Water weight is the No. 1 bad guy in the bodybuilding world. You can get rid of as much body fat as you like, but if you're retaining water, you can still look bloated and soft. You can't use water retention as an excuse for being out of shape, however. If you can pinch more than an inch, it's likely fat, not water that's stopping you from fitting into your favorite jeans. As a bodybuilder, getting rid of excess water is vital if you want to look your best on the competition stage.
Limit your salt consumption. Stop adding salt to your meals and watch out for those sneaky salt-laden items such as fast food, TV dinners and processed foods like potato chips. Even some healthy foods such as tuna, deli meats and soup can have added salt, so eye those labels carefully. The American Heart Association recommends a salt intake of less than 1,500 milligrams daily.
Increase your water intake. It may sound utterly mad, but to lose water, you have to drink water. Drinking more flushes water through your system faster; you can sometimes actually feel dehydrated from drinking loads of water. Try doubling your water intake for two days. Just make sure you're never too far from a bathroom.
Cut your carbs. For every gram of stored carbohydrate in your body, you hold 2.7 grams of water, claims bodybuilder and nutritional scientist Dr. Layne Norton. Therefore a low carbohydrate diet automatically decreases the amount of water you're carrying. The United States Department of Agriculture advises that women should eat 130 grams of carbs per day. However, when it comes to contest time, you may need to lower this to help you get shredded. Just check with your doctor first to make sure it's safe to do so.
Hit the weights. Pumping iron can help get rid of water weight too. Obviously you lose water through sweating when you train, but a tough workout can actually deplete your carb stores too, writes nutritionist Lyle McDonald in "The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook." Instead of your bog-standard workout though, perform a full-body circuit with sets of 15 to 20 reps and slightly lighter weights. This high volume, high rep approach is much better at depleting carbs than heavy training.
- Use these methods strategically. They should only be necessary when approaching a bodybuilding contest or photo shoot.
- Find an experienced competitor to assist you with the process.
- Consult with your health care provider before making any changes to your diet, water intake or exercise regime.
- Mayo Clinic: Water Retention: Relieve this Premenstrual Symptom
- American Heart Association: Shaking the Salt Habit
- Bodybuilding.com: A Unique Combination Of Science And Experience Based Pre-Contest Advice.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- "The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook": Lyle McDonald: 2007
- Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images