Women And Rapid Weight Loss: The Risks
Losing weight is a widespread desire. Whether you’re a man or a woman, getting rid of the unwanted flub is something that many of us want.
However, weight loss is often desired by women specifically. In fact, according to Gallup, 57% of women often worry about their weight (1).
While many women can find body acceptance despite their weight, others desire to change. If you’re looking to make a change, a weight loss journey is likely on your to-do list.
While losing weight can have benefits for women, it can also have unintended consequences. Moreover, women often take drastic measures, to burn fat, burn calories, and be “fit.”
Keep reading to learn some of the most dangerous risks of rapid weight loss you should be aware of before beginning your weight loss journey.
Common Weight Loss Myths
While countless articles talk about how women can lose weight, the weight loss industry is also embedded with misinformation.
Misinformation only adds salt to the wound, leading women to believe the falsehood of ‘miracle’ weight loss programs and ‘fast-acting’ diets. These weight loss methods are selling you a lie. They’re unhealthy, unsafe, and don’t provide long-term results.
The good news is - with awareness - you can now know the truth about ‘rapid weight loss and, instead, focus on legitimate ways to lose the weight.
5 Risks of Rapid Weight Loss for Women
Many dangerous risks can be caused by rapid weight loss in women. Below are 5 risks you should be aware of to help avoid lies in the weight loss industry and have a safe and effective weight loss journey.
1. Eating Disorders
While beauty standards have come a long way in recent years, modern beauty standards – often photoshopped and fake – lead to women having a false vision of what’s real and physically possible. However, often said standards are unobtainable.
Unfortunately, these standards cause women to go to any lengths to lose weight, which can result in eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
While both men and women can be affected by eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa often affects young women(2).
Anorexia involves barely eating or not eating at all to lose weight. This not only establishes unhealthy eating patterns as you under-fuel your body for daily life at rest; but, over time it can result in becoming underweight since you develop a fear of gaining weight.
Bulimia Nervosa involves extreme overeating, only to feel guilty and either force vomiting, fasting, or purging.
Do not fall into these weight-loss traps. Anorexia and bulimia are disordered, unhealthy eating, and can lead to permanent damage to your body from the inside out.
2. Muscle Loss
While losing fat is the goal of weight loss, you might find yourself losing muscle instead. The cause? Well, there are many causes for this.
According to the Journal of Advanced Nutrition, muscle loss in women losing weight is often caused when calories are restricted. Their findings also suggest that weight loss decreases both fat and fat-free mass, with the fat-free mass exceeding 35% of total weight loss(3).
That means, when calories are restricted, you run the risk of losing both lean muscle and fat. You don’t want to lose lean muscle tissue, in fact, without enough muscle, you may find your body can’t burn off more fat, since muscle increases our metabolism and helps us burn fat, even at rest.
The solution? If you are restricting your calories, make sure your body is getting enough calories to maintain muscle mass. Drastic calorie reduction is not the answer. Moderate calorie reduction may result in more time to lose weight, but that time will be more enjoyable, and maintainable long-term.
Also, consider adding strength training into your routine to continue strengthening your muscles and building lean muscle mass.
3. Excessive Dehydration
Another concern of rapid weight loss is not drinking enough water. Water is crucial to the human body. It clears out the toxins from the body, helps you stay focused, and helps your body stay hydrated.
Without water, especially on a weight loss journey, you’ll put yourself at risk of dehydration. Look for these signs:
- Constant headaches
- Dark yellow urine
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Lack of energy
- Muscle Cramps, etc.
If you start seeing these symptoms, even in the first two weeks of your weight loss regimen, then drink up!
4. Poor Nutrition
Nutrition is another essential thing for the human body. While pills and supplements might help, you still need to consider natural options for gaining essential nutrients and vitamins like healthy foods.
Eating is important for fueling your body; without it, you’re cutting off the nutritional flow that your muscles, organs, brain, and body thrive on.
So, before cutting calories, think about the foods that you should eat – healthy whole foods that provide plenty of nutrition like fruits and veggies, grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Add these foods into your diet to give your body the nutrients it needs as you go on your weight loss journey. Bonus points: these foods will keep you feeling full and satiated throughout your weight loss journey.
5. Slower Metabolism
Finally, metabolism is vital to the body. However, cutting calories can slow down your metabolism. How?
Metabolism is the process by which your body breaks the calories from food into fuel for your body. By cutting calories, your body naturally has fewer calories available to burn.
Interestingly, the human body interprets a reduction in calories as a danger to the body and responds by reserving calories as a protection mechanism.
A recent study revealed when you decrease the number of calories you consume, your body’s metabolism slows to counterbalance this shift (4). Essentially, your body responds to fewer calories consumed by decreasing your resting metabolic rate - or the number of calories your body needs to keep critical systems functioning like your heart, lungs, and other organs. This shift is referred to as ‘metabolic adaptation’.
So, what does this mean if you’re trying to lose weight? Keep in mind that as you reduce calories to cut weight, your body may respond with metabolic adaptation, which can make it harder to see results.
What can we do to counteract metabolic adaptation? Keep your metabolism up!
You can increase metabolism by participating in regular exercise. You can also increase metabolism by focusing on eating nutrient-dense foods to keep your metabolism up.
Many other risks haven’t been discussed in this article; however, it’s imperative to keep these 5 risks in mind when considering a drastic weight-loss program or diet to lose weight.
The good news: there is a silver lining when dieting and weight loss are done the right way. As the risks suggest, healthy weight loss lies in doing the following:
- Avoid anorexic or bulimic behaviors.
- Learn to build muscle, as you go on your weight-loss program or diet.
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat nutrition-rich foods.
- Keep your metabolism up.
As always, before you start any weight loss program, or take on any diet, be sure to consult with your doctor or physician to make sure you’re following the best plan for you.
(1) ‘Who’s Worried About Their Weight?’ Gallup, 2005 https://news.gallup.com/poll/17752/whos-worried-about-their-weight.aspx. Accessed 28 January, 2022
(2) ‘Eating Disorders in Women’ Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2015 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4539873/. Accessed 28 January, 2022
(3) ‘Preserving Healthy Muscle During Weightloss’ Advanced Nutrition, 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5421125/. Accessed 28 January, 2022
(4) ‘Metabolic adaptation is associated with less weight and fat mass loss in response to low-energy diets.’ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34116675/. Accessed 28 January,
George J. Newton is a writer and editor at Write my research paper service. As a business development manager, he oversees various projects in many companies nationwide. As a content writer, he writes articles about health, mental health, and exercise.