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Best reasons why we struggle with water weight

This article explains the reasons behind holding the excess amount of water in our body and is commonly referred as water weight. Some of the reasons behind it are dehydration, alcohol, excess intake of salt, sugar, carbohydrates and sedentary lifestyle.


Water weight is the weight of the excess amount of water which our body retains. Our water weight makes us feel bloated and heavy. We cannot fit into our favorite jeans because of it and it gives us a puffy look, especially after we wake up in the morning. Our body is made up of 60-70% of water. If we are eating too much of certain foods or else too little of certain other food groups then this kind of overeating or deficiency will make the body to hold onto extra water. Even a sedentary lifestyle may be a big reason for our body to retain that excess amount of water. Below mentioned are some causes and reasons for our body to retain that water weight. If we want to lose it then we need to determine the right cause and eliminate it.

Reasons for holding water weight

  • Dehydration
    We may be drinking way too little amount of water than our body requires. On daily basis, we need to drink at least 2-2.5 liters of water and when we do not provide our body the required amount of water then it holds on or retains some water which is nothing but our water weight.

  • Overindulgence in alcohol
    Water weight can also be due to our addiction towards alcohol which is nothing but a dehydrating drink. Dehydration again results in retaining the excess amount of water into the body. Moreover, the liver has to work extra time breaking down alcohol.

  • Potassium deficiency
    Potassium and sodium work hand in hand to regulate the levels of fluids in the body. If there is a deficiency of potassium content in our body then sodium level elevates and sodium is known to retain excess fluid causing water weight.

  • Not concentrating on antioxidants
    Antioxidants are essential for our body as they bind and neutralize the free radicals. We are holding on to that water weight and this is probably because our diet isn't rich in antioxidants and thus our system isn't getting flushed properly causing too many toxins to get accumulated in our body.

  • Excess intake of salt
    We are eating too much salt on regular basis and thus higher concentration of sodium in our blood will crave for an increased amount of water volume. This happens because our body has to maintain homeostasis.

  • Increased intake of carbohydrates
    We are regularly eating a diet which is rich in carbohydrates. This carbohydrate is converted into glycogen in our body. It acts as a source of energy to us and is stored in our muscles. For every gram of glycogen stored, the body holds three times that much of water. If we are not burning all that stored glycogen then not only we are gaining weight because of it but also gaining more water weight too.

  • Deficiency of fiber
    We are not including all those foods in our diet which are rich sources of fiber. This is why we feel constipated and bloating takes place. Fibers help by adding bulk to our stool. Excess retained water is lost if regular bowel movements take place.

  • Following a sedentary lifestyle
    Our water weight may also be because we are not exercising our body and we are spending too much time sitting in one place. Exercise improves blood circulation and sitting for too long cause blood and retained fluids to get accumulated in lower extremities.

  • Periods are about to approach
    We may be retaining that water weight as we are about to get our periods and in this case, it is perfectly normal. Hormones are essential to release uterine lining and these hormones itself are responsible for retention of the extra amount of water. Water weight is lost once period begins.

  • Fad diet or cleanse
    If we are on a fad diet or detox diet of any kind which promises cleansing then it means that we are cutting down too many carbohydrates or almost eliminating them from our daily diet. This will lead to quick loss of water weight from our body. However, we will not be able to maintain the resultant weight. This is because as soon as we start eating, we will put back the weight and in fact, our weight may increase as we may overindulge ourselves in eating. Also, after some time, we will experience that body will hold on to water due to the limited amount of calories which are supplied to it.

  • Defect in capillaries
    We may be storing water weight because the capillary walls may be leaky or there might be a change in the pressure in capillaries. As a result, excess fluids remain in the tissues which in turn results in swelling and retention of water weight.

  • Defect in the lymphatic system
    If our lymphatic system holds on to excess amount of fluid then it reaches tissues and remains there. This is why a slight defect in lymphatic system can also cause us to retain that water weight. Blockage in lymphatic system can also result in water retention. Seen usually in individuals who have undergone surgeries, and experience difficulty in a movement like those who are in wheelchairs. Even found in those who are couch potatoes. This kind of edema is known as lymphoedema.

  • Heart failure
    In case of congestive heart failure, the heart needs to work harder. This will ultimately change pressure which will cause water to remain in the lungs and lower extremities.

  • Protein deficiency
    Malnutrition can be a cause of protein deficiency or low levels of protein in the body. Kidney and liver diseases can also cause low protein levels in the blood. Albumin is the most abundant protein present. Protein retains salt and water in blood vessels. In case of protein deficiency, water and salt leak out into the tissues resulting in edema which is especially seen in lower extremities. As a result, the body retains extra water weight.

  • Pregnancy
    During pregnancy, women tend to retain some amount of water weight and it is due to hormonal changes and weak circulation that takes place in the legs. However, this is absolutely normal and nothing to worry about.

  • Medicines
    We are retaining that extra water weight because we may be on certain drugs like birth control pills, NSAID's, beta blockers, hormone replacement drugs, steroids, antidepressants etc.

  • Excess sugar consumption
    We may be retaining that water weight as we might be consuming sugar in an excess amount. Sugar does not directly cause water retention. It increases insulin production and this insulin itself retains the excess amount of water in the body. Insulin levels when rises in blood then there is retention of sodium and whenever there are elevated levels of sodium, water definitely gets retained.

  • Venous insufficiency
    Veins of the legs if have very weak valves then venous insufficiency results. Consequently, varicose veins will be formed as veins are weak enough to pump blood back into the heart.

  • Chronic lung diseases
    Water weight is difficult to lose if an individual is suffering from severe form of chronic lung diseases or disorders like emphysema, chronic bronchitis etc. In such diseases, blood vessels which connect heart to the lungs experience increase in pressure which gets back up in the heart. It results in edema in lower extremities.

  • Wastes and toxins
    Cellulite present in the body retains the excess amount of water and this can form the main cause of retaining water weight. Cellulite is a form of fat. In some cases, it can retain such a large amount of water that it becomes quite painful even to touch and shows swelling. Metabolic wastes and toxins like pesticides need to be removed from the body on regular basis. If body fails to do so then these wastes and toxins seem to get stored in cellulite. They can cause irritation of cellulite which ultimately leads to holding up of excess water in these areas.


Water weight makes us look bloated due to the excess amount of water that is retained. There are many causes behind it. Sometimes, simple reasons such as consuming an excess amount of sugar, salt, indulging in fad diets, not concentrating on antioxidants can be the causes. Other times, chronic lung diseases, kidney diseases, wastes and toxins that get accumulated in cellulite can be the causes behind it. There are times when holding up water weight seems normal. Before menstruation begins and during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, it is very normal for the body to hold up an excess amount of water due to changes in the hormones that is taking place during these periods. Whatever may be the cause, it is important to identify it. Sometimes the excess amount of water weight gets concentrated in certain areas like in our mid-section, in lower extremities etc. This can cause difficulty in movement and one may face other edema related difficulties. If one is pretty sure that water weight is not due to wrong eating habits and sedentary lifestyle then it is better to determine the real cause behind it as any underlying disease needs to be diagnosed as early as possible for timely treatment and care. When the cause is eliminated, water weight too disappears from our body easily.

Related Articles

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