Laxatives For Weight Loss – Should You Use Or Avoid Them?

Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Experience: 6 years
Last Updated on

Laxatives are basically bowel movement stimulants. But many dieters use them to lose weight as they speed up the movement of the digested food through the digestive tract, thereby preventing the absorption of calories. Laxatives might work, but their overuse or continuous use can cause serious health issues. So, if you are considering using laxatives for weight loss, know what you are getting into. This article discusses the types of laxatives, how much weight you can lose using laxatives, side effects, and more. Swipe up!

What Are Laxatives?

Laxatives are herbal or chemical medicines that help loosen the stool and improve bowel movement. They are commonly prescribed by doctors to those dealing with constipation. Laxatives help add bulk to the stool and help push out the waste from the digestive tract.

There are various types of laxatives – let’s see what they are.

Types Of Laxatives

  • Bulk-forming Or Fiber Laxatives – Fiber is naturally present in husk, veggies, and fruits. Fiber laxatives are recommended by doctors for slow transit constipation, bloating, and cramping. They absorb water and add bulk to the stool.
  • Osmotic Laxatives – These are chemical hydrating agents that draw water into the intestine, thereby softening the stool.
  • Lubricant Laxatives – These are laxatives that contain mineral oil as one of the components and make the stool slippery and easy to pass.
  • Stimulant Laxatives – These laxatives stimulate the lining of the digestive tract to help excrete the stool from the body.
  • Guanylate Cyclase-C Agonist Laxatives – These increase the amount of water in the GI tract.
  • Emollient Laxatives or Stool Softeners – As the name suggests, they help soften the stool. They are generally recommended for people recovering from surgery or women who have just given birth.

As you can see, there’s not a single laxative that doctors specifically recommend for weight loss. So, why do dieters use them to lose weight? Do they really work? Let’s find out.

Do Laxatives Aid Weight Loss?

Laxatives For Weight Loss - Do Laxatives Aid Weight Loss
Image: Shutterstock

No. Laxatives do not aid weight loss. They are meant for help people get relief from constipation. But here’s why many people use/abuse laxatives for weight loss.

Laxatives speed up the movement of the digested food in the small intestine. The small intestine is where all the nutrients get absorbed. And when the nutrients are not absorbed properly, the body absorbs fewer calories. But will it help you lose the flab, get a toned body, and a healthy mind? No. You may lose water weight but not fat. After losing 1-2 pounds your weight loss will come to a standstill.

You may continue using laxatives to lose more weight, but it will only harm your health. Moreover, there is no scientific research that proves that laxatives have weight loss properties. Yet, people with eating disorders use them to lose weight and look a certain way. This is an unhealthy practice, and laxative abuse further deteriorates your physical and mental health.

Alright, let’s get the facts straight then. Scroll down to remember these points or help someone who is abusing laxatives to lose weight.

Things You Need To Know Before Using Laxatives For Weight Loss

  • There Are Various Types Of Laxatives: As listed above, there are different laxatives that work in different or similar ways to help flush out the toxins in your digestive tract. So, you must take to your doctor to find out which type of laxative is best for you.
  • Laxatives Are Not For Weight Loss: Laxatives are for helping people with severe/recurring constipation. They help flush out the stool, thereby providing relief to those suffering.
  • Laxatives Do Not Aid Fat Loss: All you are going to lose is the initial water weight. You are not going to lose the fat or build lean muscle mass.
  • Laxatives Should Not Be Used For A Prolonged Period: If you suffer from constipation, use them for 1-2 days.

So, what happens when you use laxatives for more than two days to lose weight? Find out next.

Side Effects Of Using Laxatives For Weight Loss

Laxatives For Weight Loss - Side Effects Of Using Laxatives For Weight Loss
Image: Shutterstock
  • Dehydration

One of the first effects of overusing laxatives for weight loss is dehydration. Most laxatives tend to draw water into the digestive tract from the surrounding tissues and soften the stool. This causes dehydration. When you are dehydrated, your cell function slows down, metabolic rate goes down, and brain function takes a nosedive.

  • Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes play an important role in proper cell function, cell division, and cell signaling. The main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium. Overusing laxatives causes an imbalance in the electrolyte levels, leading to disorientation, seizure, and coma. If you are experiencing headache, muscle fatigue, weakness, and heart palpitation after using laxatives, stop using them, and see a doctor immediately.

  • Kidney Failure

Constant use of laxatives will cause the kidneys to work 24/7. And when that happens, over a period, your kidneys will become weak. And this will finally lead to kidney failure. Unless you are as lucky as Selena Gomez, refrain from damaging your kidneys.

  • GI Tract Damage

Long-term use of laxatives to induce weight loss irritates the GI tract lining, leading to inflammation and loss of function.

  • Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is caused due to severe injury and muscle death. Using laxatives for days to lose weight can lead to muscle loss, weakness, and even muscle death. This can lead to an overdose of harmful protein in the bloodstream, causing further complications.

  • Liver Damage

Taking too many chemical tablets is not good for your liver. And using too many herbal laxatives can also lead to liver damage.

  • Depression

Since laxatives do not actually help you lose the flab, you will not lose weight after losing the initial water weight. And this can trigger obsessive-compulsive actions and depression.

  • Other Side Effects

Overuse of laxatives might cause dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.

Now that you know there are so many disadvantages of using laxatives as weight loss agents, you need to look for a better option to lose weight quickly. Well, here’s what you’ve got to do.

Ways To Lose Weight Quickly

Laxatives For Weight Loss - Ways To Lose Weight Quickly
Image: Shutterstock
  • You must understand your body and body type. If you have an endomorphic body type, you will be less likely to lose the weight in three days.
  • Understand that quick weight loss is not sustainable. Yes, go for it if you have an upcoming occasion, but do it safely. Eating only one apple a day will slow down your metabolism and make you look tired and worn out on the D-day.
  • Choose a diet plan that you can follow. Most VLCD and crazy diets are not sustainable. Use the substitute method to slowly get into the habit of eating clean. Substitute high-cal foods with low-cal, high-fiber, high-protein, and healthy fats.
  • Snack on low-cal foods like hummus and baby carrot, cucumber, tomato, and nuts.

If you eat mindfully, you can lose the excess flab without taking up any crazy pills or diet. Take your health seriously and do what’s right for you. Cheers!

Was this article helpful?
Charushila Biswas
Charushila BiswasHealth & Wellness Writer
Charushila is an ISSA certified Fitness Nutritionist and a Physical Exercise Therapist. Over a span of 6 years, she has authored more than 400 articles on diet, lifestyle, exercises, healthy food, and fitness equipment. She strives to inform, educate, and motivate her readers via authentic, straightforward, and fact-checked information.

Read full bio of Charushila Biswas
Latest Articles