3 Common Causes of Water Weight

Whether you’re wanting to lose or gain weight, you’ve probably come across the term “water weight” somewhere along the line. Water weight put simply is when your body’s cells retain water, thus increasing your weight. Many factors can contribute to this from your diet, how physically active you are to even your hormone levels. 

No matter what your end goal, having a good understanding of how your weight can fluctuate is really important and most importantly how you can manage it.  

First things first, some of the most common symptoms of water retention include:

  • noticeable swelling and/or puffiness in your hands, arms, ankles and feet.
  • having a bloated tummy
  • weight change in a short period of time
  • feeling tired and lethargic

As I mentioned earlier there are many reasons why this could be occurring, most of the time simple lifestyle alterations can make a huge impact. If you are experiencing large scale water retention or other symptoms along with water retention, it’s really important you visit your health care provider.

Here are some of the most common reasons for an increase in water weight. 

Eating a high sodium diet. 

If you consume more than the recommended amount of sodium for adults per day which is equal to roughly 1.15-2.3 grams of salt you will find that you are more prone to holding onto water weight. Eating too much salt causes your body’s cells to hold onto more water. Think of it this way – if you’ve ever accidentally drunk seawater, you might recall how thirsty you were and how much water you needed to drink for the feeling to go away. 

Lots of processed and pre-packaged foods can contain high amounts of sodium, so learning how to read and monitor your sodium intake is a great way to combat water weight. 

To counteract the effect of a high sodium diet, firstly limit high sodium foods and ensure that you include lots of potassium-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Hormonal Fluctuations.

Ladies this one is for you, one of the wonderful side effects of the dreaded PMS is in fact water retention. This is due to the fluctuations of oestrogen and progesterone in the lead up to your period. If you do suspect that your water retention is caused by your monthly cycle I suggest keeping a diary and noting down when the symptoms start, this will allow you to anticipate when you may be more prone to water retention so you can take the necessary steps to limit it. For those of us who are more sensitive to our hormonal changes and do suffer from PMS, I recommend limiting high sodium foods, eating a good diet with lots of complex carbohydrates, drinking plenty of water, ensuring you get enough sleep and some gentle exercise. This should improve your water retention and limit the amount of discomfort associated with it. 


If you work in an office or find that you are sitting still or standing in one position for hours on end you might find that your legs ache at the end of the day. This is caused by a build-up of blood and fluid in our legs. To combat this, do some gentle exercise at least every hour, something as simple as getting up, walking around the office and doing some gentle stretching works wonders and can improve water retention in your legs. 

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