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Side Effects to Consider Before Taking Laxatives for Weight Loss

There are tons of diet fads out there that all promise one thing: you will lose weight fast! One of the most popular fad diets to date is taking laxatives. Normally, laxatives are taken by those with chronic constipation or who are otherwise unable to achieve healthy bowel movements. However, some have discovered that taking laxatives when you aren’t constipated can lead to weight loss.

taking pills taking pills

Although those who take laxatives for weight loss do notice slight changes in their weight, these results are temporary and deceptive. What they’re seeing is a loss of water weight, not genuine fat loss.

Keep reading to learn about the five most dangerous side effects to consider before taking laxatives for weight loss. 

Negative Side Effects of Taking Laxatives for Weight Loss

Not everyone who takes laxatives for weight loss will show the same symptoms. However, even the most common symptoms can have damaging effects when ignored. 


As we mentioned above, the reason that some people notice a fluctuation in their weight when they’re on laxatives is that they’re losing water weight. The human body stores water for a variety of reasons, all completely natural. 

These are just three reasons why your body naturally retains moisture throughout your life. Your body will slowly absorb moisture and nutrients from food and water as they move through your intestinal tract. However, if you are taking laxatives, your body will be forced to expel water in ways that are not part of its natural cycle.

Because you aren’t giving your body enough time to properly absorb moisture before it passes through your digestive tract, it will become severely dehydrated. Even if you continue to drink water, the laxatives will force it through before your body can absorb it fully. Over time, this will lead to severe dehydration and eventually organ failure. 


Laxatives can be used in a healthy way to relieve those who are already suffering from constipation. However, those who take them, long-term can actually find themselves suffering from constipation as a result. 

In the short term, laxatives will force your intestines to pass food and water through at an unnaturally rapid rate. Because of this, your intestines can’t digest your food properly, and the food might even build up and get stuck. 

Long-term constipation can occur when the body becomes reliant on laxatives to help it pass food through the intestines. Just as with excessive amounts of coffee or “flushing” teas, your digestive system forgets how to create bowel movements by itself and is completely reliant on the laxatives.   

Electrolyte Imbalances

While it’s a known fact that laxatives are not effective for weight loss, they can also lead to chronic fatigue and an electrolyte imbalance. This is because one of the main nutrients that are absorbed through the stool is potassium, followed by chloride and sodium. 

These minerals give you energy and are essential to everyday life. If you use laxatives to rush the digestion process, your body won’t have time to absorb them, and you will feel yourself becoming more tired and sluggish over time. If left unchecked, these imbalances can lead to life-threatening side effects such as metabolic damage and cardiac arrest. 

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The most popular and often first side effect you may experience when taking laxatives for weight loss is diarrhea. This is because your body isn’t able to absorb water out of your stool before it’s forced through your digestive tract. Chronic diarrhea over time can lead to severe dehydration and even organ failure. 

In some cases, chronic diarrhea can cause rectal prolapse. This is when the rectal muscles aren’t used to force bowel movements through and lose their tone. Because of this loss in tone, part of the intestine will actually descend and stick out of the anus. 

Prescription Drug Interference 

One of the most urgent and dangerous side effects of taking laxatives for weight loss can be that it interferes with any prescription drugs you may already be taking. Prescription drugs are most effective when they are the only chemical present. 

However, when you’re dehydrated, constipated, and low on essential minerals, any other medication can create further imbalances and actually do more harm than good. 

Consult with Your Doctor

It is widely understood that laxatives in fact do NOT produce fat loss. Any fluctuation you see on the scale is a loss in water weight that will be gained back as soon as you stop taking the laxatives.

If you are having trouble losing weight and are considering taking laxatives, consult with your doctor or nutritionist to find a safer solution. Just because a company’s website has impressive before and after pictures, that doesn’t mean the product they’re selling is safe and effective.    

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