Weight Loss Tips When on Birth Control

young beautiful woman with pills
Birth control pills don't always result in weight gain. (Image: dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images)

Just as crossing your eyes does not make them freeze that way forever, all birth control pills don’t make you gain weight, Mayo Clinic notes. If you do put on pounds, you can often take them off by switching to a different birth control pill or by the age-old method of burning off more calories than you consume. If you gain substantial weight that won't budge, you may have a more significant issue than some extra pounds.

A Big Fat Lie?

Some pills don’t cause weight gain at all, Mayo Clinic says, while others may cause bloating and water retention, which only makes some people feel like they’ve gained weight. Bloating most frequently shows up in the breast, thigh and hip areas. The estrogen in the pills sometimes does make fat cells get larger, but it does not make them multiply. Finally, a tiny number of women who take birth control end up with a weight gain due to increased muscle mass, not fat, due to the effect of the small amount of male sex hormone on their bodies.

The Skinny on the Pills

If you are still worried about or experiencing bloat and weight gain from birth control pills, opt for pills that have the lowest amount of estrogen possible, Women’s Health Resource advises. The lowest dose on the market is 20 mcgm of estrogen per pill, less than half the estrogen found in some other pills that have up to 50 mcgm. Pills with the lowest estrogen dose include Alesse, Levlite, Loestrin-Fe, Mircette, Ortho Evra and Yasmin.

The Yasmin Hoopla

When Yasmin first hit the market in June 2001, it caused quite a stir for supposedly helping women lose weight, “Ebony” points out. Some women were looking into the pill as a way to lose weight, regardless if they were interested in birth control or not. The manufacturers stressed Yasmin was made to prevent unwanted pregnancies, not unwanted pounds, and no scientific evidence exists to prove Yasmin results in long-term weight loss. Yasmin, along with a another pill called Yaz, both contain drospirenone, “Marie Claire” reports, a diuretic that reduces bloat by reducing the water-retaining sodium out of your tissues. One side effect of drospirenone is its tendency to make your body retain potassium, which poses a risk for women who either take a lot of anti-inflammatory medication or those with adrenal, kidney or liver disease.

Tips for Not Tipping the Scale

A healthy diet and regular exercise remains the ideal way to maintain and lose weight, whether you are on birth control or not, “Ebony” notes. If you gain more than 5 percent of your body weight while on birth control pills, especially if you’ve switched to a low estrogen pill, you may have a bigger problem than extra pounds, Women’s Health Resource warns. Such a condition could point to abnormal glucose metabolism or insulin resistance, with the latter requiring a diet low in carbohydrates in order to maintain or lose any weight.

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