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Don’t Take Laxatives For Weight Loss Before You Read This  

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Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Should you take laxatives for weight loss? Learn what effects to expect from laxatives and if weight loss is actually one of them.

Table of Contents

If you are struggling to lose weight, you may have considered taking a laxative or stool softener for weight loss. However, there are many safety concerns to keep in mind if you are wondering how to lose weight with laxatives. 

Read on to learn more about using powerful laxatives for weight loss

What Do Laxatives Do To Your Body?

There are many different laxatives that have slightly different mechanisms for promoting bowel movements in the body. 

Here are some of the common types of laxatives: 

  • Bulk laxatives, such as Metamucil or psyllium fiber
  • Osmotic laxatives, such as magnesium oxide or Miralax
  • Stimulant laxatives, such as Senna or bisacodyl 
  • Stool softeners, such as Colace or Docusate sodium [1]

These are the most common types of laxatives, many of which are available for purchase over the counter without a prescription.

Bulk Laxatives

These are simply dietary supplements that provide fiber to the diet.

Fiber is the part of the plant that the human body cannot digest or absorb. Because it is not absorbed, dietary fiber simply passes straight through the body’s gastrointestinal tract and promotes bowel movements. 

Osmotic Laxatives

Laxatives of this type create a shift in the osmotic pressure in the body.

Osmosis is the movement of water through a membrane. In the case of an osmotic laxative, water follows the stool in your body and makes it easier to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. 

Stimulant Laxatives

These laxatives alter the transport of electrolytes in the intestinal mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract. Examples of stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl, castor oil, and aloe. 

Stool Softeners

These promote the movement of water into the stool by lowering surface tension. This process, in turn, softens the stool for easier passage through the body.

Do Stool Softeners Help You Lose Weight?

Whether you are looking for the strongest laxative for weight loss or wondering how to lose weight with laxatives, it is essential to note that there is no safe or effective use of constipation pills for weight loss. 

Since most laxatives involve losing water through bowel movements, you may lose some water weight at first. However, this is not a safe or long-term method of weight loss. 

Using stool softeners and laxatives, such as Dulcolax, for weight loss is considered laxative abuse since the medication is being used for a purpose it was not intended for. 

Stimulant laxatives, such as Senna, are frequently abused by those with eating disorders who are hoping to lose weight or reduce caloric absorption. 

For example, the popular 3 Ballerina Tea is basically a Senna tea that is heavily promoted as a weight-loss supplement. However, even in large doses, the laxative only has a modest impact on calorie absorption. [1]

Therefore, your search for the best laxatives for weight loss will come up null and void, as it is not recommended to use these types of products for weight loss at all. We will discuss more risks of this practice below, but unfortunately, similar to remedies like the Snaps packets for weight loss, the effectiveness of laxatives for weight loss is simply not proven.

The Basics of Weight Loss Remain the Same

Healthy and sustainable weight loss is achieved through lifestyle changes that involve healthy eating patterns, regular exercise, and managing stress. [2] 

In terms of diet, strive to balance all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy. For physical activity, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults strive for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. [3]

Related article: How to Improve Your Nutrition Today

Therefore, instead of attempting to use laxatives and stool softeners, sustainable lifestyle changes are what’s needed for healthy weight loss. 

Additionally, speaking with a registered dietitian nutritionist can also help you lose weight. If you are currently abusing laxatives to lose weight, speak with a medical professional, such as your primary care physician, for guidance. 

It is also important to note that you must consult your physician before taking laxatives if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Are you looking for an app to help you manage and achieve your nutritional goals? Check out Omo, an app for weight loss that makes it easier than ever to log your meals, track workouts, and achieve your first weight-loss results!

3 Side Effects to Consider Before Taking Laxatives for Weight Loss

As mentioned above, there are many risks and potential side effects of using laxatives for weight loss. Let’s talk about some of the main side effects.


According to the Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, most laxatives function by moving water into the gastrointestinal tract and intestines. Therefore, your body loses an increased amount of water. [1]

This water loss can affect your hydration status, especially if the fluids are not appropriately replenished. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, weakness, and more. 

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes are minerals, such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium, that are dissolved in the fluids in our bodies. They are essential for the cells in your body to operate normally and healthily. 

However, as mentioned above, laxatives increase the amount of water lost from the body, and with that, you may also lose electrolytes. This can create a dangerous disruption of your electrolyte balance, which can impair bodily functions such as muscle function and lead to irregular heartbeat. [4]

Interactions With Other Medications

Additionally, there is a risk of a laxative interacting with other medications you may be prescribed, such as heart medication. Therefore, if you are taking any medications and want to begin taking laxatives for any reason, make sure you speak with your physician first. 

6 Healthy Foods To Reduce Constipation

If you suffer from constipation, you may be curious as to what foods can help keep you regular. Many consider kombucha or other probiotics to be laxatives. However, this is not necessarily the case. 

Many high-fiber foods — primarily fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes — are beneficial food groups to include in your diet for constipation. If you are not used to a diet rich in fiber, make sure you gradually increase the amount of high-fiber foods to avoid any uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating or flatulence. 

Additionally, if your constipation causes you pain, lasts longer than three weeks, or is so severe that you have three or fewer bowel movements each week for more than a month, you should consult your physician for medical treatment. 


Carrots have 2.7 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams. Therefore, they can be a beneficial food to incorporate into your diet to relieve constipation. [5]


One hundred grams of an apple contains two grams of fiber. Make sure you are eating the skin of the apple, as this is where the bulk of the fiber resides. [6]


Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in fiber that can help reduce constipation. Other cruciferous vegetables that promote regularity include cabbage and cauliflower. 


Legumes, including lentils and beans, are also rich in fiber. In addition, they are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and more. Therefore, incorporating legumes into your diet can benefit your overall health and regularity and even promote weight loss. 

Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grains, including whole grain pasta, crackers, bread, or brown rice, are all rich in dietary fiber, which can prevent constipation.  


Oats, such as those in oatmeal or oat bars, have a whopping 10 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams. Combining oats, nut butter, and honey and forming that into balls can make a protein-rich on-the-go snack! [7]

Final Words

Let’s wrap up with some key takeaways from this article. 

  • There are many different laxatives available, including bulk laxatives, osmotic laxatives, stimulant laxatives, and stool softeners. 
  • Consistent use of laxatives is not a safe or effective way to lose weight. 
  • Instead, follow a balanced diet and get regular physical activity for healthy, sustainable weight loss. 
  • Laxative use for weight loss is considered laxative abuse and can contribute to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • If you are suffering from constipation, try adding more fiber to your diet, such as that found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • If you struggle to lose weight, you may benefit from speaking with a registered dietitian nutritionist. 
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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