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The rapid rise in overweight and obesity rates has become a breeding ground for marketers, authors, and many companies to promote the idea of rapid weight loss.

Although it is a good idea to put serious effort into losing weight, most people are after physical improvement, in terms of beauty, rather than of health.

This motivation makes everyone forget about the unhealthy consequences of losing weight rapidly, but instead, focus on being able to don a bathing suit for summer or a sexy gown for a wedding. Worse, some people develop eating disorders or become depressed when their efforts fail.

Weight Loss Strategies

Just searching the internet or listening to TV ads will let you know that you have a thousand options that promise weight loss within seven days or a month. These include various diet pills, starvation diets, fad diets, detoxification programs, herbal supplements, very-low calorie diets, meal substitute shakes, boot camps, exercise devices, body creams that dissolve fat, and many more. But most of these products and strategies are not supported by solid evidence that they truly work for the long term. Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate any company's claims, nor do they need approval before marketing, unless the products are classified as drugs.

Aside from lifestyle changes, the only weight loss strategies recognized by doctors and other health experts are:

  • Eating a doctor-supervised very low-calorie diet

  • Weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery)

  • Prescription weight-loss pills, such as orlistat (Xenical or Alli), Belviq, phentermine and Qsymia.

These medical strategies usually take several weeks to work, and although weight loss is the ultimate result, they also aim to improve health and prevent disease.

Risks of Losing Weight Fast

Trying to lose weight fast, especially if done without medical guidance, can result in ill effects:

  • Irritability

  • Negative mood

  • Poor performance

  • Increased tension

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Dehydration

  • Fatigue

  • Constipation

  • Hair loss

  • Menstrual irregularities

  • Muscle loss

Serious side effects include:

  • Formation of gallstones, which occurs in up to 25% of people who lose significant amount of weight

  • Malnutrition, because of lack of enough nutrients, especially protein, in food intake

  • Electrolyte imbalances, which can be life-threatening.

Lose Weight Safely

Science reveals that if one burns 500 calories more than what they eat every day, they should lose about one to two pounds in a week. So if you want to lose weight faster, you should exercise more and eat less. A person who consumes 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily and exercises one hour daily may lose 3 to 5 lbs in a week. Eating foods with low salt content may also lead to greater weight reduction due to fluid loss. However, experts warn that you should not try to lose more weight than this rate.

To lose weight fast but safely, weight management experts recommend:

  • Eating a diet that is low in starch, added sugars and fat from meat and dairy products.

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables, egg whites, skinless chicken and turkey, soy products, sea food, 95% lean meat, and non-fat dairy.

  • Drinking plenty of water.

  • Avoid buying and stocking on tempting foods.

  • Staying busy, but avoid sitting for long periods.

  • Eating from a plate in front of a table, instead of grazing from the fridge.

  • Not skipping meals.

  • Keeping a food journal to help you monitor your eating habits.

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