Are you trying to lose weight by using laxatives? Well, do you know why laxatives are used? The primary role of laxative is to soften up the stools and ease the passage for quick bowel movement without any difficulty. In ancient times, people used castor oil, figs, bran, and dates as laxatives, to clear the bowels with ease. But in recent times there is an increased demand for laxatives due to a common misconception that they can help in shedding weight and getting thinner. Let me tell you laxatives for weight loss is never a good option it’s only going to worsen things.
Types of laxatives and their adverse effects:
- Bulk-forming laxatives: They are nothing but dietary fiber which retains fluid in the stools and helps in easy bowel movements. It’s equally important to consume a good amount of water with them as inadequate water intake can lead to bloating & bowel obstruction. Examples of bulk-forming agents: Psyllium, methylcellulose (Citrucel), guar gum, etc.
- Osmotic agents: They are responsible for drawing water into the intestine which helps in the easy movement of the stools, the contents in the intestine are poorly absorbed so there can be high chances of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Examples of osmotic agents: Milk of Magnesia, Lactulose, and sorbitol.
- Lubricants: They make the stool slippery by coating them with a waterproof layer, preventing the stools from drying. This can lead to fecal incontinence, intestinal malabsorption, and vitamin deficiencies. Examples of lubricants: Mineral oil and castor oil.
Eating disorders and Laxative abuse :
Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa are potentially life-threatening characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting and the usage of laxatives for weight loss. A word of caution, it is always better to consult a doctor if you’re experiencing such problems as you can be at high risk for potential health issues which can lead to death if untreated.
Well, you can see that laxatives are going to benefit people with constipation than help you lose weight because it was never made for that purpose.
Laxatives abuse in the long run!
As you can see the primary goal of laxatives is to expel the blocked feces out of your system or help in getting rid of the stools that are difficult to pass through your intestines. If you are taking these pills for weight loss in the long run you might end up with some serious issues.
Here are a few consequences that you might end up with gastrointestinal effects – the most common symptom seen is diarrhea as a result of laxative abuse. Diarrhea is often associated with cramping, abdominal pain, rectal pain while defecating.
- Dehydration: As you see a lot of water is lost in the process of softening your stools, and if you do not replenish them there are chances you might end up with dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration due to laxative abuse are tremors, weakness, fainting, and blurred vision. Dehydration can also tear the protective lining of your intestine and makes it susceptible to infections. Severe dehydration can lead to organ damage and death. Try to infuse some fruits or vegetables like lemon, strawberries, cucumbers in your water, it not only keeps you hydrated but also replenishes lost electrolytes. Take fluids in the form of tender coconut, buttermilk, and sports drink
- Electrolyte imbalance: Studies have shown that laxative abuse results in severe electrolyte loss through feces which can lead to severe metabolic disturbances like excretion of potassium in the urine (Kali uresis). Potassium is one of the dominant electrolytes which is lost and imbalance can lead to irregular heartbeats, muscle paralysis, and Kidney damage. Replenish the electrolytes by consuming a balanced diet Drink the prescribed amount of water (Don’t Overdo It). Most important don’t overuse OTC medications.
The Science behind Laxatives for weight loss.
The reason behind people assuming that laxatives aid in weight loss is because of the water lost from their bodies as a result of the expulsion of the stools. It is temporary because it is just the loss of body water and not body fat/ muscles. It may make you feel “light” but you’ve neither lost any weight nor going to lose weight through laxative usage.
So, you must be realizing by now that laxatives are not a good option for weight loss, rather the only way is to look out for healthy options to shed those extra pounds on your body.
Well, here are some simple ways for weight loss in a healthy way:
- Eat regular and balanced meals: Balanced diet means you include all the food groups I.e. cereals, pulses, veggies, fruits, and dairy products. A balanced diet can help in weight loss by reducing refined carbs and increasing the complex fiber-rich carbs and proteins.
- Do not skip any meal: As skipping meals won’t help in weight loss, but you will end up eating more as you might feel hungrier.
- Use smaller portions: Using smaller plates and bowls will help you consume less food and help in maintaining your portion size.
- Practice slow eating: It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it’s full, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.
- Stay active: Being active is key to losing weight and keeping it off. As well as providing lots of health benefits, exercise can help burn off the excess calories you cannot lose through diet alone.
- Stay hydrated: People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. You can end up consuming extra calories when a glass of water is really what you need.
Bottom line – Should I use Laxatives for Weight Loss ?
Laxatives primarily affect water and electrolyte absorption, not calories or fat. Thus, they are not effective as a weight loss option or weight control method. By now you must have understood the consequences of laxative abuse and why you should avoid it as well.
If you have trouble losing weight and want to lose weight under an expert’s guidance you can always approach us for some lively fun and engaging healthy tasks for weight loss
Written by Aishwarya Deepika, ENHAPP Wellness Coach & Nutritionist