If you're thinking of doing a colon cleanse for weight loss because you'd love to drop a couple of pounds really quickly, then this guide couldn't be more perfect for you.
I'll explain exactly how colon cleansing works and then show you some real science on its benefits and risks.
More importantly, you'll find out how much weight you can expect to lose with a colon cleanse.
Before we dive in, you can take a quick look at what's covered in this guide:
Is it possible to lose up to 40 pounds with colon cleansing?
I've been working in the weight loss industry for a long time (and I've helped lots of people get real life results), but this just may be the most outrageous rumor I've ever heard:
John Wayne, the famous actor, supposedly had 40 pounds of accumulated waste in his colon. (This was discovered after his death.)
Now, we all know we all know how exaggerated rumors get, but still, this one got me thinking...
What if a single colon cleansing procedure could help us lose 20, 10, or even "just" 5 pounds?
Even if you lost just a few pounds, this would still be pretty awesome, especially since you can get a colon cleanse done within an hour.
But before we get to that, let's take a closer look at how colon cleansing even works.
How does colon cleansing even work?
By far the most common way of doing a colon cleanse is with water. This type of a colon cleanse is also called "colonic irrigation", "colon hydrotherapy", or simply a "colonic".
Here's how it usually goes down:
You lay down and a small and lubricated tube is inserted about an inch up your butt (this shouldn't hurt at all).
Then, warm water starts flowing inside you and after a while you'll feel a sudden urge to rush to the toilet.
Except, you won't have to, because the tube inside will be used to flush everything out of your colon.
If you're going to do a colon cleanse this way, I strongly suggest you pay a professional to do it (and ignore the "Do-it-Yourself" kits on the market).
But there are some other options as well...
Can you do a weight loss colon cleanse on your own?
If you're not a fan of sticking things up your butt (I can totally relate), you can drink down a colon cleansing powder.
If you're like me, you'll definitely prefer a colon cleanser you can simply drink down.
And don't worry, this stuff won't put you through an intense, diarrhea-like experience. In fact, with this, you'll probably wonder if it works at all.
Which brings us right to the question on everybody's mind:
How much weight can you realistically expect to lose?
Who better to turn to for answers than science?
Here's a study that looked at colon cleansing and weight loss. In this study, people lost 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg) on average.
Nice, but certainly a far cry from the 40-pound rumor. But hold on, it gets better:
Another study compared many different colon cleansing methods. The most powerful colon cleanser helped people get rid of almost 7 lbs (3 kg) of weight.
Yes, this is a lot better. Nowhere near 40 pounds, but better.
But there's a catch.
The most powerful colon cleanser of them all
You see, the colon cleanser that delivered the biggest weight drop in the study above is actually an "industrial strength" colon cleanser.
This stuff can only be prescribed by a doctor and is used to quickly flush out your colon before surgery.
So we have to be realistic here.
If the most powerful colon cleansers in medicine can "only" help you get rid of up to 7 lbs (3kg) of weight, then you really can't expect any weight loss miracles from plain water.
So while you may lose some weight, you can probably count on dropping (way) less than 7 lbs (3kg).
How does science feel about colon cleansing?
The fact is, modern medicine knows absolutely nothing about "accumulated fecal matter" aka stuff that can supposedly get stuck on the walls of your colon.
No colorectal surgeon (guys who have actually seen the insides of many human colons) ever saw anything even remotely resembling a "thick layer of matter" on a colon wall.
Just think about this for a while.
Modern medicine can detect tumors, cancer, fractured bone, damaged organs, and countless other problems in our bodies.
So, is it really possible that those guys would have overlooked as much as 40 pounds of stuff each of us could be carrying around in our colons?
Other benefits and risks involved
Here's some science that rips apart the many claims made these days about the benefits of colon cleanse.
If science is to be trusted (I'll leave this decision entirely up to you), colon cleansing is nothing but an ancient theory that can do a lot more harm than good.
And while the benefits of colon cleansing remain to be proven, quite a few risks have actually been connected to colon cleansing.
Think stuff like vomiting, bloating, cramping, renal failure, and even death.
So here's the bottom line...
Summary (actionable takeaways)
Without any scientific proof of its benefits (and plenty of evidence on its risks), I can't really recommend doing a colon cleanse for weight loss.
While you probably will drop a couple of pounds pretty quickly, the number will probably stay well below 7 lbs (3kg).
And you certainly won't get rid of any "accumulated fecal matter" (at least not according to modern science and people who actually looked inside live human colons).
More likely, any weight you might have lost with a colon cleanse will simply come back after just a few good meals.
2. Patel V, et al. Intestinal and renal effects of low-volume phosphate and sulfate cathartic solutions designed for cleansing the colon: pathophysiological studies in five normal subjects. Am J Gastroenterol 2009;104:953-965.