Rapid Weight Loss Warning

Everyone’s heard someone say they need to lose weight fast. With beach season just around the corner, plenty of active adults find themselves tempted to go all out on dieting. A study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria illustrates the trade off that comes with attempts at rapid weight loss.

Researchers put 25 subjects on a very low 500 calorie per day program, and another 22 volunteers on a more sensible 1,250 calorie per day plan. After 5 weeks, the very low calorie diet produced an average weight loss of a little over 19 pounds. Interestingly, subjects who adhered to a 1,250 calorie per day diet lost nearly 19 pounds on average.

The difference is in the amount of muscle mass lost with body fat. Very low calorie dieters lost 3.5 pounds of fat-free mass compared to the 1.3 pounds of muscle lost by subjects who got 1,240 calorie per day. Four weeks after the diet had ended, those on the 500 calorie per day program were still down by 1.3 pounds of muscle from baseline, while the 1,250 calorie dieters were only lacking 0.7 pounds from before the diet began.

True Strength Moment: Although scientists didn’t reveal the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat either of these diets allowed, exercise and extra protein can help dieters perverse muscle mass. A realistic weight loss target is about a pound per week – especially if retaining muscle mass is a priority.

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