Mya Care Blogger 21 Mar 2024

Water weight accumulates when excess fluid builds up in the body's tissues. It is a widespread health concern, also known as fluid retention or edema. The body comprises an average of 50-60% of water[1]. The average person is estimated to carry around 5-10 pounds of water weight at any given time.

Fluid retention can lead to the following symptoms[2]:

  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles
  • Discomfort in the impacted body parts
  • Joint stiffness
  • Bloating
  • Temporary, rapid weight gain over a few days to weeks

It can also frustrate those trying to lose weight.

Losing fluid is not the same as actual weight loss. Actual weight loss occurs when the body burns fat. It takes longer and requires more effort than it does to lose excess fluid. Water weight loss is temporary, and the weight loss can return quickly.

Pressing on the swollen area is a simple way to determine whether you carry water weight. If the indentation remains for a few seconds after you release, you are likely holding excess water.

Several health benefits of losing water weight include:

  • Reducing bloating and swelling
  • Improving circulation
  • Reducing the risk of conditions like heart failure and kidney disease

Persistent fluid retention is rare. Conditions such as heart failure, kidney disease, and certain hormonal disorders can cause this type of permanent fluid imbalance.

If you find losing water weight difficult, consult a healthcare practitioner immediately for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of Water Weight

Several factors can contribute to temporary water weight, including[3]:

  • Excess Sodium: Consuming high amounts of sodium can cause the body to retain extra water to maintain fluid balance.
  • High carbohydrate or sugar intake: Consuming a high amount of carbohydrates can cause an increase in glycogen stores in the body, which bind to water molecules. Sugar epitomizes this effect.
  • Sedentary Living and Lymphatic Drainage: Poor lymphatic drainage can promote fluid retention. The lymphatic system works best with regular physical activity. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can enhance poor lymphatic drainage and water retention.
  • Prolonged sitting or standing: Sitting or standing for too long can lower circulation and lead to water retention in the lower extremities.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations: Hormonal fluctuation in the menstrual cycle can lead to temporary water weight gain.
  • Stress: High stress levels elevate cortisol, a hormone that can cause temporary water retention.
  • Allergic Reactions: Sudden allergic reactions can cause dramatic swelling and weight gain. Less noticeable reactions may cause gradual water retention over several days.
  • Medications: Specific medications can cause temporary water weight gain as a side effect.[4] Examples include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hormonal contraceptives.

Risk factors for picking up water weight include[5]:

  • Pregnancy and menstruation
  • Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies
  • Corticosteroids and contraceptive pills
  • Cardiovascular inflammation or damage
  • Obesity
  • Infection and allergies

How Long Does Water Weight Last?

The span can vary depending on the cause.

  • Temporary water weight caused by high sodium intake or premenstrual syndrome can last a few days to a week.
  • Permanent water weight caused by underlying health conditions may last longer and require medical treatment.

How to Lose Water Weight

Losing temporary water weight is easy through simple lifestyle changes. Losing this type is more challenging as permanent water weight results from an underlying health condition.

If you want to lose water weight, here are some tips:

  • Reduce Sodium Intake: A lofty sodium intake is one of the most prominent causes of water weight. When you consume too much sodium, your body retains water to maintain fluid balance, resulting in water weight. To reduce water weight, limit your salt intake and your consumption of high-sodium foods. Try herbs and spices in place of salt to flavor your food.
  • Avoid Junk Food: Fast food and junk snacks are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and calories, making them a significant contributor to water weight. Avoiding junk food and opting for healthier options can reduce sodium and promote weight loss.
  • Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration can help you lose water weight. When dehydrated, your body holds onto water, but drinking enough water releases excess fluid, reducing water weight.
  • Exercise Regularly: The sweating and better blood flow that exercise facilitates can help one to lose excess fluid. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.
  • Reduce Water Retention in the Belly with Diuretic Foods: Excess water weight in the belly can be uncomfortable and make you feel bloated. To reduce water retention in the belly, try incorporating foods with a diuretic effect into your diet, such as cucumbers, celery, and watermelon.
  • Minimize Water Before Bed: Drinking too much water before sleep can cause your body to retain water, resulting in water weight. To avoid this, limit your water intake a few hours before bedtime.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Sufficient sleep can indirectly support a healthy fluid balance and help manage water weight. Adequate sleep regulates hormone production, manages stress, and promotes general wellness. Strive for 7-9 hours of quality deep sleep per night.

Electrolytes for Optimal Fluid Balance

Electrolytes, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium are crucial for sustaining fluid balance in the body. They help regulate the movement of water and maintain proper hydration levels.

While electrolytes do not directly possess diuretic effects, maintaining the right balance of electrolytes can indirectly contribute to losing water weight. Here is how:

By ensuring adequate intake of these electrolytes through a balanced diet or electrolyte-rich foods, you can help support proper fluid balance in the body. Sufficient dietary intake may help reduce water weight by promoting a healthy water balance and supporting optimal kidney function.

Foods high in electrolytes include leafy greens, bananas, nuts, avocados, oranges, tomatoes, yogurt, and whole grains.


Diuretic medications can help reduce water weight by increasing the amount of urine your body produces. These are also known as "water pills" and can often treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart failure.[6]

It is necessary to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

Nutritional Supplements with Diuretic Properties

Some vitamins possess mild diuretic properties, including:

  • Vitamin B6 plays a role in kidney function and can help with water balance in the body. It assists in the metabolism of fluids and electrolytes, supporting healthy kidney function. Studies suggest vitamin B6 may help lower bloating and fluid retention in PMS.
  • Like vitamin B6, vitamin C plays a role in kidney health and immune function. It may support overall fluid balance. Some medical experts state that it has diuretic effects.

These highlight how holding on to excess water may result from nutritional deficiencies.

Several medicinal plant extracts are also known to possess mild to moderate diuretic properties, such as:

  1. Dandelion Root
  2. Green Tea Extract
  3. Parsley Extract
  4. Hawthorn Berry
  5. Juniper Berry
  6. Horsetail Extract

While these food-grade supplements can help some people lose excess water, they can exert several effects on the body.

People on prescription medication or with health conditions must consult a skilled practitioner or registered dietician before using them for water weight loss.

When to See a Doctor

Confer with a healthcare professional for persistent or severe water weight symptoms, especially if you have an underlying health condition. Conditions like heart failure, kidney disease, and premenstrual syndrome can cause water weight. A qualified professional can diagnose and treat you, helping you to lose excess fluid.


Water weight is a common condition that can cause bloating, swelling, and weight gain. Factors that cause it include high sodium intake, dehydration, and underlying health conditions. Reducing water weight can improve your overall health. The best way to lose excess water is to make lifestyle changes and work with a doctor to address underlying health conditions. Before making any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle, ask an experienced healthcare professional for tailored advice.

To search for the best doctors and healthcare providers worldwide, please use the Mya Care search engine.


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Disclaimer: Please note that Mya Care does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is not intended to replace the care or advice of a qualified health care professional. The views expressed are personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Mya Care. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen. Do not reproduce, copy, reformat, publish, distribute, upload, post, transmit, transfer in any manner or sell any of the materials in this blog without prior written permission from