Many people claim that magnesium citrate is good for weight loss and can assist in losing belly fat. Of course, magnesium is an essential mineral that gives us energy and keeps our bodies functioning properly. However, can taking magnesium really help you lose weight?
There is some evidence pointing to the fact that magnesium can help you lose weight. The reason that many use magnesium to help shed extra pounds is that it acts as a laxative. So, in essence, magnesium citrate can help you lose water weight or stool weight. However, if you are serious about weight loss, you also know how important it is to lose body fat weight.
In this article, I will look at what science really says about using magnesium citrate (as well as other forms of magnesium) for losing weight. You will find out how magnesium helps to give you more energy and reduce blood sugar levels – all essential factors if you need to lose weight. I will also examine if there are better ways of getting rid of excess body weight than using magnesium.
What Is Magnesium and What are the Different Types of Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral in your body that helps to keep your body functioning properly.
You need magnesium because it helps regulate over 300 different biochemical reactions in the body. Among these are controlling blood glucose, making sure muscles and nerves function properly, and regulating blood pressure.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), magnesium is closely linked to energy production, breaking down glucose, and bone development. Without proper levels of magnesium, it would be difficult for your body to absorb calcium and potassium. Magnesium is also important for DNA and RNA synthesis and it acts as an antioxidant in the body.1
Taking magnesium for your health is important because many people are unaware they have a magnesium deficiency. For example, according to Dr. Mary Guerrera from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, about three-quarters of people in the U.S. have low levels of magnesium.2
The different types of magnesium
There are a number of different forms of magnesium supplements that are sold. According to the NIH, some of the most common magnesium supplements are:
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium oxide
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium hydroxide
Not all types of magnesium preparations are the same. For example, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported that magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed by the body. However, magnesium citrate has more bioavailability and is more soluble.
What is magnesium citrate?
Magnesium citrate is elemental magnesium bound to a citrate salt making it easily dissolved and absorbed by the body. It is used as a supplement and also as a laxative.
Doctors from WebMD say that magnesium citrate is a saline laxative. It works by increasing fluid in the small intestine and usually causes you to pass stool in half an hour to 3 hours. It is sometimes used in medical practice to flush the intestines before a procedure.3
How Magnesium Citrate, as well as Other Forms of Magnesium, Can Help with Weight Loss
Let’s look in more detail if science backs up some of the claims that magnesium citrate or other forms of magnesium can help lose weight.
Magnesium acts as laxative to help you lose water weight
One of the ways that magnesium citrate will help with weight loss is that it will help get rid of stool and reduce water weight.
In the types of laxatives that are used to help with chronic constipation, the journal Evidence-Based Medicine mentions magnesium citrate among them.4 Also, the World Journal of Gastroenterology reports that magnesium citrate is often given with other preparations for colon cleansing before colonoscopies.5
However, there are some side effects apart from loose stools that magnesium citrate causes, and it can interact with some antibiotics. It is also not recommended to take magnesium citrate as a laxative for longer than a week.
Magnesium increases energy production and boosts metabolism
Another way that magnesium citrate and other types of magnesium can help lose weight is that it increases energy production in your body.
Magnesium has a direct effect on your metabolism which can help speed up weight loss. Magnesium achieves this by affecting ATP-utilizing enzymes. These enzymes play a vital role in the reactions that generate ATP, the fundamental unit of energy within the body’s cells. The journal Magnesium states that magnesium has a role in energy production.6
Taking magnesium can also help to make exercising more productive and thus burn more calories. According to a study published in the journal Magnesium Research, a magnesium deficiency can impair exercise performance. This results in more oxidative stress in the body. Also, magnesium is excreted in sweat and urine, and therefore strenuous exercising can accentuate a magnesium deficiency.7
However, it’s clear from the research, that magnesium citrate alone can’t bring about weight loss. These studies have shown that magnesium will help boost your metabolism and help burn fat quicker when exercising.
Magnesium lowers insulin resistance to help with weight loss
The ability of magnesium citrate to help lower insulin resistance is also important when it comes to losing weight quickly.
Insulin regulates your metabolism and helps your body break down carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It does it by absorbing glucose from the blood and turning it into fat, muscle, and liver cells.
According to the Journal of Lipid Research, insulin resistance is when you have too much insulin and your metabolism doesn’t work properly. This means that your body can’t burn fat as efficiently.8
Studies have shown that magnesium is essential to lower insulin resistance. The journal Magnesium Research found that proper levels of magnesium are needed to use glucose efficiently and improve insulin levels. This can help to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes symptoms and improve blood pressure.9
Insulin resistance can make it very difficult to shift stubborn belly fat and can increase cravings for carbohydrate-rich snacks.
Magnesium improves sleep patterns which can help you lose more weight
One of the ways that magnesium supplements could help lose weight is that it can help improve your sleep patterns.
According to research on sleep and obesity, many researchers have identified a link. Studies published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives show that not getting enough sleep can hamper an individual’s weight loss efforts. In fact, lack of sleep has been linked to metabolic syndrome – excess belly fat, heart disease, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.10
How can magnesium help you sleep better? People who are magnesium deficient often have trouble sleeping. A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that magnesium supplementation helped people sleep better and reduce insomnia.11
Of course, if you don’t have a magnesium deficiency and you already enjoy a good night’s sleep, increasing magnesium intake probably won’t affect weight loss.
Why Magnesium Citrate and Other Forms of Magnesium May Not Help You Lose Weight
As medical research has shown, some of the claims about magnesium citrate and weight loss have some scientific backing. However, there are many reasons why taking magnesium itself won’t help you lose weight and isn’t an effective long-term solution. Why is that so?
The laxative effect. Laxatives are not a safe way to lose weight. At best they only help lose water weight by pulling fluid from your body to your intestines. Unfortunately, you will usually put this weight on again fairly quickly. According to the Annual Review of Medicine, using laxatives long-term can lead to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration as well as other health complications.12
Boosting metabolism. There are many factors that affect your metabolic rate and a magnesium deficiency is just one of them. For example, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that regular exercise and vitamin C also help to increase metabolism and help burn fat efficiently.22
Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a complex matter and is connected with more factors than just a magnesium deficiency. According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, insulin resistance can be caused by stress, inactivity, excess weight, high cholesterol, and pregnancy. Addressing these issues is necessary to help lower insulin resistance and help prevent type 2 diabetes.13
Improving sleep. Although magnesium is linked with better sleep patterns, it may only help if you have a deficiency. There are many other natural ways to fall asleep quickly. For example, some natural herbs can help to combat insomnia, as well as some foods and essential oils.
Can Magnesium Help you Lose Weight?
What is the bottom line on magnesium citrate and weight loss? Although there is some weak evidence that magnesium citrate could help in losing some weight in the form of water weight, magnesium won’t make you lose weight long-term.
In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, magnesium supplements may not have any effect on burning fat. The study used two groups of people who made lifestyle changes to lose weight. One group took magnesium supplements and the other group placebo. At the end of the study, researchers found that both groups had lost about the same amount of weight.
The researchers concluded that the weight loss was from lifestyle modifications rather than magnesium supplements.14
Better Ways of Losing Weight
In fact, you may not need to take any magnesium citrate or other magnesium supplements to lose weight at all. According to the NIH, you should get most of your nutritional requirements from foods that have essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.1
Let’s look at some healthy and natural ways of losing weight and keeping it off. You will notice that all of these weight loss methods are backed up by strong scientific support.
Increase fruit and veg intake
One of the best ways to lose weight safely and get enough vitamins and minerals (including proper levels of magnesium) is to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The journal PLoS Medicine reported that eating more fruits and vegetables can help get and maintain a healthy weight. Researchers follow a group of people over a 24-year period and found that increasing the number of fruits and non-starchy vegetables in a diet resulted in long-term weight change. The positive changes to diet also reduced the participants’ risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.15
If you are interested in preventing a magnesium deficiency and losing weight at the same time, the NIH says that the best foods containing magnesium are:1
- Breakfast cereals fortified with magnesium
- Chicken breast
- Lean beef
Eating more multi-colored vegetables and fruits could also help you get more antioxidants and help protect against various diseases.
Reduce calories intake
The best way to lose weight naturally and safely is to reduce the average number of calories you consume in a day.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported on a study showing that calorie reduction is the best kind of diet to lose weight over a 6-month period. The study comprised of 4 groups and the diets varied in protein, carbohydrate, and fat content and proportions. The only common factor was a reduction in total daily calories. At the end of the trial, everyone in the study had lost weight regardless of which diet they followed.16
Some of the other benefits were that every diet had a positive effect on insulin resistance.
The researchers concluded that reduced-calorie diets were scientifically proven to result in weight loss regardless of which macro-nutrients they emphasize.
Regular physical exercise can help you lose weight and also keep the weight off for good.
The benefits of exercising and weight loss were reported on in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease. Researchers found that even without a diet program, people can expect to lose around 2 kg. However, to ensure that your exercise program accelerates weight loss, it should be combined with a reduction in calorie intake.17
However, in all cases, intense regular physical exercise resulted in cardiovascular benefits for all persons and can help boost insulin metabolism, reduce fat, and reduce cholesterol naturally.
Have eggs for breakfast
One way to lose weight by increasing your feeling of satiety is to eat more eggs for breakfast.
According to the International Journal of Obesity, having eggs at breakfast time enhances weight loss. The study found that eating 2 eggs for breakfast while reducing calories at the same time helped to boost weight loss. It was found that eggs for breakfast help keep you full for longer and reduced the tendency to snack.18
The researchers concluded that an egg for breakfast can help boost weight loss.
For more information on why we should all be eating more eggs, please read my article on the health benefits of eggs. You might be surprised to learn that eating an egg or two a day doesn’t have the negative effect on cholesterol that you may think. Eggs are also a good source of magnesium.
How Much Magnesium to Take
How much magnesium should you take daily to prevent suffering from the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency? According to the NIH, the recommended daily magnesium allowance for teenagers and adults is as follows:
14-18 years: Boys – 410 mg, girls – 360 mg
19-30 years: Men – 400 mg, women – 310 mg
31+ years: Men – 420 mg, women – 320 mg
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, then the magnesium RDA is increased to 350 mg.
Health risks of too much magnesium
The main side effect of taking magnesium in large doses is diarrhea. This can be accompanied by abdominal cramping and nausea. However, the NIH says that there are no health risks from too much magnesium from food sources.1
Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to using magnesium citrate for weight loss, you may have other questions regarding the effect of magnesium on weight.
Can magnesium deficiency cause you to gain weight?
According to the journal Nutrients, a magnesium deficiency could indirectly lead to weight gain and other health problems in people already obese. Not getting enough magnesium can hinder the growth of lean body mass and also affect metabolism.19
The journal Nutricion Hospitaliaria says that magnesium deficiencies in postmenopausal women could put them at more at risk of obesity and osteoporosis.20
Can magnesium help with bloating?
Yes, magnesium can help with bloating that is associated with premenstrual syndrome. According to the Journal of Caring Sciences, women who supplemented their diet with 250 mg magnesium supplements found that it helped their premenstrual symptoms. This includes less abdominal bloating and water retention.21
So, even though magnesium supplements may not help you lose weight, it may help you look thinner before your period as it can reduce bloating.
What vitamins speed up metabolism and weight loss?
You shouldn’t need to use vitamins or mineral supplements to speed up metabolism and weight loss. As already mentioned in this article, doctors recommend that our nutritional requirements are met by eating healthy, well-balanced diet.
If however you follow a restrictive diet that excludes one or more food groups, you’d better meet with a dietitian to review your diet and see if you may lack some nutrients.