Metamucil and Weight Loss

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
woman with tape measure

With so many weight loss diets and strategies available to choose from, it's often difficult to determine which is the best match for you. You've probably heard about Metamucil (a dietary fiber supplement containing psyllium), but did you know it may actually help you shed pounds?

What's in Metamucil?

The main ingredient in Metamucil is psyllium husk, which is a type of soluble fiber made using Plantago ovata plant seeds. Other ingredients in sugar-free Metamucil products include maltodextrin (a food additive), citric acid, aspartame, and natural and artificial flavors. Metamucil's fiber content is the main reason it's touted as a weight loss aid.

Metamucil Nutrition Facts

Each serving (2 rounded teaspoons) of sugar-free orange-flavored Metamucil contains 45 total calories and 11 total grams of carbs (including 6 grams of dietary fiber, mainly from soluble fiber). Metamucil also provides small amounts of iron and potassium.

Does Metamucil Work for Weight Loss?

Metamucil can aid in weight loss efforts because of its fiber content. Harvard Health Publications says eating 30 grams of fiber daily has been shown to enhance weight loss. Why is this the case? Mayo Clinic says while fiber helps fill you up, your body doesn't digest or absorb it; it passes through relatively intact. However, fiber is still classified as a carbohydrate. That's where the term "net carbs" comes from. Grams of fiber are subtracted from total carb content of foods since your body doesn't use or store fiber.

Other Health Benefits

The soluble fiber in Metamucil provides a host of other health and wellness benefits in addition to healthy weight management. For example, Mayo Clinic says it helps lower blood cholesterol, maintains bowel health, controls blood sugar, may reduce type 2 diabetes risks, and normalizes bowel movements.

How Much to Take

It's best to get the majority of your fiber from healthy, fiber-rich foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) and take Metamucil as an added fiber source when you're trying to shed pounds. Metamucil package instructions say it's safe to take one serving (2 teaspoons) up to three times daily, which would provide you with 18 grams of dietary fiber.

How to Take It

Metamucil is a powder you can mix with water or add to smoothies. Metamucil package instructions say to mix one serving (2 rounded teaspoons) with 8 ounces (1 cup) of water. It's important to do this, as fiber absorbs water and not mixing enough water with the supplement may cause choking. For this reason, the product label says to avoid Metamucil if you have difficulty swallowing. Start with one serving daily and slowly work up to taking Metamucil with water three times daily before meals for best weight loss results. If gas and bloating are getting the best of you, try reducing your dose.

Possible Concerns

Always check with your doctor before taking any type of dietary supplement (including Metamucil) for weight loss, especially if you're taking medications. That's because fiber supplements can affect the way medications work (especially diabetes and thyroid medications). To help prevent this from happening, Metamucil package instructions suggest you avoid consuming the product within two hours of taking medications. Even so, it's still important to chat with your doctor first.

Is Weight Loss a Guarantee?

Taking Metamucil isn't a guarantee you'll shed pounds. Your total calorie intake (and expenditure) is what counts. Fiber can help you feel full longer, which makes it easier to eat fewer calories without feeling hungry. However, it's best to combine Metamucil supplements with a healthy, low-calorie diet and regular exercise regimen. If not, it's very possible the scale won't budge.

Potential Side Effects

Avoid exceeding the recommended Metamucil dosage (up to one serving three times daily) to avoid negative side effects that can happen when you take in too much fiber. Mayo Clinic says there's no evidence daily fiber supplementation is harmful. However, when consuming such supplements (at least initially), you might experience bloating and gas. So ease into it slowly to minimize unpleasant symptoms

Recommended Products

Metamucil offers a variety of different products, but all are fairly similar in fiber content. Metamucil wafers and regular fiber supplements contain more calories and sugar than Metamucil sugar-free fiber supplements -- so choose sugar-free options if possible when trying to shed pounds.

Metamucil and Weight Loss

Metamucil isn't a weight loss guarantee. However, it can certainly enhance weight loss (and promote overall health and wellness) when used as part of low-calorie meal plan and regular exercise regimen. Check in with your doctor before taking fiber or other dietary supplements.

Metamucil and Weight Loss