Why Do You Get Water Retention? - THE FIT MUM FORMULA

Why Do You Get Water Retention?

water retention

Oh water retention, what a trickster you are;


Making us all look and feel fat, and feel guilty for any tiny deviation from our diet and exercise plan that we may, or may not, have done.


Men can get problems with excess water retention too (I say excess because much of the water in our bodies is necessary, but more about that later).

Women – you likely get problems with excess water retention, and sorry to say it, but usually more frequently and severely than men. But as with all science, there is always a reason, so let’s look into that.


Why We Need Water

  • Water transports oxygen, vitamins and minerals around the body, as well as riding us of waste products.
  • It regulates temperature, hormones, digestive functioning, and emotions.
  • Muscle and blood are made up of much more water (about 80%) than fat cells (about 20-25%). The more muscle you have, the more water you will retain.


Dropping just 2% below your body’s fluid requirements will lower you body’s ability to function optimally.


Water is taken in though food as well as drink, and lost through breathing, sweating, urinating and bowel movements.


Am I Out Of Balance?

Signs that you may have a fluid imbalance are;

  • skin having a ‘pitted’ appearance,
  • skin being sensitive or painful to touch,
  • feeling thirsty,
  • frequent bloating, especially after meals,
  • high or low blood pressure or body temperature,
  • urinating frequently or not often enough,
  • abnormal fluctuations in body weight.
  • water retention below the skin causes a puffy ‘fatty’ appearance.


Minerals and Electrolytes

Sodium is the most famous culprit, however it’s actually the balance of minerals and electrolytes that matters most – everything has to be in proportion to its neighbour in order to function right.

Sodium – sodium is stored both inside and outside of cells. The kidneys are regulators for sodium, and the only way we lose sodium is through sweating, unlike other minerals which wan be lost through breathing, urination and bowel movements.

Potassium – stored inside cells, potassium plays a big role in the release of energy from food. It is also essential in muscle functioning and movement. It balances sodium – too little or too much potassium will alter the body’s sodium levels.

Magnesium – the main component of Epson salt, magnesium is mostly stored in bones, and is important for immune functioning, enzyme activity, nerve function and bone strength.

Calcium – essential to muscle health and metabolism as well as bone health.

Phosphorus and Chloride are other electrolytes that are needed in the body.

awesome supplements electrolytes


Progesterone – lowering of this hormone causes water retention in women, which is why it is common just before your period.

Testosterone – lowered testosterone can be responsible for water retention in men.

Oestrogen in excess increases water and sodium retention

Cortisol – stress makes your body retain water

Aldosterone, from the adrenal glands, causes the kidneys to retain water and sodium.


Overtraining, Undereating

In short, excessive training, eating a caloric deficit that is too low or for too long, and too much restriction of certain foods (carbohydrates, certain vitamins and minerals), all put the body under stress (see Cortisol and Aldosterone, above).


Don’t Carbs Hold Water?

Not quite that simple – when we eat carbohydrates, they are converted to glucose, and then either stored as fat, or as glycogen. Glycogen is essential for muscle performance – you wouldn’t be working out efficiently without it – it holds three times its weight in water, but is still essential to optimum muscle functioning. Some people experience sudden water retention issues when going from extremes quickly – a sudden drop in carbohydrate intake, or a surge in carb intake.


One way to get around this reaction is to increase or decrease carbs slowly. However in the case of cheat days, any water retention should balance back to normal when the body has had time to adjust.


To summarise, it’s about balance – balancing hormones, electrolytes, macronutrient (carbs, proteins, fats) intake, calorie intake, exercise levels and frequency, and the one thing which seems to be a factor in every physical, physiological and psychological occurrence in our body – keep those stress levels down.


Need help getting the body and health you want? Let’s chat to see if I can help. Click here to schedule your free consultation.

Leave a Comment: