Although doctors and scientist have reiterated time and again that healthy weight loss takes time, crash diets and fads promising rapid weight loss continue to ensnare those looking for a quick fix. From celebrity diet fads to fat-burning pills, people are looking for an effortless way to take off the pounds fast. Unfortunately, such methods rarely work, and some also pose several health risks. While you may be able to lose weight quickly, the price might just be too high to pay.
Health Risks and Negative Side Effects of Rapid Weight Loss
Losing weight too quickly can cause the body to go into shock and ultimately cause serious health conditions. Not only do many extreme dieting methods cause severe fatigue, dehydration, malnutrition and weakness in the short term, it can also cause long term effects. Following are 6 reasons why you should avoid rapid weight loss:
- Losing weight quickly requires extreme efforts such as consuming starvation-level calories and following intense exercise regimens. Not only are such extreme efforts hazardous to the body, they are impossible to maintain long term. You are not going to drink cabbage soup everyday for the rest of your life, right? True weight loss takes a lifestyle commitment. It’s just simply impossible to follow a “eat only these 7 things” style diet for the rest of your life or to exercise non-stop indefinitely. Your weight loss plan should be realistic.
- Once you give up on your extreme diet – and you will – you will put the pounds back on plus some. This is what happens in the long term for most people. This is called the yo-yo effect, and it’s often associated with rapid weight loss plans. You see, extreme diets cause your body to go into starvation mode – a mode where your body uses fewer calories, thus your metabolism slows down. Once you start eating again, it takes your body a while to start using those calories again. In the amount of time it takes your body to adjust your metabolism, you will regain the weight you lost plus additional pounds.
- Rapid weight loss places undue stress on the body, heart, and immune system. Low-calorie, low-nutrient diets can also result in mineral deficiencies, fluid imbalances, cardiac arrhythmia, muscle cramps, and bone-mass loss.
- Losing too much weight too quickly is just uncomfortable and not very pretty. Side effects associated with extreme, rapid weight loss include headaches, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, hair loss, muscle loss, loose skin and menstrual irregularities.
- Several medical conditions are caused by rapid weight loss including gallstones. In fact, gallstones occur in as many as 25-percent of people who take weight off too quickly. Dehydration and malnutrition are also not uncommon as are fainting spells. In rare cases, severe electrolyte imbalances can put your life in danger.
- Following a fad diet slows your metabolism, pushing your body into starvation mode. Not only does starvation mode result in rapid weight gain after you give up dieting as mentioned above, it also causes your body to break down muscle to use as energy. This means that much of the weight lost during a fad diet is likely a combination of muscle and fat.
For the best results, a balanced, moderate diet and exercise is recommended. If you reduce your food intake by about 250-500 calories per day and increase your activity level, you will achieve a sustainable weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs. per week. Not only is this amount of weight loss healthy, it’s easy to maintain for the long term. Of course, this is the case for most people. I’m not taking into account health issues and those who have more than 100 pounds to lose. In that case, a healthy diet may be more limited or less limited depending on your health needs. You really should speak with a doctor and a nutritionist to really understand what works for you as an individual. Education is key and there are a lot of great resources online that can show you want a healthy balanced diet really is. Do your research and don’t fall for the weight loss fads and schemes.