Laxatives for Weight Loss: What You Need to Know before Trying them

A study has found that 10.5 of the females aged 23 to 25 use laxatives to lose weight. Here is why this can be a bad idea.


Waking up one fine morning, you instantly grab your phone to check text messages and of course, Instagram. Your text messages are uneventful, mostly from your mom, probably reminding you about something you are going to forget the minute you get out of bed.

Naturally, your shift to Instagram happens within seconds where you are flooded with pictures of two clashing categories: figures and foods.

At first, you are taunted by an appealing photo of a fat-filled, extra creamy, vanilla bean ice cream, on a crunchy, sugary wafer cone topped with crushed chocolate and sizzling hot fudge, forcing you to realize how hungry you are.

As your brain begins to conger up ideas about a gluttonous breakfast, a picture of your once-chubby friend from the fifth grade pops up who is, to your surprise, now posing in a bikini with a flat stomach and a three-inch wide thigh gap.

You are envious, dumbfounded, and angry at yourself for even thinking about those scrumptious chocolate chip pancakes you so desired moments before.

You shake your head and continue scrolling back and forth until you boredom takes over. Finally, you decide to get on with your day.

By that time, the dichotomy between the frail bodies and scrumptious food has left you feeling guilty and twisted, naturally affecting the way you will eat and view yourself during the entire length of the day.

This sort of struggle is not unique to you. It is no surprise that social media platforms and eating problems are correlated, especially now.

“We are a part of a generation that does not allow you escape the pressure of thinness”

We are now celebrating female bodies and food more than ever. We are habitual of embracing ourselves in our nakedness while gulping down delectable, mouth-watering food.

As a victim yourself, you would have given up the idea of having a yummy breakfast. But the situation was different today. You had one little fix, a quick fix that would let you have your cake and eat it too.

So, you get up to grab the pancakes you had been drooling over. But you don’t just stop there and end up in a fancy restaurant enjoying extremely delicious lobster ravioli for dinner.

Before the feeling of guilt starts taking over your conscience, you take out a suspicious little bottle from your purse and pop a few pink pills, and wake up the following morning feeling skinny and empty.

The pill? Laxatives.


You really don’t like to take about them, probably because they are gross, or “unlady-like”, but it’s true.

Abusing laxatives just to lose weight is real and is more common than you think.

About 10.5 percent of the women between the ages of 23 to 25 use laxatives to lose weight, as per a 2016 study published in the journal Pediatrics. [1]

These findings have alarmed the experts who are now issuing warnings about laxatives, especially for weight loss.

Here is everything you need to know about laxatives, particularly when it comes to why you should not consider them as an easy weight-loss solution.

What are Laxatives?

Laxatives refer to certain medications used to stimulate bowel movements. In simpler words, these little pills help loosen up stool just to ease its passage.

Laxatives are commonly used to manage constipation, a condition characterized by difficult, infrequent, or painful bowel movements.

These medicines work by pulling water from the body into the intestines. This allows stool to absorb maximum water and make its way through the intestines easily.

Laxatives have become a popular method for losing weight for quite some time. It is true that laxatives may help shed pounds, the effects are only temporary.

Yes, the only weight you are losing through laxatives is from the water you excrete through stool. [2]

If you are still considering using laxatives for a quick weight loss, I suggest you keep the following points in mind.

There are different types of laxatives

Products such as Ex-Lax are specially designed to stimulate and irritate your bowel, but this is just one of the five methods laxatives may adopt to get things moving. Other forms of laxatives include bulking agents (which add bulk and fiber to the poop to help it move), osmotic agents (which stimulate the entry of water into the colon through osmosis, softening the poop and making it easier to pass), stool softeners (which work by pulling water from your digestive tract into the poop to make it slippery), and enemas (which help insert fluid into the rectum, mostly to relieve constipation).

No laxative is ever going to help you lose fat

While using laxatives for weight loss, you may initially see the number on the scale going down, but it is deceiving. As mentioned before, it is actually the water weight you are losing. Very little to no fat is lost with laxatives only.

Abusing laxatives is not going to help you lose fat but will definitely induce dehydration because of all the water you will be losing. So be careful, you may end up with dry skin and cracked lips.

Most laxatives are not fit for long-term use

Bulk-forming laxatives are the only type truly designed for chronic use. Stimulant laxatives, the ones more commonly used for weight loss, are “harsh” and must not be used for longer durations of time.


Your bowel gets used to them, eventually leading to more constipation. If your goal is to lose weight, this can work against you over the time, since all the poop hanging around adds pounds to the scale.

Laxatives can be dangerous in the long run

It is usually fine to pop a laxative every now and then. But a sustained and rather needless use of laxatives can negatively impact your health.

It can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and induce various issues such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance leading to dizziness, blurry vision, and fainting. Osmotic laxatives, in particular, damage the liver [3] and can lower your blood pressures to an extent that a kidney failure may occur. [4]

The Bottom Line

Relying on laxatives is not a weight-loss method you would want to try. There is no rational basis of attempting to lose weight with laxatives when there is a clear potential for harmful effects.

In simpler words,

“Don’t do it.”