Monday, July 8, 2013

Does Donating Plasma Make You Lose Weight?

Q: How does plasma donating help lose weight? Does it filter enough fat to really make a weight loss difference? My question is not about the temporary weight loss but if it's a good idea to eat the cookies and drink the juice? I've had some friends who lost a little weight plasma donating before. But I've been donating blood for about 10 years and I've never seen a difference in my weight in the weeks afterwards.

A: Are you concerned that a side effect of giving blood plasma is losing weight which would be a bad thing? A better question would be how many calories does one burn when donating blood (or does how many calories does one burn replenishing the donated blood).

According to our local Red Cross: "A blood plasma donation is equivalent to 650 calories and a plasma donation equals 470 calories. By donating as often as possible you will lose 3600 calories per year in blood, about the same as the number of calories in a pound of fat tissue. Donating plasma every eight weeks means that you would give up the equivalent of 1 lb of weight per year."

Your body will be losing plasma, so it will have to burn extra energy to replace it.  Blood also contains calories, but not many. It can burn a lot of calories to replenish the white blood cells. Remember that the calories are expended over several days, you don't make new blood and plasma that fast.

Can I Donate Often Enough To Make a Difference?

Even if it does consume 650 calories over a week (which is nothing) to replenish, you can only donate once every 60 days. The bottom line is, You just can't give enough blood plasma to make that much of a difference (a few hundred calories per time, every, what, 8 weeks?), and since you're also required to abstain from exercise that day, it's a bit of a wash. Even if donating a pint of blood did work to help you lose a little weight, you're not allowed to donate plasma often enough for it to make a real impact on weight loss.

Fluid Weight Loss When Donating Plasma

Even though they replace everything besides plasma, your blood volume takes a hit. Donating plasma removes 1 pint of liquid plasma from your body temporarily.  Since a pint (the amount of a blood plasma donation) is a pound, you lose a pound every time you give blood.

Donating would reduce your weight by a little if you went to a weigh-in immediately afterwards and for some reason wanted to be a pound or so lighter. But keep in mind they replace the plasma that is donated with the same amount of saline.

You'll lose the weight of the plasma and fluids in volume, but your body will replace that from the first few things you drink. To stay healthy, it's recommended to drink at least that much weight in water plus fresh juice to replace what you lost.

Stay Hydrated During Plasma Donation

 I used to be an assistant manager at a Plasma Lab here in Arizona. My advice is to make extra sure you're well hydrated, both before and after you donate plasma. Plasma is the watery part of your blood.   So, if you donate plasma, and are not careful enough in replacing it, you are dehydrating yourself, plus losing needed electrolytes.

Donating plasma is a lot like losing fluid from sweat during exercise. The only difference between sweating and plasma donating, is that when you sweat you are only losing water, and a small amount of electrolytes.

Can I Donate When Underweight?

It is not advised to donate if you are under the weight of 110 because underweight people might not have enough blood to spare. If you donated while way under the recommended weight, you are probably feeling the effects similar to hypovolemia or anemia.

Can Donating Plasma Make You Gain Weight?

No, normally you won't gain weight just because you donate plasma. Its not common to have weight gain with plasma donating but it's possible in some cases. If you donate plasma frequently then the protein loss from the body can produce a state called hypoglycemia  In hypoglycemic state there occurs accumulation of fluid in the tissue spaces which can lead to weight gain. A slight weight gain can give such discomfort to knee but there is no relationship between knee pain and plasma donation.

However, the after effects of donating the plasma cause hunger and weakness that arises from the removal of plasma. Plasma also contains proteins of the blood. You might gain weight from plasma donating because you instinctively eat more calories to make up for the energy lost during donation.

Tip: If you don't already do so, weigh yourself on the digital scale before donating and after, and before going to bed and after waking up and voiding.

Why Donate Plasma Besides Weight Loss?

Asking if plasma donating helps you lose weight is like asking if amputating a leg helps weight loss. There have been no studies showing a correlation between plasma donation and significant weight loss or gain. In fact studies have shown regular plasma donation actually led to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in some subjects.

So, plasma donating will help you lose weight via fluid loss, temporarily.  No, plasma is quickly replaced, and you get to keep your weight and muscle. But in the long term, blood or plasma donation will not work as a weight loss tactic. Every time you donate plasma it takes 48 hours to replace what they took from you .

You might get tired and lightheaded, but your weight won't change. Donating blood does not make you gain weight either, but it does help save lives of others. Do NOT donate plasma to help with weight loss or gain, donate to help others.


  1. Wait I'm confused because her in bakersfeirld u can donate 2 times a week that's 16 times in 8 weeks

  2. This wrong u can give plasma twice a week whole blood every 8 weeks

  3. Here in the Netherlands I can donate every 2 weeks (plasma) and I do, and I lose weight, but that is more because the place for donation is on the other side of the city, and I ride to it on a bicycle. ;o)

  4. There is a difference in whole blood donation and plasma donation. Whole blood, 1 x/2 mo., and plasma is 2 x/7 days. I've donated plasma over 630 times in the last 18 years. I don't blame weight gain or loss from donating. However, I am having a problem with edema in lower extremities. Its probably from the inability to absorb protein as well. I also put a 2 mile walk at 3.9 mph 5 x / week. Who knows?


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