The human body contains around 60% water, which plays a key role in all aspects of life (1).However, excess water retention (edema) is a common side effect of chronic inflammation (2).Also known as fluid retention, edema can be caused by food intolerances, poor diet, toxin exposure and diseases like kidney failure.Women may also experience water retention during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.For most people, excess water weight is not a serious health issue. However, it can still negatively impact your appearance and quality of life.Here are 13 ways to reduce water weight fast and safely.Exercise may be one of the best ways to reduce water weight in the short-term. Any form of it increases sweat, which means you will lose water.The average fluid loss during 1 hour of exercise is anywhere between 16–64 oz (0.5–2 liters) per hour, depending on factors such as heat and clothing (3, 4, 5).During exercise, your body also shifts a lot of water into your muscles.This can help reduce water outside of the cell and decrease the “soft” look people report from excessive water retention (6).However, you still need to drink plenty of water during your training session.Another good option to increase sweat and water loss is the sauna, which you could add in after your gym session.Research on sleep highlights that it’s just as important as diet and exercise (7, 8, 9).Sleep may also affect the sympathetic renal nerves in the kidneys, which regulate sodium and water balance (10).One study found that when you sleep, your body acts like a plumbing system and flushes “toxins” out of the brain (11).Adequate sleep may also help your body control hydration levels and minimize water retention.Aim to get a healthy amount of sleep per night, which for most individuals will be around 7–9 hours.
Long-term stress can increase the hormone cortisol, which directly influences fluid retention and water weight (12).This may occur because stress and cortisol increase a hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as the antidiuretic hormone or ADH (13).ADH works by sending signals to the kidneys, telling them how much water to pump back into the body (12).If you control your stress levels, you will maintain a normal level of ADH and cortisol, which is important for fluid balance and long-term health and disease risk (5, 13).Electrolytes are minerals with an electric charge, such as magnesium and potassium. They play important roles in your body, including regulating water balance (14).When electrolyte levels become too low or too high, they can cause shifts in fluid balance. This may lead to increased water weight (14).You should tailor your electrolyte intake to your water intake. If you drink large amounts of water, you may need more electrolytes (15).If you exercise daily or live in a humid or hot environment, you may need additional electrolytes to replace those lost with sweat (16).In contrast, large amounts of electrolytes from supplements or salty foods, coupled with a low water intake, can have the opposite effect and increase water weight.Sodium, which you obtain daily from salt, is one of the most common electrolytes in the human body.It plays a major role in hydration levels. If levels are too low or too high, it will lead to imbalances within the body and therefore fluid retention.A high salt intake, usually due to a diet with lots of processed foods, may increase water retention. This is particularly true if coupled with low water intake and no exercise (17, 18, 19, 20).However, this does seem to depend on the individual’s current daily sodium intake and blood levels.One study tested this and found that you may only store excess water if you drastically increase or change your habitual daily intake (21).