The very first step for those of you that just want to simply decrease bloat from around your stomach or puffiness from around your face, and you want to do it fast, is to sweat it out.
Some options for sweating it out include using things like a sauna, a steam room, a sweat suit, or an Epsom salt bath.
Even though the process of sweating it out might suck, spending just a couple rounds in a sauna, filling a bath tub with 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt, or simply wearing a sweat suit throughout your workout can reduce puffiness and bloating very fast.
If you wake up with a swollen face and you have a date or a wedding to go, to these simple methods can create dramatic before and after type of results in a relatively short amount of time.
Typically, spending just 10 to 15-minute rounds in a sauna is all you need for aesthetic purposes. On top of that, these methods can of course be used to cut a lot more water weight for sport-specific purposes. However, make sure you don’t go overboard.
It is also important to know what you’re doing, because spending too much time in a sauna or losing too much water weight can definitely create problems.
#2 Avoid Excessive Changes to Your Sodium Intake
Aside from sweating it out, other things like your diet will have a huge impact on water retention. This is why the next thing is to make sure that you avoid any excessive changes to your sodium intake.
It’s well-known that increasing the amount of salt you take in can lead to more fluid retention (1). This is because sodium binds to H2O and increases the fluid balance both inside and outside your cells.
If you also don’t currently exercise or you don’t regularly drink enough water, increasing your salt intake will lead to an even more drastic rise in water retention. This is because it’ll impair your body’s ability to naturally excrete the excess sodium.
Now, it’s important to note that based on the current scientific evidence, unlike what you’ll hear most people say, it seems that it’s primarily only a sudden increase in salt intake that causes excessive water retention. If you always consume a lot of sodium, the effects are less severe or maybe even non-existent.
This is because your body will adapt to a higher sodium intake by making the kidneys secrete more sodium from the body.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other reasons why it’s beneficial to not have too high of a salt intake. However, for the purpose of preventing excessive water retention, just make sure you avoid sudden drastic increases in your salt intake and you should be okay.
#3 Manipulate Your Water Intake
The next very effective strategy is to manipulate your water intake to trick your body into releasing more stored water.
This technique is more effective if you’re trying to hit a certain weight or look a certain way for a one time event.
To put it simply, this be done by spending some days drinking significantly more water than what you’re currently used to. Then, before you weigh in or do a photo shoot or whatever else, you would cut your water intake drastically.
This works because drinking a ton of water will make you pee constantly. This will continue even after you’ve already cut your water intake because it takes time for your body to adjust. In that time, if you do it right, you’ll be losing a lot of water weight.
In order to do this right, you’ll want increase your water intake gradually starting about a week before your event.
You’ll want to push your water intake as high as you can by the last day before your event or weigh in.
It’s not uncommon for people to work their way up to drinking more than 2 gallons of water on that last day. Then, about 12 to 18 hours before the event, you want to suddenly cut it off and do your best to sip as little water as possible until after the event or weigh in.
Most people follow the wrong advice of tapering water intake down gradually. However, tapering will give your body time to adjust urine excretion making the water cut much less effective
Now, you’re welcome to try this. However, if it’s your first time, I recommend that you do it under a trainer’s, coach’s, or doctor’s supervision. If you combine it with other methods and get really dehydrated, you can run into problems.
#4 Increase Your Potassium Intake
Let’s move on to another thing that you’ll want to do to lose water weight which is to increase your potassium intake.
While sodium sucks water into cells, potassium pumps it out. That’s why increasing potassium can help reduce water retention and having a low potassium intake can lead to more water retention.
This can be seen in a number of studies (2), and the big problem with this is that there’s other evidence that suggests many people don’t consume enough potassium (3).
Fortunately, it is very possible to fix this by ensuring that you’re eating enough potassium-rich foods and drinks such as coconut water, avocado, salmon, potatoes, bananas, and beet greens.
Coconut water especially is an excellent source since just one cup supplies you with about 15 percent of your daily recommended intake.
As an added benefit, it also helps hydrate your body, which helps your body excrete excess sodium.
Aside from the water manipulation strategy that you can use on the week of your event, you’re going to want to stay well-hydrated the rest of the time as well to help reduce water retention.
I know it might sound counterintuitive, but drinking more water can actually reduce the amount of water that your body holds onto. This is because your body is always trying to achieve a healthy fluid balance.
If you’re constantly dehydrated, your body tends to retain more water to prevent your fluid levels from dropping too low. Meanwhile, if you drink enough water and stay hydrated, your body will be less likely to hold onto it.
Unfortunately, there is no “exact” amount of water that’s best to opt for because we all have different physiologies and circumstances.
For example, if you do manual labor for work or you work in a hot environment where you’re sweating a lot, you’ll need more water than someone sitting in an air conditioned office all day.
However, a decent guideline is to consume enough water so that your urine maintains a light color. If on the other hand it has a darker yellow color, you’re most likely dehydrated and you need to drink more (4).
#6 Take a Dandelion Supplement
Another easy way to help reduce water weight is to take a dandelion supplement.
The dandelion plant is actually considered an herbal diuretic that’s safe and effective for reducing water retention.
One study found that a dandelion extract increased urine frequency without any apparent side effects (5).
Most of this diuretic effect comes from the leaf of the plant, rather than the root. In fact, an animal study found that the dandelion leaf seems to be as effective of a diuretic as a diuretic drug known as Lasix(6).
However, the root of the plant can also be used to make an effective supplement.
You can also eat dandelion root directly, but be warned that it tastes disgusting and is very dry; so a supplement in this situation is probably the better choice.
It’s best to take the supplement early in the morning because you don’t want to be getting up to pee a dozen times a night.
This is especially true since research indicates that not getting enough sleep may affect the nerves in your kidneys, potentially leading to increased water retention (7).
#7 Avoid Overconsuming Refined Carbohydrates
Moving on, the next thing that you’ll want to do is avoid overconsuming refined carbohydrates.
In general, carbs that aren’t used by the body are stored as glycogen. Each gram of glycogen comes attached to 3 grams of water, so it’s no secret that reducing carbohydrates will help you rapidly cut water weight.
If you’re looking to hit a certain weight to weigh in for a competition, cutting carbs could really help.
However, carbs have many benefits of their own and if you drastically reduce carbs, your performance will most likely suffer and you’ll probably feel more tired and drained throughout the day.
So instead, for most people, it’s best to focus on the type of carbohydrates you eat rather than eliminating them altogether.
It’s well known that refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, like sugar and flour, lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin.
High insulin levels can cause your body to retain more salt by increasing the reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys (20). This ends up increasing fluid volume inside the body, which means you’re going to hold onto more water.
So choose healthy, low glycemic carbohydrates like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and especially vegetables
Rather than the carbohydrates that we all know aren’t good for us like sweets, pastries, and refined grains.
Another strategy that can help you lose water weight is to consume caffeine.
Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea have diuretic effects due to the fact that caffeine increases short-term urine output, which can lead to a reduction in water retention.
An example of this can be seen in a study in which groups of people were given either a glass of water with caffeine or one without it. As a result, urine volume increased significantly for the participants that had the caffeine (21).
Now, even though caffeine can help you lose some water weight, keep in mind that those benefits only hold true if you haven’t built up a tolerance to caffeine yet. If you consume caffeine daily, you won’t reap the same benefits as someone who has just started drinking it.
Because of this, if your goal is to reduce your water retention for an event like a photoshoot, you may want to stay away from caffeine a few days or even weeks leading up to the photoshoot. Then, only have caffeine the day before the shoot and on the day of the shoot itself.
Now, the next tip you’re going to want to do to the best of your ability is to stress less.
Your body tends to hold onto more water when it’s under a chronic state of stress.
This is because stress increases vasopressin, also known as the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) (8). If you have increased levels of vasopressin, it will, in turn, promote water retention by making your kidneys expel less urine.
This is actually the reason anti-inflammatory corticosteroid drugs, like prednisone, can increase water retention.
Also, as a side note, if you are currently taking a corticosteroid and you’re also experiencing water retention, you may want to talk to your doctor about an alternative solution.
Going back to the point, you can work on naturally reducing stress in a couple of ways.
The first is by meditating. Meditation has been shown to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and help you tackle your problems more rationally (9).
The second way is by actually trying to deal with the stressor actively by looking for the root cause rather than trying to avoid it (10).
Studies also show that exposing yourself to nature reduces stress and, interestingly enough, you can even get similar benefits just by adding plants to your home or office (11).
There are also some adaptogens that you can supplement with like Ashwagandha and Rhodiola to help reduce cortisol and stress (12).
#10 Avoid Excessive Cardio
This brings me to our final tip, which is to avoid the common mistake of doing excessive cardio to lose water weight.
Keep in mind that the key word here is excessive.
It is true that you will sweat a lot when doing cardio, and doing some cardio is by no means bad. However, some studies do show that excessive cardio can lead to elevated cortisol levels (13). This is especially problematic when you consider that there’s a lot of evidence that dieting, in general, can also increase cortisol (18).
Fortunately, short, high-intensity forms of exercise, like sprints or resistance training, don’t have the same adverse effects on cortisol.
Now, with that said, most of you are most likely not venturing into excessive endurance training territory. A couple 30 to 45 minute cardio sessions a week shouldn’t have much of a negative effect in terms of water retention.
That about wraps it up guys!
Those are the 10 simple tips that you can use to start losing water weight right away.
Also, before I sign off, I want to fully clarify that losing water weight is NOT the same as losing body fat.
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