How Magnesium Citrate can Help with Weight Loss

Can magnesium citrate actually help you lose weight? 

This is a question I get from a lot of patients...​

And I have some news for you:

Weight loss is far more complicated than just taking 1 pill or 1 supplement.

And we are going to talk about that, but let's go back to your main question:  

Yes, Magnesium citrate may actually help with weight loss.

But that's not really what you want.

It may help you lose water weight and/or stool weight, but it won't help your body burn fat mass. 

And that's really what everyone wants when they say they want to "lose weight".

They are interested in losing FAT.

So let's talk about how Magnesium citrate in combination with other therapies create an environment where your body can become a fat burning machine...

More...

How Magnesium Citrate Works in your Body

​Let's get a couple things straight here:

Magnesium citrate is a supplement that can be purchased over the counter.

Magnesium can be bound to a number of different compounds including:

Magnesium citrate table

Each of these supplements contains magnesium, but the substance that magnesium is bound to determine how it will interact with your body. 

Take for instance magnesium-oxide.

This is a cheap form of magnesium that isn't highly absorbed by the body but due to how cheap it is to use it is in a lot of low-quality supplements.

Compare this to magnesium glycinate which is a highly absorbable form of magnesium which is more expensive and found in MANY high-quality supplements.

So where does magnesium citrate fit into all of this?

Magnesium citrate is a special blend in which magnesium is bound to citric acid which gives the magnesium special laxative properties.

Do you see where this is leading?

​Magnesium Citrate causes a laxative effect in your bowels and will (if used in high enough doses) cause you to have a bowel movement. 

The truth is that almost any form of magnesium if enough of it is used, may lead to a bowel movement - but magnesium citrate is particularly good at it.

So is that where all the weight loss comes from?

There is actually a couple other reasons it may help with weight loss which I will outline below...​

How does Magnesium Citrate Helps with Weight Loss

​In order for this next part to make sense you need to have an understanding of what really causes your body to gain weight:

Weight gain is NOT about calorie consumption, it's about your hormones. Period.

If weight loss was really all about reducing your calories and exercising more, than why do 98% of calorie-restricted diets fail? 

And why are you even reading this?

You know they don't work because you've tried them!

​So the question really becomes, how does magnesium citrate help balance your hormones or how else does it lead to weight loss? 

And this is where things get interesting...

​Magnesium citrate helps you lose weight through a couple of ways:

  • It will cause a reduction in overall body weight through water loss in the stool
  • It may increase energy production (1) IF you are deficient
  • It helps lower insulin resistance thereby helping your body burn fat
Magnesium and energy production

​Let's go over each of these:

1. Magnesium Citrate helps with Bowel Movements and Water Loss​

Anything that makes your bowels move faster (2) will result in a slight loss of total body water.

Most of the water is absorbed by the large intestines in your stool and if you increase the transit time of stool through the bowels you will decrease the absorption of water.

This doesn't cause your body to burn fat necessarily but it will cause you to lose weight.

This helps explain why Magnesium Citrate isn't equally effective in EVERYONE.

So who benefits most from magnesium citrate?

Those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation, or inflammatory conditions like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

These conditions all lend to a more constipated state and by taking Magnesium you will cause brisk bowel movements which will help reduce your overall weight.

It may also reduce the bloating sensation and overall wellbeing in individuals with constipation because, let's face it, NO ONE likes to be constipated. ​

2. Magnesium Citrate helps with Energy Production

Magnesium is involved in the chemical reaction (3) that produces ATP. 

​If you aren't familiar with ATP I will fill you in...

ATP is the energy currency of your entire body. Without ATP you wouldn't be alive.

ATP and energy production set the metabolism of your body and the "energy" that you burn is in the form of ATP.

So low ATP = low energy production = low metabolism

By repleting magnesium levels in the body, you may also increase your metabolism and overall energy production.

Again this only works if you have a magnesium deficiency, to begin with, but considering that almost 50% of people in the United States (4) are deficient in magnesium I think it's safe to assume you probably are as well.

3. Magnesium Citrate helps reduce Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone in your body that can wreak havoc on your ability to burn fat as an energy source. 

Insuli​n resistance is the process whereby insulin levels are elevated beyond which they should be under natural circumstances. 

When insulin levels get high it causes some nasty effects in the body:

This is even scarier when you consider that it has been estimated that up to 50% of the US population has prediabetes or diabetes (both conditions caused by insulin resistance). 

Hormone sensitive lipase breaks down fat

But here's the good news:

Magnesium can actually help REVERSE insulin resistance (8) in the body. 

In my experience, it really is the combination of all three mechanisms above that allow magnesium to be effective in helping some people lose weight.

And because up to 50% of people are deficient in magnesium, it is even more helpful in these people. 

In those with adequate magnesium levels, it likely won't result in significant weight loss though. ​

And I will be honest here:

For most people, they will need to do more than just take Magnesium Supplements.

That's why further down in this article I will give you some other supplements to take that will make magnesium even MORE effective.

4. Magnesium Citrate & other forms of magnesium help improve sleep

When most people consider weight loss they don't really think about the depth or quality of their sleep. 

And that's too bad, especially since insomnia and a general lack of sleep have been associated with obesity and weight gain (9).

Put in very simple terms:

Lack of sleep (less than 8 hours per night) = weight gain, increased blood sugar (10) and difficulty losing weight.

So how does magnesium fit into this equation?

It turns out that magnesium - and I'm talking about all forms of magnesium including magnesium citrate - can improve the depth and overall quality of your sleep (11).

​This is yet another way that magnesium may lead indirectly to weight loss. 

The good news is that almost all forms of magnesium may help to improve your sleep, but some forms tend to help better than others.

Magnesium threonate tends to help patients the most with sleep and mood-related disorders.

But how do you know when/if you need magnesium for sleep?

If you aren't getting 8 hours of sleep per night, OR the quality or depth of your sleep is poor, OR if you know you have a history of sleep apnea or some other REM sleep disorder then magnesium may help you.

Just realize that an overall lack of sleep may make your weight loss efforts very difficult. ​

How to Dose and Take Magnesium Citrate + other forms of Magnesium

If after reading all of this you have decided to try Magnesium Citrate (Good idea, by the way!) I want to give you some helpful information to make it more effective.

How much magnesium should you take?

Dosing magnesium citrate is highly individualized.

That being said I recommend starting out at 200mg at night.

​For people who tend to be more sensitive to supplements start out at 100mg per night. 

The average dose of Magnesium citrate ranges from 200mg to 2000mg per day. Those with EXTREME constipation or EXTREME deficiency will need to take a lot more. ​

Titrate your dose and increase it slowly until you are having one loose bowel movement in the morning.

Note: Your bowel movement should NOT be liquid, it should be soft.

What time of day should you take it?

I recommend taking Magnesium Citrate at night.

It typically takes a good 6-12 hours for the laxative effect to kick in (in most people, though some people it happens quickly).

If you take it in the evening it will help you regulate your bowel movements each morning.

And the last thing you want is to get caught having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the day (or at work!).

How much is too much?

You'll know you are taking too much Magnesium if you are having VERY loose stools or liquid stools.

If that happens with you simply back down on your dose, I recommend cutting it in half and then proceeding from there. ​

Which form of magnesium should I use?

​Below I've gone over the strongest magnesium supplements and forms and which patients should consider each one. 

In general, if you follow these guidelines you should do well and not have any negative side effects...

How to Supplement with Magnesium Citrate

Why I like it

High-Quality and Very Effective

Affordable Pricing

Helps with Constipation

No Allergenic Fillers

Who should use it
  • Patients with chronic constipation, IBS, SIBO or other gastrointestinal problems
  • Patients with low serum magnesium levels - try to get an optimal level above 2.2 if testing serum magnesium
  • Patients with symptoms of muscle cramps, twitches, etc. 
How to Use

  • Start at 200mg every night
  • Titrate dose until you have 1 loose bowel movement in the morning
  • Dose ranges from 200mg-2000mg per day
Best Place to Buy
Magnesium citrate pure encapsulations

How to Supplement with Magnesium Glycinate

Why I like it

Superior absorption over magnesium citrate

Affordable Pricing

Biggest impact on serum magnesium levels

No Allergenic Fillers

Who should use it
  • Patients with low serum magnesium levels but who also have a "sensitive" GI tract
  • This form of magnesium is better for patients with low serum magnesium and in patients who have high fasting insulin levels
  • Patients with symptoms of muscle cramps, twitches, etc. 
How to Use

  • Start at 100-150mg per day take at night
  • Titrate dose until you have 1 loose bowel movement in the morning (you may require higher doses of magnesium glycinate because more magnesium is absorbed)
  • Dose ranges from 300mg-600mg per day
Best Place to Buy
magnesium glycinate image

How to Supplement with Magnesium Threonate

Why I like it

May improve mood and balance depression

Affordable Pricing

May improve depth and quality of sleep

No Allergenic Fillers

Who should use it
  • Patients with issues related to sleep or history of insomnia
  • Patients with a history of mood disorders including depression or bipolar disorder
  • Anyone with low serum magnesium levels (less than 2.2)
How to Use

  • Start at 2-4 capsules per night (4 capsules of this brand = about 145mg of magnesium)
  • Titrate dose up to a maximum of 4 capsules per night (~145mg of magnesium) - this form of magnesium should not cause loose stools
  • Dose ranges from 2-4 capsules per day
Best Place to Buy
magnesium threonate image

How to use Magnesium Citrate in Combination with Other Supplements for Maximum Effect

As I've mentioned above magnesium citrate can definitely help some people with weight loss, but it won't be enough for everyone.

So what I've done here is compiled some research on other dietary supplements that have actually been shown to help reduce weight as well.

And when taken with Magnesium Citrate will create a powerful combination.

​#1 Berberine 

Berberine might just be one of my favorite supplements.

It's been shown to be as effective as metformin in lower Hgb A1c in diabetes (12), it helps reduce cholesterol levels and can help with weight loss (13).

I recommend taking 500-1000mg of berberine daily. ​

#2 Glucommanan

Glucommanan is a viscous fiber that expands when it comes into contact with water.

​It helps with weight loss by expanding in the stomach, giving the sensation of fullness and causes stomach receptors to send a signal to the brain that you are "full". 

Basically, it helps reduce appetite if taken right before a meal!

I recommend taking 4 capsules of Glucommanan 15 minutes before a meal with a large glass of filtered water. ​

#3 Soil Based Organism Probiotic​

Believe it or not, but probiotics have been scientifically proven to help with weight loss (14).

Currently, big pharmaceutical companies are rushing to come out with a novel probiotic blend that is the BEST for weight loss. 

In the meantime, I recommend using a soil based probiotic which is different from MOST other probiotics.

Generally, many people are deficient in these specific types of probiotics and therefore they are more beneficial.

I recommend taking a high-quality, multi-species probiotic such as this one to help

​Don't forget about Exercise and Diet!

Guys...

We can't talk about weight loss without at least mentioning diet and exercise.

I know, I know...

​I just said that weight loss wasn't about calories. 

It still isn't, but eating a nutritious diet DOES provide your body with nutrients and DOES have an impact on your hormone levels.

If you have no idea where to start then I recommend reading this post here.

It will go over all of the basic food groups to avoid, all of the food groups you SHOULD be eating and all of the exercises you should be doing.

As a quick primer, I recommend getting rid of ALL sugars and refined carbohydrates while you are trying to lose weight. 

These foods increase insulin resistance and will obviously cause weight gain.

In addition to that focus on high-intensity exercise.

Sitting on the treadmill for 45-60 mins is NOT effective for weight loss. ​

Conclusion

​Let's do a quick recap here so you know what you need to do:

  • Get on Magnesium Citrate
  • Start taking Berberine
  • Take Glucommanan before each meal
  • Take your probiotic daily
  • Ditch the sugars and refined carbohydrates
  • Add in high-intensity exercise

​If you do these in combination with magnesium citrate you WILL have effective weight loss. 

But remember:

Taking Magnesium citrate by itself is not a recipe for a successful weight loss regimen.

Now I want to hear from you:

Have you lost weight with Magnesium Citrate?

What was effective for your weight loss? What wasn't?

Leave a comment below.

References (Click to Expand)

Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders.He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances.You can read more about his own personal journey here.

26 thoughts on “How Magnesium Citrate can Help with Weight Loss”

  1. Hello–
    I just ordered and received all 4 of the supplements (magnesium citrate, berberine, glucommanon, and the probiotic). I have been taking some other supplements and was wondering if I should discontinue any of these prior to taking the 4 listed above. Here is what I currently take: 1000 mg CLA 3 times a day,1200 mg Fish Oil 2 times a day, 5000 mcg B-12 once a day, K2 complex (1500 mcg K1 & 1200 mcg K2) once a day, 400 IU of vitamin E once a day, 800 mcg chromium picolinate 2 times a day, and 2000 IU of D3

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hey Julie,

      I can’t make specific recommendations because I don’t know your personal history but I can tell you that taking all at once shouldn’t cause any issues unless you are taking other prescription medications.

      Reply
      • I do not take any prescription medication. I was mostly concerned with the effectiveness of the 4 supplements if I took them with the other supplements I listed. I was unsure if any of the supplements I’m currently on would diminish the effectiveness of the magnesium citrate, berberine, glucommanam, and probiotic.
        Thanks!

        Reply
  2. My goodness: this article is well written, thoughtful, apparently researched and encouraging Doc. Word to the mother! You kicked arse on presenting the mandate for Magnesium intakes to be an essential consideration of our well being. I mean I recall reading a few years back the impact of magnesium’s lack causing mental/emotional imbalances. Can you imagine? People across the world thinking they’re legitimately nuts because of doctors delivering news in an incurable, traumatic context when a few weeks of the Mag family, diet change and several good dumps could change that? I’ll be darn if you didn’t make it clear here. BTW I just took a 10 oz bottle of Mag-Cit due to obstruction and digestive issues I suffer now. Go figure, 40 yr decade reached. Sent me storming to the bathroom. Now I will do half of bottle due to the liquid movement. But! Eeeefective. You’re bookmarked! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Hi
    I have just started taking Magnesium Citrate alongside Vitamin D and also a probiotic. I will be sticking to my normal eating and exercise regime so will report back next month or email you if you leave your email address and let you know how it goes. I have already noticed my digestion has seemed to improve with bowel movements three days running and prior to this it was a bowel movement every three to four days- needless to say I already look and feel less bloated because of this.

    Jill

    Reply
    • Hi Jill,

      Thanks for sharing and I’m glad it’s helping you. Please do keep us updated and let us know how you do!

      Reply
  4. Dr Child
    I take Synthroid, Cytomel, furosemide, potassium, vitamin D3 15,000u, B 6 200mg, Valtrex 1 gm(trigeminal nerve shingles), temazepam/Valium for sleep(tinnitus-sudden sensor hearing loss) and occasional excedrin migraine. Cannot lose a pound and constipated. Will these supplements be ok?
    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  5. Hi Doctor,
    Your article is really informative – thanks for your great effort.

    I really like to dig into things and understand them – I have a few questions:

    1. Why did you specifically choose magnesium citrate? The research that you provided is about magnesium in general. So I am not sure what’s so special about this type of magnesium.

    2. Your link to “REVERSE insulin resistance” is broken

    3. The research that you provided shows indirect effect on weight loss. For example Chamomile is also good for sleep – does it mean that help in weight loss? The arguments that you made can be applicable for many types of natural substances and foods that have the same effects.

    It would have been helpful to see a research showing a direct relationship between magnesium (citrate) and weight loss.

    4. You spoke about a laxative effect – but is this the right way to lose weight long term? Water weight loss only happens at the beginning of the diet. You can use foods as natural laxatives such as prunes or kiwi fruits.I believe that any type of magnesium has a laxative effect.

    Please don’t get the feeling that I am trying to dispute what you say and I appreciate your effort. But as a person who battled with obesity I have special interest in this subject.

    Thanks
    Jack

    Reply
    • Hi Jack,

      Great questions! Answers below:

      1. I don’t necessarily have a preference on which magnesium is being used, the article is just the answer that I get to a common question about magnesium citrate (I’m not sure why but someone must have said that this formulation of magnesium is superior to others at some point in time). If you are deficient in magnesium then you can use whichever formulation fits your needs.

      2. The link should be fixed now.

      3. Almost every weight loss therapy has an indirect effect on weight loss because weight loss is not a singular disease. It’s the result of multiple biochemical problems that manifest in hormonal dysregulation that results in weight gain in certain areas in the body. This could be from lack of sleep, poor nutrition, over eating, stress, lack of exercise and so forth.

      4. The laxative effect may be beneficial because it results in reduced bacterial load in the colon or because it promotes healthy gut bacteria which may then alter caloric breakdown, etc. It’s not the laxative effect and its effect on weight loss that you are necessarily after, but the benefit that “treating” constipation may have. But you are correct in that simply losing a couple pounds of stool is not really beneficial long term and may actually be harmful if used incorrectly – but that is not what I’m advocating here.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. Can you take more than one kind of magnesium supplement? I have constipation issues and have to follow a gluten free diet due to findings in my colon. I also have problems sleeping and fibromyalgia. I do deal with depression and my 14 yr old daughter has sleep problems as well as depression and mood/personality issues. What should I give her and dose?

    Reply
    • Hi Linda,

      Yes, you can use different kinds of magnesium supplements but just watch for excess side effects such as diarrhea.

      Reply
  7. This is a really informative article. I’ve been taking Magnesium Bisglycinate at night for a few months. I’ve noticed some good effects – sleep, bowel movements, cramps….but have also noticed that I’ve been full more easily, hungry a little less often – could that be from the magnesium supplement?

    Reply
  8. Just ordered mag cit/calcium/vit d for bone health so hoping too I can lose some weight.

    Do you have a site/newsletter to subscribe as love info you give?

    Reply
  9. Hey doc, I started mag 2 weeks ago and had the results you’re talking about. Also, I had 3 to 4 bathroom visits per night. I elected to have surgery for this without much success but got to tell you 1 thing I’ve noticed after a wk on mag citrate. Not one time did I have to wake up and go not really what I was taking it for but very pleased. Wish I knew before but wanted to share it with all, thank you.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00
shares