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Adderall for Weight Loss: Can It Shift the Scales?
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Adderall for Weight Loss: Can It Shift the Scales?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 26
37 Views
5 min

Adderall is a common medication for treating ADHD. However, some circles also use it for weight loss. This medication guide gives the benefits, drawbacks, and risks of using Adderall for weight loss.

Adderall for weight loss

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If you’ve had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you probably took some medication to help you manage the symptoms like low attention span. One such ADHD medication is Adderall.

Sometimes ADHD symptoms may cause weight gain, and being unable to control impulses can increase junk food cravings. Prescription medication like Adderall alleviates ADHD symptoms and limits weight gain.

You may therefore be wondering if you can use Adderall for weight loss. In this article, our medical team at the HealthReporter evaluates whether this drug helps you shed excess weight.

What Is Adderall

Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat ADHD and is purported to aid one with weight loss. It combines dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, stimulant drugs that affect chemical pathways in the brain and spinal cord responsible for numerous bodily functions.

It also treats narcolepsy, a rare disorder where one feels heavy sleepiness during the day. Sometimes it also leads to weight loss.

The drug comes in two forms; the immediate-release version (Adderall IR) and the extended-release capsule (Adderall XR). You take the capsule 2 to 3 times a day for the immediate-release version, but for the extended-release capsule, you take it once a day.

How Does It Work

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant, and it works by increasing the brain’s neural activity leading to improved focus, increased energy levels, and decreased restlessness. Experts believe that ADHD is caused by the brain’s imbalance of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

Adderall stimulates the brain to release more dopamine, increasing your concentration and attention span. It equips attention deficit disorder patients to develop better work habits and skills and perform academically, socially, and professionally.

Adderall abuse is now more prevalent among teenagers, young adults, and professionals that use drugs to enhance performance. College students also sometimes use amphetamines to help improve their mental ability. Such is considered misuse and can lead to unwanted health conditions.

For ADHD, Adderall works best when combined with other treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy. This drug has a therapeutic effect, but misusing Adderall can lead to serious health complications.

Adderall and Weight Loss – Can It Help You Get in Shape?

Sometimes, ADHD medication like Adderall can make one lose weight as it suppresses appetite. ADHD makes one gain more weight by making it difficult to control impulses that lead to overeating and cause food cravings.

As mentioned above, Adderall suppresses appetite, making you less hungry, thus causing your body to go on a calorie deficit. Some people, therefore, turn to this Adderall speed diet though doctors do not recommend it.

However, this drug is not FDA-approved for weight loss, and some people misuse Adderall to help shed a few pounds. Using this drug for purposes other than what was intended constitutes drug abuse. Taking higher than prescribed dosages of the drug is also physically addictive.

Adderall use for weight loss is dangerous as one has to take larger doses of the drug to experience the same appetite suppression effects. This makes one tolerate the drug, subsequently contributing to Adderall addiction.

People who stop using the drug experience withdrawal symptoms such as sleep problems, and they may subsequently gain weight due to rebound hunger.

Does Adderall Speed Up Metabolism?

Stimulant ADHD medications like Adderall contain amphetamines capable of speeding up metabolism. As a stimulant drug, it increases the heart rate, forcing the cardiac muscle cells to use more energy.

Since this drug also increases concentration and energy levels, Adderall patients experience heightened mental and physical activity levels, forcing the body’s metabolism to go up.

However, since it increases metabolism by increasing the heart rate, it can lead to high blood pressure or cardiac arrest, making it a risky means of losing weight.

Side Effects of Adderall

Adderall misuse can lead to some adverse health effects. Some side effects of Adderall include headaches, diarrhea, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and constipation.

The increased dopamine levels also give one a euphoric feeling, increased blood glucose levels, elevated blood pressure, the opening of breathing passages, and constriction of blood vessels.

Stimulant use is highly discouraged among people with heart problems as it can lead to cardiac arrest or sudden death. Adderall is a high-risk drug, and the FDA also gives a severe health warning advising the drug has a high dependency risk leading to addiction.

Taking higher doses of Adderall also makes some people take other drugs like sleeping pills to minimize its stimulant effect.

Peer-reviewed studies show that prescription stimulants lead to slower growth and poor weight gain in children. If you experience any associated side effects, it would be best to consult your doctor to help monitor your symptoms.

FAQs

Below are the answers to the frequently asked questions concerning Adderall.

Can Adderall be used for obesity?

A doctor may approve the off-label use of Adderall to treat obesity, but it is not FDA approved for treating weight loss. Only use Adderall to treat obesity if prescribed by the doctor. 

Your doctor must also assess your health to ensure the drug is suitable for you.

Does Adderall make you lose your appetite?

Yes, Adderall has an appetite suppressant effect. Taking it affects the activity of brain chemicals and tells your brain that you are satisfied even if you haven’t eaten much.

Some people use Adderall as an appetite suppressant, but doctors do not prescribe it for appetite suppression.

Can Adderall make you emotional?

Prolonged Adderall use makes users emotional by worsening mental health and psychotic symptoms. Studies show that amphetamine drugs like Adderall and similar stimulants can lead to irritability, mood swings, crying, depression, sadness, and anxiety. It can also cause severe mental health problems like paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Though Adderall may make you lose weight, it is best to avoid it unless prescribed. Using medication drugs for other than their intended purposes exposes you to serious health risks.

Instead of using a weight loss drug to shed excess pounds, you can opt for incorporating lifestyle changes such as a regular workout routine and healthy eating habits to lose weight.

The FDA approves this drug for treating ADHD, and it works well when used as prescribed. However, stimulant medication drugs are highly addictive. Taking more than the prescribed dosage can make one dependent on the drug.

Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance, and it might get you in problems with the law if found in possession with it unprescribed.

If you are concerned about how best to lose weight, consult your doctor or a registered dietician for professional medical advice on attaining a healthy weight.

Conclusion

Adderall is a potent drug but may not be the best weight loss tool. Though it suppresses appetite, it has dangerous physical effects, and you should only use it under the doctor’s prescription.Adopting a good diet plan and a regular workout routine is the best way to lose excess weight. Before starting any medication to help with weight loss, consult your doctor to help you manage side effects.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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