Diet: The dangers of losing weight too quickly

It’s normal to want to lose weight as quickly as possible. But you’ve probably been told that it’s best to lose weight at a slow, steady pace. In fact, most studies show that people who lose weight slowly are more likely to keep it off in the long term. Slow weight loss also comes with far fewer health risks. However, several recent studies have shown that rapid weight loss may be just as good and safe as slow weight loss. So is it really bad for you to lose weight fast? This article looks at the research to uncover the truth.

What is considered rapid weight loss?

According to many experts, losing 0.45 to 0.9 kg per week is a healthy and safe pace. Losing more than that is considered too fast and could put you at risk for many health issues, including muscle loss, gallstones, nutritional deficiencies, and lower metabolism. The most common methods to lose weight fast are to exercise a lot and follow a “crash diet” or a very low calorie diet (less than 800 calories per day). People often prefer to follow a very low-calorie diet because it is often easier to lose weight through diet than through exercise. However, if you’ve just started a diet or exercise program, you may lose a lot more than 2 pounds in the first week. During this initial period, rapid weight loss is perfectly normal. The weight you lose during this time is commonly referred to as “water weight”.

When you consume fewer calories than your body burns, it begins to draw on its energy stores, called glycogen. The glycogen in your body is bound to water, so when you burn glycogen for fuel, the body also releases that water. This is why you may experience significant weight loss within the first week. Once your body has depleted its glycogen stores, your weight loss should stabilize at between 0.45 and 0.9 kg per week.

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Can you sustain rapid weight loss?

Losing weight is only half the battle. The real challenge is not gaining weight back for good. Most people who diet regain half of the weight they lost after just one year. Worse still, almost everyone who diets regains all the weight they lost after 3-5 years. This is why experts often suggest losing weight at a slow but steady pace. Most studies show that people who lose weight at a slow but steady pace are more likely to keep it off in the long run. Additionally, diets that encourage slow weight loss generally help you adopt healthy eating behaviors, such as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking fewer sugary drinks. Such behaviors can help you maintain your weight in the long term.

However, several studies have shown that rapid weight loss can be just as effective as slow weight loss, even over the long term. In one study, 103 people followed a rapid weight loss diet for 12 weeks, while 97 people followed a slow but steady weight loss diet for 36 weeks. Nearly 3 years later, about 70% of people in both groups had regained all the weight they had lost. This means that both diets were equally effective in the end. Although these studies have shown rapid weight loss to be as effective overall as slow but steady weight loss, an at-home person is unlikely to achieve similar results.

People in the rapid weight loss groups received support from doctors and dietitians during the weight loss and weight maintenance phases. Research shows that support from a healthcare professional can improve the odds of long-term weight loss success. Additionally, doctors and dietitians try to minimize the health risks of consuming very few calories. These risks include muscle loss, nutritional deficiencies, and gallstones.

People who try these diets alone have a higher risk of suffering from these health problems.

In summary, you are more likely to lose weight and keep it off by losing weight slowly. This approach will help you adopt healthy eating behaviors so you don’t regain lost weight, and it’s safer than rapid weight loss, especially if you don’t have the support of a healthcare professional.

The risks of losing weight too quickly

Although it’s tempting to try to lose weight fast, it’s generally not recommended. Diets that promote rapid weight loss are often very low in calories and nutrients. This can put you at risk for many health problems, especially if you are on a rapid weight loss diet for several weeks.

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Here are some risks associated with losing weight too quickly.

– You can lose muscle

Losing weight is not always synonymous with losing fat. While a very low-calorie diet can help you lose weight quickly, much of the weight you lose may come from muscle and water (4Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source). In one study, researchers put 25 people on a very low-calorie diet of 500 calories a day for 5 weeks. They also put 22 people on a low-calorie diet of 1,250 calories a day for 12 weeks. After the study, the researchers found that both groups lost similar amounts of weight. However, people who followed the very low-calorie diet lost six times more muscle than those who followed the low-calorie diet.

– It can slow down your metabolism

Losing weight too quickly can slow down your metabolism. Your metabolism determines the number of calories you burn each day. A slower metabolism means you burn fewer calories per day. Several studies have shown that losing weight quickly by eating fewer calories can cause you to burn up to 23% fewer calories per day. The two reasons metabolism drops on a very low-calorie diet are the loss of muscle and the drop in hormones that regulate your metabolism, such as thyroid hormone. Unfortunately, this drop in metabolism can last long after you end the diet.

– It can lead to nutritional deficiencies

If you don’t consume enough calories on a regular basis, you are at risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies. This is because it is difficult to get enough important nutrients like iron, folate and vitamin B12 on a calorie restricted diet.

– It can cause gallstones

Gallstones are lumps of hardened material that form inside the gallbladder. They can be a painful side effect of losing weight too quickly. Normally, the gallbladder releases digestive juices to break down fatty foods so they can be digested. If you don’t eat a lot, your gallbladder won’t have to release digestive juices. Gallstones can form when substances in digestive juices sit for a while and have time to come together. Gallstones can get stuck in the opening of the gallbladder and cause a gallstone attack. This can cause severe pain and indigestion (40Trusted Source).

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Other side effects

Losing weight quickly by following a “crash diet” or a very low calorie diet is linked to several other side effects, including:

– Hunger
– Fatigue
– Irritability
– Sensation of cold
– Muscle cramps
– Dizziness
– Constipation or diarrhea
– Dehydration

In summary

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, try to do it at a slow but steady rate of 0.45 to 0.9 kg per week. Research shows that slow, steady weight loss is easier to maintain over the long term, as it helps develop healthy eating behaviors, and is much safer than very rapid weight loss.

Losing weight too quickly can increase the risk of side effects, including muscle loss, decreased metabolism, nutrient deficiencies, gallstones, and many other risks. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight quickly without the support of a medical professional.

Although slow weight loss may seem less appealing than rapid weight loss, there are many ways to speed up weight loss safely. For example, you can increase your protein intake, reduce your sugar and starch intake, and drink more green tea. Slowly changing your eating habits and physical activity will help you lose weight and keep it off in the long run.

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