10 Easy ways to lose water weight (fast and safely)

Rabiyya Khan, SATI STAFF

Most of us have been hit hard by weight gain issues. No matter the amount of calorie restriction or high intensity workouts, you seem to be unable to shake off those last few pounds that have clung to you like anything. So, what is it that is making it hard to lose the weight that simply won’t go away despite your best efforts?

Curious to find out how our body works when trying to lose weight, I discovered quite a few things that I was never aware of. And one of the surprises that were in store for me was the water weight. Yes, we have all been listening to the term and overlooking it as something insignificant that will come off on its own. Here’s a fact: losing water weight may, sometimes, be all that you need to achieve your ideal fitness goal.

In fact, rapidly putting on weight is also sometimes the misdeed of water weight. So if you are one of the people who like to keep your body in ideal shape, I have compiled for you all the information that you need to know about water weight and some pretty easy but brilliant ways to lose water weight fast and quite safely. Soak up!

So, what is water weight?

Water is essential for survival. Literally. On an average, 60% of the human body is composed of nothing but water. Our skin, muscles, kidneys and even our bones are composed of water [1]. Females have a bit less than average water weight (around 55%) owing to the presence of more fat content in their bodies whereas 60%-65% of the male body mass is water.

This water is imperative for carrying out essential body functions, one of the most important of which is maintenance of homeostasis (balanced body environment) so that the cells making up the body can work optimally [2]. As much as water is essential for us, it, nonetheless, contributes towards our body weight.

Water weight is the combined weight of water present within various compartments of our body. Our gut, extracellular and intracellular compartments, blood stream, all have a little more water than we actually need. While most of this water is essential for our sustenance, some of it is present in excess amounts too and leads to increase in the body weight.

Why is it necessary to watch out for water weight?

Here’s the main deal. In an attempt to restrict our calorie intake and fooling our brain into thinking that the stomach is full to curb the hunger pangs, most of us start relying on water. This approach to dieting is helpful only to some extent as after some time, this excess water starts adding to the overall body weight.

There is another and more scientific reason for why water adds to the overall body weight despite being on a low calorie diet. It is the way our body responds to calorie restriction. When you start dieting, the body burns its calorie reserves in a specific order. The excess glucose is stored in the form of glycogen in liver and muscles in hydrated form [3] and is the first one to go. The fat is stored a bit more tightly and is the next one to be exhausted.

Being in hydrated form means that glycogen is attached to water molecules. This is because of the hydrophilic (water loving) nature of glycogen [4]. Consumption of glycogen makes the attached water molecules available to be excreted by the body and as glucose reserves are depleted by the body in an effort to lose weight, the excess water is also excreted, leading to a decrease in the overall body weight initially.

Next comes the stage of water and glycogen starvation of your body. Hungry for glucose, your cells soak up every bit of glucose molecules available to them and while doing so, also bind water molecules. Bam! All the weight that you struggled to lose is back in the form of water weight.

Fat acts a bit differently. It has a hydrophobic (water repellent) nature [5]. It also contains more calories as compared to glycogen so when the body depletes fat stores, more weight is lost but it is the actual fat that is being lost. So it is actually during the initial period of weight loss that you need to be more vigilant about your water weight and should keep a check on how much water you are consuming.

Ways to lose water weight

Pay attention now for coming up are the most important tips that can help you lose water weight quickly without causing any harmful effects on your system.

1. Exercise regularly

Exercising on a regular basis is the shortest trek to water weight loss. While exercising, you lose water quite rapidly in the form of sweat and to some extent, as breath vapors as a result of fast breathing [6]. Your body fluid requirement is also, however, increased during strenuous physical activity, depending on your activity level, breathing rate and environmental temperature. Even low level aerobic exercises, if done habitually, can help keep a check on the water weight.

It is recommended that you should consume 400 mL to 600 mL of fluid 2 hours before commencing a workout in order to avoid dehydration and should keep up with the fluid requirements as needed. It is, however, also important that you do not overhydrate yourself so as to avoid the excess weight that comes with retention of water inside the tissues, known as edema [7] and also to avoid a rather common complication of water intoxication [8].

2. Sleep well

I can’t stress the importance of sleeping adequately enough. It is imperative that you complete your daily sleep requirement of at least 8 hours in order to keep a check on the sympathetic activity of your nervous system. It has been proved that sympathetic activity is increased during the REM sleep and decreased during the non-REM sleep which is the state of deep sleep [9].

Increased sympathetic activity directly influences the kidney to cause salt and water retention in the body [10]. So it is necessary that you sleep adequately so that unnecessary water retention in the body can be avoided. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.

3. Stress less

When you worry too much and are anxious all the time, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, the stress hormone [11]. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands.  Its main functions involve regulation of glucose metabolism and blood pressure, maintenance of immunity and induction of inflammatory responses in the body.

Stress is one of the main factors that bring about the release of this hormone from the adrenals. Cortisol triggers the release of another hormone known as anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). ADH is responsible for preventing diuresis from the body which means that it prevents excretion of extra body water [12].

In simpler words, the water which is meant to leave that body remains inside and adds to the water weight. In order to get rid of this excessive water, you need to keep your cortisol levels in check. Trying to stay positive, doing relaxing exercises and indulging in healthy habits can help keep your stress levels low

4. Watch your salt intake

The amount of sodium present in your blood stream directly affects the water content present in your body. If there is more amount of sodium in your blood stream (and hence, the extracellular spaces), it will causes water to follow by osmosis, causing an increase in water levels in blood. It is by the same mechanism that dietary salt causes an increase in the blood pressure [13].

So, keeping a strict eye on your dietary salt intake is imperative since it decides to a large extent (more than you can imagine) how much weight you gain or lose. A healthy amount of salt in diet can also have a great impact on your overall health and in particular, your heart heath. Your dietary salt consumption should not exceed the dietary allowance of 1.5 to 3.0 grams per day if you want to avoid putting on water weight.

5. Supplement your diet

Mineral supplements can work wonders to reduce the water weight. Magnesium performs a variety of functions within the human body, one of which is fluid balance. Magnesium levels in the body are closely related with those of other electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

It has been shown that administration of magnesium supplements can help reduce the fluid retention, especially in women suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) [14]. Fluid retention causes feet and hands to swell up in addition to increasing the overall body weight.

Potassium is another key electrolyte that is indispensable for proper body functioning including water regulation. Potassium supplementation causes a decrease in the sodium levels in the blood and sodium, while getting out of the system, takes away all the excess water with it [15]. This is how potassium helps reduce the water weight and curbs the overall body weight.

6. Be proactive

Instead of leading a sedentary lifestyle, keep yourself active. Prolonged periods of inactivity, for example, sitting in front of computer or TV screen for a long time period, can cause blood circulation to slow down. This leads to stasis of blood in the limbs with resultant oozing of fluid from within the blood vessels into the extracellular spaces [16].

Accumulation of fluid in the limbs, especially legs, causes swelling of legs and feet and increases the water weight. This why you should not remain in one position for longer durations. Staying active can not only help avoid fluid retention but can also cause excess water to be excreted out of the body in the form of sweat.

7. Indulge in caffeine

Caffeine has a diuretic effect in the body, which means that it can help lose all the excess water present in your system. Now you have all the more reason to treat yourself to tea and coffee because of their high caffeine content [17].
Tea and coffee cause dilution of urine owing to their caffeine content and cause the formation of large volume of dilute urine. This way, they bring about a major decrease in the overall body content of water and contribute towards decreasing the water weight. This decrease in total body water is, however, not dangerous and does not cause dehydration.

8. Watch your diet

At times, the solution to the problem of excessive water weight might be as simple as changing your diet. If you are a big fan of processed and canned foods, you need to beware of the salts lurking within them. Salt is added to preserve these foods and when ingested, it pulls water by the process of osmosis. Avoiding processed foods can help avoid all the water weight that comes in the wake.

One of the articles published in Circulation stipulates that the extracellular fluid is expanded in ‘salt eaters’, i.e. people whose dietary intake of table salt is more [18]. This means that the fluid volume in such people is more and thus they have more water weight. Dietary restriction of table salt has been shown to help reduce the fluid volume in such people.

9. Curb the carbs

Controlling your carb cravings can have a major impact on your overall weight by decreasing the water weight hat your body is holding on to. The science behind it is quite simple. Excessive carbohydrates are stored in the body in the form of glycogen in two main areas: muscles and liver.

This glycogen is stored in hydrated form, i.e. it is bound to water molecules. One part of glycogen is bound to three or four parts of water [19]. This is why glycogen is named ‘hydrophilic’, i.e. it is water loving. When you cut down the amount of simpler sugars in your diet, your body turns to the glycogen reserves in an effort to provide energy for the cells.

As the glycogen stores are utilized in the body, the water molecules attached to them are released and the water weight comes spiraling down. So in order to lose all that extra water stored within, you need to watch the kind of carbs that you are eating. Indulge in fiber rich fresh fruits and vegetables instead of sweet, sugary foods.

10. Drink more water

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. You would have heard that one a zillion times already. Only this time, start paying heed to it. Contradictory as it may sound, drinking more water can actually help you lose all those extra pounds you are carrying that are nothing but water. I cannot stress enough the importance of properly hydrating yourself. Start by replacing all the sugary and alcoholic beverages you lug around to keep yourself hydrated and energized by plain water.

It has been proved that consuming water increases your basal energy expenditure (BEE), which is the amount of calories that you burn at rest. Raised BEE translates into more consumption of calories stored within the body which contributes towards an overall decrease in the body weight. Clinical trials have shown that drinking at least 1 liter of water causes the resting energy expenditure to boost by 24-30%. This effect sets in about 10 minutes after drinking water and continues for about an hour [20].

It has been proved that drinking approximately 500 ml of water before each meal can help reduce weight to a considerable extent [21]. Attaining an optimal balance between your water intake and that being excreted out of your system is imperative so that in the long run, your kidneys can flush excess water out of your body and stop retaining water. Studies show that drinking more water not only helps in immediate water weight loss but also helps maintain it.

The sati line

If you cannot seem to get rid of all the excess water weight despite your best efforts, you should consult a doctor to rule out any disease process. The best way to treat water retention and water weight is to nip the bud in the root by eliminating the basic cause of water retention. This way, you can avoid recurrence of this condition.

Adopt a lifestyle that is healthy. This means getting on your feet more often than you usually do and taking on an active lifestyle. Try to stay positive. Lay off caffeine, alcoholic beverages and smoking in order to achieve that ideal figure that everybody envies. Losing water weight is hard. It is not, however, altogether impossible.

Be proactive in trying to lose the water weight as just losing the weight being contributed by water in your body might help you achieve your ideal fitness goal. With strict self-control and discipline, there is no reason for you not to get rid of the water weight and have others eyeing you with envy. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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