The fiber supplement Metamucil can help add bulk to your stools and alleviate constipation. If you're using Metamucil for weight loss, combine taking the supplements with eating a healthy diet, tracking your calories and ramping up your exercise routine.
Taking Metamucil for weight loss might help you feel more full after meals, helping you reduce your calorie intake to steadily lose weight over time.
What Is Metamucil?
Metamucil is a fiber supplement whose active ingredient is psyllium husk. Psyllium husk comes from a plant called Plantago ovata, also known as desert Indianwheat, blond psyllium, blond plantain and ispaghul.
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According to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, a single plant can produce up to 15,000 seeds, from which psyllium husk is derived. It works like this: When the psyllium husk encounters water, it expands into a gelatin-like mass. This mass helps move waste through your digestive system.
- Psyllium husk might make you feel more full, Harvard Health says, which can lead to a reduction in how much you're eating. Consuming fewer calories every day can contribute to steady weight loss.
- Psyllium can relieve constipation. Because it expands when it comes into contact with water, it creates more bulk. This can prompt your intestines to contract, moving waste through your digestive system. Because of this, psyllium can be used as a laxative.
- Psyllium can also help relieve mild or moderate diarrhea. It does this by soaking up extra water in your digestive system, firming up your stools.
Why Take Metamucil Pills?
The Metamucil website encourages people to take the "two-week challenge," consuming Metamucil pills or powders every day for two weeks. According to the website, this challenge will trap and remove waste in your digestive system that is "weighing you down," to alleviate any constipation and help you feel "lighter and more energetic."
Some people may take Metamucil for weight loss, because eating more fiber may help you lose weight. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in February 2015 compared the effectiveness of two diet plans. All of the 240 adult participants in the study had metabolic syndrome — a group of conditions like high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, and high blood pressure that increase a person's risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke.
One group followed the American Heart Association's heart disease prevention diet, which recommended:
- Eating veggies and fruits.
- Eating high-fiber foods made with whole grains.
- Having fish twice a week.
- Focusing on lean meat and animal products.
- Cutting back on sugary drinks.
- Minimizing sugar and sodium intake overall.
- Consuming little or no alcohol.
- Getting 50 to 55 percent of calories from carbohydrate, 5 to 20 percent of calories from protein and 30 to 35 percent of calories from fat.
- Limiting saturated fat to less than 7 percent of energy intake, limiting trans fat to less than 1 percent and consuming less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day.
The second group were simply instructed to add more fiber to their diets. The study found that both groups achieved "clinically meaningful weight loss" and that there was no major difference between the two groups' results. So, the data suggests, adding more fiber to your diet can contribute to the same weight loss results as following the more complex set of dietary rules laid out by the AHA.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Fat Loss
Ideal Metamucil Dosage
Metamucil dosage varies depending on what Metamucil product you're taking. According to the product website, Metamucil powder formulations contain over 2 grams of soluble fiber per serving, capsules contain almost 2 grams and Metamucil capsules with calcium deliver just over 2 grams of soluble fiber per serving.
Your recommended daily fiber intake can help you figure out what Metamucil dosage is best for you. The Food and Drug Administration recommends a daily dietary fiber intake of 25 grams if you're consuming 2,000 calories a day.
Metamucil Side Effects
According to the Mayo Clinic, there's no evidence that taking a daily fiber supplement is harmful. However, when you first start taking a fiber supplement, you might experience bloating or gas. Such supplements can also reduce your blood sugar levels, which is something to keep in mind if you have diabetes or another blood sugar condition.
The most major Metamucil side effect is that it can interfere with other oral medications. According to the Metamucil website, "bulk-forming fibers" — like psyllium husk, the product's active ingredient — can affect how well other medications work. As a result, they recommend taking Metamucil at least two hours before or after you take any other medicine.
Harvard Health explains that fiber supplements move through your body without getting digested or absorbed. If you have fiber and medication in your intestines at the same time, the fiber might "sweep up" the medication as it goes along — meaning you excrete the medication rather than absorbing it.
There may also be Metamucil side effects related to psyllium husk. MedLine Plus recommends that you call your doctor immediately if you experience stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, itchiness, breathing problems, trouble swallowing or a skin rash.
Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods
Other Sources of Fiber
Taking Metamucil pills or powders may be an extremely convenient way to get extra fiber, but the American Heart Association recommends that you get dietary fiber directly from food whenever possible. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables can all be sources of fiber:
- A 1-cup serving of cooked green peas provides 134 calories and almost 9 grams of dietary fiber. The serving also provides 25 grams of carbs and almost 9 grams of protein.
- One slice of toasted whole-wheat bread provides 75 calories and 1 gram of dietary fiber. The serving also contains over 13 grams of carbs and more than 3 grams of protein.
- A 1-cup serving of raw raspberries provides 64 calories and 8 grams of dietary fiber. It also provides almost 15 grams of carbs and over 1 gram of protein.
- Metamucil: "Healthcare Providers FAQs"
- Mayo Clinic: "I Find It Difficult to Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables. Is There Any Harm in Taking a Fiber Supplement Every Day?"
- Harvard Health: "By the Way, Doctor: Will a Fiber Supplement Interfere With My Medications?"
- MedLine Plus: "Psyllium"
- American Heart Association: "Whole Grains, Refined Grains and Dietary Fiber"
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: "Psyllium"
- Harvard Health: "Ask the Doctor: What Are the Differences Between Soluble and Insoluble Fiber?"
- Food and Drug Administration: "Dietary Fiber"
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Trial"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Peas, Green, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Bread, Wheat, Toasted"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Raspberries, Raw"