Does Diarrhea Cause Weight Loss: 4 Food Items To Skip

Diarrhea is a very common disease that a lot of people suffer from. Some people get cured of diarrhea within 2 to 3 days, whereas, for some people, the recovery process can be as long as two to four weeks.

People who suffer from chronic diarrhea1 also witness intolerable abdominal pain. Sometimes, it can also be accompanied by very irritating bowel movements.

Some people have also complained that losing weight 2is one of the biggest issues they face when diarrhea persists.

The treatment of diarrhea is quite the same for everyone, but people with diabetes should take extra care of their diet and treatment during this time.

In this write-up, we will cover the question “Does diarrhea cause weight loss?” as it is one of the most asked questions of people these days.

1. What Is Diarrhea?

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Stool or regular bowel movements are important aspects of our body. However, the method of removing the waste substances can get altered sometimes.

Whether you are someone who eats less or likes to eat lavishly, everyone has faced the problem of diarrhea at least once in their lifetime.

Diarrhea is nothing but a condition in which you experience watery stools and loose stools. In most cases, this condition also goes away on its own. It generally takes 1-4 days to get rid of this problem.

When a person suffers from diarrhea, they feel the need to rush to the toilet now and then. It is because of forced bowel movements.

Along with discomfort in bowel habits, diarrhea is accompanied by many other symptoms like nausea, bloating, and pain in the lower abdomen. In some cases, people might also feel a tendency to vomit. All these symptoms also get resolved as soon as the diarrhea gets cured.

Although most stool-related problems3, including diarrhea, get resolved naturally within a very short time, in rare cases, diarrhea can have severe consequences.

If a person has been suffering from this condition for a long time, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance have a high chance of being affected. Electrolyte imbalance is when the body faces a deficiency of sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

In most severe cases, patients suffering from diarrhea for a long time can also be affected by other serious health conditions like kidney diseases. The kidney does not get enough fluid or blood to function.

All these symptoms, as mentioned above, occur because people tend to lose sodium and other important electrolytes along with their stool. It is necessary to care for health conditions even more in this crisis.

If the seriousness of the condition increases, it is advised to take professional medical advice as soon as possible.

When diarrhea persists, drink a lot of water frequently. Along with water, try to intake other foods rich in sodium, magnesium, and potassium. All these problems result in unintended weight loss.4

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How To Differentiate Between Regular Diarrhea And Severe Diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be of two types: regular and severe diarrhea. It can be considered recurring diarrhea if diarrhea persists for a day or two.

But if you have persistent diarrhea, it is a severe diarrhea symptom. If the condition gets worse, it is suggested that you get quick medical help.

Proper diagnosis or treatment is essential when it comes to severe diarrhea. If the condition stays for longer, the person might be affected by many other health problems like digestive and kidney diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, and heart disease. The person can also be a victim of weight loss.

If the diarrhea is severe, it is advised to avoid dairy products and all kinds of dairy foods. Not only that, many foods are to be kept at bay in this condition.

If a person faces the problem of diarrhea for more than two or three weeks, the person is likely to suffer from chronic diarrhea. It is a disease that can happen to anybody, irrespective of age.

2. Does Diarrhea Cause Weight Loss?

You can also lose weight naturally by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But it can be disheartening if you don’t want to lose weight but suffer from unintended weight loss after being the victim of certain diseases.

When we are stressed about changing a job or going through some hard times in life, it is very normal to lose weight as it is said that stress is directly related to weight loss.

We tend to regain weight once we are free from all the stress. If you still do not experience gaining back weight even after recovering from the stress, you should quit all the bad habits and start eating healthy food.

It is also common for people with diabetes to lose weight. This is because when a person is diagnosed with diabetes, they might have to undergo many changes in body weight.

Also, most people are prescribed fat-free medicines that do not let their fat accumulate anywhere in the body.

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But when it comes to diarrhea, yes, it is associated with weight loss.

Losing weight in diarrhea5 is one of the major concerns of people. It is because when patients suffer from consistent diarrhea for more than four weeks, they tend to lose a lot of weight and all the essential nutrients in the body.

Not only weight loss but diarrhea is also related to dehydration. If there is a lot of fat in the patient’s body and they are planning on fat loss, losing weight by diarrhea, in this case, will not be so alarming.

But if a person is already lean and has lost some more weight due to diarrhea, they might suffer from many other problems. It is always a good idea to consult a doctor if you have lost an alarming amount of weight. In this case, the doctor will examine whether you have any family history of severe diarrhea or not.

He will also suggest you maintain a balanced diet and avoid dairy foods as much as possible. If you are lactose intolerant and experiment with your taste buds, this is not the right time.

Other symptoms follow weight loss in diarrhea. Some of the symptoms are tiredness, nausea, loss of appetite, and willingness to bring a change in the regular diet. It can sometimes cause a lot of other medical conditions that can get serious with time.

Other Causes Of Unexpected Weight Loss

Apart from diarrhea, there are a lot of other factors that contribute to weight loss. Intentionally or unintentionally, many people are victims of weight loss in their lifetime. It can be due to various reasons.

Some of the common causes of weight loss are mentioned below.

  • Over-eating junk food

  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol

  • Effects of certain medicines

  • Inflammation due to certain diseases

In some cases, weight gain can also happen due to inflammatory bowel disease. It has a lot of effects on body weight.

3. Foods To Avoid During Diarrhea

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When a person is suffering from diarrhea, there are certain food items that you should stay away from. These food items can cause infections in the digestive tract of our body. Some food items like dairy products are a big no during this time.

Let us know about some food items you should avoid during this time.

3.1. Spicy Foods

While suffering from diarrhea, we always stay away from any food that has too many spices and oils in it. Eating spicy foods during diarrhea increases the disease and can lead to ulcerative colitis.6

These foods are known to irritate the digestive tract causing more problems in bowel habits.

3.2. Fried Food

Along with spicy foods, you should also avoid fried food when you are suffering from diarrhea. Make sure to maintain a proper, healthy, light diet to recover as soon as possible.

Make sure to include all the foods that will help you to fight diarrhea.

3.3. Artificial Sweeteners And Meals With High Sugar Content

Taking food that is rich in high sugar content or has a lot of artificial sweeteners can affect the intestine, leading to worsening diarrhea.

Juices rich in sugar, too much dessert, and other sugary foods fall under this category. Artificial sweeteners have a laxative impact that can cause severe digestive and kidney diseases.

3.4. Other Foods To Avoid

Along with the food mentioned above, you should keep some other foods at bay during diarrhea. Some of the food items that you should avoid are caffeinated drinks, foods with onion and garlic, processed foods, fatty meals, and raw vegetables.

Avoiding fibre-rich food during diarrhea is also suggested. It is because foods rich in fibre take longer to digest; hence, exercise the digestive system more.

Intaking foods that are easy to digest is ideal as they will not irritate the digestive system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How many days does diarrhea last?

Short-term or acute diarrhea lasts 1 or 2 days while long-term or chronic diarrhea lasts several weeks. 

2. How do you treat diarrhea at home?

You can treat diarrhea at home with home remedies such as eating bland foods, consuming plenty of fluids, and probiotics. 


Does diarrhea cause weight loss is one of the common questions that is asked by a lot of people. By the end of this article, we hope your confusion is clear.

Make sure to follow everything that is mentioned above to have a quick recovery.

  1. Schiller, Lawrence R., Darrell S. Pardi, and Joseph H. Sellin. “Chronic diarrhea: diagnosis and management.” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 15.2 (2017): 182-193. ↩︎
  2. Kassirer, Jerome P., and Marcia Angell. “Losing weight—an ill-fated New Year’s resolution.” New England Journal of Medicine 338.1 (1998): 52-54. ↩︎
  3. Haanstra, Jasmijn F., et al. “Quality of life after surgery for colon cancer in patients with Lynch syndrome: partial versus subtotal colectomy.” Diseases of the colon & rectum 55.6 (2012): 653-659. ↩︎
  4. Sørbye, Liv Wergeland, et al. “Unintended weight loss in the elderly living at home: the aged in Home Care Project (AdHOC).” The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging 12 (2008): 10-16. ↩︎
  5. Marks, Stanley L. “Diarrhea.” Canine and feline gastroenterology (2013): 99. ↩︎
  6. Truelove, Sidney C., and L. J. Witts. “Cortisone in ulcerative colitis.” British medical journal 2.4947 (1955): 1041. ↩︎

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Annanya Chakraborty

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