Risks of using laxatives for weight loss


Losing those extra kilos does not mean that you should engage in behaviors that can affect your health. Using laxatives to lose weight could be dangerous.

In some people there is a great obsession with wanting to lose kilos. In others, there is fear of increasing them. This sometimes leads to risky behavior. These include the use of laxatives to lose weight.

We must begin by clarifying that they do not serve as a method to lose weight or help burn fat. In addition, its inappropriate, excessive and unsupervised use can cause serious damage to health, as we will see below.

What are laxatives and what are they used for?

Laxatives are a class of medications that should only be consumed or administered under a doctor’s prescription. There are two types: rectally or orally.

Its purpose is to help the movement of food through the digestive system faster. In this way, they accelerate or help in the process of eliminating feces, when the intestine is affected.

They are usually recommended to combat constipation, increase stool bulk, or make urination easier. For example, if a person has a coccyx fracture, straining while defecating can affect them. In that case, laxatives contribute to your well-being momentarily.

Its administration may also be required when endoscopic studies are to be performed. However, it is the treating physician who will determine the type of laxatives and the dose, as well as the time during which the patient must use them.

Those having extracts from natural products are preferred. In fact, if the person has problems having frequent bowel movements, what is recommended is to increase the consumption of fiber with the diet, taking advantage of its natural laxative properties.

Constipated man requires laxatives.
Even in constipation, the use of laxatives should be limited, preferring other more natural alternatives to address the problem.

Are laxatives useful for weight loss?

For some time now, it has become common practice for some people to use laxatives to try to lose weight. As we have already said, this is not the purpose of these medications.

In this regard, according to the results of a study carried out in Barranquilla (Colombia), with young people between 14 and 18 years old in whom risk behaviors associated with bulimia prevailed, 18.2% admitted that they engaged in this type of practice.

Additionally, it is considered that those who have a tendency to develop overweight or obesity are more likely to do so. Although it must be clarified that this is not limited only to young people, but that adults are also involved.

In relation to the effectiveness of laxatives for weight loss, it is worth clarifying that it is not proven. And it is that the weight that is lost is made up of fluids.

Laxatives usually affect the functioning of the large intestine, helping in the transit of feces. However, they do not eliminate accumulated subcutaneous fat in the body. This can be lost in other ways, with diet and training.

Now, a person who uses a laxative to lose weight will lose maybe 1 or 2 kilos of fluids, with minerals and electrolytes. But he will win them back when he rehydrates.

In other words, any weight loss gained in this way will be temporary. The only thing that could remain would be the disorders it brings.

Risks of using laxatives to lose weight

There are several risks related to the use of laxatives for weight loss. It is an unsafe practice, which can cause various health problems.


People do this without medical supervision. Therefore, they may use laxatives that are not appropriate for them or exceed the dose and time. As a consequence, severe diarrhea can occur, which leads to dehydration and loss of electrolytes.

Uric acid and kidney problems

A problem related to this point is that, by increasing dehydration due to the loss of water in the stool, urine production also decreases. The consequences point to kidney malfunction and an increase in uric acid, which can lead to the appearance of pathologies such as gout.

Nutrient loss

By accelerating intestinal transit, the body has less time to assimilate some nutrients. Lack of potassium, for example, can cause muscle problems and heart arrhythmias

Maintaining this practice of consuming laxatives to lose weight over time will cause us to become unbalanced, causing a situation of nutritional imbalance, without necessarily affecting the weight.


Another problem related to the lack of certain nutrients is that anemia could appear. This has been detected in people suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia.

Gastrointestinal disorders

Long-term use of laxatives can cause irritation of the upper digestive tract and colon, affecting the lining, permeability, and function of the intestinal mucosa.


The intestines may stop doing their job efficiently, since they are not required to fully perform their functions by suppression with laxatives. So we will not be able to evacuate without help and, as paradoxical as it may seem, we will suffer from constipation.


According to research, young people who use laxatives to lose weight, as well as various diet pills, have a higher risk of being diagnosed with anorexia later.

Anorexia in a woman who uses laxatives for weight loss.
The association between anorexia and unhealthy weight loss practices is notable among the youngest.

Development of other addictive behaviors

One of the biggest problems related to this consumption is that it is often adolescents who engage in risky behavior without considering the consequences. In addition to the fact that the practice can become addictive, it is also often associated with the early initiation of the consumption of harmful substances, such as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

lose weight safely

Showing off a slim figure can become an obsession. And while we are recommended to stay within a healthy weight, incurring in certain practices is worse in the long run.

It is important to note that no diet or activity that makes us sacrifice our own health can be beneficial. Taking laxatives to lose weight not only affects us, but it is useless: we will not lose kilos permanently.

If you want to lose weight without affecting your health, that is, without suffering imbalances in your diet and converting what is fat into muscle mass, there are two recommendations:

  1. Healthy nutrition.
  2. Regular exercise.

To do this, you must go to a nutrition specialist and a professional trainer, who will help you design a diet and recommend exercises that are appropriate to your caloric needs and your work capacity.

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