Laxatives are one type of medication that people use to reduce constipation. Seldom, people without constipation take laxatives in the belief that these drugs will help them lose
Laxatives for weight loss are not effective or safe. However, there are other healthful ways to lose weight and maintain body weight.
In this article, we look at laxatives that help weight loss. We further discuss the laxatives for weight loss, the safety of weight-loss strategies, and when to see a doctor.
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Table of Contents
Do laxatives cause weight loss?
Doctors do not prescribe laxatives as a way to lose weight. Research recommends that while some people wrongly believe that taking laxatives will prevent their body from absorbing extra calories, it is an ineffective and unsafe strategy.
Laxatives treat constipation by giving stool or bowel movements. People may think that passing more stools will lead to weight loss.
However, people may feel “lighter” temporarily. There is no proof to support the use of laxatives as a safe or effective weight-loss method.
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Best laxative for constipation
Tired of being constipated and thinking you need a laxative? Millions of Americans suffer from constipation:
- Bowel movement
- Hard stools
- Obstruction or incomplete evacuation
- Less than three bowel movements per week
Laxatives contain chemicals that help increase stool bulk, motility, and frequency — thus relieving constipation. But when overused or misused or, they can cause chronic constipation. A healthy diet like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain; regular exercise; and drinking at least eight 8oz cups of water daily can help prevent constipation. The fluids can be not just water but drinks, soup, and other forms of liquid.
Still, 84% of doctor visits for constipation result in a prescription for a laxative. So it’s important to understand how laxatives work and how to use them safely.
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Laxatives cause water loss, not weight loss.
The temporary weight loss that people experience from taking laxatives is due to water loss. However, losing water is not the same as losing body fat.
Many laxatives work by helping the gut consume more water from the body or keeping water in the stomach around the stool. This water softens the stool, making it much easier to pass. But, it can also cause diarrhea, which is a very watery substance.
Laxatives don’t reduce body fat or long-term weight loss. Moreover, even high doses of laxatives, which support the movement of stool through the digestive problem, have a “modest effect” on calorie absorption.
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Safety and risks
Laxatives are available over the counter (OTC) for the treatment of constipation. However, misusing laxatives for weight loss cause the following side effects:
People normally use laxatives to relieve constipation. However, if a person takes laxatives when not constipated or uses them too regularly, these drugs may cause diarrhea.
Some people who usually use laxatives experience alternating constipation and diarrhea.
Osmotic laxatives draw the water of your body into the stomach to soften stool. Taking osmotic laxatives too often may cause dehydration.
Other forms of laxatives also cause frequent diarrhea that leads to dehydration.
Common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Decreased urination
You must read this article: How Do You Know If You Are Dehydrated?
Taking laxatives can occur in an electrolyte imbalance. Certain types of a laxative can cause the body to absorb high amounts of electrolytes such as phosphorus and sodium from the gut. As a result, some laxatives can lead to low blood levels of potassium, calcium, or magnesium.
An electrolyte imbalance cause weakness and an abnormal heartbeat. In many cases, having an electrolyte imbalance can be life-threatening.
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When to see a doctor?
Reaching and keeping a healthy weight can reduce risk factors for health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it is necessary to lose weight safely and sustainably.
Sometimes, trying to lose weight can negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health. Trying to strategy a negative self-image through weight loss without mental health strategies can make things worse.
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For people, unsuitable weight-loss procedures progress into an eating disorder. Some symptoms that indicate an eating disorder include:
- Busy to lose weight
- Being focused only on calories, fat, or carbohydrate content
- Ignoring some food types
- Skipping meals or reducing portion sizes excessively
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Being concerned with body size or shape
- Having some mood swings
- Looking in the mirror in a critical way
- Losing or gaining weight quickly
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Having trouble concentrating
- Having trouble sleeping
- Developing dry or thin hair or skin
- Feeling dizzy
Read: How To Recover From An Eating Disorder?
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Safe weight-loss strategies
For weight loss, using laxatives is not a safe procedure. In addition, for many people, drastic and limiting dieting does not work in the long term.
Making sustainable lifestyle changes is an effective way to lead a healthy weight. These include:
- Eating a nutritious, balanced diet that consists of whole foods
- Increasing physical activity every day
- Regular exercise
- Self-care to improve body image
Self-care activities can also include:
- Talk therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
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Laxatives for weight loss are not effective or safe. If a person weighs loss after taking laxatives, this is expected to be due to water loss.
Water loss from laxative use is unstable and is not the same as losing body fat. In addition, laxatives don’t reduce body weight.
Exercising and a nutritious diet can also help a person reach their weight. However, they should speak with the doctor about weight loss is important for their health before starting a new diet or exercise regimen.
Weight loss is beneficial for a person’s well-being when necessary, and they do it safely. However, anyone experiencing some issues with their body image should ask for support from a doctor to help them reach the right support.
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