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Rapid Weight Loss

Is Rapid Weight Loss Ever a Good Idea?

Rapid weight loss diets can have ill effects, but so does obesity. For this reason, very low-calorie diets (VLCDs) are considered a reasonable weight loss option for people with obesity (having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30) needing rapid weight loss for a specific purpose such as weight loss surgery .

VLCDs are doctor-supervised diets lasting several weeks. The meals are nutritionally balanced, but expensive -- people can end up spending thousands of dollars over time. VLCDs safely produce a loss of 15% to 25% of body weight in 12 weeks. That's for those who finish the program: 25% to half of people don't complete the program.  Weight returns when the diet is stopped and happens rapidly; some experts say its best to take a more sustainable approach to weight loss comparable to that of regular diets.

Most people seeking rapid weight loss, though, usually do it on their own. Frequently, it's to achieve a short-term goal, such as fitting into a dress, or looking good at the beach.

Starving yourself is certainly not a good idea. But if you're otherwise healthy, a brief period of extreme calorie restriction isn't likely to hurt you. You should tell your doctor what you're doing, and be sure to include protein in your diet (70 to 100 grams per day). Take a multivitamin, and eat potassium-rich foods (tomatoes, oranges, and bananas).

Also, remember that crash diets rarely help you achieve a sustained, healthy weight. Most people put the pounds right back on.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 06, 2013
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