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From our blog.

Laxatives and Diuretics – A Good Way to Lose Weight?

AMY GARDNER / February 13, 2014

While laxatives and diuretics have clinical purposes, weight loss is NOT one of them.  Here, we’ll explain exactly what they DO and what you need to consider before taking them.  Laxatives and diuretics are often abused by individuals with eating disorders because they provide a temporary sense of weight loss and “emptiness”.  However, the medium- and long-term effects are exactly the opposite.
Let’s break down each one.

Laxatives:  

Stimulate the large intestine to empty its contents, which are primarily indigestible fiber and water. This occurs after food, nutrients, and calories are absorbed by the small intestine. Therefore any weight loss following the use of laxatives is primarily through changes in body fluid. Laxatives are often found over-the-counter in pill form.  Using laxatives regularly and/or in excess can result in dependence and make it difficult for your system to work on its own.

Diuretics:  Force the kidneys to increase urine output. Although using diuretics may result in weight loss, it is all water and electrolytes. Once an individual rehydrates, they will regain the weight. Diuretics are not only found in pill form, but also in drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks.

Both classes of drugs are dangerous in that they can cause serious damage to the body.  Changes in mineral and electrolyte balance can disrupt the proper functioning of nerves, muscles, and organ systems. Some of the vital minerals affected include: sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Once an individual discontinues use of laxatives or diuretics, they can experience uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and even weight rebound caused by fluid retention.
If you or someone you know suffers from laxative or diuretic abuse, seek the help of a medical professional. Eating disorder treatment is most effective with a team that includes: a physician, psychiatrist/psychologist, therapist, and registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you gradually decrease laxative and diuretic abuse and help your body find and maintain its natural fluid balance.