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Diuretics More Harm Than Good? – Uses, Protocols, Dangers

Water manipulation and the use of diuretics is very common in bodybuilding. Very often, protocols are followed that are not only dangerous to ones health, but ends up making you look worse on show day. 


Diuretics are used to drop water. Unfortunately, your body does not know that we want to drop the water subcutaneously (under the skin), so it will pull water from wherever it pleases. The problem with this lies in the fact that our muscles are about 80% water. Basically, water is ESSENTIAL to have the skin-popping pumps.

Ever notice the post show rebound is where many competitors find they look their best? After reintroducing sodium, carbs, and water at an extreme level of leanness, the body takes an extremely different look. Most of the problem with diuretic use lies in the fact that there are too many variables in play to determine how to use them to your advantage.

Common Protocols

Diuretics should be used as a “polishing” measure to add the final touch. You should not even consider a diuretic if you’re not shredded to the point that you could step on stage any day of the week and look decent. If your body is blurry with little to no striations or muscle separation, you are clearly holding ample amounts of bodyfat and need to diet harder.

Now, once you have cleared the bodyfat, it is common to carb deplete the week prior to a show. This involves days where your carbs are drastically reduced and your workouts are increased in reps and overall volume to deplete muscle glycogen. Because water is crucial in the absorption of carbohydrates into the muscle, many methods are used to “carb up” for a contest to try to both suck the water out of the body, while filling the muscles with glycogen.

Play it safe.

Get into great condition, carb deplete, do a mild carb-up and the night before a show, use a mild diuretic or a safer one, such as Dyazide, maybe one-half of a full tablet. Dyazide is a potassium-sparing diuretic, so do not consume any extra potassium. If you begin to cramp, this means sodium is what needs to be introduced since your potassium stores are spared. The most effective and safe way to drop water is in as quick of a time frame as possible.

The notion that dropping water for days and weeks before a show is easily proven to not only make you miserable, but to cause your body to horde any water that it gets. You will be bloated, flat, and miserable. In the week before the show, consume ample amounts of water.


The more you drink, the more water you will expel. Getting your body into a good flushing pattern will make the water drop easy. Reducing water the night before/morning of will usually be all that’s necessary to achieve a full, peeled look. A common approach would be to work up to 2 gallons or more per day until the day or two before the show. Reducing it to 1.5 gallons two days before, 1 gallon the day before, and taking sips the morning of the show.

Remember, there are many variables that come into play such as sodium and other variables we just do not have control of. Some may find that you can drink plenty of water even the day of the show, and end up looking the driest on stage. A good measure to find out your bodies tendencies is to do a “mock” depletion week/carb up/water drop.

Health Hazards

Most commonly, death among bodybuilders are from diuretic abuse, followed by overindulging in salty, caloric dense foods post contest. Diuretic abuse can destroy your kidneys, and it is important to taper off the diuretics if you are using more than the minimum recommended dose to prevent a rebound of water. With the post contest cheat meals, it’s easy to have swollen ankles from your kidneys not being able to process the dramatic reintroduction of calories, on top of it trying to horde water if you’ve been water deprived.

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