4 Dangerous Weight-Loss Methods You Must Avoid
As much as you would like to lose weight quickly, some weight loss strategies do more harm than good. Extreme measures aren’t necessarily the most effective, and some can even put your health at risk. Regardless of your weight loss goals, losing weight should improve your health, not make it worse. Here are 4 weight loss strategies that can harm your health:
1. Weight Loss Drugs
Many drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, claim to help people lose weight. While some are more effective than others, many so-called weight loss drugs contain dangerous chemicals that can threaten your health. “Metabolism boosters” and “fat burners” are questionable at best and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Stimulants, water pills and appetite suppressants have little effect on body fat and can have many harmful effects, especially on overweight people. Even the prescription weight loss pill Fen-phen was pulled from the market after it caused fatal hypertension and heart valve problems. Before resorting to drugs – which you should only do with a doctor’s supervision – give natural methods a serious effort and spare yourself the health complications.
Over-exercising can have serious side effects, particularly in people who are in poor physical condition. While burning calories is important, over-exercising can do more harm than good. When muscles- including the heart- work hard, they develop microscopic tears that require rest periods to heal. Without adequate rest periods, the heart can develop scarring called cardiac fibrosis and can also enlarge, creating a greater risk for a heart attack during exercise. Too much intense or prolonged exercise can also make your body produce too much cortisol as a response to stress. Excess cortisol can weaken your immune system, interfere with sleep and cause chronic inflammation throughout your body.
Additionally, working beyond your capacity increases your risk for injury. Pain and even extremely sore muscles can prevent you from working out at all for days or weeks, so it can be counterproductive. The intense exercise you see on television weight loss shows is staged for dramatic effect and isn’t healthy. It’s more important to exercise correctly and consistently than to overdo it every day.
3. Skipping Meals
While you can gain weight by overeating, regularly skipping meals is not always a good way to lose weight. Skipping too many meals can sometimes make you even hungrier and more likely to overeat when you finally do. Going too long between meals can also affect your blood sugar, particularly if you are diabetic, and can cause problems if you have low blood pressure. It can also make you feel sluggish and less motivated to exercise or do anything that requires physical effort. Skipping meals until you’re ravenous and then overeating just encourages an unhealthy relationship with food that ultimately, won’t help you lose weight any faster.
It’s easier, safer and more effective to develop good eating habits, such as limiting portion sizes, eating on a regular schedule, avoiding high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks and ensuring that your diet is balanced and complete.
Some people smoke to suppress hunger or as a substitute for snacking. Others are afraid to quit, believing that they will gain weight if they do. When people gain weight after they quit smoking, it’s because they changed their eating habits. Smoking has no direct effect on weight loss, and is also dangerous to your health. It raises your blood pressure, increases your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels, raises your cholesterol and increases your chances of a heart attack or stroke. It has many of the same dangerous effects as excess weight, so it’s not worth it to smoke for the sake of weight loss. If you need help controlling your appetite, use natural methods such as eating more fiber, avoiding insulin spikes, drinking more water and exercising regularly.
Permanent weight loss is a process, and it takes time to get results. With so many safe weight loss methods, you don’t need to use one that’s harmful to your health, even if it works quickly. If you are losing weight for health reasons, such as to lower your blood pressure, control diabetes or to help with chronic pain, don’t use a method that will compound existing health problems. Traditional methods such as calorie counting, eating sensibly and increasing exercise have worked for millions of people and they can work for you.