A staggering number of people in the US have an Adderall prescription. On top of the people who have been prescribed Adderall to treat ADHD, narcolepsy and related conditions, there is also a very large number of people who are using Adderall to lose weight, along with those using Adderall or nootropics like Adderall for cognitive enhancement.
This group includes both people who have been given Adderall by a doctor to help with eating disorders like compulsive eating disorder or binge eating disorder, and those people who have obtained Adderall without a prescription and are using it “off-label” and without medical supervision as a weight loss pill.
This latter group is worryingly large, and growing.
This article will look at why people use Adderall for weight loss, how it works to help you lose weight, and what the dangers are of using it and other ADHD medications as weight loss aids.
Adderall & Weight Loss
Many overweight people use Adderall to help them lose weight and get the body they desire. The truth is that Adderall, like any other psychostimulant drug, can speed up metabolism and help people lose weight in the short-term. Sometimes, the weight loss can be so dramatic that one may feel as if they have a new self. Although Adderall may be appealing to the masses for quick and easy weight loss, it shouldn’t be considered a long-term strategy for weight loss.
How Adderall causes weight loss
People who take Adderall may notice a decrease in their body mass index (BMI) and weight loss. Adderall can increase the brain’s level of stimulatory neurotransmitter dopamine. This neurotransmitter is involved in motivation and movement.
This drug signals that you are satisfied, which can lead to decreased appetite. Studies have shown that people with low levels dopamine are more likely to be obese due to a lack of satisfaction.
- Appetite suppression Most people who take moderate amounts of Adderall notice that they don’t feel as hungry initially. You will eat less and be less hungry if you don’t feel as hungry as before. This can often lead to a decrease in calories and a reduction in intake. Many people feel almost no hunger after taking this drug for the first time.
- Cognitive improvement Dopamine can increase your ability to think critically. This could make you more aware of what foods you eat. You’ll lose weight if you used to eat candies and drink sodas like nobody’s business.
- Dopamine Increase: Adderall can lead to weight loss. Dopamine can be used to increase motivation and speed up metabolism. It also suppresses appetite. Dopamine levels that are higher than normal can lead to weight loss.
- Energy boost: Many people notice an increase in energy after taking the drug. The reason this happens is that your brain uses up more dopamine to provide an energy boost. Having more energy can lead to more work, more activity, and more calories burned.
- Fight or flight: The drug activates the sympathetic nervous system, which stimulates the “fight-or flee” response. This causes the body to use up extra energy and reduce the need for food. This is a survival reaction that the body generates to allow people to survive long periods without food.
- Increased metabolism – It is not a secret that you will lose weight even if your food intake is the same as before you started taking Adderall. Your metabolism will be faster after taking Adderall. People enjoy an increase in metabolism. They can eat the same food, but lose weight by taking a pill.
- Motivation Dopamine release can also increase your motivation to complete tasks. You may feel a surge of motivation and direct it towards your workouts, diet, or other activities. People who are driven to improve their physical fitness will lose weight.
- Physical activity A person who experiences an increase in energy will often get more exercise than usual. This could mean taking more walks, going to the gym and/or moving more. Physical activity can even be as simple as cleaning up the house and walking more often. This will result in more calories being burned and a faster metabolism.
- Self-control – It is important to note that a higher level of dopamine can lead to a greater ability to exercise self-control. You will be able to choose healthier foods, and lessen your dependence on drugs. You may have indulged in unhealthy snacks during the day before you started taking Adderall.
- Side effects Some people may experience side reactions such as nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. These side effects aren’t common but can lead to weight loss. It’s unlikely you will eat as many calories if you don’t retain food or feel nauseated.
Adderall and weight loss: The Dangers
Although Adderall may have a short-term benefit, it can lead to a host of long-term problems. You may lose some of the weight you lost initially due to tolerance. You may also experience weight gain if you stop taking Adderall. This is due to low dopamine levels and metabolic slowing. Adderall is not recommended for weight loss.
- Use: Some people discover that Adderall can cause weight loss. They misuse the drug and take less than they should. It may mean that they take significantly more drug than what is safe or medically advised. If they are unable to lose weight, they can increase their dosage.
- Addiction Those who take Adderall to lose weight frequently become addicted. They not only become dependent on the weight loss they experience but also the mental benefits and cognitive enhancements that the drug provides. Adderall and other amphetamines are known to be some of the most addictive drugs in the world.
- Dependence – You might not think you will become dependent upon a medication. But Adderall is a powerful drug. You may have to stop taking the medication and realize you cannot function without it. Many people depend on the drug to keep their weight in check, do well at work, and so forth.
- Diminishing returns: Adderall will cause weight loss if you continue to take it for a longer time. You can increase the dosage, but only for as long as you reach the maximum dose. You may lose some weight and your returns will continue to decline.
- Dopamine Burnout: Your dopamine reserves will run out after a while. To maintain the same level of focus, concentration, and weight loss, a person will need more dopamine. It will take a long sober period to replenish your dopamine levels once all of them have been exhausted. You will eat more and possibly gain weight if your dopamine levels are low.
- Illegal It is illegal to take Adderall to lose weight, unless it has been prescribed by a doctor. This is a “controlled-substance” in the United States due to the fact that it has high potential for abuse.
- Long-term side effects: This drug is generally considered safe when it is used under medically approved conditions. However, long-term side effects can still occur. Long-term treatment can cause different reactions in people. While Adderall is relatively safe for long-term use, it is not known if it could cause harm to your health.
- Muscle Loss: Some of the weight you lose could be muscle. You may be uncomfortable with the fact that this drug can cause you to lose some muscle. Although not everyone will lose significant muscle mass, it is important that you acknowledge this possibility, especially when taking higher doses.
- Side effects – While many people enjoy the side effects of this medication, others don’t. This medication can cause headaches, mood swings and poor sleep quality. You might also notice an increase in blood pressure. Some people find the side effects of the drug difficult to deal with.
- Tolerance : You’ll become more sensitive to any drug over time. You will experience a decrease in therapeutic effects from the same dose you were taking. To achieve the same weight loss as before, you will need to increase your tolerance. You’ll eventually reach a point where you are able to tolerate the maximum dose.
- Unrealistic photo: While taking Adderall to lose weight might help you get the body you want, it could also make your figure less realistic. Although hard work and proper diet can help you achieve a beautiful body, your appearance may not be realistic if you are taking Adderall. You may be able to exceed your natural limits by taking drugs. You may find yourself comparing yourself to an unrealistic figure you achieved while taking Adderall. This can be very depressing.
- Withdrawal : When they pursue a career, many people feel a lot of emotional distress. You will first experience an “ailment” if the drug doesn’t provide any benefit or you can’t continue taking pills to lose weight. “Low dopamine” is a condition that causes a person to feel low dopamine. This can cause depression, anxiety, and problems with cognitive functions, often over a long period of time.
- Rebound effect – If you stop taking Adderall it may take several months, or even longer depending on how severe the effects were. You will experience the opposite effect if you had been dependent on the drug to function. What goes up must also come down . You will likely gain all the weight you have lost while on the drug. Sometimes, the rebound effect can be so strong that you may gain more weight than what you lost. This can be due to low levels of dopamine, fatigue, and prolonged slow metabolism.
How much weight can you lose on Adderall?
Adderall can make you lose weight. Some people lose significant weight while others lose very little. Others may not experience any weight loss due to taking other medications or having developed a tolerance to stimulants. If you do not have a tolerance, you might lose weight within the first few years.
Some people have experienced net weight loss of as much as 30 lbs. After one year of treatment, the drug has had a significant impact on weight loss. Although there are not many reports on weight loss due to this drug, it has been reported in large numbers of people. Remember that even if you lose weight early in treatment, it will eventually return with continued use and/or discontinuation.
Will Adderall make you lose weight?
So will Adderall definitely make you lose weight?
Yes, almost certainly.
Practically everybody who takes Adderall will experience at least some degree of weight loss within the first 4-6 weeks of being on the drug. It is extremely rare for someone to take an amphetamine-based medication for several weeks without experiencing any loss of bodyweight whatsoever.
How much and how quickly this weight loss occurs depends on lots of factors and will differ substantially case by case. But if you are taking Adderall on a daily basis for several weeks, and you don’t make an active effort to maintain body weight, it is almost certain that you will lose weight eventually.
Healthy vs Unwanted Weight Loss on ADHD Medication
Losing weight as a secondary effect of Adderall is not necessarily a bad thing. For a lot of people, some unexpected weight loss is a very pleasant and welcome side effect of taking Adderall. This is especially true of people who have developed eating disorders or poor dietary habits as a result of untreated ADHD.
But there is a huge difference between healthy or beneficial weight loss as a secondary effect of ADHD medication, and the kind of unwanted, excessive or rapid weight loss experienced while using Adderall.
Those of you looking to use Adderall primarily as a ticket to rapid fat loss or long-term appetite control need to consider that using the drug without medical supervision can cause rapid and dangerous weight loss. It is unlikely that you can properly monitor your body weight, hormone levels, cardiovascular health, and so on to guarantee you are losing weight in a healthy, sustainable manner.
Almost everybody who uses Adderall off-label as a weight loss aid will either find they experience severe side effects or they lose a lot of weight very quickly only to put it back on again in as short a time.
What if you’re losing too much weight on Adderall?
What should you do if you are losing too much weight from Adderall?
The obvious answer to this question is stop taking Adderall. If you recently started taking Adderall and you have found that you are rapidly losing weight, then it is highly likely that the drug is the blame.
Of course, this means your ADHD symptoms are likely to increase. You should talk to your doctor about your rapid weight loss before discontinuing your Adderall use. The weight loss you’ve experienced may have another cause, or a different ADHD medication might have less of a dramatic effect.
If you have lost a lot of weight while taking Adderall, it may be worth taking a break and using an over the counter Adderall alternative which doesn’t cause the same kind of metabolism increases or appetite suppression.
- Strattera weight loss
- Vyvanse weight loss
- Adderall tolerance
- Adderall and caffeine
- Adderall and Tyrosine
- Nootropics for ADHD
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.