Water retention is far more than just an unsightly nuisance, it’s one of the first indicators that your body may be in fat-storing mode. So, let’s talk about why we retain water and how to lose the water weight.
Why We Retain Water
Human beings are masters of water retention. As far as scientists can tell, all land dwelling animals first evolved from water-dwelling creatures. To make the move from water onto land, nature had to devise a system for carrying the ocean within the body of these creatures, and as they moved further and further from large bodies of water they evolved systems for alerting the brain when the body was drying out (i.e. the sensation of thirst). In the case of drought, nature devised systems for retaining and defending water stores, we call this the water defense system and it’s critical for our survival.
The water defense system is comprised of a series of hormones that regulate hydration and fluid distribution with the primary directive being to protect you from drying up like a raisin. Barring water retention caused by normal fluctuations in female hormones, there are two types of people who retain fluid…
First are people who are dehydrated…
That’s right, dehydration, even mild dehydration, can lead to an activation of the water defense system. You can view this as an emergency response system that protects you from dying of dehydration if you’re ever stranded in a desert.
The second group of people who retain fluid are…sick people…
Walk through any hospital and practically every patient in the ward is being managed for fluid retention problems. The sicker the patient, the more fluid they will typically retain. Fluid retention occurs when the body is in some sort of crisis and may occur as a defense system similar to the fluid retention caused by the desert situation. Think about it, if you’re injured badly or very sick and unable to move, you likely will not be able to get to a water source…so, the body retains fluid in an attempt to give you time enough to heal. At least that’s one theory…
The bottom line is that water retention is either occurring because you’re dehydrated or because you’re body is in some sort of crisis. Most doctors will view non-hormonal water retention as a benign problem associated with aging, but it’s not, it’s an indication that your body is out of balance or blatantly sick, and this symptom should not be ignored.
Let’s assume that you’re not suffering with some sort of chronic disease that leads to water retention, nor are you taking a medication that is causing abnormal water retention…so, let’s talk about how to lose water weight?
How to Lose Water Weight
Step 1: Drink Water.
What? Drink water to lose water? You got it!
As I mentioned, when the body perceives a drought, it will produce hormones that will send the body into an emergency management state where it will try to ration the use of body fluids. By not drinking enough water, you’re telling the body to become very stingy with water and it will start to stockpile it into areas of the body that don’t normally retain water…in essence, you will develop camel’s humps in strange areas like the abdomen and lower legs. When your body is in water retention mode, drinking water instructs the body that the drought is over and so it will immediately release the excess. In essence, water itself becomes a diuretic!
Golden Nugget Tip: Try adding an electrolyte formula to your water such as ENDURE by Trace Mineral Research. Minerals make water more hydrating to the cells, there are many good electrolyte formulas on the market, just make sure to get one without sugar.
Step 2: Eat Your Water
We often times get caught up in drinking water without realizing that we are also meant to “eat our water”. By “eat your water” we are of course referring to eating fruits and vegetables. Why is this important? For 3 main reasons:
- Fruits and Vegetables carry vital electrolytes and trace minerals with the water. These minerals are important to making sure that the water gets into the cells, where you can enjoy the benefits of hydration.
- Water from fruits and vegetables are bound to fiber, which releases the water in a more sustained fashion. The colon is where water absorption is most prominent and fiber acts as a sustained-release capsule for water.
- Fruits and vegetables carry many good things beyond minerals, water, and fiber.
The bottom line is, the more water you eat…the less you need to drink.
Step 3: Cut Carbohydrates.
The number one cause of water retention in our society is an excess of carb intake. Too many carbs will trigger insulin production, which causes sodium retention, which…you guessed it, causes water retention.
When people cut carbs significantly, the first thing that they report is that they’re urinating more often. This happens for two reasons:
- Insulin is lowered, which cuts down on sodium retention.
- The body starts burning glycogen, and glycogen holds onto water (which isn’t such a bad thing, especially during drought and marathons).
Step 4: Cut Sodium and Increase Potassium.
It’s common sense that excess levels of sodium will cause water retention and some folks are more susceptible than others. It’s less well known that consuming enough potassium is as important as avoiding excess sodium. You get potassium from fruits and vegetables. For a listing of vegetables that are highest in potassium and lowest in sodium, starch, and sugar, see this list.
Step 5: Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
Exercise can be one of the fastest ways to help the body regulate fluid.
The benefits of exercise for hormonal balance are broad and powerful. Fluid balance is one such way in which exercise can have a dramatic benefit.
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, decreases stored glycogen, and helps to eject excess sodium from the body through sweat. Although exercise has its own effects, it will potentiate the effects of the other recommendations in this article. Please note that although sodium is the primary electrolyte lost during heavy sweating, potassium and chloride can also be depleted so be careful to replete other electrolytes.
Summary: Fluid retention is not benign, it’s an indication that conditions are right for fat storage and disease. By drinking more clean water, eating tons of fruits and veggies, cutting carbohydrates, cutting sodium, increasing potassium and exercising regularly, you’ll change the chemistry in a good way and you will lose water weight! Beyond losing water weight, you’ll also increase energy, decrease inches, and live a healthier life!
Do you have a great tip on how to lose water weight? Leave it below!