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Weight Loss and Fitness

Exercise and activity can help you lose weight, and they are generally part of a weight-loss program. But some dangers are involved both for those just beginning a fitness program and those who are active and fit.

In order to lose more weight, or to lose weight more quickly, people beginning a fitness program sometimes restrict calories too much (eat too little). Because you need calories when you are active, this can lead to inadequate nutrition.

Fit people usually have a higher-than-average ratio of muscle to fat. Muscle weighs more than fat, so people who have more muscle than average may weigh more than another person with the same stature. In order to lose what seems like extra weight, some people restrict calories even when they are burning more calories than most people with the same weight and stature. This also can lead to inadequate nutrition.

Rapid weight loss has dangers. Gradual weight loss is healthier than rapid weight loss, but for people who already have minimal body fat, even gradual weight loss may be unhealthy because the body will burn muscle when it has no excess fat at all. It's healthier to get to an appropriate weight and maintain it whether you are training or performing or in off-season.

Rapid weight loss is often seen in those who participate in:

  • Activities like ballet and gymnastics, where appearance is considered very important. The reasons for this practice are often based more on social pressures than on health or performance.
  • Sports with weight classifications, such as wrestling. You may be tempted to lose weight rapidly to "make weight" (qualify in a weight class that is lower than your weight during training).

Some athletes and coaches believe that training at a higher weight and then dropping weight right before competition improves performance. There is little concrete evidence to support this.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Last RevisedSeptember 11, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 11, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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