Earlier I wrote a page on this site about shortcuts to losing weight, and it brought up a good question – is it bad for you to lose weight too quickly? One of the things I cautioned at the end of that article was to be realistic with your weight loss expectations. Things won’t happen overnight, and it is much healthier to go about it at a slow, steady, and consistent pace.
Many people want to lose weight, and they want to lose it fast. That may not be the best course of action and wasn’t the point of that page I linked above. Rather, it was about little changes you can make in your life that can prove impactful on your weight loss journey.
Losing Weight Too Fast is Not Healthy
There are a number of reasons to support this assertion, which I’ll get into below.
If you lose weight over a longer, more gradual period of time, you are much more likely to keep the pounds off. To drop some inches over a longer duration takes discipline and commitment to lifestyle, exercise, and diet changes and the longer you stick with them, the more ingrained they become. It becomes your new norm.
If you follow a fad diet that supposedly helps you lose x number of pounds over the course of y weeks, you aren’t really making any healthy changes to your lifestyle. As soon as you get off that wagon, the pounds will come back. You’ll be right back to doing what you were doing before, and seeing the same unhealthy body in the mirror. It’s called “Yo-Yo Dieting”, as described here in Men’s Journal, and can wreak havoc on your body.
When it comes to getting a healthy body, losing weight is just half the battle. The other half is keeping that weight off. Losing weight quickly will not get you there, but changing your habits to a more controlled loss rate (1 to 2 pounds per week is considered a healthy range) will.
How can you go about these changes? Don’t follow a crash diet that limits you to something ridiculous like less than 1,000 calories per day. Instead of changing how much you are eating, focus on what you eat. Stop snacking on sweets and instead munch on some vegetables (use a delicious dip to add some flavor if you think vegetables are too bland).
Losing weight too fast can cause serious health problems. For one, you can lose a lot of muscle. If you go on a crash diet, a lot of the weight that you lose will be water and muscle, and not fat. Studies have been conducted where one group of participants had their caloric intake reduced to around 500 calories, while another group was kept slightly above 1,000 calories. For both groups, this is less than the daily recommended amount of calories and in a range where weight loss is inevitable. At the end of the study, both groups had lost a similar amount of weight, however, but the group consuming 500 calories lost 6 times as much muscle!
Beyond just the muscle loss, you’re going to suffer in other ways due to a deficiency in nutrition. This can cause a host of problems, including but not limited to:
- Softer, more brittle bones
- Hair loss
- Fatigue, loss of energy
- Weaker immune system
It can also have a huge impact on your digestive tract. To shed weight quickly, you’re going to need to cut a lot of things out of your diet (both in variety and quantity). You’ll end up dehydrated, constipated, and a slew of other intestinal issues. In extreme cases, this indigestion can lead to gallstones due to your intestinal fluid being so dormant.
It’s great that you want to get in better shape, but don’t go overboard. Slow and steady wins the race in this case, and you will be rewarded with results the longer and more deliberate you stick with it. Rather than going on a crash diet, try one of these instead. Rather than over-exerting yourself at a gym to burn calories as fast as you can, try a more disciplined workout routine like these we suggest here. Take your time, enjoy the journey, and reap the rewards!