What Happens If You Lose Weight TOO FAST!
Check out my client Aaron’s transformation where he lost a whole bunch of fat.
Do you ever wonder what happens if you lose weight too fast? Is there such a thing as losing weight too fast and does losing too much weight too fast have negative consequences?
Most people believe when you lose weight too fast you wind up with a bunch of excess skin and it increases the chances of regaining all the weight. But, is this actually true?
Let’s look at how losing weight fast affects the amount of excess skin at the end of the process. But, first, we’ll be figuring out how losing weight too fast negatively affects the amount of weight you regain.
#1 Fast or Slow Weight Loss
Is slow and steady weight loss actually better than losing weight at a faster pace to achieve your weight goals and maintain your results for the long run?
The most common belief is that you should lose about 1 or 2 pounds per week. This maximum weight loss of 2 pounds per week is recommended by doctors, trainers, and dietitians.
Anyone that doesn’t follow this standard recommendation of 1 or 2 pounds per week is looked down on because it is believed to be ignorant and endangers the health along with the long-term success of the person looking to lose the weight.
One of the most common concerns with fast weight loss is that it usually takes a huge amount of effort with diet and exercise to lose weight fast which leads people to resort to unhealthy methods.
Some people that try to lose weight as fast as possible attempt dangerous methods like crash diets, starvation, or going from 0 to 100 with exercise. These approaches can be very unhealthy.
Furthermore, you probably can’t maintain and keep up with these excessive weight loss measures as a permanent lifestyle. You can stick to a crash diet for a week, maybe two, maybe even a month. But, by month 4, chances are high that you’ve long since quit.
Most experts believe that when you lose weight slowly, you do it through ways that allow you to develop healthy eating behaviours that you can continue applying the long term.
On the other hand, we’re told that most diets that promote rapid weight loss are often very low in calories and nutrients, which may put you at risk of many health problems, like muscle loss, nutritional deficiencies and gallstones, especially if you follow rapid weight loss diets for long.
Many people on a crash diet will also experience hunger, fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, and they might feel cold throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s also believed that when you lose weight too quickly, you’re very likely not losing fat mass, but instead losing water weight, or worse yet, muscle tissue.
You can’t be healthily losing body fat weekly at a rate higher than 2 pounds per week, can you? Or, is that just a myth that we’re constantly told?
Before we get into the studies related to this topic, as a personal trainer that has worked with thousands of clients, I can tell you that some people lose weight fast and others lose weight slowly.
But, based on my experience whether they lose weight fast or slow, doesn’t seem to have that much of an impact on maintaining that weight.
In fact, from what I’ve seen, some people (especially really heavy people), if they don’t see results fast they’ll get demotivated and quit. Let me give you a simple example.
#2 Psychology of weight loss
If you’re looking to lose 10 pounds and you’re losing the average of 2 pounds per week, then every week you’re 20 per cent closer to your goal. It may take you about a month to maintain a clean diet with consistent exercise to reach your goal weight.
However, what happens when you’re looking to lose 60 pounds to get to your goal weight?
At the rate of 2 pounds per week, it’s gonna take you 30 weeks of perfect dieting just to meet your goal weight. That means after half a year of controlling what food you eat and how much you’re eating, and you still won’t quite be there.
This can be very demotivating, especially at the beginning when it feels like an insurmountable amount of effort just to change your habits for the better.
Starting a diet and a workout plan is the hardest part. It only gets easier over the weeks and months that your body adapts.
If you only lose 2 pounds per week, and you’re really heavy, it’s such a minor difference that the results may not be felt or seen in the mirror making it feel like all your effort went to waste.
This once again increases the chances of binge eating and going back to old habits. With a more aggressive fat loss approach, a larger person with more weight to lose can see more results in less time, motivating them to continue sticking to the plan.
One of the biggest obstacles that I’ve encountered as a trainer is not when a person loses a bunch of weight. It’s when they barely lose any weight that I have to start wrestling with doubts. That’s exactly when I have to be extra encouraging to ensure that they continue.
But, what if I’ve just been training outliers this whole time or I’ve been training them wrong? That’s totally possible. Well, luckily there are a lot of studies out there that confirm this point of view.
#3 Case Studies on Weight Loss Speed
Case Study I
One study published in The Lancet (1) compared a group of volunteers that went on a rapid weight loss for 12 weeks against a group that was on a less restrictive gradual weight loss program for 36 weeks.
The goal for both groups was to lose 12 1/2 per cent of their body weight.
Surprisingly the 12-week fast weight loss group had 81 per cent of its participants hit the goal. While only 50 per cent of the gradual dieting group met the 12 1/2 per cent weight loss goal.
Furthermore, both groups were studied over the next three years. They found that regardless of the rate of weight loss, it played no role in whether the weight stayed off or not. Both groups had the same percentage of people regaining the weight.
What’s really interesting about this study is that it showed that the faster weight loss group was able to meet the goal better than the slow weight loss group.
Case Study 2
Let’s move on to another study that was performed at the University of Florida (2) where they divided 262 obese individuals into three groups: fast, moderate, and slow weight loss and they studied these participants for 18 months.
Once again the researchers found that those who lost weight quickly were five times more likely to achieve clinically significant weight loss in 18 months than those who lost weight at a slower rate.
Even if you compare the three groups, you can see that the fastest weight loss group dropped the most amount of weight in the least amount of time, but regained weight at the same steady rate as the other two groups.
Those who had initially dropped the weight most quickly tended to lose more weight overall and maintain the weight loss longer than those who had a more gradual start.
Another study (3) showed that with similar total weight loss, the rate of weight loss did not affect long‐term weight regain in individuals that were overweight and obese.
#4 What about the excess skin?
There are many other studies just like these that are out there. But, what about excess skin from losing weight too fast? Well, that is not entirely true either.
In fact, the issue of loose skin begins long before any weight loss. Instead, it starts when you initially gain a large amount of weight. When that happens, your skin stretches and adds more surface area to hold more fat tissue.
Once you lose weight, all that extra skin surface area is still there leaving some people with hanging excess skin and sometimes it’s so much skin that only surgery can fix it. Meanwhile, other people have no excess skin at all, even if they lost a significant amount of weight.
Other factors such as the total amount of weight originally gained, your age, total muscle mass, and genetics influence what happens after losing a large amount of weight much more than the speed at which you lose the weight.
In fact, the speed at which you lose weight doesn’t seem to play much of a role at all.
The only time that fast weight loss will result in more excess skin is if you’re cutting your food intake so low that your body starts burning away muscle mass.
Building muscle is one of the primary ways that you can prevent loose skin after you are done losing weight. So, you definitely don’t want to starve your body so much that it begins breaking down muscle tissue.
However, losing muscle mass isn’t exclusive to faster dieting approaches when they’re done correctly. Even with a slower diet approach, you can lose plenty of muscle mass.
To prevent this, make sure you are still lifting heavy weights while cutting and make sure you’re consuming enough protein per day regardless of the type of diet plan.
When I talk about more aggressive fat loss approaches, I’m talking about cutting some extra calories or fasting which has actually been shown to support lean muscle tissue; not crash diets.
The bottom line is that there are ways of setting up more aggressive fat loss programs without winding up with excess skin and without gaining all the weight back when you’re done.
We should definitely move away from this idea that you can only lose exactly 1 to 2 pounds per week safely.
If you’re still a little confused and you’re not exactly sure how to set up a proper diet plan to lose weight fast without any negative effects, click on the link below to join the 6-week challenge right now that is helping my clients lose 20 pounds or 5 per cent body fat in only 42 days.
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- Lancet study comparing gradual to fast weight loss:
- Study From the University of Florida showing the fast group did 5x better (Please also use the table that’s attached that shows how much weight the groups lost overtime)
- Study showing that with similar total weight loss, the rate of weight loss did not affect long‐term weight regain in individuals with overweight and obesity: