Weight Loss

From the effects of the hormone cortisol to the role of genetics in weight loss, this category is packed with everything that you need to know about losing weight the healthy way.

Extreme Weight Loss: Dangerous and Unsuccessful

Diets that claim to shed weight fast may deter from safe and effective practices. Instead of falling victim to extreme weight loss methods, learn what it really takes to safely lose weight.


The "Extreme Weight Loss" show may have sparked motivation to embark on a personal weight loss journey. While rapid weight loss can be safe, going too extreme without professional guidance can be dangerous. It can be unsuccessful, too.

Most health experts tout losing weight is mostly a gradual process. Keeping weight off also involves making a total lifestyle change with considerations of diet and exercise.

Unfortunately, though, diets that claim to shed weight fast may deter from safe and effective practices. So instead of falling victim to extreme weight loss strategies, learn what it really takes to safely lose the weight.

Extreme Weight Loss Methods

Extreme diets come in many flavors, or lack thereof, including in liquid form and hormone injections. They may also require a paid visit to the doctor's office for a surgical operation.

Here are some of the most common extreme weight loss methods dieters may turn to in hopes to drop weight fast. (And some of the most bizarre!)

1. Starvation and Very-Low-Calorie Diets

Starvation diets promote severe food restriction with very-low-calorie levels.

Also known as very-low-energy diets (VLCEs), very-low-calorie diets (VLCDs) are often nutritional formulas that replace all meals. They offer the body balanced nutrition while restricting calories to no more than 800 daily.

Followers of a VLCD often lose between three to five pounds weekly. However, a VLCD should be administered and supervised by a healthcare professional.

In lieu of medical advice and guidance, some dieters turn to other creative forms of a starvation diet. One form includes the Sleeping-Beauty Diet, which involves taking a sedative to sleep (and starve) through days at a time.

Other forms of restrictive diets confine food intake to a single food, such as the Grapefruit Diet. Calorie restriction may also come by replacing adult-appropriate meals with jarred baby food.

These sort of diets can ultimately disrupt metabolism, result in muscle wasting, and lead to extreme feelings of hunger and lethargy.

2. Diet Pills and Supplements

Take a pill, lose belly fat and overall weight. While such an easy fix is enticing, the appeal does not live up to its expectation. Such supplements can not only be hard on the wallet but also hard on the body.

Generally, such detox pills and potions are produced with a concoction of spices, herbs, fruit and vegetable juices. While most ingredients are considered to be safe, it is critical to pay special attention to the ingredients. Not all dietary supplements are tested and can contain contaminated and harmful substances.

The key to any supplement is they actually work to supplement a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. Because truly, whole foods offer other health benefits often supplements lack, including fiber proven to lower heart disease risk.

3. Cleanses and Detox Diets

Cleanses and detox diets promote to "rid toxins from the body" and lead to fast weight loss.

The Master Cleanse, or The Lemonade Diet, claims to detox the body and drop weight in 10 days. The Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle Diet comes in the form of a two day cleanse. Each day tops about 400 calories per day, claiming to shed up to 10 pounds. It is also advertised to detox, cleanse, and rejuvenate the dieter.

Some cleanses can cause individuals to lose weight from water and stool weight. This, in turn, lowers total body weight and indicative of true fat loss. Cleanses can also be very dangerous with risks of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, too.

Really, so-called cleanses to remove toxins are unnecessary. Besides, the body is already uniquely fine-tuned to detoxify and excrete toxins thanks to the kidneys, liver, and other organs.

4. Hormonal and Surgical Extreme Diets

Other extreme weight loss methods include hormonal injections and surgical procedures.

The HCG Diet is one of the most popular. HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone present at high levels in early pregnancy. It can be detected in maternal blood and urine and is the foundation of many pregnancy tests.

So, how does HCG result in weight loss? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) questions the same and describes the diet of fraudulent. They further advise consumers to steer clear of HCG weight-loss products. Although HCG is approved for treating female infertility, it is not for over-the-counter for any purpose, weight loss included.

The Feeding Tube Diet is a commonly used weight loss method amongst brides. The diet involves inserting a feeding tube to administer calorie and portion-controlled solutions. But the option is not for everyone nor cheap. Qualifying candidates must have a BMI of 27 or higher and willing to fork out nearly $1,600 for 10 days.

Some truly extreme weight loss methods include The Tapeworm and Tongue Patch Diets. The Tapeworm Diet works by swallowing a pill with a tapeworm egg inside. When it hatches, the tapeworm grows inside the digestive tract and eats whatever is available. In theory, eat without restriction and the tapeworm will dispose of those extra calories.

The Tongue Patch Diet is also extreme, as a hard plastic mesh is surgically sewn onto the tongue. The theory is to inflict pain if trying to eat solid food, thus deterring from eating. Instead, followers drink an 800-calorie liquid diet in hopes to lose 20 pounds.

The Risks of Extreme Dieting

The risks can vary based on the method, as placing a feed tube can cause diarrhea, skin issues, and other complications. The squeamish Tapeworm Diet be life-threatening by causing blockages and infections throughout the entire body.

All-in-all, though, extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can cause:

• Unpleasant side effects: Depriving the body of essential nutrients can stress and damage the body. Individuals are likely to experience a multitude of side effects when enduring rapid weight loss. These include fatigue, headache, irritability, dizziness, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances, which can even be life-threatening. Severe weight loss can cause hair loss and women to lose their menstrual cycles, too.

• Muscle wasting: Amidst self-starvation, the body searches for energy to carry-on and function as efficiently as possible. But rather than burning stored fat, the body often starts to fuel itself by breaking down muscle. This can also slow down metabolism in the short and long-term.

• Weight regain: Extreme diets often cause individuals to lose water weight and are unsustainable. Unfortunately, the weight loss is often regained. And not only is weight regain likely, but individuals often gain it back and then some.

• Added health concerns: Chronic diseases are mostly linked to overweight and obesity. However, rapid weight loss and fluctuations can also increase the risk of developing them.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared a high-fluctuation group to lower weight shifts. They discovered large fluctuations of 8.6 pounds increased the risks of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and death. This was compared to those who kept weight maintained and steady with a low 2-pound weight shift.

Drastic weight loss also increases the risk of gallstones, hardened deposits of bile that form in the gallbladder. Gallstones can block bile ducts and cause severe abdominal pain and increase the risk of serious complications.

Healthy and Safe Weight Loss Tips

If considered to be a normal healthy individual, a short bout of calorie restriction is likely to not cause harm.

Still yet, always consult with a doctor to lessen the risk of potentially harmful and dangerous rapid weight loss side effects. Working with a dietitian or integrative healthcare team can help determine a safe, appropriate plan based on personal goals and needs.

Ultimately, a slow and gradual process is recommended for sustainable purposes. While it may not be the answer hoped for, the time it takes to lose weight safely is worth the payoff! It also reduces the risks of rapid and drastic weight loss.

Overall, tried and true weight loss tips include:

• Incorporating more whole foods in the diet. Place dietary focus on whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources.

• Reducing empty calories that lack nutritional value, such as refined breads and pastas, pastries, and convenience snacks.

• Drinking water over sugary and alcoholic beverages. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water on a daily basis.

• Practicing portion control by using smaller plates, splitting restaurant meals, and eating slowly.

• Dismissing a sedentary lifestyle and increasing physical activity, including 150 minutes of cardio exercises weekly. Lift weights and strength trained at least two to three days, too.

• Managing stress with positive coping techniques, including exercising, practicing yoga, meditating, calling a friend, and reading a book. Doing so can lower cortisol levels and risks of emotional eating.

• Sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours each night. Lack of sleep can heighten cravings towards comfort foods and plummet energy to be active throughout the day.

• Considering a weight loss meal delivery service that offers balanced meals and ongoing support, including bistroMD.

BistroMD provides life-transforming wellness in the form of well-balanced meals that are based on the pillars of gourmet cooking. BistroMD's weight loss program customizes diet plans while considering factors that influence weight and overall health.

Unlike other weight loss meal delivery programs, BistroMD is backed by the research of weight loss physician Dr. Caroline Cederquist. Dietitians also customize weekly menus to ensure individual needs are being met. Every doctor-designed and dietitian-approved meal provides a scientific balance of complex carb, lean protein, and healthy fats.

BistroMD does not believe in dieting, though, but rather eating healthier to look and feel better. This means rejecting a meal plan for extreme weight loss consistently offering only a chicken breast with steamed broccoli. Also offering 200 recipes and a customizable menu, there is always a find something to satisfy personal taste buds!

All meals are proportioned and ready to enjoy after a quick few minutes in the microwave. That means no grocery shopping, meal prepping, and kitchen cleaning, but all the time to spend doing meaningful things.

Members also have access to one-on-one support from Registered Dietitians, an online Facebook community, and an extensive Health Library. So truly, never feel alone throughout the weight loss journey!

Written By bistroMD Team. Published on June 12, 2013. Updated on June 12, 2019.


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