Diuretics are not particularly effective for weight loss. These "water pills" act as a temporary solution, eliminating bloating and "water weight" from the body, but they don't actually cause a person to lose fat. Using diuretics for weight loss is not only an ineffective solution in the long term, but it can also be potentially dangerous, and it is not recommended by medical professionals.
These medications simply encourage urination, often by increasing the flow of urine from the kidneys or by preventing sodium absorption, so the excess sodium in the body is then removed in the urine. When sodium is absorbed into the body, it causes a person to retain water, which causes bloating and water weight gain. Diuretics help to prevent and alleviate this.
People use diuretics for weight loss when they want to lose weight quickly, because they can rapidly reduce the appearance of bloating. This should not be considered true weight loss, however, because as soon as the person stops taking diuretics and resumes eating and drinking normally, the weight will come right back on. Rather than using diuretics, experts recommend making healthy changes to the diet and incorporating regular exercise into daily life. To reduce bloating, individuals can cut back on salt and increase the amount of water they are drinking, both of which can be effective in the relatively short term.
Using diuretics for weight loss can be dangerous; it can cause potassium levels in the body to drop and can even lead to dehydration. Dehydration leading to an electrolyte imbalance in the body has the potential to be fatal or to cause permanent damage to the kidneys. It is often preceded by muscle weakness, nausea, or fatigue, and can lead to an irregular heartbeat. In general, diuretics should be taken if they are recommended by a medical professional, such as for people suffering from high blood pressure or for women who find they are retaining water prior to menstruation.
Rather than taking diuretic pills to prevent bloating and water retention, many people use natural diuretics instead. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea act as natural diuretics, as does cranberry juice. Eating fruits and vegetables can also increase the frequency of urination. It is important for people to replace any fluids lost with water. Individuals should remember that rapid weight loss of any type is unhealthy and can be potentially very dangerous for the body.