Donating blood is often described as giving the gift of life. While you may lose a little weight and burn some calories during a donation, giving blood should not be thought of as a weight loss tool. Think of it as a chance to help others in need. You must meet certain eligibility requirements before giving, and it's important to eat well before your donation.
Weight of Blood
When you donate, you’ll be losing a pint of blood, which weighs about a pound. However, don’t expect to notice any difference in the way your clothes fit. Your weight will quickly rebound as you drink the fluids recommended following a donation and nibble on a snack to keep you feeling well.
The University of California San Diego notes that people who donate blood burn about 650 calories in the process. But before you abandon your workout plan in favor of blood donation, keep in mind that you need to wait 56 days before you’re eligible to donate again. You also must meet all of the eligibility requirements each time you donate.
If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight or you’re just naturally thin, you may not be eligible to donate blood. The American Red Cross requires donors to weigh at least 110 pounds. It notes that additional weight requirements apply to donors age 18 and younger and to all high school donors.
You may not be a good candidate for blood donation if you are or have recently been on a very restrictive weight loss diet. The American Red Cross recommends you maintain a healthy iron level in your diet prior to donation. Your blood will be screened before you are allowed to donate to make sure you have an acceptable hemoglobin level. The American Red Cross also suggests you eat a healthy meal before donating and avoid fatty foods.
One of the best times to give blood is probably when weight loss is furthest from your mind—the holidays and summer vacation. The need for blood donations increases every year during holiday periods and the summer months. You can find locations to donate blood through the American Red Cross or your local hospital.