by Kevin Jones, Guest Contributor
It would seemingly be perfect if we could snap our fingers and lose weight, wouldn’t it? After all, weight loss is deemed to be one of the top reasons that people participate in exercising and eating healthy in the first place. However, the weight didn’t come on in a day, and it won’t come off in a day, either. There are plenty of meal plans, supplements, and exercise programs out on the market today that promise quick weight loss – but at what risk?
What Is Healthy Weight Loss
First of all, let’s determine what a healthy weight loss rate is; for most people, research has determined that 1-2 pounds a week is ideal for both losing weight and keeping it off. However, if someone is brand new to exercise or begins a new healthy dietary routine, they might notice more weight loss in the first few weeks of the new transition (although this more drastic drop in weight won’t stay consistent, and will eventually stabilize).
Initially, this larger drop in weight isn’t actually a drop in fat mass – on the other hand, most of the weight you lose is water weight. This happens because when you are eating fewer calories, your body uses stored glycogen for fuel, and this glycogen is stuck to water molecules. When the glycogen is burned to give you energy, the water gets used up and removed right along with it, corresponding with a larger drop in weight for the first week or two of a new dietary program, exercise habits, or improved lifestyle routine.
With close to 1.5 billion overweight adults in the world, it’s no secret that losing weight – and losing it quickly – is a popular fad. However, the flip side of this is the tricky part, losing weight is a piece of the equation, but keeping it off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the second part of the puzzle. Because of this, discovering ways to lose weight at a slow and steady pace is key; not only will this help to keep the weight off over a longer period of time and give people more success, but it will also allow you to learn new lifestyle behaviors to maintain a healthy weight (i.e. eating more whole, nutrient-dense foods, engaging in physical activity, and getting enough rest, just to name a few).
Aside from the extra work needed to engage in healthier behaviors associated with slow and steady weight loss, attempting to lose weight quickly can put you in a zone for developing multiple health problems, and can affect your body negatively in more ways than one. Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors associated with losing weight too quickly!
Risks Of Losing Weight Too Quickly
Loss Of Vital Nutrients
For starters, you might end up severely lacking in vital nutrients that are needed for the everyday functions of the body. Losing weight quickly typically involves an increased deficit in calories, and this can lead to not consuming enough vitamins and minerals that are needed. When you lack the calories – and subsequently, the nutrients – that your body needs to recover, build muscle, and work appropriately, you put yourself at risk for brittle bones, a lowered immune system (putting you at risk of infection and disease), and excessive fatigue from lack of vitamins.
A slower metabolism is another side effect of losing weight too quickly; since your body’s metabolism is essentially determining how much fuel you are needing to burn every day based on your activities and food intake, dropping calories out of your diet can considerably lower your metabolism. While this might not seem like a big deal, it is! A lower metabolism essentially causes your body to burn fewer calories each day than it typically would, and some research even shows up to a 23% decrease in calories that are burned each day. This doesn’t always go away when you stop losing weight quickly, either, your metabolism might take a while to get back on track and burning appropriately, which could affect your health and weight for a long time.
Lastly, your body could end up losing muscle as part of your quick weight loss routine. Granted, eliminating calories from your diet will have you lose weight, yes, but aside from a lot of that weight being water, some of it can also be muscle. A recent study done with people on a 500 calorie diet versus a 1250 calorie diet showed significant results; by the end of the trial, the participants on the 500 calorie diet lost six times more muscle than those on the 1250 calorie diet – an astounding loss in muscle in just a five-week span of time.
While these are just a few of the risk factors that are present with losing weight quickly, there are many more (including dehydration, fatigue, and muscle cramps). It might be tempting to lose weight as fast as you can, but preparing your body and lifestyle to lose it at a healthy rate will help the weight stay off over the long term, and will decrease the side effects that can come along with fast weight loss. Engaging in physical activity and incorporating healthy food into your routine will have you on track to losing weight safely and effectively!
About The Author:
Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet.