Water Retention

I have been suffering from water retention recently. It took me a while to work it out primarily as I had put the aching down to the increased amount of running that I have been doing now that I am training again.


  • Swelling of my feet, calves and hands
  • Weight gain
  • A cramp like feeling in my calves and feet in particular
  • General tiredness
  • Cure

    Weird as it may seem for a problem called Water Retention the cure is effectively to drink more water, although that in itself can cause a problem. This is because the lack of sufficient water intake means too many toxins are retained in the body.

    The recommended daily intake of water is 2 litres, raising to 3 litres in a hot climate like Spain in the summer. Add to that the fact that I need to replace the fluids lost by sweating when running.

    They say that for every kilo of weight lost through sweat you need to drink another litre. Well I am losing over 1.5 kilos a run in sweat at the moment, which requires in excess of 1.5 litres of water.

    So in total I need to drink at least 4.5 litres of water a day, call it 5 to allow for the additional sweat lost when doing my weights and pilates etc. This equates to 20 large glasses of water.

    Now for the added complication – as you sweat you lose essential minerals e.g. salt, potassium etc. so these need replacing. But drinking so much water in a day means that I am diluting a lot of the remaining minerals at the same time – sort of a catch 22.

    At the moment I have just been drinking the revised water target for a couple of days, and adding some salt to certain foods. We don’t cook with salt or use it much at all which is a little strange given how much salt the traditional Spanish diet has (this could be one reason why!). So far I have seen some good improvement. I have lost 3 lbs in weight in two days. Given the amount of additional training I am doing and the diet I am on I would have expected to have lost a reasonable amount so far this month so the fact that I am now just a few lbs lighter than at the beginning of the month would indicate that I am still retaining a lot of fluid.

    My calves and feet are still swollen and ache, but another contributing factor to that is probably that I am spending so much time sat at my desk at the moment I am not giving the circulation a chance to work.

    I have just bought some isotonic drinks so will drink a litre of that after every run, and need to work out which foods to eat more of to replace the lost minerals. I don’t like bananas at all but eat one a day and have a horrible feeling I am going to have to start eating two or more a day!

    As you would expect Sands is on the case with the diet in particular. Naturally a lot of fruit and veg will continue to be consumed to help flush out the toxins.

    7 thoughts on “Water Retention

    1. Danny

      Ouch Chris, sorry to here that. Hope your feeling better soon. Has this put a dent in you training?

    2. swing set

      Awwww, I’m sorry to hear this Chris. How are you right now? I also have a friend who suffered from water retention and I actually went with her to the hospital on one of her check up visits. I was also surprised that increase in water intake is the first line of treatment. Isn’t it ironic? I know.

    3. Taylor

      When I train, I sweat a lot and if I let the sweat dry there is a salt coating left on my skin clearly showing how much of this gets flushed out of my system.

      And with drinking more water, essential mineral dilution as you mention is even higher.

      Yet modern diet is all about eliminating salt. If you’re very active, this can be a bad idea and needs to be balanced off with what salt intake you actually require.

    4. Pete

      Hi Chris! First off, I’d like to commend you for keeping up with your exercise, even though it hurts sometimes. Secondly, it’s also not good to totally eliminate salt in our diet. Thirdly, have you thought about replacing or alternating running with biking? Biking is a lot less brutal to your body and yet allows you to simulate the cardio workout you get in running. Just a thought.

    5. IanW

      Chris running is obviously your thing I would have to agree with Pete that cycling has a lot to offer. And so far as water retention is concerned drinking more water is, as you say, ironic.

      I struggle to consume the recommended 8 glasses per day (2 liters) so find it hard to imagine making it 5. The bladder must be under a great strain!!

    6. Raphael

      I have had a couple of
      those instances before and for sure who would want things turn for the bad?
      Good thing though I have managed to pull it off of me and loved drinking water
      as much as I could, more than 12 glasses a day.

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