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Water Pills And Weight Loss - The Dirt on Diuretics

Updated on March 8, 2011

How Do Water Pills Work?

Diuretics, more commonly known as water pills, are herbs or drugs that increase urination and amplify the excretion of body water. Medically, they often are used in the treatment of conditions like heart failure, high blood pressure, liver cyrrohsis, and some kidney diseases, but more and more often, diuretics are being marketed to the average consumer as a weight loss aid.

There are many categories of diuretics, and they all work slightly differently, but most over-the-counter water pills act on the kidneys, causing them to expel water and salts. Aquaretics (herbs like goldenrod and juniper) increase blood flow to the kidneys, while xanthines (caffeine and pamabrom, an ingredient often found in PMS relief supplements) increase the kidneys' filtration rate, as well as inhibiting the reabsorption of of sodium.

Water Pills And Weight Loss

Up to 60% of a person's body weight is water. Knowing that fact, and that diuretics expel water, it's easy to see why taking water pills makes you lose weight. The problem is, the pounds you drop are just that: water. This means any weight you lose is temporary. In a healthy person, as soon as you eat or drink something, the body will naturally move back towards its natural equilibrium... and put those pounds right back on.

Side Effects of Water Pills

Many of our vital organs are dependent on water to function. The brain is 70% water, 83% of blood is water, and the lungs are up to 90% water. Knowing this, you can imagine how depleting your body's water store can have negative effects on your body.

OTC water pills are generally pretty weak, as diuretics go, but some people do report side effects, especially with consistent use. These side effects echo the symptoms of dehydration. They can include:

Water Pills
Water Pills
  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Irregular heartbeat

Who Needs Water Pills?

If your doctor hasn't recommended them to you for the treatment of a specific condition, chances are you don't.  And if the only reason you're considering taking water pills is to lose weight, it's simply a waste of money.

Bottom line: you may see a lower number on the scales as a result of taking water pills, but that number is deceptive. Diuretics do not burn fat; they simply remove water from your system.  As such, they're counterproductive.  Just like restricting your calorie intake too much slows down your metabolism, dehydrating yourself can make you retain water.

So do yourself a favor: skip the water pills.  Stick with water.


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    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Drinking water isn't the only piece, but once you start to rehydrate you should see a difference within 24-48 hours.

    • profile image

      Philly:) 5 years ago

      how much water do you need to drink to see results?

    • profile image

      Melissa 5 years ago

      Hey MARY what's is the name of the water pills you are taking? Wow 16 pds that's great!!!!

    • profile image

      Ed 5 years ago

      i also take water pills as recommended by my dr. i take them to reduce water retention because i have swollen legs. i also am required to elevate my legs when i sleep. and yes i pee A lot!!!

    • profile image

      WitnessToronto 6 years ago

      Water pills have help me not retain water around my lungs great web site

    • profile image

      airmanmegan 6 years ago

      My doc prescribed them to me for my high bp. I hate them but to counteract the side effect take a multivitamin. As you expel water ur also expelling all the utrients in ur body that's why u feel like crap. Also get an electrolyte powder drink mix. Helps with the dehydration.

    • profile image

      Roberta 2 Los Angeles 6 years ago

      I had failed at several attempts to get into shape. I started feeling better after being on the Lady Soma Detox. This is my 3rd time doing the detox. After a few weeks- my metabolism had pick up and I was burning more calories and had more energy to get me through the day.

      It was a great decision and it really help me to get the extra weight off. It is not full of caffeine like other over the counter weight loss supplements it is actual vitamins and it really helps get over the weight loss hump.

      I am very satisfied with the Lady Soma Detox and it is really and easy way to help boost your metabolism and feel great.

    • profile image

      dot85 6 years ago

      i am on a diuretic for bp and swelling of leg. it has controlled bp but losing weight. how can i regain my weight. i am down to 125 lbs from 132.

    • profile image

      Samantha 6 years ago

      Thank you, that was very helpful. I was going to start taking water pills to help me lose weight.. Until I read your article. :)

    • profile image

      john 6 years ago

      same as Mike above I need to loss a few pounds for next Monday. I go to the gym a lot and work out and have lost several pounds over the past month :) I just need to loss a few extra pounds and was wondering which is the best water pills, laxative pills or something else? cheers

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago

      If I take a days worth of water pills will it help me shed a coulpe more pounds of water for my weigh in for the day after next. I need to drop 3 extra pounds of water weight for monday morning.

    • profile image

      shanie 6 years ago

      Wow! no thanks after these comments.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA


      All laxatives do is prevent absorption of water in your large intestine, flushing out the contents faster than is natural. Whatever "weight" you lost overnight is just water and waste, in other words. It's not real fat loss. It won't help your diet.

      You also need to be careful with laxatives, as your body can become dependent on them.

    • profile image

      Kang 6 years ago

      well i cheated on my diet and gained two pounds..i took two laxis pills and lost 5 pounds not saying that you should use it as a dietary supplement but that's just my experience.

    • profile image

      Mariane 6 years ago

      moost of water pills should be taken with potassium and chek with your MD

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Ann, that sounds like a serious problem. You should definitely seek a doctor's opinion as soon as possible.

    • profile image

      ann 6 years ago

      I take 1-2 of a water pill every day my hands swell and i can't stand it so i take them ,but my leg;s are hurting so bad and my heart hurt;s so bad i think i am having a heart attack i take about 80 MG a day i now i am hurting myself should i seek help?

    • profile image

      Theresa 6 years ago

      I have just been prescribed these water pills for PCO and now reading these comments im alittle scared.....

    • profile image

      Ana 6 years ago

      I have been prescribed water pills do to bloating and I have to say I have pee'd so many times today. At the same time I never knew people took these to try to lose weight I thought they were only used to flush out excess water. I drink plenty of water throughout the day and can understand that if a person didn't drink plenty of water they could easily become dehydrated. Good info to know :)

    • profile image

      Joanne 7 years ago

      As with many comments, I take water pills. RX from Dr. If I don't I get cankles (lol). In addition I joined Weight Watchers for healthy eating habbits and weigth loss...4 wks and lost 8 pounds.. please talk to a Dr. If your taking them for weight loss. It can be dangerous.. Take Care

    • profile image

      Tyra N 7 years ago

      I agree with Krista!

      I used the Dr Max Powers Burn Supplements and saw results in a short period of time. Not only did it help me lose weight, I received a lot of comments about how I looked ‘younger’ and ‘better.’

      Also helped with energy before and during workouts. I am now on my second re-order. Further, I had a problem with my mail and the website customer service was fantastic as to helping me get the product. Highly recommend.

    • profile image

      Krista851 7 years ago

      I definitely noticed a difference in my energy level from taking the Dr Max Powers "Burn" which is from Acai Berry.

      I took the burn for 2 months. I didn't have any issues, no stomach upset. You don't get any junk fillers, or anything that your body doesn't need. They are also made in the USA, and sometimes you don't know where other weight loss pills are made.

      I highly recommend the product as I lost weight and had a noticeable boosted my energy levels, which made my cardio sessions doable.

    • profile image

      Mary 7 years ago

      I'm on water pills prescribed by dr. for excessive swelling along with pain. They are good if you are taking them for a specific reason....not to lose weight. Just consuming water doesn't always work. I tried for a few months to just simply increase my water consumption and lower my sodium did not work. I've been taking them for four six days now and I have lost 16 lbs of just water (that's how swollen I was) and the swelling is almost gone. You also have to drink a ton of water while taking them because they are washing it all out. It is not good for weight loss. I haven't lost any fat, just water. But I feel way better and the pain is down. Listen to your dr. and if you want to lose right and exercise.

    • profile image

      Gp 7 years ago

      Well what if your considering using them to dispel things such as marijuana from your system what then??

    • deestew profile image

      deestew 7 years ago from Kentucky

      I am thinking that if we drink enough water we won't really need to think about diurectics. The process of elimination will occur naturally.

    • alfasentari profile image

      alfasentari 8 years ago

      A lot of people are looking for a magic pill to help them lose weight but most don't realize the dangers. They just want to see lower numbers on the scales. Beware of the diuretics!!!!! They don't burn fat. Stick to the natural and healthy way.

    • profile image

      emjohn71 8 years ago

      yes, couldn't agree with you more...natural, natural, natural, water , water, water!

    • profile image

      Donna 8 years ago

      Water pills are not safe. I took water pills for 1 year for hypertension and had the following problems: numbness in my hands, my muscle became very weak, it shredded the lining of my digestive system, it also started to attack my central nervous system. I ended up throwing it in the garbage. The doctors do not tell you these things.

    • zeehman profile image

      zeehman 8 years ago from Port Orchard

      great info....whens the next hub?

    • profile image

      Brian 8 years ago

      I'm taking these right now and I'm thinking BAD IDEA! I'm really lightheaded, can't think straight, and I'm peeing blue-tinted pee! And all these side effects are on the box! I think if you want to lose weight fast, just fast for a day and drink tons of water and then the next morning pee, go work out, and weigh yourself before you have a drink.

    • profile image

      Kevin 8 years ago

      But isn't the weight loss provided by water pills only temporary? Kind of like squeezing a sponge dry. As soon as you let it go it is going to fill up.. Also heard these are hard on the kidneys..

    • packerpack profile image

      Om Prakash Singh 8 years ago from India, Calcutta

      Water Pills ! This is the first time have come across any such term. As you said that it either a herb or a drug. I would rather prefer to go for herb instead of any drug. I prefer to take medicine in its natural form so long it is possible.

      I would like to know, instead of going for "Water pills" wouldn't it be best if I have lot of water instead? As anyway water pills increase urination and amplify the excretion of body water that could be very well be achieved by having lot of water.

    • profile image

      ewww 9 years ago

      nope sorry mane me vomit

    • cregan profile image

      cregan 9 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I like your hub. 5 stars!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Good invormation. Well done!