7 Side Effects of Rapid Weight Loss

If you are overweight, losing weight can be important because healthy body weight is essential to maintain good health. However, losing weight is not just about being slim. It is primarily about being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle. Being overweight or obese may cause many health issues. Similarly, losing weight rapidly is going to cost you your mental and physical health. For example, obesity might lead to diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Therefore, weight loss may be crucial for obese people.

People try various methods of losing weight drastically. However, losing weight slowly and over a period is much healthier. It comes with fewer health risks than drastic weight loss. Severe weight loss can lead to some health complications. Additionally, it can be hard to maintain.

Losing or gaining a few kilos throughout the year is normal. However, you can achieve healthy weight loss only through diet and exercise. Therefore, if you start losing weight drastically without even trying, you should consult a doctor immediately.

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What is Drastic and Rapid Weight Loss?

Losing more than half to one kilogram per week is rapid and drastic weight loss. It is very appealing. But, unfortunately, it may put you at risk of developing many health problems. For example, you may experience muscle loss, gallstones, nutritional deficiencies, weak metabolism etc.

People follow special diets called “crash diets” to lose weight quickly. It involves eating fewer than 800 calories per day. It can be pretty dangerous. A healthy adult needs at least 1200-1300 calories per day. Our bodies require adequate energy to perform daily activities without feeling fatigued. We also need it to maintain a stable metabolism. Having only 800 calories does not provide the body with the required energy.

People think that following a calorie deficient diet is more manageable than exercising and helps to reduce weight much more quickly. It can help you burn fat fast. However, the body starts to lose water and muscle mass in that case, leading to many complications, such as dehydration. In addition, it may show an overall reduction in weight. That is because the body starts using glycogen to meet the daily energy needs. Glycogen is the energy reserve for our body. When these stores get used up, the body uses up muscles. As a result, there is more muscle loss than fat. It is also challenging to maintain fast weight loss and quickly slide back into the old lifestyle and eating habits. It can also lead to the development of eating disorders.

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Can You Maintain Rapid Weight Loss?

You can lose weight by various methods. But the real challenge is maintaining the lost weight and keeping it off. According to research, people who follow crash diets may regain half of the weight they’ve lost within a year. They also have higher chances of retrieving all the weight they have lost after 3-5 years.

7 Risks of Rapid Weight Loss

1. Muscle Loss

Losing weight and losing fat are two very different things. Losing weight may not always be the same as losing fat. Although following a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) helps you lose weight fast, it can result from muscle and water loss. According to research, following a very low-calorie diet can deplete body mass. Furthermore, following a VLCD comes with some risks like muscle loss.

2. Metabolic Changes 

Your metabolic activity plays an essential role in weight loss. Your metabolism determines how many calories you burn each day. In addition, metabolism helps convert the food you consume into energy. Therefore, having a fast metabolism helps burn more calories, resulting in quick weight loss.

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According to a study, losing weight by eating fewer calories may cause you to burn 23% fewer calories per day. That is because your body experiences a drop in metabolic rate. It may result from a change in hormonal balance. Furthermore, a reduced metabolic rate will result in weight regain.

3. Nutrient Deficiencies

Usually, people trying to lose drastic weight tend to skip meals, which causes nutrient deficiencies. While on a low-calorie diet, consuming essential nutrients like folate, B12, and iron can be very hard. A deficiency of essential nutrients causes fatigue, hair loss, anaemia, weakened bones, and poor immune function. Therefore, you should add more unprocessed, raw foods to fulfil these deficiencies. You will also have to add supplements to your diet in severe conditions. However, do not start on supplements without a dietician’s advice.

4. Gallstone Formation

Gallstones are stone-like formations that develop due to undissolved cholesterol in the gallbladder. They can cause severe pain and cramps in the abdomen. According to research, losing weight drastically and rapidly can be a leading cause of gallstone formation. The gallbladder aids in the digestion of fatty foods. When you are not eating enough food, these digestive juices form gallstones.

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5. Dehydration

Rapid weight loss is usually a result of reducing water weight or water loss. According to research, following diets that help reduce weight rapidly can lead to severe dehydration. It will cause symptoms like:

  • Discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Constipation

It can also lead to severe conditions like kidney stones or impaired kidney function.

6. Electrolyte Imbalance

The human body continuously adapts to minor changes to operating smoothly. But any extreme change might disrupt the body’s reaction to biological stress, majorly electrolyte balance.

Electrolytes play a significant role in running bodily functions. They help the muscles contract and relax and also regulate heartbeats. Sudden changes in the diet can affect mineral intake, disturbing the electrolytes. It may lead to cardiovascular irregularities and put other organs at risk. However, the heart is at significant risk. Therefore, an electrolyte imbalance due to drastic weight loss increases a heart attack risk.

7. Fatigue

Following a crash diet can help you lose weight pretty quickly. But the extreme calorie deficit makes it difficult for the body to function normally. It can cause severe fatigue. As a result, it may increase the risk of fainting under minimum stress. Other symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Feeling cold
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
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It might also force you to go back to the original diet. As a result, you will find it challenging to maintain the lost weight.

Causes of Rapid Weight Loss

Some people lose weight intentionally for better health. However, there can be many reasons for drastic weight loss. Some of these factors will make you lose weight without trying. Some causes are:

Eating Disorders

Having an eating disorder can lead to drastic weight loss. Anorexia and Bulimia are two such eating disorders. People with these disorders obsess over the idea of having a model-like figure. Therefore, they take extreme measures to lose weight. However, it may lead to complications like vomiting or passing stools after a meal. It leads to drastic weight loss, but it is unhealthy.

Disease Conditions

Underlying health conditions are also a cause of drastic weight loss. For example, tuberculosis, HIV infection, and kidney diseases cause sudden weight loss. Therefore, it is essential to get regular checkups. It is also vital to follow a healthy diet. Consult a doctor and follow the prescribed treatment if you have such conditions.

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Metabolic Diseases

Having a disturbed metabolism also results in drastic weight loss. People with hyperthyroidism usually experience this. It is essential to consult a doctor in case of such issues. Also, follow the prescribed doses of medications. Changes in quantities can also cause weight loss.


Certain medicines for thyroid, chemotherapy, amphetamines may result in weight loss. That is because they suppress your appetite or interfere with bodily functions. As a result, they make you lose weight rapidly.

Substance Abuse

Narcotics usage leads to loss of appetite and dehydration, resulting in weight loss. In addition, using drugs indicates having an unhealthy lifestyle. An unhealthy lifestyle may cause you to lose weight and have poor overall health.

Healthy Weight Loss

Losing weight at a slow pace is beneficial in the long run. To achieve rapid weight loss, people follow very-low-calorie diets. But according to a study, very low-calorie diets may not be sustainable. However, you can achieve healthy weight loss by reducing calorie consumption gradually. But, of course, you should do it with the guidance of a dietician to prevent any harm to your health.

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Studies suggest that building healthy eating habits can help you achieve gradual weight loss. It also helps maintain a healthy weight for a long time. Including more fruits and vegetables, reducing the consumption of carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages can be some of the healthy habits you can adopt.

Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

Losing weight at a slow and steady pace is the healthier alternative. It has a higher success rate at managing weight. Here are a few tips that you can follow to achieve weight loss at a healthy pace.

Include More Protein

Having a high protein diet can help boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight. In addition, it helps keep you fuller for longer without losing any muscle mass. According to research, having a high protein diet can have tremendous long-term effects during weight loss. In addition, it may also help maintain fat-free mass.

Include More Fibre

Adding soluble fibre to your diet can help with weight loss. It helps you avoid food cravings and reduce excess cholesterol. Fibre also helps improve digestion and improves bowel movement.

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Reduce Refined Carbohydrates

Sugar and starch products are just a form of carbohydrate. A low-carbohydrate diet is beneficial for healthy weight loss. However, it is vital not to restrict them completely. You should include the correct type of carbohydrates in your diet. For example, complex carbohydrates aid in weight loss because they take longer to digest. You can get them through oats, wheat and other whole grains. On the other hand, refined carbohydrates lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Eat Slowly

Chewing your food properly helps to break down the food much better. On the other hand, binge eating and eating too quickly can make you consume way too much food. Instead, eat slowly and use smaller plates. It will help you control your portion sizes.

Green Tea

Drinking green tea or oolong tea can help your body improve its metabolism. It is important to remember that this does not melt fat. However, it helps the body burn more calories. It does so by improving metabolism. In addition, it has antioxidant properties, which are beneficial for your overall health.

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Get Enough Sleep

Having a disturbed sleep cycle can boost ghrelin, a hunger hormone. In addition, it also lowers leptin levels, the fullness hormone. So having poor sleep can lead to increased hunger, making it difficult to lose weight.

Exercise with Weights

Resistance training includes weight lifting. Lifting weights doesn’t only have to be for bulking up. It is also beneficial in burning calories. In addition, it helps prevent muscle loss. Include some weight exercises in your daily routine. Take the help of a professional trainer for better guidance.

Include HIIT Workouts

HIIT is High-Intensity Interval Training that involves a short but intense circuit of exercises. It helps promote anaerobic activity in the body, leading to calorie burn. HIIT usually involves doing a superset of 3-4 high motion exercises for 30-40 seconds without any rest. However, beginners can take breaks in between initially.


Weight loss is a subject of great interest in this era, especially crucial for overweight people. But, the way you lose weight and the time taken matters. People who are overweight or obese should lose weight to improve their health. It prevents several metabolic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and many more. However, it is essential to lose weight at a steady rate.

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Rapid weight loss has adverse health outcomes. Although you need to create a calorie deficit, you should do it with the help of a dietician. Self-planned diets may result in unhealthy weight loss. In addition, including healthy foods and being physically active is the first step. Avoiding junk foods is the second. Therefore, make simple lifestyle and dietary changes to lose weight. You can consult expert dietitians at HealthifyMe for personalised diet plans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the drawbacks of rapid weight loss?

A. Rapid and drastic weight loss can lead to various complications. It includes mainly muscle loss, metabolic changes and nutrient deficiencies. In addition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, fatigue gallstone formation are other side effects. Therefore, it is better to lose weight over a considerable time than rapid weight loss.

Q. Can losing weight make you sick?

A. Yes, rapid weight loss can make you sick. It can result in nutrient deficiencies, electrolyte imbalance, fatigue, metabolic changes, dehydration etc. However, weight loss is essential for obese people for maintaining proper health. Therefore, adequate nutrition, combined with a balanced diet and exercise, can be utilised as a regime to lose weight steadily.

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Q. Can you lose weight without trying?

A. No, weight loss is not possible for a healthy person unless the amount of calories burnt is more significant than the calories taken in. Therefore, you should undertake a proper diet, combined with exercise, to lose weight. However, if you are losing weight without even trying, it can indicate some diseases. Hence, consult a doctor to get yourself diagnosed.

Q. Is rapid weight loss bad for your heart?

A. Yes, rapid weight loss can be a symptom of electrolyte imbalances and metabolic changes in the body. It affects the heart rate, which might adversely affect health. Unrequired weight loss can also lead to abnormal heart rate, which causes health problems.

Q. What are the first signs of weight loss?

A. Loss of muscle mass and decreased energy levels can be symptoms of involuntary weight loss. Therefore, you should consult a physician immediately. However, when you healthily lose weight, you can sense it through the fitting of your clothes, improved energy levels etc.

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Q. What are the disadvantages of weight loss?

A.Rapid weight loss can lead to gallstone formation, dehydration, fatigue and metabolic changes. However, well planned long term steady weight loss through a proper dietary regime is essential since it helps maintain stable, balanced body conditions and muscle definition.

Q. Can less sleep cause weight loss?

A. Yes, loss of sleep can be a cause of weight loss. According to the Journal of Obesity, there is a direct link between weight loss and sleep deprivation. Overweight individuals often have trouble sleeping, which further develops into insomnia. Sleeping less is also directly proportional to an increased propensity to consume less food.

Q. What is considered extreme weight loss?

A. If there is a prolonged loss of over 15kgs in a week, it can be considered excessive weight loss. If you experience extreme weight loss, visit a physician immediately, as it can signify other more deadly diseases.

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