Do laxatives help you lose weight?
Losing weight can be one of the most difficult endeavors for the two-thirds of North Americans who are considered overweight or obese. There is no shortage of weight loss plans and programs. Some can be helpful and others harmful. Given how difficult it can be to lose weight, it is not surprising that some people turn to quick-fix approaches.
One of the more common and misguided approaches is using laxatives for weight loss. The thinking is that since laxatives increase elimination then they can help with weight loss. Not only is this untrue (laxatives don’t reduce calorie absorption), but it can actually be dangerous to your health.
Laxatives help relieve constipation by a few mechanisms: adding bulk to the stool, lubricating the intestinal tract, softening the stool, and stimulating the motion of the colon. The most commonly abused laxatives for weight loss are the stimulant laxatives because they are the strongest type of laxative and yield the quickest and most pronounced effect in initiating a bowel movement. These types of laxatives also cause the most side effects, which include:
• Electrolyte imbalances: alterations in the normal levels of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium which can be harmful to the heart and kidneys
• Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
• Intestinal damage: long-term use of stimulant laxatives can cause damage to the large intestine, weakening muscle tone and the natural reflex to have a bowel movement. After chronic stimulant laxative use, many people have difficulty having a bowel movement without assistance.
While they can be effective for constipation laxatives for weight loss should never be used. The risks outweigh any short-term benefits and there are safer and more effective strategies to losing weight.
Weight loss is not easy. Many factors affect our ability to gain and lose weight, such as diet, activity level, hormonal balance, stress, and lack of sleep. To lose weight and keep it off you need to follow a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating a proper diet and increasing your activity level. Supplements can be helpful to complement your lifestyle but should never be viewed as a replacement strategy.
Here are some smart supplements to consider for boosting your weight loss efforts:
Most North Americans don’t consume nearly enough dietary fiber from diet and a supplement can offer substantial benefits for enhancing weigh management. Fiber helps promote a feeling of fullness, so you consume less calories and it also helps balance blood sugar and insulin levels. Having steady blood sugar and insulin levels and avoiding fluctuations can help in the control of appetite and cravings. Soluble fiber can also help lower cholesterol levels. There is a wide range of products to choose from and capsules are often preferred because of convenience and ease of use. Look for a product that contains a blend of soluble fibers including glucomannan, psyllium, carob and inulin.
Like fiber, green tea offers a range of benefits for your waistline and beyond. Green tea can help boost your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories) and your energy levels. Plus, it contains powerful antioxidants that are good for the heart and help protect against free radical damage. Consuming enough green tea for a therapeutic effect is not always possible and this is where a supplement can be helpful.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found naturally in beef and dairy fats. It is also found in supplement form. CLA can be helpful in reducing body fat while maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass. Specifically CLA acts to stimulate the breakdown of stored fat in the fat cells, reduce the number of existing fat cells, and prevent fat storage.
While it may be tempting the use laxatives for weight loss, even for quick short term loss, the risks far outweigh the benefits. If you suffer from constipation increase your fiber, get moving and increase you water intake. Use laxatives sparingly and only when directed by your physician.