How To Get Rid Of Water Retention Naturally

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTUpdated: June 17, 2022

We all have those days when we feel bloated from holding water in our face, belly, or legs. It doesn’t look good and can really drag down your self-esteem.

That’s why I’m going to show you how to get rid of water retention with 19 natural and proven safe methods. So you can drop that excess water weight overnight and feel better about your appearance.

How to Get Rid Of Water Retention

What Is Water Retention?

Water retention occurs when your body stores too much fluid—also known as swelling or water weight.

The excess fluid can cause puffiness in your face, stomach, arms, legs, hands, and feet. Not to mention, it increases your body weight.

Why is my body holding onto water weight?

Your kidneys regulate the amount of water in your body. So any changes in your body that affect kidney function can cause water retention.

The most common factors influencing water retention are your diet, activity level, and hormone balance.

Common Causes Of Excess Water Weight:
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol
  • Mineral imbalances
  • Excess carbohydrates
  • Food sensitivities
  • Inflammation
  • Lack of exercise
  • Hormone levels
  • Medications
  • Vitamin deficiencies

For that reason, there are several methods to help reduce water weight. Now let’s take a look at some of the solutions based on the most common causes.

How to Get Rid of Water Retention With Diet

1. Drink More Water

As strange as it sounds, drinking more water is the easiest way to reduce water retention. But the reason it works is that it prevents you from becoming dehydrated.

Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. When that happens, your kidneys conserve what’s left by re-absorbing water from urine and other places, causing puffiness.

So drinking enough water to stay hydrated is key to reducing water retention. But the amount of water you need depends on your body size and activity level.

2. Cut Back On Alcohol Consumption

Not to be a party pooper, but drinking alcohol can lead to water retention. That’s because it’s a diuretic, making you pee more than usual.

A long night of drinking can result in severe dehydration. And it’s why you get headaches, dry mouth, and fatigue when you’re hungover.

At first, the water loss caused by alcohol makes you feel less puffy. But as you rehydrate the next day, your body holds on to excess water. Unfortunately, this is the same reason diuretic water loss pills don’t work in the long run.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t drink alcohol at all. Just drink in moderation, and have a glass of water for every two drinks of alcohol.

And, when you are hungover, drink as much water as possible. Rehydrating will help prevent the water weight rebound and reduce your hangover symptoms.

3. Decrease Sodium Intake

Another reason your body may hold on to water is overeating salty food – because water follows sodium.

That means the more sodium you consume, the more water you retain. And the reverse is also true. So you can reduce water retention by decreasing sodium intake.

The World Health Organization recommends less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day2. But this depends on your body, calorie intake, and activity level.

I’ve found that a sodium target equal to 1/2 of your daily calorie intake works best for reducing water retention. For example, if you eat 2,400 calories daily, that’s 1,200 mg of sodium.

However, reducing sodium alone doesn’t fully improve your water balance. For that, you also need to increase potassium.

4. Increase Potassium Intake

When you consume more potassium, your body gets rid of sodium. That’s why this mineral helps reduce water retention.

The World Health Organization recommends at least 3,500 mg of potassium per day2. That is about a 2:1 ratio of potassium to sodium. Or twice as much potassium as sodium.

However, that ratio is hard to get with all the salt in today’s processed foods. So here are some examples of high potassium and low sodium foods.

how to get rid of water retention foods
Food Potassium Sodium Ratio
Medium Banana 422mg 1mg 422:1
8 oz Orange Juice 496mg 2mg 248:1
1/2 Avocado 487mg 7mg 70:1
8 oz Baked Potato 1,214mg 22mg 55:1
1/2 cup Brussels Sprouts 441mg 28mg 16:1

You’ll notice that most potassium-rich foods are high in carbs. And supplements are limited to just 99 mg of potassium.

So, if you’re on a low-carb diet, you can boost your potassium with a salt substitute that contains potassium chloride.

For example, the salt substitute below contains 0 mg of sodium and 640 mg of potassium per 1/4 teaspoon. Use it in place of salt to boost the potassium in any meal.

Salt Substitute for Water Retention

5. Eat An Appropriate Amount of Carbohydrates

Another potential cause of water retention is excess carbohydrates. That’s because carbs get stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen.

And for every gram of glycogen, your body stores 3–4 grams of water with it. So your body can hold up to 5 lbs of water in the form of stored carbs.

This carb/water storage explains why people experience immediate weight loss when switching to a low-carb diet, which reduces glycogen stores.

In addition, carbs elevate a crucial hormone called insulin. When insulin is chronically elevated, your kidneys hold on to more sodium and water.

As a result, you look puffy all the time. Luckily, you can reverse this by eating an appropriate amount of carbs.

The amount of carbs you need depends on your body and activity level. The more active you are, the more carbs you can eat without retaining water.

Carb cycling is a simple practice of matching your carb intake to your activity level. And it can help with weight loss and water retention.

6. Limit Foods You May Be Sensitive To

Unlike food allergies that affect the immune system, food sensitivities affect inflammation. And that inflammation is what causes your body to hold onto extra fluid.

While you can pay for an expensive blood test, those results are anything but definitive. So instead, just pay close attention to how your body responds to certain foods. Then cut out the foods that make you feel bloated.

Most often, the culprits are dairy and gluten. But you could be sensitive to other foods, even if you didn’t have a problem before.

Also, elimination diets don’t have to be permanent. Once your gut is healthy, you can safely reintroduce those foods in small amounts and see how you respond.

7. Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods

In addition to removing inflammatory foods, you can also add anti-inflammatory foods, which help eliminate water retention.

Like foods high in antioxidants and polyphenols that help fight inflammation. In particular, get more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats.

Foods That Get Rid Of Water Retention

Fruits – tomatoes, blueberries, cherries, oranges

Vegetables – broccoli, leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)

Nuts – almonds, walnuts

Healthy Fats – olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, tuna)

how to get rid of water retention - carbs

How to Get Rid of Water Retention With Exercise

Next, let’s look at ways to get rid of water retention by being more active.

8. Do Some Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise makes you breathe harder and sweat more, so you lose water. Generally, you lose 16 to 64 oz (0.5 to 2 liters) of water per hour of exercise1, depending on the intensity and temperature.

High Intensity vs Low Intensity Cardio: Which is Better?

While sweating out excess water is good, it’s essential to replace most of that water to avoid the unwanted effects of dehydration. So make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after training.

How to Get Rid of Water Retention Cardio

Actual rates of water loss per hour of exercise. Adapted from Baker, Lindsay B.

9. Hit the Weights

Like cardio, resistance training helps you lose water through sweat and respiration. But weightlifting also pulls water into your muscle cells.

Moreover, water inside your cells (intracellular) does not cause bloating like water outside your cells (extracellular). So a solid weight training session helps reduce water retention by pulling it away from bloated areas.

10. Practice Your Yoga Poses

Yoga doesn’t usually make you breathe hard or sweat like cardio and weight lifting. But it will help you shed a little excess water.

And yoga has the added benefit of reducing the stress hormones that can cause you to retain water in the first place. So strike a few poses when you’re feeling bloated.

11. Get Up & Move More

A sedentary lifestyle is a significant contributor to water retention. So if you have a desk job, getting up and moving around at least once every hour is vital.

It could be as simple as taking a walk to the water cooler or doing a few air squats at your desk.

12. Do Circulation Exercises

Another symptom of sitting most of the day is fluid build-up in your ankles and feet. But you can remedy this with simple exercises to increase circulation in your legs.

For example, extending and flexing your ankle joint helps to move the fluid in your lower legs. You can do this exercise without resistance or do a few sets of weighted calf raises in the gym.

How to Get Rid of Water Retention In Lower Legs

Other Ways to Get Rid of Water Retention

13. Sit In a Sauna or Steam Room

Saunas and steam rooms both involve sitting in heat as a form of recovery and relaxation. While saunas use dry heat and steam rooms use heat and humidity, both can help sweat out excess water.

A single 20-minute sauna session can help you lose 0.8-1.1 lbs (0.37 to 0.5 kg) of water weight4. And this research also shows that the more body mass you have, the more water you can lose.

However, you must drink plenty of water after a sauna session to avoid the water retention caused by dehydration.

How to Get Rid of Water Retention Sauna

Water loss after one 20-minute sauna session for women. Adapted from Podstawski et. al.

14. Relax or Meditate

As with yoga, meditation can help lower the stress hormones causing water retention. Whether you choose formal meditation or just taking a few deep breaths to relax, it doesn’t matter. Anything is better than holding in that stress.

15. Put Your Feet Up

For those suffering from water retention in your legs, simply elevating your feet can help reduce the swelling. Try laying on your bed with a couple of pillows under your ankles. Or lay on the couch with your feet on the armrest.

Elevating your legs for 10-20 minutes helps the excess fluid flow up to your abdomen, where it can be redistributed or released.

16. Try a Sweat Belt

Sweat belts are a trendy fitness accessory these days. But if you’re expecting these neoprene novelties to melt away belly fat, don’t get your hopes up. Studies suggest that spot reduction of body fat is merely “wishful thinking.”5

Still, sweat belts do help you sweat more around your waistline. So they can help amplify your workouts and lose more water in your belly area. Just don’t expect any miracles.

Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer Review

How to Get Rid of Water Retention In Belly

17. Get More Sleep

A lack of sleep also contributes to high levels of stress hormones like cortisol. So it’s crucial to improve the amount and quality of your sleep.

The easiest way to improve your sleep is by going to bed earlier and keeping a consistent sleep schedule.

18. Talk to Your Doctor About Medications

In the United States, 2 out of 3 adults take at least one prescription medication6. And many of those medications are known to cause water retention.

This side effect is most common among blood pressure and anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs. So, you should talk to your doctor about your options if you suspect your medication is causing you to hold excess water.

19. Try Natural Diuretic Supplements

A diuretic helps your body excrete water through increased urination. So, basically, it makes you pee more.

While diuretic medications are available, it’s usually better to stick to natural remedies. A few vitamins and minerals help your body flush out excess water.

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin D

If you’d rather not take supplements, you can get magnesium from leafy greens and B6 from red meat. At the same time, all you need to boost vitamin D levels is a healthy dose of sun on your skin.

Otherwise, you can take these vitamins and minerals as individual supplements. But I recommend buying a well-rounded multivitamin made from whole foods. It costs a little more than generic vitamins, but your body absorbs them better.

How to Get Rid of Water Retention FAQ

So far, you’ve learned many different ways to eliminate water retention, water weight, and bloating. But you might still have some specific questions about the cause and treatment of water retention. So I’ll do my best to answer common questions in this section.

How can you tell if you’re retaining water?

The easiest way to tell if you’re retaining water is if you look puffy in your face, waistline, or extremities. If your water retention is caused by diet or stress, you will probably notice the effects more in the evening.

What foods cause water retention?

Water retention is most often caused by foods containing high amounts of sodium, lactose, gluten, or added sugars. However, different types of foods can cause water retention through different mechanisms.

For example, sodium causes water retention due to a mineral imbalance. At the same time, lactose and gluten cause inflammation and causes some people to get bloated. And too much sugar spikes insulin, which affects kidney function.

What foods help you lose water weight?

The best foods for losing water weight are high in antioxidants, polyphenols, and potassium. Here’s a list of foods that help you get rid of water retention:

  • Leafy Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes

What foods soak up water?

Starchy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes soak up excess water in your gut. And they can also be stored in your body as glycogen. These stored carbs pull additional water into your muscle cells, reducing subcutaneous water and making you look less bloated.

Is belly fat water retention?

Your belly could be bulging due to water retention and body fat, but they are not the same. So losing water weight doesn’t necessarily mean you burned any belly fat. But a healthy diet can help you lose both water weight and body fat.

Calculate How Long It Takes to Get 6-Pack Abs

Does creatine make you retain water?

Creatine can make your body hold on to water. However, studies show that your body stores most of that water within the muscle cells, which is not the same thing as water retention associated with bloating.

See Creatine Weight Gain From Muscle, Fat, & Water

How Much Water Weight Can You Lose?

The amount of water weight you lose depends on several factors. Including your weight, body composition, and how much water you’re holding.

That said, you can generally lose up to 5 lbs of water weight in one day. If you use a combination of these methods, you can quickly lose 7 to 10 lbs of water in one week.

how to get rid of water retention - example

My friend and client, Matt, lost 7 lbs in 5 days using these methods. Please excuse our typos 😂

Personally, I’ve lost 16.4 lbs in 6 days in a situation where I was holding an extreme amount of water. Of course, your results will vary depending on your body and your situation.

How To Get Rid Of Water Retention For Good

So far, we’ve talked about how to get rid of water retention quickly. But how about keeping that water weight off long term?

For that, you need a personalized meal plan that shows you exactly what to eat to keep your water weight down. In addition, you’ll burn fat and build lean muscle.

With a Custom Meal Plan, all you have to do is answer a few questions. And you’ll get a personalized solution based on your body type, lifestyle, and goals.

Including custom meals and recipes, so you don’t have to count calories or macros!

How To Get Rid Of Water Retention Meal Plan
  • Transform your body with goal-specific calories & macros
  • Easily plan meals with a daily menu built around your schedule
  • Simplify meal prep with delicious recipes formulated to fit your macros
  • Make better food choices with a grocery list right on your phone


Now you know that your kidneys are the gatekeepers for regulating the water in your body. And I’ve shown you several ways you can naturally help your body shed that excess water weight.

With proper diet and exercise, you can get rid of water retention and feel good about the way you look. Moreover, when bloating rears its ugly head, you have all the right tools to get your body back to normal.

Check out these other awesome articles for more healthy tips, techniques, and tools!

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