What are the dangers of losing extreme amounts of weight in a short period of time?
I remember reading The Biggest Loser season one’s winner, Ryan Benson’s description of the extreme measures he took in order to lose weight during the show on his myspaceblog:
“I wanted to win so bad that the last ten days before the final weigh-in I didn’t eat one piece of solid food! If you’ve heard of “The Master Cleanse” that’s what I did. Its basically drinking lemonade made with water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.
The rules of the show said we couldn’t use any weight-loss drugs, well I didn’t take any drugs, I just starved myself! Twenty-four hours before the final weigh-in I stopped putting ANYTHING in my body, liquid or solid, then I started using some old high school wrestling tricks. I wore a rubber suit while jogging on the treadmill, and then spent a lot of time in the steam room. In the final 24 hours I probably dropped 10-13 lbs in just pure water weight. By the time of the final weigh-in I was peeing blood.
Was this healthy? Heck no! My wife wanted to kill me if I didn’t do it to myself first. But I was in a different place, I knew winning the show could put us in a better place financially and I was willing to do some crazy stuff.
All this torture I put myself through has had no lasting effects on me (that I know of) and at the time it was sort of a fun adventure for me – but I am sure it reeked havoc on my system. In the five days after the show was over I gained about 32 lbs. Not from eating, just from getting my system back to normal (mostly re-hydrating myself). So in five days I was back up to 240 – crazy!”
Wake up call…
This really should be a wake-up call for anyone who turns to a crash diet in order to lose weight fast. We do not know whether the contestants used diuretics in order to lose those huge amounts of weight, however, it would not surprise me, if they did...
Non-drug manipulation of water and electrolytes is extremely dangerous. Just because something is natural does not make it safe. Diuretics combined with dieting has resulted in more confirmed deaths, coronary events, kidney problems and emergency room visits than steroid use! This is something the media should really look into, when doing stories about the extreme measures that athletes go to, in order to make weight classes. Steroid abuse has been exaggerated to the point where other ways of cheating – such as overuse of diuretics – is almost viewed as safe. When fact is, that it is very far from being safe.
Why do the people that lose extreme weight often gain it back?
People who go on extreme diets are setting themselves up for failure. When you go on a crash diet, each pound that you loose contains more water and muscle (lean tissue) compared to if you go on a moderate diet. This is exactly the opposite of what you are interested in, if you want to reach your goal of a younger and thinner you! We are already losing a steady amount of muscle mass as we age, which has an impact on lowering our metabolism. The path to a younger and thinner you is through maintaining your weight by speeding up your metabolism; therefor it is crucial that we do not engage in yo-yo dieting which is extremely aging to the body and mind. The main problem with shows like the Biggest Looser is, that it promotes quick weight loss as being the ultimate measure of success. The contestants are measured based on short-term results that are unsustainable in the long run.
95% of All Diets Fail!
According to popular statistics 95% of all diets fail. Obviously, the more extreme the diet, the more you are messing up your body’s biochemistry and basic hunger/fullness signals. Once you mess up your hunger/fullness hormones, it is extremely difficult to get back on track on your own. Your biology is against you: sending out constant urges to find food (hunger hormone Ghrelin goes up) and not accurately measuring satiety (your sensitivity to satiety hormone Leptin goes down). The combination of a slowed down metabolism due to muscle loss, along with a dysfunctional appetite control is a recipe for disaster. That is why planning on going on a diet is like planning to fail.
What is a healthy amount of weight to lose per week?
Approximately 2 lbs per week depending on your current weight. The more overweight you are, the easier it will be to have a higher weight loss initially. Ultimately, your body will reach a plateau and therefore you will have some weeks, where you lose weight quicker than others.
How to Avoid Plateaus
A way to avoid getting stuck at a weight loss plateaus is to rebalance your metabolic hormones through a nutritional approach, as well as using specific supplements that speed up fat loss and boost your metabolism. Hormonal imbalances are one of the main reasons why people have difficulties in shedding weight even after cleaning up their diet. If your metabolism is not functioning and your fat burning hormones are turned-off due to constant yo-yo dieting, then you could be living off wheat crackers and salad leaves and still not loose weight.
Lose the Fat
Loosing the fat is important – not just for vanity reasons. Just about every lifestyle disease can be related to obesity, and losing fat is one of the most efficient measures you can take to regain your health and lower your dependence on medication. To put things in perspective, following are 10 of the major health concerns that are all related to obesity:
How does the Younger (THINNER) YOU! diet differ from quick fixes?
What we do at PATH is, that we target the imbalances in your brain chemistry that causes you to crave high-fat and sugary foods in the first place. My book Younger (Thinner) YOU! explains these fat-burning and anti-aging principles, as well as giving you useful advice on how to implement this knowledge in your everyday life. Life is too short to waste on pain and suffering, living a healthy and vibrant life is about feeling good. When you do things that make you feel good long-term, you will look good. This is the basic principle of nature; those who live according to nature’s law become beautiful from the inside and out!
Brainpower, not Willpower
Emotional eating and binge behavior has nothing to do with willpower, but everything to do with brainpower. When you consume high-fat and sugary foods, a cascade of chemical reactions goes off in your brain and body; ultimately leading to a short-term “high”.
Nobody wants to white-knuckle their way thin to reach a 100 years of age. We understand that at PATH, and we believe that life should be enjoyed. That is ultimately why we have such as high rate of success with what we do . We are experts in treating every form of lifestyle disease, as every disease is based on an imbalance in our brain chemistry. We tap into the reason instead of masking up the symptoms. That is truly what makes us unique.
Anyway, talk is cheap, results are what count: I have been one of the pioneers in my field since the 80’s – and now others are just starting to realize the association between lifestyle diseases, hormonal imbalances and brain chemistry. The latest focus on food addiction being no exception; it all boils down to an imbalance in our brain chemistry. If you do not restore your brain chemistry, no amount of psychological counseling will get you to quit “emotional eating”. Simply because emotions are based on chemicals in our brain, and if they are out of wack, you are going to self-medicate on the foods that have an instant impact on those feel-good neurotransmitters; no matter how many coping skills or how much insight you have achieved through counseling.
What is your no. 1 tip for living a long and healthy life?
Feed your brain, burn the fat! Having a well functioning brain is ultimately what leads to longevity. You brain controls your body, so you want to be in control of your brain. You can learn how to retrain your brain in my book THE EDGE EFFECT. Forget willpower, it is all about brainpower.
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.