The beginning of a new year is a time when people make resolutions to make a change in their life for the better.
There are many popular New Year’s resolutions such as reducing debt, managing stress, quitting smoking, and losing weight.
Weight loss and getting healthy may just be the most popular, since 35.7 percent of American adults are currently obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you’re looking to work off all that pumpkin pie this year, you’ve got a lot of options – but weight loss programs that promise you’ll lose a significant amount of weight very quickly can actually cause health problems.
Extreme Weight Loss: Health Problems
Your body’s systems function through a delicate balance of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Losing weight too quickly can disrupt this balance and cause health problems. Some problems may be minor and temporary such as fatigue, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea, but others can become serious and life-threatening.
The electrolyte imbalance from too-rapid weight loss can cause heart arrhythmias, which occur when the heart beats abnormally. A normal heart beats between 50 and 100 beats a minute, but with an arrhythmia, your heart can beat too slow or too fast.
You can also develop gallstones as a result of losing weight too quickly. When eliminating or severely restricting fat from your diet, your body will start using its stored fat instead. This causes your gallbladder to secrete an excess of bile; too much bile can cause gallstones.
Completely excluding certain food groups, such as carbohydrates or proteins, or severely restricting calories for an extended period of time, can result in malnutrition. Malnutrition can result in mental or physical disability, illness, and possibly death if left untreated. If you experience fainting, rapid hair loss, and/or lack of menstruation (women) then you should check with your doctor.
Losing Weight Safely in 2013: Take it Slow
There are a wide variety of diets and weight loss methods available, from healthy hints to lapband surgery and alternate day dieting. Once you choose a weight loss method, and consult your doctor, losing one to two pounds a week is a healthy goal for most people.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you lose no more than one to two pounds a week – losing weight at a slow and steady pace has a number of benefits, including a better chance at long-term weight loss.
The only time that you should attempt more rapid weight loss is under direct medical supervision. For example, in some instances a physician will prescribe a very low calorie diet (VLCD) for people who are obese and have serious health problems due to their weight.
Whatever options you pick to help you keep your 2013 weight loss resolutions, make sure they’re healthy, and check with your doctor before making lifestyle changes if you have any chronic health problems.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and Overweight. (2012). Accessed December 31, 2012.
Mayo Clinic. Fast Weight Loss: What’s Wrong With It? (2011). Accessed December 31, 2012.
PubMed Health. Gallstones. (2012). Accessed December 31, 2012.
PubMed Health. Malnutrition. (2011). Accessed December 31, 2012.
Weight-control Information Network. Very Low Calorie Diets. (2010). Accessed December 31, 2012.
WebMD. Heart Disease and Abnormal Heart Rhythms. (2012). Accessed December 31, 2012.
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