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Is it safe to lose weight rapidly? Does it work?

"Rapid weight loss may come with various health issues, such as nutritional deficiency, muscle loss, heart problems, a decreased metabolism, and gallstones."

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The healthy and safest weight loss is about 0.45 to 0.9 kg per week, which is about 1-2 pounds. Gradual weight loss contributes to healthy and better eating behaviors, such as increasing intake of veggies and fruits and drinking fewer sugar-sweetened drinks, which facilitate long-term weight management with fewer health risks compared to rapid weight loss. A combination of exercise and a substantial reduction of calorie-dense diet foods may result in a rapid weight loss. This may expose you to various health problems, especially when you stick to a rapid weight-loss diet for many weeks.


Here are the risks of losing weight rapidly:

Rapid weight loss may make you lose muscle

You may lose a lot of weight from the muscles and water in your body, as weight loss is not the same as fat loss. Consumption of very low-calorie foods may also lead to malnutrition due to the lack of some important nutrients in the body. Rapid weight loss causes your body to use muscle mass as fuel, which in turn causes you to lose significant muscle mass.

Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so losing muscle mass may result in a slower metabolic rate. One pound of fat in your body burns fewer calories than one pound of muscle.

Therefore, muscle loss means that you will burn fewer calories in a day. Consider eating a high-protein diet and exercising to help preserve muscle mass, which aids metabolism.


Risk of heart and other health conditions

Losing weight too fast may lead to the damage of blood vessels, which may result in a fluctuation in heart rate, an irregular heart rhythm, and an increase in blood pressure, all of which lead to heart failure. Although workouts facilitate weight loss, they can also affect your heart health. A small amount of weight loss promotes hypertension and metabolic functions as well as facilitating heart relaxation and pumping while improving your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

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Electrolyte imbalance due to a sudden change in diet may affect the mineral and nutrient intake and distribution in your body, which results in cardiovascular irregularities, thus putting other organs in your body at risk. Electrolyte imbalance due to rapid weight loss may result in heart problems.

Risk of nutrient deficiencies

People who rapidly lose weight tend to skip meals while consuming very low-calorie diets, which cause nutrient deficiencies. A low-calorie diet depletes you of nutrients like vitamin B12, folate, and iron, which can lead to serious health problems like:

  • Fatigue: A low-calorie diet may cause fatigue due to a lack of vitamin B-12, iron, and folate. This may put you at risk for anemia and extreme fatigue.

  • Weak immune function: A lack of nutrients and calories can result in a weak immune system and increase the risk of getting infected.

  • Brittle and weak bones: Due to a lack of calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus in the diet.

  • Loss of hair: Consuming fewer calorie-rich foods may not have enough nutrients to facilitate hair growth.

Consuming unprocessed foods and a diet rich in whole foods will reduce the risk of nutritional deficiency. They are low-calorie foods that are quite filling, which aids in losing weight.


Risk of gallstone formation

Gallstones are a stone-like structure that develops in your gallbladder due to undissolved cholesterol. Rapid weight loss may lead to the formation of gallstones, as the gallbladder facilitates the digestion of fatty foods. Therefore, a lack of food may cause the digestive juice to form gallstones.

Rapid weight loss slows down the metabolic rate

Losing weight rapidly may slow down the rate of metabolism. Calorie burn depends on your metabolism rate; therefore, a slow metabolism results in fewer calories burned. You can burn about 23% fewer calories when losing weight rapidly through reduced calorie intake. The drop in metabolism during rapid weight loss is due to the loss of muscle mass and a fall in hormones that regulate the metabolism, like thyroid hormones.


How to lose weight at a healthy rate

There are several ways in which you can speed up the weight loss process safely. Losing weight rapidly through a low-calorie diet may come with various side effects, such as fatigue, irritability, cramps, dizziness, constipation, nutritional deficiency, and losing muscle. Here are some tips that will help you lose weight effectively and at a healthy rate.

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  • Try a high-intensity workout and resistance training

Lifting weights or doing resistance training prevents the loss of muscles, which leads to improved metabolism. A HIIT workout, which involves intense bursts of short exercise, will enable you to burn more calories long after you work out.

  • Take more protein

Consuming protein-rich foods will help to suppress your appetite while also preserving muscle mass. Consumption of protein also boosts your metabolism and provides various nutrients in your body for repair.

  • Cut back on starches and sugar-sweetened beverages

Cutting back on starches and sugar in your diet may help to reduce the carb intake that is associated with weight loss.


  • Drink green tea

Green tea is among the best for fat burning, at about 17%. The intake of green tea also boosts the metabolic process by about 4 to 5 percent.

  • Consume soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is necessary for the breakdown of belly fat, which aids in weight loss.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels

You should aim to lose weight steadily and at a slow rate of about 1 to 2 pounds per week. Gradual weight loss is easier to maintain in the long term as it enhances better eating behaviors than rapid weight loss. Rapid weight loss increases your health risks, such as nutrition deficiency, muscle loss, heart conditions, a low metabolism, and gallstones, among others.


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