Although donating blood causes the body to burn calories, it is not a method that can be used for any significant amount of weight loss. This is a common misconception because many sources of reliable medical information including the Mayo Clinic once advertised it as a means of increasing blood donations. The Mayo Clinic has since removed the statements making this claim from its website.
The story of weight loss from blood donation began with an article that ran in the trade publication Transfusion Medicine in October 2001. The article, entitled “Six Hundred Reasons to Donate Blood,” was written by Donald A. Redelmeier, MD. Although the article is only two paragraphs, it made a big impact by suggesting that one way to promote blood donation is to say it can help lose weight.
The science this is based on has to do with the fact that the body burns extra calories while it is producing more blood to make up for the pint that was donated. The total amount of calories burned by donating one pint of blood comes to 600. Redelmeier indicated that this could be enough to eat an extra couple of cheeseburgers or a few donuts.
In reality, you have to burn about 3,500 calories to lose one pound. That means by donating a pint of blood you stand to lose 0.17 pounds, which is not very much. You would have to donate blood six times before you lost a single pound.
Now, you may be thinking, “Okay, I’ll just donate blood every day for 6 days and that will be my pound.” Blood donation doesn’t work like that. It is a very draining experience for the body, and you are only allowed to donate once every two months. Taking this into consideration, it will take an entire year to lose one pound by donating blood.
This shouldn’t stop you from donating blood. It is a noble cause. Chances are that one day you will need blood donated by someone else, so it is best to share.
Posted 2822 day ago