How To Lose Water Weight Quickly And Safely

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What water weight is and its common causes

Your body is primarily made up of water. According to the US Geological Survey, an adult body is typically made up of about 60% of water. The scientific report also revealed that the brain and heart are made up of 73% water, lungs are about 83% water, skin is about 64%, kidneys are around 79%, and even your bones are 31% water.¹

Water weight, however, refers to the extra water stored in your body, often contributing to a 2–4 pound difference in your weight from day to day (or even from morning to night).² This excess water often leads to bloating in your legs, arms, abdomen, face, feet, and ankles. To prevent how much water your body retains, you'll need to get familiar with and limit common causes when you can.

Some of the most common causes of water weight include the following:


Particularly common in the last weeks of pregnancy, hormones and the strain on your blood vessels can cause water weight and swelling. Studies show that it's normal for body water to increase by 6 to 8 liters during a normal pregnancy. The same research also revealed that nearly eight out of 10 pregnancies result in demonstrable clinical edema (water weight gain) at some stage.³

Salty foods

The combination of salt and water can trap excess water in your body. You also risk retaining as much as 1.5 liters of fluid when eating too much salt.⁴ Losing that extra water weight will require balancing your sodium-to-water ratio to allow your body to function properly.²

Some birth controls

Since birth control also contributes to varying hormonal levels, it can also cause your body to retain water. Studies have found that while it is not common for contraceptives to cause women to gain weight, some hormonal birth control solutions have listed side effects of weight gain brought on by fluid retention, increase in muscle tissue, and increased body fat.⁵

Hormonal fluctuations

Hormone fluctuation can cause women to retain water. According to a study conducted on 62 healthy women, water retention often peaks on the first day of their menstruation cycle.⁶

Long periods of sitting and high altitudes

Whether by car, plane, or train, any traveling that consists of sitting for an extended period of time can cause swelling and water retention. With plane rides, in particular, high altitude can play a significant role.

A 2008 study reported on a case with a 27-year-old English woman, noting that she had no previous exposure to high altitudes but experienced water weight gain in the hands and face when reaching almost 4,000 meters above sea level.⁷


Some high blood pressure and diabetes drugs are known to cause water weight gain. Thiazolidinediones, a common diabetes medication, is associated with having specific side effects.⁸ Of the side effects listed in the study, fluid retention and edema, were reported. If you suspect that this is the cause and are concerned about it, you can discuss alternatives with your doctor.


Your body will store more water to counter not getting enough water when you are dehydrated. Since everything in your body is made up of water, you need the right balance of water in your system to function properly. This is true for too much water and not enough.⁹ A fluid imbalance can cause your skin and tissues to retain water to overcompensate for the lack of water coming back in.

How to lose water weight fast without compromising your health

When searching for a quick solution, you may find numerous options for losing water weight. However, you must be careful about your actions when losing water weight without harming your health.

Extreme attempts like depriving your body of nutrition and overexercising can cause more harm than good. Instead, consider the following ways to safely lose weight fast.

Tips on how to lose water weight overnight:

  • Keep your exercise light — vigorous exercising can cause muscle tears that rely on fluid retention to heal. 

  • Skip your favorite salty treat before bed and replace it with veggie sticks or fruit.

  • Drink a glass of water to keep hydrated

As for how to lose water weight in minutes, the answer is you can't. Even losing weight overnight requires a regular commitment to a healthier lifestyle since you can gain it all back the minute you return to previous behaviors that caused it.

Note that how much and how fast you lose water weight depends on how much water your body is retaining. Each person will be different, and therefore, each person will experience different results. With that being said, you will see the quickest results when you swap junk food for whole foods, exercise regularly, and increase your water intake.

Swap junk food for whole foods

As mentioned earlier, high intakes of carbohydrates and sodium can cause you to gain water weight and swell up. When you make the switch from snacking on junk food to eating more whole foods like fruits and veggies, you can expect to lose a lot of that water weight quickly.

"If you always eat carb-heavy and salty meals and then cut down on carbs and salt for a few days, you'll be amazed at how much you'll pee out in water weight," Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., told Men's Health.¹⁰ "On the flip side, whole foods contain potassium, a mineral that helps restore proper fluid balance in the body."

Exercise regularly

Since participating in any exercise can make you sweat, having a routine can be beneficial for losing water weight before seeing fat loss results. It is important to remember that while fluid loss through sweating is good for you during a workout, it is just as important to ensure you are regularly replacing that fluid with water to avoid dehydration.

Increase your water intake

Whether during your workout or throughout a typical day, drinking more water is essential to losing water weight. While it may seem contradictory to resolve water retention with water, hydrating your body balances out your water-to-sodium ratio, reassuring your body that it has a good enough balance to pee out the excess water that was stored.

To get a sufficient amount of water daily, The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends about 15.5 cups of fluid for men and 11.5 cups for women (including fluids that come from beverages and food outside of water intake).¹¹

When you should see a doctor because of water weight

Water weight isn't often an issue and is something nearly everyone experiences. In fact, the only time that it makes much of a noticeable difference for people is when they're participating in competitions and sports that require a specific weight limit or physique.

However, some cases require a trip to the doctor to check on your health. Water weight can be a side effect of a more serious health condition, including:¹²

If your bloating and swelling persist over a long time, you should consult your doctor to identify the source of your water retention and potential solutions. You should also consult your doctor immediately if you experience one or more of the following:

  • Pain

  • Redness

  • Open sore

  • Feel the heat in the swollen area

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling in only one body part

The lowdown

Water retention is a natural defense mechanism your body performs in response to hormonal imbalances such as those that are impacted by pregnancy, menstruation, birth control, and medication. Your body may also store water weight in response to too many carbs and sodium and not enough water.

You should exercise lighter than usual, hydrate with a glass of water, and cut out salty snacking before bed. You should never hesitate to consult your doctor with any concerns, especially if you're experiencing additional symptoms like shortness of breath, pain, redness, swelling in one area, or are feeling the heat in swollen areas.

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