It's not considered healthy to lose weight super fast. People who slim down quickly tend to put the pounds back on again and may experience health issues. However, there are certain specific situations where healthcare practitioners may recommend rapid weight loss.
Rapid weight loss isn't recommended in normal circumstances as it can lead to nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and muscle loss. However, you can speed up this process and achieve the desired weight through a combination of diet and regular exercise.
Lose Weight Super Fast
It's possible to lose weight super fast. Severe calorie restriction, altering your macronutrient intake and increasing your level of physical activity can all help you slim down. These practices, though, may not all be healthy.
Slimming down is hard, but keeping the weight off can be particularly challenging if you do it quickly. Harvard Medical School recommends losing weight gradually for lasting results. To stay safe, try to lose no more than one to two pounds per week.
If you slim down rapidly, you're not just likely to gain that lost weight back again — there are actually serious health issues that can occur when you lose weight super fast. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, issues associated with rapid weight loss include:
- Gastrointestinal problems, including nausea, diarrhea and constipation
- Loss of muscle
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Reduced bone density
Rapid weight loss is usually accomplished through calorie restriction or substantial increases in physical activity. Some people use a combination of the two. However, calorie restriction is more likely to produce rapid weight loss, when compared to exercise.
Calorie Restriction for Weight Loss
Most people consume around 2,000 calories per day. However, your exact calorie intake depends on a variety of factors. In particular, your age, physical activity levels and gender all determine the number of calories you need to consume daily.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people can consume anywhere between 1,600 and 3,200 calories per day and still be ingesting a sufficient and healthy number of calories. On this scale, sedentary women are likely to need the least amount of calories per day, while extremely active men are likely to need the most.
Calorie restriction is often considered to be an easy way to reduce your body fat. Crash dieting, which is an extreme form of calorie restriction, can definitely help you lose weight super fast, but it's unhealthy. Instead, Harvard Medical School recommends reducing your daily calorie intake moderately. Around 500 to 1,000 calories less is usually considered healthy.
If you reduce your daily calorie intake by around 500 calories each day, you should lose around one pound each week. Double that reduction (eat 1,000 fewer calories per day) and you should see two pounds of weight loss per week. In general, it's necessary to create a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat.
However, there are also limits on how many calories you can reduce. For example, it might not be healthy for someone who is consuming 2,000 calories per day to cut 1,000 calories from their diet. Harvard Medical School states that the minimum daily recommended intake of calories is 1,500 per day for men and 1,200 per day for women. Taking in fewer calories is likely to result in nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and muscle loss, among other issues.
Many diets recommend caloric intakes lower than these minimum recommended amounts. However, these diet plans are only recommended in specific circumstances where you are being supervised by a medical professional.
Medically-Supervised Low-Calorie Diets
Low-calorie diets typically require people to consume meal replacements, energy bars, soups and shakes rather than standard meals. If you're on a fairly flexible low-calorie diet (such as consuming between 1,000 and 1,200 calories per day), you may be able to consume a mixture of meal replacements and normal meals.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you can consume as few as 800 calories per day on certain very-low-calorie diets. This kind of calorie restriction can result in substantial weight loss — you could shed as many as three to five pounds each week.
These diets can help you shed body fat quickly. However, they require the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Even then, most people should not follow such diets for longer than three months or so.
Typically, medically-supervised low-calorie diets are only recommended in specific circumstances. Such diets may be prescribed to those who are obese and need to slim down rapidly. They may also be suitable for people who are about to undergo certain surgical procedures. Although rapid weight loss has its side effects, it may improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and help manage certain conditions, such as diabetes.
Exercise and Weight Loss
Although exercise is not the best way to lose weight super fast, increasing the amount of physical activity you do on a daily basis can help you reduce body fat and slim down. According to Harvard Medical School, every 3,500 calories you burn through exercise can result in one pound of weight loss.
Of course, different forms of exercise and physical activity allow you to burn different numbers of calories. Moderate forms of exercise include walking, dancing, hiking and even certain chores around your home, like gardening. Vigorous exercise includes sporting activities such as running, jogging, swimming and weight lifting.
According to the Mayo Clinic, incorporating regular exercise into your routine can benefit your health in a variety of ways. In addition to helping you get leaner, exercise may help:
- Improve your cardiovascular health
- Reduce your risk of certain diseases, including cancer, depression, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and stroke
- Lift your mood
- Improve your sleep
- Increase your energy levels
Weight loss of any kind can help reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, these other health benefits are specific to exercise and are unlikely to be obtained if you're losing weight through calorie restriction alone.
If you decide to lose weight through exercise, you shouldn't stop doing so once you meet your weight loss goals. This will likely cause you to gradually put any lost weight back on again, which is essentially the same thing that occurs when you rapidly switch from a calorie-restricted diet to normal eating.
- Mayo Clinic: "Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Tips to Help You Reach Your Exercise and Weight Loss Goals"
- Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: "Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- US National Library of Medicine: "Diet for Rapid Weight Loss"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"