Four risks of faster fat loss

A lot of people mistakenly believe that drastic weight loss is a winning strategy. Unfortunately, the weight loss is half your battle – it’s maintaining that weight loss for life which is about 99% of the population’s challenge.

Initially, when we change our diet and implement an exercise program, we lose water weight. This is normal, and leaves us initially, with a drop of about 1–2kg. It’s brought on by the consumption of less food than what your body needs for energy. This is when the body taps into its reserves. When the body uses up glycogen stores, your weight loss should stabilize.

Studies do show that people who lose weight at a slower pace are more likely to keep it off long term. Rapid weight loss can inflict other detrimental health risks such as muscle loss, nutritional deficiencies and gallstones.

It’s a lot easier to have support from a health professional during this process, although a lot of us have to take the weight loss road on our own. Slow and steady wins the war against maintaining weight loss long term.

Below are some things that can go wrong when you lose weight too rapidly, and the implications it can have on your health and metabolism.

Four risks of faster fat loss

  1. You run the risk of losing muscle mass. Those on a very low-calorie diet run the risk of losing precious muscle instead of fat. It’s a fine line trying to work out what your caloric cap is so that you can continue to maintain fat loss, whilst keeping muscle mass.
  2. Your metabolism slows down. You want your body to burn as many calories through the day as possible, especially when at rest. Eating fewer calories per day will decrease the number of calories you burn, and muscle loss adds this slowdown as well. Depending on how long you have been restricting calories, your metabolism may take years to rectify. This damage is apparent in a lot of physique bodybuilders who gain weight rapidly after several months, or even years of calorically restricted diets.
  3. Nutritional deficiencies. When you decrease calories below what you need, your body can begin to show adverse effects, such as- extreme fatigue, hair loss, poor immune function (and susceptibility to colds and flu). You are also susceptible to weak, brittle bones. Some people may show more symptoms of one particular deficiency than another, and it’s essential to look out for these signs.
  4. Gallstones. This is a hardened material that forms inside the gallbladder. They are extremely painful. The gall bladder releases digestive juices to break down fatty foods for digestion. When you don’t eat enough food, the gallbladder won’t have to release the digestive juices. This runs the risk of them joining together since they are not being released. If you suspect this is happening to you, please see your health professional.

As you can see, there are several reasons why faster fat loss is quite risky. The best diet is one which is a gradual process, coupled with exercise. I do talk a lot about fasting for fat loss, and I stand by that method as well. This can take some time to get the results you need, but you have less of a risk in terms of the complications of low-calorie diets. Fasting also helps you maintain your weight loss, without restricting all the foods you love. You do have to keep your fasting long term, and it’s only a matter of not eating for a particular period, followed by your re-feeding.

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