You probably know many of the dangers of obesity. If you don’t, you should know they include a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, and reproductive problems, according to this report by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Obesity, by the way, has several definitions. They include weighing 20 percent or more above the weight that corresponds to the lowest death rate for people who are the same age, gender, and height. They also include having a waist of 35 or more inches if you’re a woman and a waist of 40 or more inches if you’re a man.
Your knowledge of the dangers of obesity might inspire you to lose weight. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, though, you might not know that the dangers of rapid weight loss can be quite profound. You should, in fact, be very careful about losing too much weight per week.
What’s “too much weight?” Well, the truth is that I lost track of the amount of sources that inform people that you should not lose more than one to two pounds per week. That’s not a typo; “per week” is right, not “per day.” One authority that says you shouldn’t lose more than one to two pounds per week comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their article titled, “What is Healthy Weight Loss?”
If you lose more than one to two pounds per week during the first few weeks of your diet, though, you should not be alarmed. Oftentimes, people who lose a lot of weight in the early stages of their diet are losing water weight. Nevertheless, you should be careful about losing too much weight too soon.
The Dangers of Rapid Weight Loss
- Possible Heart Problems:Your heart has to make adjustments when you lose, or gain, weight. Making adjustments puts stress on your heart and could change your blood pressure and heart rate reports “5 Things to Know About the Dangers of Rapid Weight Loss.”In fact, rapid weight loss can cause irregular heart rhythms. Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld told CNN in an article entitled “How crash diets harm your health” that people who crash diet repeatedly are at an increased risk of heart attacks.
- Disabling Fatigue: Eating supplies your body with the energy to live and perform everyday activities. In fact, calories are a measurement of energy. Calories are needed even if you’re sedentary. You need calories even to breathe and make sure all of your organs function properly. Practically, you can starve for a few weeks, but you should eat a minimal amount of calories to ensure that you don’t experience dizziness, fatigue, malnutrition and nausea. Doctors recommend that women eat at least 1,100 calories daily and men eat at least 1,300 calories daily. You lose one pound when you burn 3,500 more calories than you consume.
- Future Weight Gains: Losing weight rapidly can actually cause you to gain weight if you lose weight via only eating less rather than eating less and exercising. When you lose weight without exercising, you lose muscle and fat. When you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down. Slower metabolisms mean that it becomes more difficult to lose weight and easier to regain weight. The overwhelming majority of dieters regain the weight they have lost precisely because they lost weight the wrong way. Rapid weight loss makes this problem worse.
- Loose Skin: “Side Effects of Losing Weight Too Fast” reports that people who lose weight too rapidly often have loose skin on their arms and legs as well as the area around their stomach because the skin “did not have time to shrink with the rest of the body.” Skin loss won’t harm your physical health, but it often causes mental distress.
- Other Problems: The “Side Effects” article also reports that rapid weight loss can cause gallstones and liver problems, including cirrhosis. Rapid weight loss can also mean that your diet lacks important minerals such as calcium and vitamin D. This loss of minerals can make your bones susceptible to fractures. Dry skin and hair loss are other problems that can occur when you lose weight too rapidly reports “Lose Weight Fast! How Much Weight Can I Lose by Summer?”
Do you want to lose weight without jeopardizing your health? The best way to do that is to eat less AND exercise regularly. Studies show that people who cut 250 calories daily from their diet and burn 250 more calories daily via exercise than they did previously are far more likely to lose weight over the long term than people who cut 500 calories from their diet and don’t exercise.
People who take the first approach gain muscle and, thus, burn far more calories. People who take the latter approach lose muscle. In short, crash diets don’t work.