What is considered rapid weight loss? Anything more than 2 pounds per week is considered rapid weight loss. And rapid weight loss can lead to nutritional deficiencies, anemia, muscle loss, bone density loss, and electrolyte imbalances.
According to the Mayo Clinic and the CDC a healthy weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. To lose 1 pound per week you need to be in a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories.
To lose 2 pounds a week you need to be in a caloric deficit of 1000 calories. The best way to create a caloric deficit is through exercise and diet. If you need to create a deficit in your diet, then you need to consume less calories.
What is considered rapid weight loss? Photo credit: iStock-FotografieLink
For example, let’s say you are on 2,200 calorie diet and you want to create a deficit in your diet then maybe you would drop your calories down to 1,600 to 1,700 calories daily.
Let’s say you want to create a deficit via your exercise then you would want to burn more calories in your cardiovascular and weight-training workouts. So, let’s say you are only burning 300 calories a day from both cardio and weight-training workouts. Then you may need to increase that calorie burn from 300 calories to 600 calories a day to heighten that caloric deficit.
If you lose too much weight too quickly you can lose muscle tissue, bone density and water. And muscle loss will lead to a drop in the rate of your metabolism. And if your metabolism drops this will affect your ability to drop body fat and lose weight.
Some of the risks of rapid weight loss are:
- Electrolyte imbalances which can increase risk to death.
- The appearance of gallstones happens which occurs when 12% to 25% lose large amounts of weight over several months.
- Dehydration which happens when you are not drinking enough fluids.
Some other side effects to rapid weight loss are headaches, fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, muscle loss, irritability, constipation, menstrual irregularities, etc.
Fad diets severely limit your calories and are designed to help you with rapid weight loss. And the reason it was designed is because the calories are extremely low. But what the creators of these fad diets don’t tell you is how hard it is sustain that level of minimal eating. And how many nutrient deficiencies happen when you are getting less than 1,000 calories per day.
Research studies have shown if you are consuming less than 1,200 calories per day you will see the biggest metabolism drop. And this would make it difficult for you to achieve long term weight loss.
Rapid weight loss is more about cutting calories than exercising. If your goal is long term weight loss, then you should focus on a long-term diet and exercise plan that allows you to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. To achieve that 1 to 2 pounds per week weight loss you need to be in a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1000 calories per day.
A common low-calorie diet for women depending on how much you weigh is between 1,200 to 1,400 calories day. A common low-calorie diet for men is between 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day. The number of calories you should be on to lose weight will always depend on your physical activity level and how much you weigh.
The diets that are very low-calorie diets are about 800 calories a day. And this type of diet consists of replacement shakes, smoothies, soups, and bars instead of eating regular whole food meals. And these diets lack the most important minerals and nutrients therefore it puts you in an extreme nutrient deficiency.
“Anything more than 2 pounds per week is considered rapid weight loss. And rapid weight loss can lead to nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, bone density loss, anemia, and electrolyte imbalances.” Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert Obi Obadike
The Bottom Line what is considered a rapid weight loss, is when you are losing 4 to 5 pounds per week, which is not healthy.
The result is losing water, muscle, and bone density. And it is not sustainable, and most people gain the weight back.
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. 4 ways very low-calorie diets can sabotage your health. www.eatright.org/health/wellness/your-overall-health/4-ways-low-calorie-diets-can-sabotage-your-health?rdType=site_move&rdInfo=yoh9. Updated January 2022. Accessed May 24, 2022.
Parretti HM, Jebb SA, Johns DJ, Lewis AL, Christian-Brown AM, Aveyard P. Clinical effectiveness of very-low-energy diets in the management of weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obes Rev. 2016;17(3):225-234. PMID: 26775902 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26775902/.