a factor in your diet you should be watching out for.  As mentioned before, carbs are a contributing factor. If you want to avoid water retention, you have to avoid carbs. This is why you can get on the scale after a day of heavy carb intake and it looks like you’ve gained 5 pounds. You did not gain 5 pounds from one meal. Actually, for every gram of carbohydrate you consume and your body keeps to use as energy, your body hoards 3 to 4 grams of water to help store the energy (glycogen). Carbs also lead to a rise in the hormone insulin, which can increase sodium retention and reabsorption of water in the kidneys (4,5).

Health Conditions

Having Infections can cause water retention. Some infections may trigger inflammation and swelling, which are normal parts of your body’s immune response (6). When your body detects an allergen, it releases a compound called histamine, which causes fluid to leak from your capillaries into the surrounding tissues, leading to short-term swelling and inflammation (7).

Being diagnosed with Heart or kidney disease can also affect your body’s capability of regulating how much water it retains. Having these illnesses can disrupt the normal circulation of blood in your body This disruption can then cause a buildup of fluids, resulting in swelling, bloating and extra water weight (8) (9).

Always consider your health condition. Any medication you take also can affect your body’s ability to retain water. Dehydration can lead to bloat which may seem to appear as water retention. Water retention is also a side effect of certain medications. A person should consult their doctor if any medication causes worrying side effects. (10).

In addition to these factors, women have to deal with their menstruation. Natural hormone variations like menstruation can cause increases in water retention in the week before it. These types of food lend themselves to water retention. Water retention may occur during pregnancy or before a menstrual period as a result of changes in levels of certain hormones, such as progesterone (11).

An overall sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can also be a factor on how your body manages its water retention. People who are physically inactive — whether they’re unable to walk for medical reasons or are simply sitting through a long flight — may be affected by fluid retention, particularly in the lower legs (12). Physical inactivity. Sitting or standing for extended periods can stop fluids from circulating around the body properly. Remember to stand up and stretch occasionally, otherwise, this causes water to build up around the body tissue, leading to swelling in the extremities.

Although fluid retention may be a sign of several serious conditions that require medical treatment, you may be able to reduce it with a few simple steps — as long as your swelling is mild and you don’t have an underlying health condition.

How to Get Rid of It?

Thankfully there are a number of things that can cause bloat or water retention that can be easily addressed by managing a balanced and healthy diet. Maintaining a healthful, low-sodium, and low-carb diet can keep water weight off of you. You can also take supplements for any deficiencies you have. Hydrate more and eat the right foods. If a sedentary lifestyle contributes to the bloat, a little bit of exercise can go a long way. Thankfully all these solutions are well within our reach as ordinary consumers.

Women can also  plan for menstruation-related fluid retention by introducing exercise and vitamin supplements into their monthly routine (13).

If it’s just water weight that you are trying to lose, you can do it in many ways, quickly and naturally. We look at the most effective techniques:

Eat More Foods with Potassium!

Potassium serves several important functions, especially regarding heart health, muscle contractions, and nerve functions.

It’s also essential for maintaining blood volume and fluid balance to help decrease water retention. It works by counteracting the effects of sodium to prevent fluid buildup and swelling, as well as by increasing urine production (14).

Potassium helps prevent blood vessels from leaking fluid in the tissue spaces.  It is a very important nutrient and thankfully foods that are high in potassium are very common and accessible. Eat Food rich in potassium or get a potassium supplement in your diet. Eat tomatoes, kidney beans, bananas, Kiwi, avocado, fish, potatoes, dark leafy green vegetables, and dairy. These are all good sources of potassium.

Take Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also helps. Pyridoxine is vitamin B6. Vitamins occur naturally in foods such as meat, poultry, nuts, whole grains, bananas, and avocados. Vitamin B6 is important for many processes in the body. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is thought to help in cases of mild fluid retention. It is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in red blood cell formation, protein metabolism, brain function, and immune health (15). Having healthy red blood cells cannot be understated.

Good sources of vitamin B6 include brown rice and red meat. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), calcium, and vitamin D help the body to excrete excess fluids. Include fresh fruits and low-fat dairy foods in your daily diet. Vitamin B6 supplements are also available in case you have a deficiency and are unable to eat the foods that are rich in it.

Eat More Foods with Magnesium

Increase your magnesium intake. It is a very important mineral that we need to have in order to keep our body functioning normally. It’s involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions that are essential to keep your body functioning properly (16). Moreover, increasing your magnesium intake may help reduce water retention. Research suggests that magnesium supplements may help decrease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including bloating and water retention (17). For example, one older study found that taking 250 mg of magnesium per day improved several symptoms of PMS, including bloating. But keep in mind that further studies are necessary (18).

Nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate, and leafy green vegetables are all excellent sources of Magnesium. You can also have Magnesium as a supplement in addition to a multivitamin. Magnesium intake should be optimized, as it plays a key role in hydration levels and body water content.


As contradictory as it may seem, drinking more water actually decreases water retention. Since water retention often occurs because of dehydration, providing the body with plenty of water will prevent the body from conserving water in order to prevent dehydration. Diuretics help the body to get rid of water and sodium. It flushes the sodium out. They make the kidneys excrete more sodium in urine, and the sodium takes water with it from the blood.  Dehydration or overhydration can lead to water retention. Make sure to drink balanced amounts of water each day.

It is a long standing belief that a person should drink 8 glasses of water a day. What you can do is to be conscious of your thirst. Try to have a bottle or glass of water so you can take sips and hydrate whenever you need to. Just having that there with you for convenience can mean the difference from being dehydrated and not. It is often the small things like the ease of access that prevent us from having healthier eating habits.

Interestingly, being well-hydrated can actually reduce water retention. (19)

Your body is always trying to achieve a healthy balance, so if you’re constantly dehydrated your body tends to retain more water in an attempt to prevent water levels from becoming too low.

Achieving an optimal daily water intake can also be important for liver and kidney health, which may reduce water retention in the long term. (20)

Electrolytes control water balance and cell hydration. Electrolyte supplements can be beneficial if you drink a lot of water, exercise a lot, live in a hot climate or don’t eat salty foods. Most people get their electrolytes not only from natural fruits and vegetables but from sports drinks.

When electrolyte levels become too low or too high, they can cause shifts in fluid balance. This may lead to increased water weight. (21)You should tailor your electrolyte intake to your water intake. If you drink large amounts of water, you may need more electrolytes. (22)

Eat Less Sodium

Avoid high Sodium Foods, Sodium causes your body to store more water. Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium binds to water in your body and helps maintain the balance of fluids both inside and outside your cells.

Your body may retain more water than needed if you consume a lot of sodium rich foods. These are commonly junk foods, salty foods, and processed foods. In fact, these foods are the biggest dietary source of sodium in most Western diets (23).

Several studies have found that increased sodium intake leads to increased fluid retention. However, many other factors are involved in regulating fluid balance, and the effects of salt on water retention may vary from person to person (24). Salt or sodium plays a key role in fluid balance. Try to avoid extreme changes, such as excessive salt intake or the elimination of salt.

Manage your Carbohydrate Intake

Avoid overeating, and although cutting carbs completely is a common strategy to quickly drop excess water. It might be better to manage your consumption and exercise a degree of self control and discipline instead. Even good things can be bad for you if you take them in excess. The key thing is to moderate your consumption.  Carbs are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, but glycogen also pulls water inside along with it.

Low-carb diets lead to a drop in insulin levels, which then leads to a loss of sodium and water from the kidneys. A low-carb diet can cause a rapid decrease in water weight because of reduced glycogen stores and lower insulin levels.

Try Natural Diuretics

Drink Tea! Black and Green Tea are known as diuretics. They can be very helpful in flushing out sodium in your system as well as provide hydration.

Eating more fruits and vegetables that act as diuretics may be another beneficial solution. Foods like watermelon, grapes, berries, celery, asparagus, garlic onions and peppers all act as diuretics.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has long been used as a natural diuretic in folk medicine. Natural diuretics may help reduce water retention by increasing urine production (25).

In an older study, 17 people took 3 doses of dandelion leaf extract over 24 hours, which led to a significant increase in urine production (26).

Caffeine and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee and tea, have diuretic effects and may help reduce your water weight.

It has been shown to increase short-term urine output and decrease water weight slightly (27,) Moderate amounts of caffeine from coffee, tea or caffeine supplements may help you drop excess water.

When combining caffeine with water, participants’ urine volume significantly increased (28). That being said, even though caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, it doesn’t lead to dehydration in habitual consumers.

Doctors may prescribe you with medicine that helps you urinate more help in the removal of fluid. These kinds of drugs are called diuretics, or sometimes tagged as water pills. Diuretics help the body to get rid of water and sodium. They make the kidneys excrete more sodium in urine, and the sodium takes water with it from the blood. Doctors prescribe diuretics when the body is retaining too much fluid. This problem is more common in older adults.


Exercise may be one of the best ways to reduce water weight in the short term. Any form of exercise increases sweat, which means you will lose water. People even buy sauna suits that help them sweat more water out during long workout sessions.

Regular exercise can help you maintain a natural balance of body fluids and sweat out excess stored water The American Heart Association recommends doing 2.5 hours (29) of exercise per week. Keeping the body active can prevent fluids from building up and reduce water weight. People should be sure to stay hydrated during exercise.

Get More Sleep

The effect of sleep on health is largely underestimated by the population at large. Research on sleep highlights that it’s just as important for health as diet and exercise (30). Giving the body the time to rest and recuperate are essential to keeping healthy.

A good night’s sleep may help your body manage its fluid and sodium balance and lead to reduced water weight in the long term. Adequate sleep may also help your body control hydration levels and minimize water retention. Try to get a healthy amount of sleep per night, which for most individuals will be around 7–9 hours, and your body will thank you for it later.

Take Water Pills

If all else fails, see a doctor about your condition. It is likely that he may prescribe you with pills or diuretics to remove excess water weight (31). They work by activating your kidneys to flush out excess water and salt through urine.

There are prescription diuretics or water pills available but there are also over the counter pills that are available. Before taking any supplements, remember to consult with a medical practitioner and take prescribed drugs under supervision.


  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320603
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kwashiorkor/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31443775/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21629870
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17686957
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534820/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6480561/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430873/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28318633/
  10. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1358863X16672576
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4362892/
  12. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0260742
  13. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320603
  14. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/
  15. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/
  16. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28392498/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4161081/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18385417
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9630736
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10483801
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5572793
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5848120/
  24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28253022/
  25. https://bnrc.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s42269-021-00567-1
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678785
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/353595
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036994/
  29. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21300732
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24243991
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