So not too long ago I had an episode where I seemed to gain weight. And, I don’t mean gaining weight the normal way. The scale was going up at an alarmingly fast rate. At first, I looked at all the usual suspects: exercise, diet, sleep. None of these factors explained how I could gain weight so quickly.

Then, it dawned on me: I had had to take some medication and also started a different workout regimen recently. These two factors combined led to a quick increase in water retention all over my body. I even had water retention in my face! My lips were swollen and my cheeks were puffy.

So as soon as I figured out what the reason behind my quick weight gain was, I started researching how to get rid of water retention – fast!

Below you find everything I’ve found about the different reasons behind water retention and how to beat them!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Causes of water retention

As with any issue, it is extremely helpful to first understand the reasons behind it before figuring out how to combat it.

What is water retention a sign of?

Water retention means there is more water than needed in your body tissue, which will show as swelling. The reason for your body retaining more water can be diverse, but some of them include various medications, a high-sodium diet, hormones, especially for females, and systemic inflammation. Let’s look at these causes of water retention more in detail!


If you take medicine, even something as common as ibuprofen, it could be responsible for your water retention. Many medications have water retention as a side effect, so make sure to read the package insert of your pills!

Lymphatic system overload

The lymphatic system literally consists of fluid – the lymphatic fluid. So if for some reason, your lymphatic system isn’t working properly, it can cause swelling from fluid building up. You can find some tips for detoxing your lymphatic system here!

High-salt diet

Image of a mason jar filled with salt
Photo by Lorena Martínez from Pexels

I know, salt is super tasty! Unfortunately, it’s not only used as a spice but also to preserve things. So if we eat lots of processed foods or simply use lots of salt in our cooking (looking at you, mom!), we will have more salt than we need in our bodies. And that excess amount of salt will keep the fluids in our body…


Especially for females, hormones play a huge part in water retention. Most of that bloating and swelling before your period? Water retention thanks to hormones!


You don’t have to have a chronic inflammatory disease to have inflammation in your body. Even starting a new workout regime and getting thoroughly sore from it (like me!) can cause inflammation. And because of the way your body reacts to both chronic and acute inflammation, water retention can go up like crazy!


Image of a woman looking out of a plane window

I also have to mention flying on the list of causes for water retention. If you’ve ever taken a long-haul flight, you’ve probably experience the puffiness and swollen ankles afterwards!

Serious illnesses

Unfortunately, not all causes of water retention are as peachy as a vacation flight. Some pretty serious conditions like, for example, liver cirrhosis or kidney failure could be the reason. If you have just the slightest doubt, that something serious could be going on, immediately see a doctor about it!

Is water retention bad?

Okay, so you are finding that you are retaining more water than usual. What does that mean now? Is it bad? Well, while it is certainly uncomfortable, the water retention in itself usually doesn’t cause further problems.

You’re in trouble if some of the conditions described above are causing you to retain water. And, in that case, you’ll definitely need to see a medical professional stat!

How long does water retention last?

The speed at which you can get rid of your water retention will depend on the cause of it, and how well you implement the necessary changes to address it.

If you’re like most people, you can expect to lose one to three pounds of water weight in two days. Not too bad, huh?

How do you get rid of water retention fast?

Alright, now that you’re properly informed on all the details of water retention, let’s get to the good stuff: how can you get rid of water retention?

Drink lots of water

Heh? Drinking water to decrease water in the body? Yep, that can actually help! Firstly, if you’re constantly dehydrated your body will hold on to more water, basically saving up for all the bad times. Drinking enough liquids basically signals your body that it doesn’t have to retain water for later.

And if you have trouble remembering to drink enough water, maybe track your liquid intake for a little while with my water tracker. Click the link below and a pdf will open in a new tab. Simply print it, and every time you finish a glass of water, you can color one of the cups.

A free water tracker printable to help you stay on track with your daily water intake.

Compression socks

Image of knee high compression socks in different colors

If your swollen legs are a little more serious, you can also opt for compression socks to increase circulation and prevent fluids from pooling there. I’ve found this tip a lot when I looked for ideas on how to beat water retention.

The other tips to get rid of water retention worked well enough for me, so I haven’t personally tried these. But seeing how colorful and fun some of these compression socks look*, I’m tempted to get them for my next long flight!

Adapt your diet

There are several ways your diet can help in getting rid of water retention. First of all, obviously, have less sodium. This means less salt, but also fewer processed foods that often have hidden sodium. Instead, add more potassium to your diet. For me, that usually means bananas. Easy and tasty!

Reducing carb intake can also dial down the water retention. Instead, put a focus on protein-rich foods and, of course, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

For me, trying to eat Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen helps to get more fresh food in. Trying to get more checkmarks every day feels more like a game rather than a chore!

Image of bags with healthy beans in various colours

Get moving

Moving your body can help beat water retention in two ways:

  1. If you work up a sweat, you sweat out the water. Easy, isn’t it?
  2. Moving your body is one of the best ways to get your lymph moving, too. So if you have buildup lymph, you basically “massage it out” by moving.

Feet elevated

image of a woman in Legs up the wall pose, a yoga pose very helpful for a clogged lymphatic system and to get rid of water retention

Especially for the water retention after a flight and also in general to detox your lymph system, elevating your feet is a great way to fight water retention. It’s super relaxing, too!

Balance your hormones

This last one is not really a quick fix, but an important part of not having to deal with water retention all the time:

If you have extreme water retention before your period, due to PMS, the only way to sustainably combat it is to balance your hormones.

Share this with someone!

I hope you found these tips helpful and I wish you a quick loss of all that water! Make sure to pin this or share it somewhere else!

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.