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16 Common Side Effects of Weight Loss

Dangerous Side Effects of Losing Weight

Common Side Effects of Weight Loss

The health benefits of losing weight are almost too many to name. You’ll feel better, sleep better, have more energy, and reduce your risk of disease and early death. But if you undergo dramatic weight loss, lose too much weight too quickly, or simply make the wrong food decisions as part of your plan, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some of the negative side effects of weight loss that you may not have seen coming.

Some of these methods are dangerous and just not worth the trouble and harm they cause to your body’s vital organs. You will be able to see instant results in these kind of methods, but they can seriously harm your body in the long run. Let us look at some of the rapid weight loss side effects.

No matter your personal motivation for weight loss, the benefits of being at a healthy weight are indisputable. But some unexpected changes and challenges rear their ugly heads when you are losing, or have already lost, a significant amount of weight.

These side effects of weight loss can include transitions in mood, shifts in appetite, fluctuations in the way your body operates, and even potential changes to your relationship status (with others and yourself).

While the pros of slimming down outweigh the cons, the following potential consequences may stall your progress or—even worse—discourage you from reaching your end goal. You might think that you’re the only one experiencing these side effects of weight loss and you might not want to talk about them with other people, let alone boast about them on social media.

A variety of serious conditions are associated with fast weight loss. According to WebMD, these include imbalances of electrolytes, malnutrition, gallstones and dehydration. Fatigue, irritability, headaches, constipation, dizziness, irregular menstruation, loss of muscle and loss of hair are other potential side effects of weight loss.

Negative Side Effects Of Weight Loss

The benefits of being at a healthy weight are indisputable; dropping just five to 10 percent of your body weight may help improve your overall health and reduce the risk of health conditions like heart diseases, obesity and diabetes. However, shedding extra pounds may also mean some unexpected challenges that show up when you lose a significant amount of weight in a short span of time, especially if you are following a fad diet. Fad diets are diets that promise to help you lose weight in less than a week’s time.

To say that extreme weight-loss isn’t good would be an understatement. Rather, it’s downright dangerous for your body! Extreme weight-loss is defined as a loss of more than 1kg a week for a sustained period. Under such circumstances, your body is unlikely to be able to keep up and noticeable symptoms are bound to appear. Some may seem harmless on the surface, like minor hair-loss or feeling cold more frequently. But other effects can be very damaging to your physical and mental health in the long run.

While there are many positives that may skyrocket like boost in your energy levels, better skin and hair, and healthy lifestyle, et al; the negatives that it may bring along may depend on a person to person and their journey of losing weight. Here are the side effects of losing weight that you must know

You Could Develop Sagging Skin And Stretch Marks

Loose, sagging skin and stretch marks are the product of losing lots of weight too fast. Registered dietitian nutritionist Malina Linkas Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian™ Lifestyle, told INSIDER that this happens because the skin isn’t able to shrink as quickly as the body.

“Focus on slow, steady weight loss at a rate of about one to two pounds per week to give the skin time to shrink along with the body,” Malkani, Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said.

She also recommended implementing resistance exercises to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass. According to Prevention, building muscle could help prevent sagging skin during weight loss as well as eating more produce, using sunscreen, and using collagen-based serums or retinoids.

When weight loss does happen quickly and there is a lot of loose sagging skin, some people opt for surgery to remove it. It’s worth noting that the process will result in visible scars and will take a few weeks for recovery, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

Stomach Pain

Some people who lose weight fast develop gallstones—hard lumps that form in your gallbladder, Dr. Wyatt says.

If you cut down on fat in your diet, your gallbladder doesn’t contract as frequently, allowing bile to become concentrated in the organ, which leads to the formation of stones, she explains.

Your move: Include fat in your daily diet to keep your gallbladder functioning properly, Dr. Wyatt says. Fat is often viewed as a dietary demon, but studies show that the nutrient doesn’t directly inflate your belly—too many calories do.

Fat may also make your meals more enjoyable, as long you keep portions in check. See your doctor if you’re experiencing gallstone symptoms like intense stomach pain, nausea, and fever.

May Affect Hair Health

Most fad diets suggest consuming fewer calories, which may mean they don’t have enough essential nutrients to add to your body. This can lead you to being malnourished, further causing hair loss. Deficiencies of macro and micro nutrients in the body may lead to dull and weak hair. Make sure you load up on more protein in your diet and eat enough calories that include sufficient amount of vital nutrients to avoid such a condition.

Sure, your diet may keep your body slim, but it may impact your skin health, too. The foods you eat decide what will show up on your skin. Poor nourishment may lead to break-outs, acne, dull skin, fine lines, et al. The idea is to add foods that are rich in antioxidants that help block skin damage, especially from the sun.

You May Become Depressed

According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, though losing weight comes with undeniable physical benefits, the “effects on mental health are less straightforward.” The researchers, from the University College of London, found that people who lost 5% or more of their body weight had an increased chance of reporting feelings of depression afterward.

“Resisting the ever-present temptations of unhealthy food in modern society takes a mental toll, as it requires considerable willpower and may involve missing out on some enjoyable activities,” noted Sarah Jackson, Ph.D., of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Public Health Care, and lead author of the study. “Anyone who has ever been on a diet would understand how this could affect wellbeing.”

User Willravel responded to Cube_ writing, “This might seem like a joke answer but it’s actually really insightful and important. Being overweight certainly comes with it’s challenges, but coming out the other side as a healthier you doesn’t mean that life will be all kale shakes and rainbows.”

“It’s very easy for people who are overweight — including myself years ago — to let all of their problems sort of rest on the foundation of the low self-esteem that can come with being overweight. When I finally put in the work and dropped my excess fat, I felt a lot better, I slept better, I could tie my shoes and go up and down stairs until the cows came home, but my self-esteem didn’t magically become bulletproof and issues of depression and anxiety were still there, they were just in a smaller package.” 

In addition to anecdotal evidence, a study done at the University College London also found that losing weight doesn’t necessarily improve mental health. Participants in the study who dropped more than 5% of their body weight were 52% more likely to report a depressed mood than those who stayed within 5% of their original weight, according to CNN. 

Loss Of Muscle Mass

When you lose weight, it’s not just fat that you lose but muscle as well. A loss in muscle mass often comes with decreasing metabolism rate, which further destabilises the fat-to-muscle ratio. Weaker muscles translate to more inconvenience in day-to-day activities like carrying heavy groceries or climbing the stairs. Even if the number on the weighing scale ends up looking nicer, your quality of life may not be as rosy.

Your move: “If you maintain a good protein intake and do strength exercises as you lose weight, you can shift that ratio a bit so there’s less muscle loss,” Dr. Yancy says. If you’ve been doing cardio exclusively, make an effort to increase the amount of strength training you do. You can get muscle gains even with body-weight exercises, like this set for abs (no weights required), or get started in the gym with this total-body workout.

What’s “a good protein intake”? You don’t have to go crazy on it, just aim for about 30 grams at every meal. Most people load up on protein at dinner and have very little for breakfast. Try spreading it out a bit by serving up something like eggs for breakfast (21 grams of protein for three), or maybe even leftovers from last night’s dinner?

Just be aware that yogurt isn’t a protein motherlode: it only has about nine grams per cup, but that’s still better than what you’d get in toast (usually barely three grams). Protein can also be an extra weapon in helping you continue to lose weight. Find out exactly how protein can help you with weight and muscle.

Dehydration

Purging falls among the extreme weight loss dangers that some people resort to lose weight. Apart from causing dehydration, it can also cause bodily weakness along with loss of hair and kidney failure. Constant vomiting can cause cavities and decay in your teeth and give them a dull look. In severe cases, it can result in organ failure.

​It Could Mess Up Your Menstrual Cycle

Sudden or excessive weight loss in a short time can even mess with your hormones and your monthly cycle. Cutting down your daily calorie intake way too much can hinder the production of hormones in the body necessary for ovulation. This indicates that you are underweight and need to put on some kilos.

You Might Feel Colder

According to Apovian, this common weight loss complaint has to do with your metabolic rate and hormone changes.

“Your body is going to lower your metabolic rate when you lose weight to try to conserve energy,” Apovian said. “And in conserving energy, it doesn’t have a lot of extra calories to keep you warm.”

Another reason you might feel colder is because you no longer have fat acting as an insulator. Shape reports that without that extra layer your body becomes more sensitive to temperature changes as you lose weight

Phantom Cravings

Look, it’s fine to give in to temptation—in fact most dietitians will tell you that it’s a healthful way to manage a good diet long-term.

But the best solution for avoiding cravings is to focus on foods that keep you feeling full longer. That means “focusing on high fiber, moderate protein and healthy fats,” says Shelby Cox, a registered dietitian nutritionist and director of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center at Colorado State University.

May Cause Constipation

If you are following a certain diet, your constipation maybe related to the dietary changes you have made. So, it is always good to add up on more fibre-rich foods, including whole grains, salads, raw fruits and vegetables, et al, to get your bowels moving. Also, it is important to keep yourself hydrated all the time, which helps keep constipation at bay.

You Could Be Starving Your Body of Essential Nutrients

Many trendy weight-loss plans require you to slash entire food groups from your diet, which may also mean that you’re robbing your body of some essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, a sports dietitian who works with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, calls this no-no “elimination without justification.”

“Cutting out dairy without medical reasons, for instance, lowers your intake of calcium and Vitamin D,” she says. “If you were eating yogurt and you suddenly stop, you’re not getting as many probiotics for your gut.”

Other examples include cutting out too many fats, which could reduce your lipid levels and decrease your body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which adversely impact the health of your skin and hair. And if you’re going vegan, you need to make sure you’re finding ways to get more necessary protein into your diet. “Remember,” says Bonci, “Putting just fruits and veggies on the plate may result in weight loss, but will not promote great health.”

Imbalance of Electrolytes

Many of our bodily functions are regulated by naturally occurring elements. Any imbalance to the proportion of these elements could be potentially dangerous and may cause conditions such as seizures and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats). Electrolytes in particular are critical to cellular function and integrity. If the latter were to break down, it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the body follows suit.

Heart Ailments

Our bodies derive nutrition from a wide food range. However, some people chose to increase the intake of certain foods and decrease or completely avoid some of the others. Consuming more of proteins can leave you with constipation, decreased liver-functioning, and even heart-related ailments.

You Might Have Trouble Sleeping

The relationship between sleep and food is complicated. Not only does what and when you eat affect sleep, but sleep also affects your food choices, NBC’s Better reports.

The basics of sleep come down to a chemical called adenosine, which builds up in your body before a rise in melatonin, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Although we know that sleep is key to successful dieting and weight loss, it might be harder to sleep during weight loss because of dietary changes.

“If you want to sleep well at night you want your tryptophan levels to go up, and the way to do that is to have a little carbohydrates with protein and, that will increase tryptophan levels in the brain and melatonin,” Apovian said. “And when you don’t eat enough or you’re eating less calories, that hormonal balance changes and so you’re not lulled to sleep [instead] you’re activated, and your body is looking for food.”

Gallstones

When gallstones form, severe pain is experienced along with indigestion. They are formed when digestive juices in the gallbladder aren’t released because of a lack of food to digest. These juices then harden inside the gallbladder and can block the opening, causing indigestion which leads to further pain and discomfort.

Your Taste Perceptions Could Change

“It’s not an act of growing out of anything, it’s [that] your interest in food is hormonal,” Apovian said. “And ghrelin secreted from the stomach makes you very very hungry, and you find different food more appealing.”

This theory is supported by a study that found people who were lost weight via bariatric surgery had a change in taste. According to Time, almost 87% of patients reported this change post-surgery, and half of those people said food didn’t taste as good. Those who had dulled taste buds also lost more weight than their peers who reported their tastes sharpened.

That’s because of hormonal changes that influence how taste receptors relay information to the brain, according to Health.

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