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 creates an environment where your body can become a fat-burning machine…
How Magnesium Citrate Works in your Body
Let’s get a couple of 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-Glycinate (A highly absorbable form of magnesium)
- Magnesium-Oxide (A cheap form of Magnesium I don’t recommend using)
- Magnesium-Citrate (Has laxative properties)
- Magnesium-Threonate (Helps get into the brain tissues)
- And others that we won’t mention here
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 that 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 are actually a couple of other reasons it may help with weight loss which I will outline below…
How does Magnesium Citrate Help 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, then 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 in 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
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 well-being 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.
Insulin resistance is the process whereby insulin levels are elevated beyond what they should be under natural circumstances.
When insulin levels get high it causes some nasty effects in the body:
- In the presence of Insulin, your body is unable to burn fat (5) as an energy source
- Insulin increases your risk of heart disease (6) and stroke
- Insulin causes your body to store calories you consume as fat (7) (even if you are only eating 1,000 calories per day)
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).
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:
Most people 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 in 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.
In general, if you follow these guidelines you should do well and not have any negative side effects…
How to Supplement with Magnesium Citrate
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 the dose until you have 1 loose bowel movement in the morning
- Dose ranges from 200mg-2000mg per day
How to Supplement with Magnesium Glycinate
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 patients who have high fasting insulin levels
- Patients with symptoms of muscle cramps, twitches, etc.
How to Use
- Start at 100-150mg per day and 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)
- The dose ranges from 300mg-600mg per day
How to Supplement with Magnesium Threonate
Who should use it
- Patients with issues related to sleep or a 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
- The dose ranges from 2-4 capsules per day
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.
Berberine might just be one of my favorite supplements.
I recommend taking 500-1000mg of berberine daily.
Glucomannan 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 causing 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 3-6 capsules of glucomannan 20 minutes before a meal with a large glass of filtered water.
Believe it or not, 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.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for them to come up with something to get the benefits from probiotics.
If you are looking to improve your gut function and help with weight loss, you should focus on a probiotic that has a high CFU per serving and comes loaded with many different species.
I recommend taking a high-quality, multi-species probiotic such as this one if weight loss is your primary goal.
Don’t forget about Exercise and Diet!
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.
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 probiotics 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.
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.