Is Fast Weight Loss Unhealthy?

Because people know what we do for a living, we get a lot of health questions in our everyday lives. We love it! We love sharing our knowledge and helping our friends and families live healthier lives. Sometimes their questions stump us, and then we have to say, “We’ll get back to you.” Often those questions become blogs.

Someone was asked which was healthier fast or slow weight loss. Our team member’s knee-jerk reaction is that slow weight loss is better. But when asked why, they had to reflect and reevaluate the question. How much of a difference does the speed you lose weight matter?

Most diets that claim you will lose weight fast or “watch the pounds melt away” are unhealthy fad diets. They can be highly restrictive and cause you to miss important nutrients. They can promote poor body image and unhealthy eating habits. And common belief holds that quickly losing weight makes you more likely to regain it.

Slow weight loss is defined as being one to two pounds a week. More than that is considered fast. Studies have looked at how people gain weight after dieting. The results are mixed, even in well-controlled studies. Some found everyone in the study regained the lost weight. Another study found that postmenopausal women have a better chance of keeping the weight off after fast weight loss.

Of course, beyond numbers on the scale, there are other health factors. People always say you lose muscle, not fat, when you lose weight fast. A large study found that fast and slow weight loss lost the same muscle mass. However, slow weight loss did burn fat better and fast weight loss caused double the bone loss, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Fast weight loss can raise your risk of gallstones. It can also cause fatigue and lower your immune defenses.

You also have to consider your metabolism. When you diet, you lower your metabolism. The more calories you cut, the more your metabolic rate will fall. It does not return to the old rate — even if you regain weight. Slower weight loss and pairing exercising with diet can help you prevent that fall in metabolic rate.

When you are trying to lose weight, fast or slow, there are ways to ensure you are doing so healthily. Adding more veggies into your day as you cut out sugar can fill you with fiber and water, making you satiated and hydrated, boosting weight loss. When you use cauliflower rice instead of white rice, you add vitamins and minerals while cutting out nutritionally empty calories. White rice actually impacts your blood like sugar!

You can start your day with a protein and fiber-rich breakfast to give you energy and keep you full longer. That can help you get more steps in the day and avoid cravings or “hanger.” And you should absolutely work more movement into your day. Cutting calories without adding movement isn’t a healthy way to lose pounds. When you exercise, you burn more calories while strengthening your muscles.

If the goal is weight loss, I do say you should aim for 10,000 steps a day minimum,” said  Dr. Liana Casusi, a licensed physician. “As you get comfortable with 10,000 steps, try reaching more. Researchers have found out that 15,000 steps a day is correlated with a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.”  

In the end, slower weight loss appears to be healthier, but not for the reasons we commonly think. Fast weight loss might be better for keeping weight off. There is no difference between how much fat or muscle you lose with the two types of dieting. But, as fast weight loss impacts so many other aspects of health, it is healthier to stick to a moderate diet and exercise routine as you work on your weight loss journey.

Banner image: Pixabay via Unsplash

Related Posts

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Please check your email to confirm your subscription.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
By clicking the "Subscribe" button you agree to our newsletter policy