Diuretics to Lose Weight: What You Should Know

Why are diuretics to lose weight not a good idea? We'll look at the evidence.
Diuretics to Lose Weight: What You Should Know
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 23 January, 2023

Diuretics to lose weight are not a good option. They won’t be able to stimulate the oxidation of fats and they can change the hydroelectrolytic balance, which would cause serious health problems.

When it comes to improving the state of body composition, it’s better to opt for less aggressive and sustainable methods over time. Anything that involves steering clear of medication is positive, as it always has side effects in the medium term and its management isn’t easy.

Weight loss isn’t a linear process, so there’s no need to get frustrated if at any given time the expected results aren’t obtained. As a general rule, it’s necessary to establish an energy deficit in order to progressively reduce the amount of fat mass in the body, while consuming enough protein to maintain muscle mass.

What are diuretics used for?

Normally diuretics are a type of drug used to combat fluid retention and hypertension. They must be prescribed by a professional.

Its use outside these areas isn’t recommended, as its consumption carries a series of serious risks that are worth knowing about. Playing with the body’s water balance is really dangerous, and can lead to a state of dehydration.

The problem is that diuretics are often used in sports situations to gain weight at a given time, especially in the case of boxers. This isn’t a good option.

It’s true that they will help to lose a significant amount of fluid, but this will negatively affect the athlete’s health, vitality, and performance. The drawbacks usually outweigh the benefits.

On the other hand, some people use them to lose weight quickly. This isn’t a good option either. In the end, the only thing that you achieve is to reduce body water temporarily, but without affecting other aspects such as fat mass. Decreasing the latter is the important thing when the objective is to improve your figure.

However, dehydration is a serious problem associated with the use of this class of drugs, as well as other changes related to the cardiovascular system in the medium term.

When we lose a significant percentage of water, there will be poor management of body temperature, which will increase progressively. There comes a point where the physiological reactions aren’t carried out properly, and this can even cause death. A study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing corroborates this.

Harmful effects of diuretics

Diuretics to lose weight produce adverse effects.
Adverse effects are more likely to develop, rather than the desired cosmetic goals with the use of diuretics.

We’re now going to discuss the negative effects of diuretics on the body beyond the possible postulated dehydration.

First, they will increase susceptibility to muscle cramps, since more potassium is excreted in the urine. It’s key to understand that this mineral has proven to be important to ensure proper management of blood pressure, counteracting the effects of sodium.

In addition, balance-related problems may be experienced, since more fluid is removed and there’ll be a reduction in several key electrolytes such as calcium, chloride, magnesium, and sodium.

The reflexes will be altered and a feeling of exhaustion and a significant lack of energy will be experienced. Dizziness or headaches can also appear.

There’s even the possibility of suffering gout attacks under certain circumstances, as the sedimentation of uric acid in the joints will increase when the body’s fluid levels are low.

Renal colic and kidney stones also have an increased incidence under this type of hydration deficit. It isn’t only necessary to avoid diuretics; you should also guarantee a good consumption of water.

What to do to combat fluid retention?

Many people think about taking diuretics to lose weight in order to also eliminate the symptoms of fluid retention. But this might not be the most appropriate thing, as the cause of the edema must be detected and treated appropriately.

To alleviate the symptoms, reducing the levels of internal inflammation will also be decisive. For example, trans fats are capable of deregulating this process, increasing the risk of suffering physiological inefficiencies.

A study published in the Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin magazine corroborates this. For this reason, they should be avoided as much as possible.

Instead, good quality fatty acids, such as those of the omega 3 series, should be included According to research published in the journal Biochemical Society Transactions , these compounds help control internal inflammatory mechanisms and can prevent the development of cardiovascular or autoimmune problems. Therefore they must be consumed regularly.

Even improving the state of general body composition will help combat fluid retention. To achieve this, there’s nothing better than trying to ensure an energy deficit, especially by performing strength exercises frequently.

This also promotes the gain of lean tissue, which will increase energy expenditure at rest and will be able to maintain this state of caloric imbalance more easily and for longer.

What’s the best way to lose weight?

Diuretics to lose weight are not effective.
The best way to achieve weight loss is to propose a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained over time.

When the objective is to lose weight, it isn’t a good idea to opt for drugs or miracle diets that offer great advances in a short time and with relatively little effort.

Not only are there no benefits in this, but a detrimental rebound effect could be experienced, leading to frustration and being worse off than when we started. We’re talking here about methods that aren’t sustainable over time.

It’s a much better idea to promote good healthy habits instead. Taking care of your diet is essential, giving greater importance to the presence of fresh foods than to the consumption of industrially-processed foods.

In this way, the necessary antioxidants are obtained to neutralize the formation of free radicals and to control the internal inflammatory mechanisms. They’ll also provide important vitamins such as vitamin C, which has been shown to be essential for immune function.

But for all this to make sense, it’s important to guarantee high-quality protein consumption. Proteins of animal origin contain all the essential amino acids and have a high score in terms of digestibility, so they should be included in all main meals. This will ensure efficient bodily maintenance and recovery of lean mass.

In relation to this last point, special importance must be attached to the need to perform strength exercises on a regular basis. However, it’s also important to sleep well at night, at least 7 or 8 quality hours. In this way, it’ll be possible to stimulate the adaptation processes that will lead to lean tissue hypertrophy, giving rise to increases in resting energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity.

Why don’t you lose weight even with good habits?

Some people can never seem to lose weight despite improving their habits, which may lead them to consider the use of drugs such as diuretics. The truth is that there are many unknowns regarding this issue, but everything seems to indicate that genetic components and those related to the microbiota have a lot to do with it. For this reason, complex interventions would have to be considered to improve the results.

A strong resistance to insulin may have developed, thus preventing the mobilization and oxidation of fats as an energy source. This is a complicated situation to deal with, although it has a solution. Normally you simply need patience to achieve an increase in sensitivity to the hormone, along with good habits.

It isn’t good to use diuretics to lose weight

The use of diuretics to lose weight isn’t recommended at all and carries a number of significant risks. We’re talking about drugs that should only be used with a prescription and under very specific clinical contexts, and never for aesthetic purposes. It can cause irreparable damage, even death from dehydration if not handled correctly.

Finally, special emphasis must be placed on the fact that many people aren’t able to distinguish between fluid retention and systemic inflammation. While the first occurs with edema, especially in the joints, under the second condition a feeling of swelling and heaviness will be experienced at a general level. To combat this problem there’s nothing better than improving dietary habits and life routines.

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