Rapid Weight Loss

helpful workout tips

Virtually everyone wants to eliminate their excess body weight at a rapid rate. In addition to the low probability that weight loss will occur rapidly, rapid weight loss can be extremely unhealthy and potentially life-threatening.

However, it is possible to safely lose excess weight at a rate quicker than the rate at which the weight was initially gained.

As a general rule, excluding life-threatening medical conditions, a safe amount of weight to lose on a weekly basis is between 2 and 5 pounds. Under normal conditions, any more than 2 to 5 pounds of weight loss per week can be detrimental to your health.

For individuals that are planning to partake in a rapid weight loss program, or individuals that fall within the obese category, it is highly recommended that you consult your medical physician or a certified dietitian. It's common for individuals to lose a larger amount of body weight during the first couple of weeks of their weight loss program as their basal metabolic rate is higher, and a larger percentage of their weight loss is associated with water weight.

In general, rapid weight loss is not a safe weight loss approach and is not recommended for most individuals who are seeking to lose weight. In addition, rapid weight loss is typically unsustainable over the course of the weight loss program. A more typical weight loss program will facilitate a slightly higher rate of weight loss at the beginning of the program and decrease to a more sustainable rate thereafter. One of the reasons for the decrease in the rate of weight loss per week is that the basal metabolic rate (number of calories an individual burns in a typical day) decreases as the individual decreases the number of calories they consume per day.

While many individuals become frustrated when they see that the amount of body weight they are losing on a weekly basis decreases, it's important to remember that as long as they are losing 2 to 5 pounds per week, their weight loss program is successful. In fact, individuals that lose 2 to 5 pounds per week have a higher probability of successfully keeping the weight off.

Effects of Rapid Weight Loss

Losing a large amount of excess body weight at the beginning of a weight loss program is normal, as the body is undergoing a large change in caloric intake. However, if an individual experiences any of the following physical or mental symptoms, their rate of weight loss may be at a level that is too fast and unhealthy. Alleviating most of the symptoms listed below is as simple as taking a step back and reevaluating your weight loss program.

Many of the negative effects associated with rapid weight loss are as follows:

  • Low resting blood pressure

  • Headache

  • Soar throat

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Missed period

  • Constipation

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Rapid and frequent mood changes

  • Increase in stress

  • Insomnia

  • Vomiting or nausea

  • Depression

Each of the symptoms listed above affects the individual's daily quality of life, and if allowed to continue, can lead to serious health risks and conditions that are potentially life-threatening. Several of these health risks/conditions include clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, malnutrition, jaundice, gout, scurvy, throat cancer, migraines, Type 2 diabetes and chronic insomnia. As you can see, it is not worth risking your physical and mental health just to lose a few extra pounds per week.

The Dangers of Rapid Weight Loss

    effects of rapid weight loss
  1. Erratic Results: If an individual drastically reduces their daily caloric intake, their body will go into a state of survival and not only lose excess body fat, but water and lean muscle tissue as well. While the initial weight loss results may seem encouraging, the rate of weight loss will slow drastically going forward. It is at this point when many individuals lose motivation and quit their weight loss program.

  2. Lean Muscle Mass Loss: While it may seen unfair, the body tends to burn stored fat last as a means of energy. If an individual drastically decreases their caloric intake, the body will begin to consume lean muscle tissue (lean muscle tissue requires more energy than fat).

    This fact is one of the primary reasons why an individual's basal metabolic rate (BMR) increases when strength training is performed. Losing lean muscle tissue is unhealthy and highly inappropriate for any weight loss program where the weight loss is not being driven by a more serious medical condition.

  3. Decreased Energy: Depleting the body of the nutrients and the calories it requires to perform effectively and efficiently will only make normal everyday activities more difficult. On the other hand, maintaining a caloric deficit that is sustainable and healthy will produce a more consistent rate of weight loss, provide the daily energy required to perform all activities, support a predictable rate of weight loss that will allow the individual to define their weight loss goal milestones, and reduce motivational issues.

  4. Nutritional Deficiency and Malnutrition: One of the top concerns associated with any weight loss program is the possibility of nutritional deficiency. Nutritional deficiency occurs when the body is consistently deprived of the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and amino acids that it requires to function optimally. When the body becomes nutritionally deficient, the risk of serious illness and disease increases exponentially.

  5. Eating Disorders: Many individuals are overweight because they consume more daily calories than they burn per day. If you decide to embark on a weight loss program, do not trade an overeating disorder for an under-eating disorder. Replacing an overeating disorder with anorexia or bulimia is highly unhealthy and can put your life at risk. In fact, according to a 2007 medical study, approximately 1/3 of teenage girls currently suffer from anorexia, or suffered from it at some point in the past. This statistic has continued to rise since the completion of the 2007 medical study.

Safely Losing Weight

Below are several tips on how to implement a safe, effective and healthy weight loss program without employing any of the extreme and unsafe rapid weight loss techniques.

    diet and exercise
  • Combine a Dietary Regime with an Exercise Routine: Combining a dietary intake routine with an exercise regime that you regularly perform to weight loss is the single most effective and safe way to lose weight.

    For example, if your personal weight loss goals include creating a daily 1,000-calorie deficit, then eliminate 500 calories through your daily dietary intake and 500 calories through your daily exercise routine.

    For instance, if you typically consume two 20 ounce bottles of soda each and every day, the dietary 500 calorie deficit could occur by simply eliminating both beverages as each drink contains approximately 250 calories.

    In addition, moderately paced walking for 1 hour each day (similar to walking the dog) will burn approximately 500 calories.

    This simple weight loss program would achieve the 1,000-calorie deficit, improve your health and fitness, and represent an approach that could be sustained over the time.

  • Consume Nutritious, Well-Balanced, Whole Foods: Many individuals that approach their weight loss program through consuming nutritious, calorie-conscious whole foods find that they can actually consume more food and still achieve a caloric deficit. Simply eliminating foods that are highly processed, fried or high in simple sugars will drastically reduce the number of calories derived from each meal.

    To this end, many individuals find that they are actually able to consume more food and still lose excess body fat at a reasonable rate. While you will have to show self-discipline in the foods that you consume, most individuals will agree that a dietary program that allows them to consume more food is better than a dietary regime that requires they eat less.

  • Be Realistic in Your Weight Loss Expectations: In order to lose 1 pound of body weight, it is necessary to create a 3,500-calorie deficit. For instance, if an individual creates a 500-calorie deficit per day for seven consecutive day, they would achieve a 3,500-calorie deficit and lose 1 pound of body weight in a week. The caloric deficit can be achieved through dietary intake, exercise or a combination of the two.

    Many individuals begin their weight loss program aggressively and taper off over time. An alternative approach would be to define a weight loss program that is healthy, sustainable, and creates a lifestyle that you can embark upon for the rest of your life. By defining a weight loss program that has the ability to become part of your lifestyle, you will create an environment where achieving your weight loss goals becomes not only attainable, but sustainable as well.

  • Visit a Medical Professional and/or Dietitian: Consulting a medical physician and/or a dietitian can be beneficial in that they will be able to provide a weight loss approach that is specific to your health, physical condition and mental strengths. Most physicians can discuss several of the approaches that are not appropriate as well, hence improving your focus and weight loss results. Typically, only one or two initial appointments are necessary. In the event that an individual is considered obese, the medical visits are almost always covered by your health insurance company.

  • Define Your Personal Weight Loss Goals: It is important to define your personal weight loss goals by writing them down and monitoring your results over time. By doing so, you will be able to determine whether you're on schedule to achieve your weight loss goals within your specified timeframe, whether your weight loss goals are achievable, and whether there are any modifications that are required to obtain your weight loss goals within the specific timeframe.

  • Maintain Motivation: At times, maintaining motivation while participating in a weight loss program can be challenging. Many individuals lose motivation because they don't achieve their weight loss goals within a timeframe that they feel is acceptable. In this case, the frustration may simply be due to the fact that their weight loss goals are unrealistic. Evaluate the first few weeks of your dietary and exercise routine to determine the type of results you are seeing. In other words, set your goals based on your results, not your results based on your goals.

diet and exercise

All in all, effectively and safely losing weight should be viewed as a lifestyle change that facilitates good health and fitness through exercise, nutrition, and rest and relaxation. However, many individuals participate solely in a dietary program, achieve their weight loss goals, return to their "old" lifestyle, and simply regain the weight.

Over time, many of these individuals find themselves in a continual cycle of entering a dietary program, achieving their weight loss goals, and exiting the program. An alternative approach that is both physically and mentally more healthy is for them to modify their overall lifestyle to one that includes regular exercise, a dietary approach that focuses on consuming nutritious whole foods that are well balanced, and allowing for plenty of rest, relaxation, and sleep.

By doing so, you will create a consistency in your approach to good health and fitness that will increase your probability of successfully achieving your personal weight loss goals and thereafter, maintaining that weight level. In addition, you will find that you have more energy, a more positive attitude, and greater mental stability, clarity, and focus.