Americans want everything fast. We want our cars fast, we want success fast, we want to find our soul mate fast, and we want our food fast. We also want to lose weight fast. This desire for quick results is what has made the rapid weight loss industry thrive. There are thousands of products and exercise routines that claim you can lose hundreds of pounds in just a few weeks.
But even if these weight loss claims are true, is it really healthy to lose weight that fast?
Types of rapid weight loss programs
In general, there are four types of rapid weight loss programs:
Diet pills range from fiber supplements for improved digestion to illegal drugs that are quickly pulled from the market once their true ingredients are discovered. Diet pills may contain ingredients that help streamline weight loss, but their results are unstable at best.
What’s the fastest way to lose weight fast? Don’t eat. Starvation diets are popular with celebrities who need to lose weight fast. Most starvation diets include eating extremely limited foods (or liquids alone) for a period of time while pounds melt away.
Surgery is one way to lose weight fast. In gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is stapled together to make it smaller so you cannot eat as much. This causes weight to fall off quickly as you are severely limited in how much you can eat until your stomach heals.
Extremely low-calorie diets
Low-calorie diets allow you to eat a little bit of food, but only enough to not fall down dead. Some medical professionals will supervise a low-calorie diet for a limited time to reduce the risks associated with this type of diet.
What can happen?
While most rapid weight loss plans do produce results, there are risks associated with limiting food intake so severely. According to WebMD, engaging in a rapid weight loss diet may produce some of the following side effects:
Gallstones: Occur in up to 25 percent of rapid weight loss dieters.
Malnutrition: A lack of nutrients causes severe imbalances and problems in the body.
Electrolyte imbalances: An electrolyte imbalance can cause swelling, fainting spells, and in severe cases, death.
Dehydration: Limiting liquid intake quickly leads to dehydration.
Overhydration: Overhydration causes its own set of dangers, which can include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and in extreme cases, swelling in the brain.
Reduced immune system: When your body loses weight quickly, it goes into shock, which puts significant stress on your immune system. This may make you more likely to get sick.
Hormonal imbalances: Food is necessary to regulate hormones. Without the right balance of nutrients, the hormonal balance is thrown off, causing mood swings, irritability and serious medical problems.
Sagging skin: When weight is dropped quickly, skin doesn’t have time to heal. This could cause skin to sag and droop after extreme weight loss.
Muscle loss: If you do not actively work to maintain and build muscle during weight loss, as you lose weight you will get weaker.
Hair loss: Sudden and large weight loss triggers a stress response, which can cause your hair to fall out. Usually this is temporary, but in some cases, not all of the hair will grow back.
Less severe side effects can include headaches, irritability, extreme hunger, distraction, dizziness, constipation and menstrual irregularities.
Is rapid weight loss ever good?
Under the supervision of a doctor or other medical professional, rapid weight loss can be achieved without too great a risk of dangerous side effects. But for most people who are dieting on their own, rapid weight loss will cause more problems than it will heal.
Losing weight slowly at two pounds a week sounds frustrating and boring, but it is the safest and most effective weight loss plan over time. If you have been able to consistently lose weight over many months then you’re more likely to keep it off and maintain your new healthier lifestyle. So often we abuse our body instead of working with it, caring for it, and giving it what it needs. What small, achievable step will you take today? It may be a lot easier than you expected!
—The Alternative Daily