It seems to you that you suddenly have some swollen legs, the ankles are slowly invisible, the whole body is somehow heavy, it is more voluminous and you do not feel in your skin at all? Don’t worry, you don’t have to panic right away that you’ve gained a few pounds of fat or look for dehydrating detoxes and diets. Excessive water retention will first be to blame. There can be several reasons for this, and many times you will even be able to deal with this problem on your own. Therefore, in today’s article, we will take a closer look at the role of water in the body, what causes its excessive retention and how you can get rid of its excess.
How much water do we have in our body and why is it so important?
In the adult, water makes up about 45-65% of the body, most of which is intra-cell water and a smaller part is extracellular. Especially for men, the share of total water in the body is close to the upper limit, for women it is around 55%. This is due, for example, to the fact that men have more muscle mass that contains water. It is normal for the volume of water in the body to change by about 5% during the day. It can be caused by what you eat, how much you sweat, or if you exercise. Let’s show how this affects our weight in practice.
For an average 80 kg man, who has 65% water in his body, water weighs about 52 kg. With 5% fluctuations, the weight of water can change by 2.6 kg. It is therefore quite normal for the weight of this average man, just for less or more water retention, to be in the range of 77.4 – 82.6 kg for several days.For an average 65 kg woman who has 55% water in her body, water weighs about 36 kg. With 5% fluctuations, the weight of water can vary by 1.8 kg. It is therefore common that the weight of this average woman can only change and range from 63.2 to 66.8 kg in relation to water retention.When you see how much water can affect your weight, you may have just called it the number one enemy that just confuses your head and sabotages progress. But it definitely won’t be that way. Water has a number of important functions in the body, without which we would not be able to function.
What functions does water have in the body?
Without water in the body, we would not be able to function and we would not survive a single day. It is involved in vital processes.
It is a natural part of every cell. You would not be able to exist without it.It regulates our internal body temperature, for example by sweating.It is involved in the transport of important nutrients.Helps with the excretion of waste products (eg urine).Moisturizes tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth.It helps dissolve micronutrients so that they are better available to the body.Protects body organs and tissues.Lubricates joints.
And these are just some of the functions that water participates in. We should therefore see her primarily as a friend who helps us to function properly. The importance of water is also evidenced by how its scarcity manifests itself. After only a few hours without drinking, we can begin to observe the first signs of dehydration, which may gradually worsen. These include, for example, thirst, muscle weakness, dizziness and headaches. You can read more about these negative manifestations and the importance of hydration in the article How an insufficient drinking regime affects health.
How much water should we drink?
Although water is important in the body, this does not mean that we should overwhelm 10 liters a day. In this case, it is not true that more is better. Its excessive intake also has its pitfalls, which can lead to water intoxication and actually causes the so-called hyponatremia. It is a condition in which ions in the body (especially sodium) are diluted due to excessive water intake, the body collapses and there is a risk of death. This dilution is further exacerbated by the fact that, for example, athletes lose sodium by sweating. However, ordinary water will not replenish it.
The results of a study of 488 runners participating in the marathon showed that hyponatremia occurred in a large proportion of non-elite athletes. There are even cases where a person has died of hyponatremia. One of them was the runner of the Boston Marathon in 2002. Athletes who engage in high-intensity training or several-hour endurance activities should therefore supplement ions in addition to fluids, for example in the form of tablets or a sports drink.
Therefore, try not to drink much or too little. It is ideal to adhere to the recommended intake of 30 – 45 ml per kg body weight. If you are playing sports or it is a hot summer day, it can be a bit more. However, optimal water intake is just one of many factors that affect whether we retain more water and are swollen. It is not enough to just drink the ideal amount of fluids. Other factors also play a role.
Causes of excessive water retention in the body
If you have recently woken up swelling, with a feeling of a heavy body, and your clothes are a little tighter, you are definitely looking for possible causes of the problem. Here are some of them.
1. Hormonal changes
The most common hormonal changes in women are related to the menstrual cycle. Especially during the luteal phase, which begins after ovulation and ends on the first day of menstruation, the hormone progesterone increases, which in itself can have an effect on higher water retention and swelling. However, it can also increase our appetite for highly processed foods rich in carbohydrates and salt. And more food, especially highly processed food, can go hand in hand with higher water retention. A swollen body and similar problems due to hormonal changes can be observed by women during pregnancy or menopause. Hormonal changes caused by contraceptive use may also play a role in water retention.
2. Changing eating habits
If we were to point out one type of food that can cause higher water retention in the body, it would be ultra-processed foods rich in carbohydrates and salt. The sodium contained in the salt contributes to water management in the body and its excessive amount can also cause higher water retention. However, carbohydrates also play a role. One gram of stored carbohydrates in muscle (glycogen) naturally binds about 3 g of water. So if you ate for a while, e.g. low-carbohydrate and suddenly you have returned to your earlier eating habits, a bulkier body may be a common side effect.
3. Lack of movement
People who have a sedentary lifestyle can often experience more water retention. The feeling of heavy and swollen legs can, of course, also cause a long sitting, during which the body is not able to pump blood so efficiently. Due to gravity, the ankles then swell. Typically, this problem occurs during long journeys when we sit in a car, bus, or plane for several hours.
The movement of the body during activity helps to dilate blood vessels and supports the circulation of water in the body. Physical activity increases blood flow, which redistributes body fluids. This can be manifested, for example, by a reduction in the swelling of the lower limbs. Sports can also help move the lymph or reduce cellulite.
4. Inadequate drinking regime
We have already discussed the consequences of excessive water intake in connection with hyponatremia. Of course, insufficient fluid intake also has its negative effects. It does not work in such a way that when water is retained, it is enough not to drink and wait until the body gets rid of excess fluid. In this case, the principle is rather the opposite. The body tends to begin to perceive water as an insufficient commodity and to hold it as best it can. Instead of getting rid of the water, he then tries to hold back every drop you give him. And so you support irrigation even more. Despite the fact that waste accumulates in the body, which should be excreted in the urine.
5. Excessive stress
During stress, the level of the stress hormone cortisol increases in our body. It directly affects ADH (antidiuretic hormone), which affects the body’s water management. Therefore, due to stress, water can be retained in the body and swelling can occur.
Adaptogens can also help you manage stress. You can find out how they work and which are really effective in the article Adaptogens: Natural substances that help manage stress.
6. Lack of sleep
You may not have known how much sleep can affect body water. Lack of rest is perceived by the body to some extent as stress, which can again lead to an increase in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And as we already know, it affects the antidiuretic hormone, as a result of which it can cause higher water retention in the body. Lack of sleep can also affect the levels of the hormones of hunger and satiety (leptin and ghrelin). Therefore, you may feel less satisfied after a meal and naturally look for more caloric, highly processed foods rich in salt and carbohydrates. And these can increase water retention.
If you are interested in the other negative effects of lack of sleep, you should not miss our article What happens to your body when you sleep little?
7. Hot weather
Do you happen to hold more water during hot summer days? The blame is the hormone aldosterone, which is involved in saving fluids in the body. This allows the kidneys to retain more water, in addition to reducing the amount of salt in the sweat. Therefore, there will be more left in the body, thanks to which our body is able to retain more water and ensure optimal hydration. Of course, the feelings of a swollen body can also be an accompanying phenomenon.
8. Drinking alcohol
Have you ever tried to have a few beers to quench your thirst? In addition to the monkey, you could also have a nice dehydration and a swollen body in the morning. How is it possible?
Alcohol is known to have diuretic effects. After consuming it, the body gets rid of more water through the urine, and thus dehydration occurs. The body responds by trying to hold back water so that it no longer loses water. As a result, after a party, you can often fight swelling of the face, legs and other parts of the body.
In addition to dehydration, swelling is also caused by an imbalance of electrolytes, which the body gets rid of in the urine. Excessive sodium intake via salt can also lead to it, for example. When you fold the drinks with salty chips, peanuts and end the ride with a kebab at the station while waiting for the night bus, you give the body another boost to hold back the water.
Abstinence is the easiest way to avoid swelling due to alcohol. However, if you like wine, beer or a drink, always try to supplement it with soft drinks and avoid consuming ultra-processed foods that you would not eat as sober.
9. Regular use of drugs
If you have a health problem and take medication regularly, this may be one of the reasons why your body is holding more water and you are feeling swollen. In addition to the aforementioned hormonal contraceptives, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some types of drugs for type 2 diabetes can also cause this problem.
10. Problem with the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system plays a key role in maintaining fluid balance in the body. If you have difficulty with it, it can either swell the whole body or only in one place (so-called local lymphedema). If you have problems with the lymphatic system, a healthy lifestyle, compression clothes or, for example, a lymphatic massage can help. Of course, it is advisable to see a doctor and consult him.
As you can see, there can be many reasons why your body retains water. Fortunately, there are many ways that can help us get rid of this problem. Don’t worry, we won’t recommend extremes such as a long sauna, a hot water bath, running in a winter jacket when it’s 30 ° C outside, avoiding food or drink, and so on. Such approaches do not belong to the healthy lifestyle of an ordinary person. Therefore, let’s leave them to athletes who drain before the race.
So we will focus on how to ensure a healthy level of water in the body, with which you will feel good and you will not be bothered by unpleasant feelings. However, always keep in mind that its volume in the body is variable, which can cause various changes in your weight. So don’t make a big deal out of it and don’t worry if one day you lose a pound more than you normally do.
7 tips to get rid of excess water in the body
If you are a healthy part of the population and your body is hydrated and swollen, there may be some area of your lifestyle behind it. Fortunately, you can greatly influence it yourself and include changes in it, with which you can reduce water retention in the body or get rid of it completely.
1. Do sports and be on the move during the day
Lack of exercise is one of the main reasons why the body retains water. Each of us used to sit at school or office all day, and in the evening he felt the hem of his socks press against his swollen ankles, and his legs also weighed on him, didn’t we? People who have a sedentary lifestyle are significantly more likely to experience swelling due to water retention during their lifetime. Lack of exercise goes hand in hand with obesity, which is also associated with higher water retention in the body.
Thus, movement will help to stimulate the lymphatic system, blood circulation and flushing out unnecessary substances from the body, it will also help to move the whole body. It can also help us maintain an optimal weight and thus a volume of water in the body. Regarding general exercise recommendations, each person should devote at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity per week. However, this is the bare minimum. It will be ideal if you try to include a higher number of activities in your life. And it’s up to you whether you go for a walk, a gym, a bike ride or a swim. Everything counts.
Don’t know which sport to start with? The following articles could be an inspiration for you:
How to start running? Simple guide even for complete beginners.Mental well-being, weight loss and better sleep. What are the other benefits of tourism?Strength training for women? Yes! 12 reasons to exercise and strengthen.Cycling strengthens the legs, buttocks and helps with weight loss. What else can he do?
Don’t forget to move while traveling
Try to move while traveling. Sitting in a car for a long time, while teasing to make your ride run faster, is a situation created to keep water in your body. All the more so when you drink little so that you don’t have to stop at the toilet all the time. Whenever you can, try to walk, stretch or do a few squats. It should also be a matter of course to change positions for longer sessions. It can also help that you exercise your ankles in a circular motion and do not cross your legs while sitting.
2. Watch your salt intake
Surely you have heard that you need to guard your salt intake in your diet. But why is that so? In addition to the fact that regular high salt intake can gradually lead to the development of health problems, including high blood pressure or other problems with the cardiovascular system, it can also be the cause of excessive water retention. Salt is a source of sodium, which is one of the main electrolytes involved in water management in the body.
It is generally stated that a person should consume about 5 g of salt per day. The amount can be a little higher for very active athletes who sweat more and can lose a relatively high amount of salt. However, a large part of the population consumes much more salt, about 9-12 g per day, which is about twice the recommended daily dose. Its aim should therefore be to reduce this amount.
How to reduce salt intake?
Avoid fast foods and ultra-processed foods. One fast food menu can playfully cover the total recommended daily salt intake.The easiest way to optimize your salt intake is to prepare food at home. In this case, you have control over how much you used to cook.When preparing meals, also keep in mind that the taste of the food can be improved in other ways than just salt. How about giving herbs, for example?If you use spice mixes, read their composition. They often already contain salt, so there is no need to get any food.Keep in mind that you already eat salt from common foods, such as cheese, cold cuts or pastries, so you don’t need to salt any more food.If you want to focus on salt intake, read the information on the packaging, where you will also find information about the amount of salt used. You may be surprised to find it in products you wouldn’t expect.
3. Optimize carbohydrate intake and eat healthier
Don’t worry, we won’t tell you a story right now about the bad carbs that may be gaining weight. This myth is perhaps long since refuted. Of course, this does not mean that you should stop dealing with their income. If you eat one sweet after another during the day, have breakfast cones or buns, and drink it all with a sweetened drink, a fruit smoothie or flavored milk, it is likely that you are overdoing it with carbohydrates. And, as we have already said, carbohydrates bind water, which can lead to swelling due to their excessive intake.
You may have a solution in the form of a low-carb diet. But you better not get involved. It can happen that due to lower carbohydrate intake, the body will retain less water, so the weight will drop rapidly during the first days. However, this style of eating is not sustainable in the long run for many people. Well, guess what happens when a person returns to their old eating habits, which include higher amounts of carbohydrates. Sure, the water comes back and he’s mass where he was.
Therefore, do not be tempted by these results and rather focus on a quality diet in which all macronutrients will be in balance. Keep to the golden mean and don’t overdo it. If you don’t know how much protein, carbs and fats you should eat, our energy intake calculator will calculate everything for you.
4. Drink plenty of water
Optimal hydration is the basis for a properly functioning healthy body. We should not drink so much or so little. The ideal amount is generally considered to be an intake of 30-45 ml of water per kg of body weight. You should try to approximate these values even if you are bothered by water retention. You definitely don’t have to worry about fluids. It does not work by drinking 500 ml of water and swelling immediately. There are a number of factors that affect what happens to the body in the body.
Also, you shouldn’t be in a situation where you find that you only drank one glass of water a day and start catching up. First, you would spend the whole next night constantly going to the toilet, you could also put an unnecessary strain on your kidneys. Their water filtration rate is approximately between 0.8 – 1 l of water per hour. Therefore, we should not absorb more water suddenly.
Therefore, distribute the required fluids evenly throughout the day. So that you don’t forget to drink, you can set a regular reminder on your phone to drink a glass of water. You will see that you will gradually get used to it and in time you will no longer need comments.
It is quite possible that not only will your problems with a swollen body improve, but thanks to a sufficient intake of fluids, you will also avoid the unpleasant symptoms of dehydration.
5. Learn to manage stress better
We all feel a certain level of stress in life, this is normal. There is even positive stress that can help us wake up the body and get the most out of it. However, if we feel stress that limits us for a long time, more of the stress hormone cortisol is flushed out in our body. This can ultimately result in greater water retention.
There are many ways to better manage stress, you just need to find one that suits us. Perceived tension and cortisol levels can help us reduce, for example, sports activity, sufficient rest, a relaxing bath, meditation or, for example, a walk in nature.
6. Get enough sleep
Sleep has a big impact on many areas of our lives. And water retention is no exception. Good sleep is therefore essential for maintaining hormonal balance in the body, which in turn affects water management. For this reason, it is ideal that we enjoy a 7-9 hour, undisturbed sleep every day.
7. Try supplements
The key to a healthy body that will not need to retain excess water is, above all, a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep and a life without excessive stress. There are, of course, dietary supplements that can help you on this path to getting rid of excess water. Which are they?
Electrolytes help replenish trace elements that a person loses after, for example. Because some of them (such as sodium and potassium) are involved in water management, optimal intake can help prevent excessive water retention.Potassium, together with sodium, is involved in the body’s water management. Optimal potassium intake can therefore help prevent excessive water retention. Water loss is a unique complex of natural extracts, magnesium and vitamin B6 for women who feel that their body is retaining excess water. It contains plant extracts that are considered natural diuretics. As a result, they can help eliminate excess water.Caffeine is a substance we also know from its diuretic effects. However, research suggests that the body is able to adapt to regular intakes of higher doses of caffeine, which gradually reduces this effect. Magnesium with its function in the body is connected with other electrolytes, which affect the body’s water management. In addition, research shows that this mineral can help reduce water retention in connection with PMS.According to the results of scientific research, dandelion extract can increase the frequency of urination and thus help reduce water in the body.You can also give a chance to other herbs, such as fennel, horsetail or nettle, which are also associated with diuretic effects.
What do you get out of it?
After reading today’s article, you already know that the amount of water in our body is affected by a number of factors. However, some fluctuations are a natural phenomenon in this regard, so there is no point in stressing that you have a pound more today than yesterday. If you want to feel good in your body, focus on a healthy diet, drinking regime, adequate exercise, quality sleep and better stress management. You will see that you will feel better and your body will have no reason to retain excess water. And if you can’t get rid of this problem even with a proper lifestyle, you can try to see a doctor.
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