Losing weight too quickly might have more negative consequences than you’re aware of. We know that waiting for weight loss is frustrating, especially since for some people, it comes off very slowly. However, it’s much healthier to lose weight gradually than to forget about the consequences of losing weight too quickly, going to extremes to get a fast result.
A lot of diet-related brands know how frustrated people get with how slow weight loss can be. That’s why they often try to market themselves as the quickest way to weight loss, promising ‘astonishing’ weight loss results in as little as 10 days or two weeks. Not only are these false promises bad for your self-esteem, but most of them also don’t provide sustainable ways to lose weight. Attempting to follow one of these fads and losing weight too quickly can cause negative side effects.
The fact is, everyone’s body is different, and we won’t all lose the same amount of weight at the same speed. Your age, metabolism, gender, genes and more all contribute to how quickly you lose weight. In fact, taking a DNA test is a great first step to planning out your weight loss journey because it helps you create a diet plan unique to your body. The DNA test results from CircleDNA include diet and nutrition reports that help you figure out a menu that suits you best, based on your DNA.
Why exactly is losing weight too quickly a risk? For most of us, losing 1-2 pounds per week is considered safe, healthy and sustainable. Anything more than this can add stress to your body or have adverse results. Sometimes, exceptions are made for those who are very obsese and need to lose weight quickly to get to a healthier weight, but most of us should be sticking to 1-2 pounds per week. Read on to find out why losing weight too quickly can be bad for your health.
Losing Weight Too Quickly: What Happens In Your Body When You Lose Weight Fast?
In order to lose weight, you need to create a caloric deficit. That means increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day via physical exercise and/or reducing the number of calories you consume throughout the day. A combination of the two approaches is what’s recommended.
When people try to lose weight very rapidly, they sometimes take this caloric deficit to the extreme, exercising for hours each day while eating very little calories, also known as crash dieting. This is not a sustainable way to lose weight, and it’s very hard on your body. When you are in an extreme caloric deficit, your body will think it’s starving and will do what it needs to in order to maintain its functionality.
At first, you will burn through your glycogen stores. You may notice very rapid weight loss in the first week or so of crash dieting. This is what’s referred to as ‘water weight’ loss and it happens even when you’re attempting to lose weight in a slow, sustainable way. However, once glycogen dries up, if you’re not eating enough, your body may actually start to burn lean tissue (muscle) before it starts burning off adipose (fat) tissue.
Why Rapid Weight Loss isn’t Sustainable
Crash diets fail for a number of reasons, almost none of which have anything to do with willpower. Biologically speaking, we aren’t meant to function in a state of constant hunger. If you’ve attempted a crash diet and ‘failed’, do not blame yourself. Read that again.
What often happens when people attempt to crash diet is that they follow a plan without accounting for the fact that life will get in the way. Something will happen to knock you off course, and you will have to start the diet over again. Even if you do lose weight this way, it’s likely you will gain it back very quickly once you start eating normally again. ‘Yo-yo dieting’, as this is referred to, wreaks havoc on your metabolism.
Let’s say you’ve been crash dieting for 5 days. At this point, your body is burning muscle in order to meet its caloric needs. Muscle burns more calories than fat does, even at rest. This means that the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be. If your body is using muscle mass as a source of energy, your metabolism will slow down. Additionally, it’s holding onto fat, because your body doesn’t know your dieting, it thinks it’s starving.
They say abs are built in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that dieting is the only, or even the best way, to lose weight and keep it off. Like all good things, successful weight loss comes to those who put the effort in. A complete lifestyle change, including plenty of hearty meals rich in nutrients, slow-digesting carbs and protein along with physical exercise to build muscle, is the only way to truly reshape your body.
Health Risks Associated with Rapid Weight Loss
Aside from the negative consequences of losing weight too quickly such as stretch marks and loose skin, there are a host of other health problems associated with losing weight too quickly.
We’ve already learned that a loss of muscle mass is a common side effect of following diet plans that promote rapid weight loss, but another thing you need to be mindful of is the nutritional content of the meals you’re eating when you diet.
Many unsuccessful diet plans focus primarily on consuming as few calories as possible. What they fail to take into account, however, is the possible nutrient deficiency associated with limiting your diet. Foods like sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice may have more carbs, but they also contain fibre, vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best. Some signs you may have a nutritional deficiency include fatigue, hair loss, or you may catch colds more often due to a weakening immune system.
Some other signs of nutrient deficiency that take longer to notice are a loss of bone density and gallstones.
Gallstones are small, hard formations that come together in your gallbladder. Digestive juices are released to help your body break down bites of food into smaller, digestible pieces. When you are eating irregularly, your gallbladder has no need to release these juices, which gives gallstones time to form. They can be very painful and in some cases require a simple surgery to remove the gallbladder, which is not an organ we need.
Psychological Effects of Losing Weight Too Quickly
If you already suffer from a negative body image or poor mental health, losing weight too quickly could trigger negative psychological effects. Stretch marks and the unwanted loose, excess skin tend to occur when weight is lost very quickly and, for some people, that’s all they see. That coupled with not having adequate time to adjust to your new body can cause the first signs of mental health conditions like body dysmorphia.
What’s more, if you perceive your inability to stick to a crash diet as a failure, it can be very challenging to pick yourself up and try again or even try a different approach.
Crash diets and extreme calorie counting can also lead to disordered eating behaviors, especially in someone who is already vulnerable.
When you begin your weight loss journey, it’s just as important to ask yourself ‘why’ as it is to ask ‘how’. If your self-worth is tied to how you look, or if you think losing weight will make you happier, more desirable or more successful, then perhaps it’s worth figuring out where those narratives are coming from.
The Bottom Line
For some people, the weight seems to fall right off. For others, it can take months or even years of hard work to slowly but surely reach your goal weight.
Some people become more fit, but weigh more due to muscle growth, and some improve their cardiovascular health but their bodies don’t change much. It’s very important to keep in mind that your state of physical health and the shape of your body are two completely different things. Weight loss does not necessarily equate to better health. Weight is aesthetic and temporary. Health is a way of life.
If you want to lose some weight, be willing to wait. Eat mindfully to avoid overeating, stay well hydrated, make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients and incorporate physical activity into your day. Most importantly, be consistent and be patient. You will get there.