Mary James

Is Extreme Weight Loss Safe? The Risks Of Shedding Pounds Too Quickly

Jenna Wolfe, American journalist and personal trainer

You didn’t gain all your weight in one day; you won’t lose it in one day. Be patient with yourself.

Jenna Wolfe

With shows on TV like 'The Biggest Loser' and 'Extreme Weight Loss,' we have looked at our weight as a society, and we have started to ask ourselves if we are doing enough to stay healthy. Some people are at a point where they could lose a few pounds, while others are morbidly obese and could easily be killed by their overeating.

Whether it's a few pounds or a lot, we feel as though we need to lose the weight and lose it fast. We feed this belief with reality TV coupled with images of celebrities and models who are in amazing shape. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, maybe even quickly, we have to ask ourselves if extreme weight loss is healthy. The truth is, in most cases, it's not.

Losing Weight Should Be Gradual

Weight loss should be a gradual thing, and extreme weight loss can put a lot of pressure on our bodies. When people on shows like 'The Biggest Loser' are interviewed, they often discuss the sometimes serious injuries they sustained from overworking their muscles and bones.

Also, people have a tendency to go too far in the opposite direction with their food intake, which can lead to starvation. Here, the body becomes malnourished and many important body functions can slow and even shut down because of this.

It's Only Water Weight

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Extreme Weight Loss: Is It Bad To Lose Weight Too Fast?

TIP: If you are told that extreme weight loss methods aren't for you, respect your doctor's wishes.

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Other fast and extreme weight loss diets involve practices that lead to dehydration, which can cause serious damage to your body. Sure, you'll lose weight quickly, but it's only water weight and you'll regain it as soon as you start drinking water again.

Still, you can lose a significant amount of weight quickly... if you have the weight to lose. Most of the people you hear about losing well over the recommended two pounds a week are people who have a significant amount of fat to lose, and these people are usually losing weight under the right supervision.

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Extreme Weight Loss Effects Health

If you think this is you and you are at a point where your weight is affecting your health, consult your doctor and a dietician. They'll be able to point you in the right direction and create a diet and exercise plan that won't shock your system or cause major health problems.

If you're told that extreme weight loss methods aren't for you, respect your doctor's wishes. At the end of the day, it's your life and you'll do what you want with it, but I highly recommend considering what they have to say and trusting the professionals.

Be aware that too fast or extreme weight loss can cause muscle loss, it can slow down your metabolism, cause nutritional deficiencies, gallstones and other side effects such as fatigue, irritability, feeling cold, muscle cramps, dizziness and so on.

The Bottom Line

In short, is extreme weight loss healthy? The answer is that it can be for the right person in the right circumstances. For the rest of us, we need to be in it for the long haul, put in the work and do it the right way for our bodies and our overall health.

Experience shows that slow, steady weight loss is easier to maintain in the long term because it's better for developing healthy eating habits and is much safer than losing weight too quickly. If you want to lose weight and keep it off for many months and years, start with a slow but steady rate of 1-2 pounds per week.

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Extreme or rapid weight loss is generally defined as losing more than 1-2 pounds (about 0.5 to 1 kilogram) per week. While this may seem like a modest figure, consistently exceeding this rate can lead to various health issues and is considered unsustainable and potentially harmful in the long term.


Rapid weight loss can lead to several health problems, including nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, decreased metabolic rate, and gallstones. It can also impact mental health, leading to issues like stress, anxiety, and an unhealthy relationship with food. Quick weight reduction often involves extreme dietary restrictions and insufficient nutrient intake, which are not sustainable and can harm overall health.


Yes, losing weight too quickly can negatively affect your metabolism. When you drastically reduce calorie intake, your body may adapt by lowering its metabolic rate to conserve energy. This survival mechanism can make it more difficult to lose weight over time and increase the likelihood of weight regain once normal eating patterns resume.


Regaining weight after rapid weight loss is not only possible but also very common. This phenomenon, known as "yo-yo dieting," occurs because extreme dieting methods are difficult to maintain long-term. Once the diet ends and old eating habits resume, the weight often comes back, sometimes in excess of what was originally lost.


Rapid weight loss can lead to significant muscle loss alongside fat loss, especially if the weight loss is achieved through extreme calorie restriction without adequate protein intake and strength training. Losing muscle mass can weaken the body, reduce metabolic rate, and impair physical function.


The recommended approach to weight loss for long-term success involves a combination of moderate calorie reduction, balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and behavioural changes. Aim for a gradual weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week by adopting a healthy and sustainable eating pattern and incorporating both cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Consulting healthcare professionals can also provide guidance tailored to individual health needs and goals.

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About the Author Mary James

I am passionate about fitness, a healthy lifestyle, cooking, and well-being. This blog is about some of my thoughts that are occupying my mind and spirit daily over the last 10 years and my grand passion – weight loss and fitness, healthy lifestyle and healthy food, mindfulness and self-improvement.

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