Losing weight too fast doesn’t always lessen the burden on your body.
We all know how to shed those extra pounds by now — you eat less at dinner, avoid sugary foods and even go for a gentle run each week (a brisk walk can be an excellent mental health booster too); start doing this and you will begin to notice your hips narrowing and your waist beginning to taper. So what does a healthy weight loss per month look like?
But what about the changes that happen within?
Depending on how you approach your calorie deficit and exercise regime, you could be causing more damage than you think. Cutting down on your food intake can be an excellent way to lose weight, but reduce it too much and you will start to suffer the consequences.
Muscle Loss Is NOT Inevitable
Despite what we are all taught, typical rapid weight-loss strategies don’t always correlate with a loss of muscle, but ultra-rapid weight loss methods most certainly do. In a 2016 study, researchers placed over 40 people into two weight loss groups; the first group would consume 1250 calories a day, whilst the second group would only consume 500 total calories a day for 5 weeks.
When the results were analysed, the lower calorie group displayed 6 times more muscle loss than the other participants, despite both groups losing a comparable total weight.
In addition to looking great on the beach, your total muscle mass plays a key role in long term weight management, contributing to higher levels of resting energy expenditure — effectively burning fat whilst you sleep.
Your Metabolism Turns Against You If You Don’t Maintain A Healthy Weight Loss Per Month
Humans evolved to eat, it’s that simple. We first learned to run and hold tools to eat larger animals than we could before, and then we discovered fire and started cooking our food. Our bodies know to start operating in low-power mode if it thinks that the food is running out, and we don’t have a way to tell it that it isn’t.
We tell our brain that we can’t eat yet, but the message doesn’t make it to our stomach.
Sharp drops in hormone levels and muscle mass that occur during rapid weight loss can have a dramatic impact on your body’s metabolic rate. A reduction of over 20% has been displayed in research settings and has been shown to persist long after the calorie deficit has been reduced.
So next time you want to follow a crash diet, remember that the only thing crashing may be your hormones.
Quick-Fire List of Dangers
Unfortunately for all of us, the list of symptoms that your body can be forced to endure is lengthy, reading it would almost burn the same number of calories as a workout session, but here are the highlights (or more accurately, lowlights).
Increased Hunger: In a desperate bid for food, your body will start to emit signals of hunger more frequently. And even if you manage to ignore them and stay faithful to the defecit, you mood and mental health will suffer.
Frequent Dizziness: Low blood sugar and low blood pressure both increase the occurrence of dizziness and will force you to stop and recover far more often if ignored.
Irritability: Next on the list may be a problem for others just as much as yourself, but if left unchecked could lead to even worse issues
Fatigue: Finally, without the energy required to support your body, you will start to find normal tasks difficult and your physical performance will suffer greatly.
You should know that this list is as incomplete as it is concerning; you should consider if the time you save by cutting your calories so harshly is worth the time you would spend actually living through it.
The Bottom Line
Eating healthier and exercising more might be essential to losing weight, but if you let impatience get the better of you, then you are going to start travelling backwards instead of forwards.
Experts suggest a maximum of 1–2lbs of total weight loss per week for a healthy level of weight loss per month, so maintaining a 500–1000 daily calorie deficit will land you squarely in the middle of these recommendations and keep your body happy and healthy.
Your weight and fitness will ebb and flow throughout your life, it is unavoidable, but your health and wellbeing will stick with you to the end. If you sacrifice one for the other, you might not like the results in 10 years. Or even 25 years from now.