Monday, July 8, 2013

Does Donating Plasma Make You Lose Weight?

Q: Does plasma donation help with weight loss? Does donating plasma filter much fat and calories from your blood? I'm mostly asking about temporary weight loss, but also, if I eat the cookies and the juice, is it a wash? I've had some friends who lost a little weight plasma donating before. But I've donated blood for almost 10 years and I've never noticed a difference in my weight following donation.

Answer: You can burn a significant amount of calories by donating plasma. A blood plasma donation is equivalent to 650 calories and a plasma donation equals 470 calories. By donating the maximum amount allowed you will lose 3600 calories worth of blood per year, roughly equivalent to the number of calories in one pound of fat. Donating plasma every eight weeks means that you would give up the equivalent of 1 lb of weight per year.

When you lose your plasma, your body burns extra calories to replace it.  Blood also contains a few calories per litre. Replacing the valuable white blood cells takes the most energy. Remember that it takes several days to replenish lost blood tissue, so it has a negligible effect on calorie loss a few days after donation.

Can I Donate Often Enough To Make a Difference?

At a maximum, you'll lose 650 calories over a week by donating plasma, and you can only donate twice within 7 days. Basically, it's impossible to donate enough blood plasma to make a noticable difference (every donation burns only a few calories per time, every, what, twice a week?), and since you can't exercise the day of donation, there's not much of a positive effect. Even if donating helps you lose a little bit, FDA regulations won't let you donate plasma often enough to have a big impact on overall weight loss.

Fluid Weight Loss When Donating Plasma

Although plasma centers replace your plasma with saline, your blood volume dips after donation. Donating plasma temporarily takes one pint of liquid plasma out of your body.  Since a pint (the amount of a blood plasma you've donated) is a pound, you'll experience a (temporary) pound of weight loss when you give plasma.

Donating temporarily reduces your weight, so weighing yourself right before and after donating plasma will reveal that you're one pound lighter. But plasma centers try to replace the same volume of plasma taken with a saline solution.

So you're losing a small amount of blood volume by having plasma taken, but any weight loss is strictly temporary, until your body replenishes plasma. To stay healthy, it's recommended to drink at least what you lost in juice in water, and then drink some more.

Stay Hydrated During Plasma Donation

I used to manage a plasma donation center here in Northern Illinois. Before and after donating plasma, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and stay well hydrated. Plasma is made up of 98 percent water.  So, when you donate plasma, be sure to drink plenty, and eat high protein foods, to keep your body strong with necessary nutrients and electrolytes.

Donating plasma is a lot like losing fluid from sweat during exercise. There's not much difference between sweating and plasma donating, except when you sweat you only lose water, and a few electrolytes.

Can I Donate When Underweight?

If you  weigh less than 110 pounds, you're advised not to donate plasma, because underweight people need all the blood their body can provide. 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?

Normally, you won't gain weight just from donating plasma. Weight gain from donating plasma is very uncommon, but it's not entirely unheard of. Frequent plasma donation can deplete your body's protein stores, inducing an effect called hypoglycemia  Hypoglycemia can cause accumulation of fluid between tissue spaces, leading to weight gain.

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.

So, Should I Donate Plasma For Weight Loss?

Asking if plasma donating helps weight loss is like asking if amputating one of your legs helps weight loss - you'll lose some of your body mass, but not in a healthy way. Studies show little to no correlation between plasma donation and large amounts of weight loss. But studies have shown other significant long-term health problems in long term plasma donors, like poor vein health and a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

So, plasma donating will help you lose weight via fluid loss, temporarily.  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 if you want to lose weight. If you hydrate properly after donating plasma, your body will replace any fluids they took within 48 hours.

You might feel tired or dizzy after a donation, but your weight will not change. Donating blood products won't much influence weight gain or loss, but you can help save lives by doing it. Do NOT donate plasma to help with weight loss or gain, but rather, 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?

  5. I gained 100 pounds in 6 years donating because it made me feel like i was starving. It seemed I could not get enough to eat. It was rediculous. I couldn't fight the hunger no matter how hard i tried.

  6. Still wondering if I should track the loss on my weight loss tracker app

  7. Still wondering if I should track the loss on my weight loss tracker app

  8. I've donated twice a week for a month now and have pitting edema in my lower's not worth the health risk for myself so I'm going to stop for a while.

    1. I have the same thing and just came to the conclusion donating plasma caused it because it popped up in the same time frame. I am on the small size but meet the requirements. My body is losing so much protein even if I eat ok.

  9. Can you do a clinical trial after donating plasma

    1. No. That is one of the questions they ask in the interview.

  10. "Asking if plasma donating helps weight loss is like asking if amputating one of your legs helps weight loss - you'll lose some of your body mass, but not in a healthy way."

    I have to disagree with this analogy. Donating 880ml of plasma takes approximately 618 calories (including 4.4 grams of fat) out of your bloodstream. When you eat, the calories (and fat) first go into your bloodstream before they are absorbed into your muscle/fat tissues. If removed from your bloodstream before they are absorbed by your tissues, then effectively, it is as if you never ate those 618 calories.

  11. I donated for about 8 months i started at 245 and was 150 when i stopped so you can loose weight

  12. Can I donate if I'm on suboxone ??

  13. One minute its 650 calories every time you go, and you can go twice a week, the next minute youre saying it wont help you lose weight. Do the math. It CAN make you lose a considerable amount.


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