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Can You Lose Weight Taking Water Pills?

by
author image Jill Corleone
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Can You Lose Weight Taking Water Pills?
Water pills or diuretics help you lose water weight, not fat. Photo Credit Csaba Deli/iStock/Getty Images

You can lose weight with water pills, but the weight loss only lasts until your next drink. Plus, these types of pills may not be good for your health. When it comes to weight loss, you're better off sticking with what works -- a reduced-calorie diet and planned exercise. If you're thinking about taking water pills -- also known as diuretics -- to drop a few pounds, check with your doctor first to discuss their safety and explore other alternatives to help you reach your goals.

About Water Pills

Water pills contain chemicals that force the kidneys to make urine more frequently and in larger volumes, so you'll spend a lot of time in the bathroom if you use them. These pills also increase the amount of salt in your urine, which may throw your electrolytes out of balance. They're usually used as a form of treatment for people who retain water in excess, including those with high blood pressure, as well as people with conditions that affect the heart, kidneys or lungs.

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Lose Water Weight With Water Pills

Water pills may cause the number on the scale to drop rapidly, but the loss is fleeting. These pills help you lose water weight, not fat weight, which means you'll regain those pounds as quickly as you lost them. Athletes with strict weight requirements, such as wrestling and rowing, use these types of pills to help them lose the weight before a meet. People with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, may also use diuretics as a way to keep weight down.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

Water pills may be available as an over-the-counter medication, but that doesn't mean they're free of side effects. You may experience headaches, fatigue, thirst and difficulty with coordination after taking these pills. In extreme cases, they may cause dangerous medical conditions such as kidney or liver failure. Additionally, the rapid weight regain may lead to mood swings and depression, according to George Washington University. If you take water pills for too long, your body may become dependent on them, requiring medical intervention to correct.

Lose Fat Weight With Diet and Exercise

To lose fat weight, you need to make a change to your calorie equation, by eating fewer calories, burning more or, ideally, both. One pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, and creating a 500-calorie daily deficit may lead to a 1-pound weekly weight loss. The best way to lose the fat is by cutting 250 calories from what you typically eat and adding activity that burns 250 calories. For example, you save about 250 calories using skim milk instead of whole milk in your cereal at breakfast, skipping the cheese on your sandwich at lunch and snacking on 3 cups of air-popped popcorn after dinner instead of 1/2 cup of ice cream. A 155-pound person can burn 250 calories walking at a brisk pace for 40 minutes, running for 25 minutes or taking a 30-minute low-impact aerobics class.

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