What Are Diuretics?
Diuretics, or water pills as they are commonly called are herbal based products designed to reduce water retention. This type of product falls into the fat loss category. They can be used by anyone trying to get that ripped look as well as anyone trying to lose fat. For the competition bodybuilder, excess water retention on contest day can be devastating. This is because it will promote a puffy, smooth look.
Additionally, for the guy or girl just wanting to look good on the beach, losing that excess bloat will do wonders. Finally, for Mr. & Mrs. Joe Average Dieter, excess water weight is a common problem. In fact, this is caused by too much sodium in your diet and certain OTC or prescription medications. For the typical dieter, losing a quick 5 lbs. of water weight looks good on the scale. Not to mention, it can be motivating. Finally, for the bodybuilder who is already lean, losing any extra water will promote the much-desired ripped look.
Typically, water pills contain several key ingredients that work well when combined together as a formula.
Here are those ingredients:
Part of the B family of vitamins, which are water soluble, meaning they are flushed out of your system quickly so they must be taken daily. The B complex as a whole is important for converting food into usable energy and for fighting stress, when each member of the complex is taken individually they serve different functions, one of the many functions of B-6 is to act as a mild diuretic.
Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), also known as bearberry because bears like eating the fruit, has been used as a medicine since the 2nd century. The leaves of this small shrub have been used for centuries as a mild diuretic, also as a treatment for headaches, urinary problems and as a general tonic for weakened kidneys, liver or pancreas.
Buchu is a native bush of South Africa. As an herbal diuretic, Buchu stimulates and cleanses the urinary system. The herb also helps reduce excess water weight.
Dandelion is grown commercially in both the United States and Europe and both the leaf and root have been used for centuries to treat liver, gall bladder, and kidney ailments, weak digestion, and rheumatism. The leaves have traditionally been used as a diuretic.
An advantage of the leaves is that they are also high in potassium, so they help to compensate for potassium lost with increased urination.
This is a small shrub, 4 to 6 feet high, widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Oil of Juniper is given as a diuretic, it also aids things such as indigestion, flatulence, and diseases of the kidney and bladder.
While some formulas will contain other ingredients, these are the primary herbs and vitamins used in natural diuretic products. It’s important to understand that a diuretic product usually comes as a formula. However, it’s the combination of ingredients that produces the desired results.
A Good Diuretic Formula Will Include Electrolytes
A good diuretic formula will also include electrolytes, such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. Furthermore, potassium is especially important. This is because if you lose to much water you will begin to cramp. Potassium will help prevent that from happening. It should also be said that water intake is also important. Indeed, you need water to live and function normally. Therefore, never deny yourself adequate water in your attempts to lean out.
As a side note for those who may not know, let’s briefly define electrolytes. They are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes. Additionally, they carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body. For example, when you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat, particularly sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant.
The major body electrolytes are:
Benefits of Diuretics
- Reduce excess water retention
As indicated above, products like this are a mainstay for competition bodybuilders who need that “paper thin” look. Remember, in this case you want to see extreme definition. Furthermore, if there’s even a thin layer of water, that paper thin look will not be there.
Turning to more mainstream needs, the amount of sodium in many of today’s food choices can be absolutely insane. It’s true sodium is an essential mineral that we do need. However, we don’t need it in the typical amounts you find in fast food to soup to processed foods! This is one of the food problems and perceptions that contribute to today’s obesity epidemic among the general population. So, the result of the kind of high sodium intake prevalent in the diet’s of many people today is water retention, often extreme. In fact, a good water pill can help reduce that and get some of that excess fluid out. This often results in an initial impressive poundage drop that can be motivating to a new dieter.
As talked about with other products in these guides, this is a specialized product. It’s serving a specialized need and is another example of a supplement being the best choice for this need.
Diuretic Supplements, Timing and Dosage
Natural water pills come mainly as a tablet or capsule. They are usually a formula but you can buy several of the individual herbs by themselves. In this case dandelion would be the main choice. Additionally, some water pill products will contain naturally occurring caffeine in the form of green tea or guarana. This is common in the fat loss category. Caffeine acts as a thermogenic and is usually combined with almost everything. This is a product where following label directions is a must and that includes drinking a lot of water. Again, lack of water intake combined with a lot of water loss by the body will lead to cramps. It goes without this is something you definitely want to avoid. Therefore, timing and dosage directions will vary from product to product. As always, read and follow the label of the product you buy for best results.