Blog Nutrition List Of Foods That Cause Water Retention

List Of Foods That Cause Water Retention

Athletes and bodybuilders who are set to compete often have to watch their diets carefully to ensure they don’t end up carrying any excess water weight. However, they aren’t the only ones who worry about a sudden increase in their weight. Many people who are trying to lose weight or simply maintain their current weight find that they can’t seem to get rid of that last pound to attain their goal. Some people have chronic conditions that make them more prone to water retention. Moreover, while many factors can contribute to this, one often overlooks that the reason is the foods we eat. Some foods can help with water retention by promoting diuresis, or the increased production of urine, while others can cause the body to hold on to water. If you’re trying to lose water weight, it’s best to avoid foods that are high in sodium.


What Is Water Retention?

The human body is made up of approximately 60% water. This fluid helps cushion and protect our organs, joints, and tissues. Other than that, it also aids in digestion, absorption, and transportation of nutrients

Water also regulates our body temperature and plays a role in the elimination of waste products. Most of the time, our bodies can maintain a healthy balance of water by regulating how much we consume and eliminating excess through urine and sweat. 

There are, however, certain conditions that can cause our bodies to retain more water than usual.

These include:

  • Edema: This is the medical term for swelling caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues. 

Edema can be the result of an underlying medical condition, such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease. Corticosteroids can be one factor as well (4) (29).

  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Many women retain water and experience bloating in the days leading up to their period (5).
  • Obesity: Obesity may cause the body to retain water (24).
  • Hormonal Changes: Water retention can be a side effect of shifts in certain hormones, such as estrogen or testosterone (22).
  • Pregnancy: As the baby grows, extra fluid is needed to support its development. This fluid is sometimes retained after birth as well (8). 
  • Menopause: Changes in hormone levels during menopause can cause some women to retain water (13).
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Certain foods can also contribute to water retention, as they can promote inflammation or interfere with the body’s natural ability to regulate fluid levels. 

Let’s try to know some of the foods that may cause water retention.

Read More: Water Retention On Your Period: Why It Happens And What You Can Do About It

list of foods that cause water retention

What Foods Make You Retain Water?

Certain foods can cause the body to hold on to water, including:

Processed Foods 

Food processing involves various steps that can change the nutrient content and structure of foods. They often contain additives and preservatives, such as sodium,, which can lead to water retention. 

Processed foods that can promote water retention (14) include:

  • Canned soups, stews, and chili
  • Packaged ramen noodles
  • Frozen meals
  • Processed cheese 
  • Cured meats, such as bacon, salami, and ham 
  • Sausage 
  • Hot dogs 
  • Pre-made sauces and dressings 
  • Chips 
  • Crackers 
  • Cookies
  • Cake 
  • Ice cream

list of foods that cause water retention


While alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it helps promote the production of urine, it can also cause the body to retain water due to chronic alcohol intake, which can cause damage to the liver.

In addition, alcohol is often combined with sugary mixers that can cause the body to hold on to water, such as:

  • Beer
  • Wine 
  • Liquor 
  • Sweetened mixed drinks, such as daiquiris and Margaritas 
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Salty Foods

Eating foods that are high in salt can cause the body to hold on to water. This is because salt promotes the retention of water in the body (21). 

Some salty foods include: 

  • Pretzels
  • Potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Popcorn
  • Salted nuts
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned soups and chili
  • Packaged ramen noodles
  • Processed cheese 
  • Cured meats, such as bacon, salami, and ham
  • Sausage
  • Hot dogs

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Sugary Foods

Like salt, sugar can cause the body to hold on to water. This is because sugar promotes the retention of water in the body (3). 

Some sugary foods include: 

  • Candy
  • Chocolate
  • Cookies
  • Cake 
  • Pie
  • Ice cream 
  • Fruit juice 
  • Sports drinks 
  • Sweetened coffee and tea
  • Sweetened mixed drinks, such as daiquiris and Margaritas 

Refined Carbohydrates

Refining carbohydrates removes some of the fiber and other nutrients that are present in whole grains. This can make them more rapidly absorbed by the body, which can lead to water retention (3). High insulin levels in response to refined carbohydrate intake may cause your kidneys to reabsorb more sodium and retain fluid.

Your body also stores extra carbohydrates for later use as glycogen. This is a helpful thing, but glycogen is stored with quite a bit of water attached to it, so it can alter the number on the scale. .

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Some refined carbohydrates include: 

  • White bread 
  • Pasta 
  • Cereal
  • White rice 
  • Crackers

Read More: How To Get Rid Of Water Retention Overnight: Beat Bloat With These Tips

list of foods that cause water retention

What Can I Eat To Stop Retaining Water?

If you’re looking for foods that can help reduce water retention, you’re in luck. There are a variety of foods that have diuretic properties, which means they help promote urine production and can therefore help rid your body of excess water.

Some of the best foods for reducing water retention include:

Foods Rich In Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that’s essential for many different bodily functions, including keeping your heart healthy and your bones strong (16). It’s also been found to help alleviate premenstrual fluid retention (17).

Some good sources of magnesium include:

  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Leafy greens

Foods Rich In Potassium

Potassium is another essential mineral that’s important for maintaining a healthy heart and keeping your muscles working properly (10). Potassium tends to counter sodium to help maintain fluid balance in the body. 

Some good sources of potassium include:

  • White and sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Most fresh fruits and vegetables


Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is a good source of antioxidants and is believed to help reduce water retention. It’s thought to work by helping keep urine diluted, which helps prevent fluid from being reabsorbed into the body.

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion tea is a popular herbal tea that’s often consumed for its diuretic properties. It’s thought to work as it aids in increasing urine production, which helps rid the body of excess fluid (25). Talk to your doctor before trying any herbal teas or supplements.

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea is another herbal tea that’s known for its diuretic properties (7). Like dandelion tea, it’s thought to help increase urine production, which can help reduce water retention. Again, talk to your doctor first.

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list of foods that cause water retention

What Else Can I Do To Reduce Water Retention?

Eating diuretic foods can help reduce water retention, but there are a few other things you can do to help as well. 

Here are a few tips:


Exercise is one of the most effective short-term treatments for water retention. When you exercise, your body releases fluids through sweating. This helps reduce the amount of water your body is retaining (23).

Additionally, exercise can help improve circulation and increase lymphatic drainage. Both of these effects can help reduce the appearance of swollenness and bloating (6).

Get More Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, but it can also help reduce water retention (19). When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can cause the body to hold on to water (9).

So, if you’re looking to reduce water retention, make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye. Most adults need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including water retention. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol (28). As we mentioned above, cortisol can cause the body to hold on to water (9).

So, if you’re looking to reduce water retention, it’s important to manage stress. There are a variety of different stress-management techniques you can try, including yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.

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list of foods that cause water retention

Drink Plenty Of Water

It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best things you can do to reduce water retention is to drink plenty of water. When you’re properly hydrated, your body is less likely to hold on to water (15).

So, if you’re looking to reduce water retention, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Most adults need about eight glasses per day.

Elevating Your Legs

If your legs are swollen, try elevating them to help reduce the buildup of fluid. When you elevate your legs, gravity helps to pull the fluid away from your lower body and back into circulation (27).

You can elevate your legs by lying down and placing a pillow under your feet. You can also try sitting in a chair with your feet elevated on a stool or ottoman.

Wearing Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are specially designed to apply pressure to your legs and feet. This helps to promote circulation and can reduce the amount of fluid that’s able to build up in your lower body (20).

If you have swelling in your legs, you may want to try wearing compression stockings. They’re available in a variety of sizes and can be bought at most pharmacies and medical supply stores.

The Bottom Line 

Water retention can be caused by a variety of different things, including hormones, medications, and certain medical conditions.

There are several different ways to reduce water retention, including dietary changes, exercise, and stress management.

If your goal is to reduce water retention, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and limiting your sodium intake. 



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Alcohol Misuse and Kidney Injury: Epidemiological Evidence and Potential Mechanisms (2017,
  2. A review of the alleged health hazards of monosodium glutamate (2019,
  3. Carbohydrate exerts a mild influence on fluid retention following exercise-induced dehydration (1985,
  4. Causes and signs of edema (2006,
  5. Characterization of symptoms and edema distribution in premenstrual syndrome (2015,
  6. Concise review on the safety of exercise on symptoms of lymphedema (2015,
  7. Diuretic effect of compounds from Hibiscus sabdariffa by modulation of the aldosterone activity (2012,
  8. Edema in pregnancy (1997,
  9. Effects of psychological stress on plasma interleukins-1 beta and 6, C-reactive protein, tumour necrosis factor alpha, anti-diuretic hormone and serum cortisol (1993,
  10. Electrolytes (2021,
  11. Exploring the Links between Diet and Inflammation: Dairy Foods as Case Studies (2021,
  12. Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (2012,
  13. Hormonal Changes During Menopause and the Impact on Fluid Regulation  (2014,
  14. Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake (2017,
  15. Just Add Water (2008,
  16. Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions (2018,
  17. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention (1998,
  18. Mechanisms of Action of trans Fatty Acids (2010,
  19. Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss (2015,
  20. Reduction of Pain and Edema of the Legs by Walking Wearing Elastic Stockings (2015,
  21. Salt and water: not so simple (2017,
  22. Sex Hormone Effects on Body Fluid Regulation (2008,
  23. Skeletal muscle volume following dehydration induced by exercise in heat (2012,
  24. Systemic subclinical lymphedema due to obesity as the cause of clinical lymphedema: A new concept (2019,
  25. The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day (2009,
  26. The effectiveness of dried cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms (2010,
  27. The effects of leg elevation to reduce leg edema resulting from prolonged standing (1989,
  28. The impact of stress on body function: A review (2017,
  29. The swollen leg (2016,
  30. Water and electrolyte shifts with partial fluid replacement during exercise (1999,
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