Dangers of Quick Weight Loss

What you need to know before starting a crash-course weight-loss program

Quick weight loss might seem like a good goal, but it can actually be detrimental to your health. Easy weight loss is also easier to gain back, whereas weight that you lose slowly and steadily is more likely to stay off. Take a moment to learn key facts about the dangers of quick weight loss.

Quick weight loss usually doesn't mean permanent change

Mayo Clinic preventative medicine specialist Donald Hensrud, M.D., cautions that fast weight loss is usually the result of lifestyle changes that are unsustainable beyond the short term. You might be able to lose weight fast by going into diet and exercise overkill, but your body can't keep it up indefinitely — and since you haven't trained yourself to adapt to permanent lifestyle changes, you are much more likely to revert to your old habits and gain back all of that quickly lost weight.

You may not be losing fat

Another danger of losing weight too quickly, as Dr. Hensrud points out, is that you are probably not losing just fat. A normal, healthy rate of weight loss is one to two pounds per week. Because it's difficult for your body to burn large numbers of fat calories in a short amount of time, the weight you lose could be made up of water or muscle (lean tissue).

Rapid weight loss has many potential side effects

A variety of serious conditions are associated with fast weight loss. According to WebMD, these include imbalances of electrolytes, malnutrition, gallstones and dehydration. Fatigue, irritability, headaches, constipation, dizziness, irregular menstruation, loss of muscle and loss of hair are other potential side effects.

Quick weight loss pills may contain dangerousiIngredients

In 2009, the FDA warned that it had discovered 72 over-the-counter weight loss products that could potentially compromise consumers' health. Among the ingredients in these 72 products were a number of unreported pharmaceuticals, including rimonabant, a drug not approved for use in the U.S., and the anti-seizure medication phenytoin. Possible side effects of these drugs include heart attacks, seizures and strokes.

Weight loss pills containing ephedra can have serious side effects

In 2004, the FDA banned a popular diet-pill ingredient known as ephedra after it was found to increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks. However, some ephedra-containing products may still make their way illegally into the market. Many other diet pill ingredients are as yet untested. For that reason, the best way to avoid the possible dangers of diet pills is simply to steer clear.

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