Why isn't it healthy to lose more than two pounds a week unless you have surgery?

I have a bet with my old highschool buddy David H. concerning who can lose the most weight by July 01. The loser get his picture taken without a shirt on (and video) in front of the World’s Largest Boar at the Indiana State Fair. In addition, if I lose David said (and he has the money to make good on this) that he will put my picture up at classmates.com and take out a web page called www.Rolandisafatass.com where there will be various Java applets that let you make me squeal like a pig ect (giving the rights to the images to be used in any manner is part of the bet).

So I go to the Doctor today for a physical (for the vol. fire dept) and he tells me that it is not healthy and possibly dangerous for me to lose more than two pounds a week. Now I hear people all the time talking about how they lost a hundred pounds in six months after baryatric surgery. That would be more than four pounds per week! Are you going to tell me that having half my guts cut out (and then losing weight at a precipitous pace) is more healthy than eating a DASH/Pritikin type diet, and excercising daily to trim down? For reference I am about six foot two and weight 275 pounds and aged 35 with no health problems other than untreated hypertension (averaging about 140/93) and a bad root canal that I cannot afford to treat. My diet consists of about 1500 kcals per day with about 70% carbs (mostly complex) 20% protein, and 10% fat (plus I don’t eat after five at night). I am also walking about ninty minutes per day and lifting weights for about 45minutes per day alternating body groups. My goal weight is about 220 by July 01.

Also, I forgot to add that in highschool I was voted most likely to be the next Mr. Olympia (I was about 215 with five percent body fat at the time) so it is an especially long fall from fitness for me.

I am not a real Doctor, and I am NOT about to contradict your own personal Physician who told you that is wasn’t healthy for you.

But a steady two pounds a week is harder than you think.

Thats it? 1500 calories seems awfully low for a 275 pound male. I would check with a nutritionist or at least check some websites to get a rough idea of what your caloric intake should be. According to

this article you should be up at around 3300 to lose weight.

The key to exercise is to get your heart rate up to the proper level. I would suggest getting a monitor to get a rough idea of the type of exertion you should be giving.

Roland, I don’t think anyone is going to give you medical advice that goes against what your doctor has said.

I had the surgery, but I was also closely monitored by my doctor and a nutritionist every step of the way.

Well, forget about my specific situation and deal with the primary question in that case. Why is it okay to lose weight so fast after stomach reduction surgery, but not with diet and exercise? If being closely monitored is the key then Dr’s should say “If you are going to attempt to lose more than two pounds per week then you should be monitored closely.” Instead they say something like “losing more than two pounds per week is not healthy and possibly dangerous.”

The bottom line is that almost any weight loss done with diet and exercise should be much safer than that which is accomplished via surgery.

Not going to go against your Dr. either. But I’ll try to answer the larger question, since it supports his advice anyway.

For most of us losing weight, losing more than 2 pounds a week is next to impossible to do without entering malnutrition territory. It’s the malnutrition that’s dangerous, not the weight loss. Just because you have extra fat stores to burn for energy doesn’t mean you don’t need food for nutrients. There’s also risks of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance which can lead to heart failure, etc.

Bariatric patients are often fed supplements for quite a while after surgery, and monitored very, very closely by weight-loss and nutrition experts to make sure they’re not becoming malnourished while they’re losing all that weight. If your doctor isn’t a weight-loss specialist, he may not be comfortable monitoring such rapid weight loss. You might try looking for a doctor specializing in rapid weight loss to look at your health history and see if she’d be willing to monitor your health through this process. Do not attempt to do this on your own, it could be very dangerous.

From a practical standpoint, people who lose more than 2 pounds a week (except for bariatric patients) simply don’t keep the weight off well in the long term. Whether this is due to the impossibility of maintaining such a strict diet or some hormonal “starvation signals” that your body sends out during rapid weight loss is a matter for much debate. Whichever, the numbers show pretty clearly that 2 pounds a week (which is harder than you think after the first month) is the maximim that most people can lose and keep the weight off for any length of time.

What WhyNot said.

The danger of rapid weight lose is not in the losing weight, but in the possibility that in achieving this you are not consuming enough of the nutrients that you need to remain healthy. You are not going to get these nutrients from burning off your excess fat.

This is why surgery patients get nutritional experts and trying it yourself (apart from being hellishly difficult) could make you ill.


There is also the risk of gallstones


It is difficult to squeeze in all the nutrition an adult needs into 1500 calories. Actually, to do it, you’d have to be very dedicated and very sophisticated.

That;s a fair description of every Doper I know. :slight_smile:

IANAD. All I can do is share what I did to my body. -cue violins, mood music, smoke efx -

On January 2, 1997 I started the Atkins Diet. Yes, the dreaded “A” word. I was serious and careful about it. A month after that, I joined a Tae Kwon Do school. The combination of deeply reduced carbos and vigorous exercise did the trick. In less than 6 months I had shed 47 lbs. For the next 3 years, I held to within 10 lbs of that weight loss, by maintaining a fairly low-carb diet and doing Tae Kwon Do, and other stuff. ( bicycling, etc. ).

A year after I started the Atkins Diet, my mom the nurse harrassed me into a full physical with blood work. It was her belief that my liver functions would be a wreck, my triglycerides would be through the roof, cholesterol would be huge, etc. My cholesterol was 205 ( not dangerous, but a smidgen high ). The liver functions were green and perfect across the board, and the triglycerides were unusually low but not dangerous. It worked. Physically and chemically, AND biologically the diet worked for me. May not for many others.

It was only after a serious accident and the sedentary lifestyle it produced, that I returned to my love of all things carbo and gained back every darned pound.

You can lose 2 lbs a week on that diet, as long as you truly don’t just live on sausage and cheese omlettes ( my personal fave, I just finished one :smiley: ) and rely more on veggies and some meats for your protein intake and drink a ton of water, you can do it. Hydration cannot be overstressed.

Good luck. Whatever road you chose to travel, please don’t do so at the risk of your health. Short-term or long-term losses notwithstanding, if you drop dead in a year as a direct result of what you do to win the bet, it ain’t worth winning.

-squeal squeal- :wink:


You’ve helped demonstrate my point about the dedication and sophistication needed to drop 2/week.

I’ve done it, but I am psyhotic. I was intense about what I ate ate got anxious if I felt I shorted some vital nutrient.

I was a health nut, got sick a few times and got off track. I found myself at 210 pounds when I was used to being 180. While I always weight trained, my body fat % skyrocketted. I dropped to 174 in a few months. I calculated a loss of just about 2/week when I was done.

Surgery: The risk of doing the surgery – and rapid weightloss – are justifiable when the patient is morbidly obese and at risk while obese. Rapid weight loss for someone who has time do it at a slower pace (1-1.5/week) is hard to justify. Justification comes from vanity and/or impatience.

In the case of many (it should be most, but it seems to be overprescribed these days), patients who’ve undergone bariatric surgery were in far, far more imminent danger if they’d kept the weight on. You’re deciding to try to push yourself into a dangerous place without any medical reason to do so.

Another reason why rapid weight loss is a bad idea is that the body will find it more efficient to burn muscle rather than fat. This includes muscle from all over the body, including the heart, which as one might suspect is difficult to replace, and puts you at risk for cardiovascular problems.

I follow the calorie restriction/life extension stuff frequently. And they all say you shouldn’t lose the weight quickly because 1) the animals in the life extension experiments tended to not live as long if they reduced calories quickly as opposed to slowly and 2) because you’ll be releasing fat-soluble toxins rather quickly and that will make you feel crappy. Yeah, I know, any time I see the word “toxins” my bull shit meter goes off too. But that comes directly from Dr. Ray Walford, the granddaddy of the life extension movement. Supposedly when he was in the Biosphere (where all the participants had dramtic weight losses), the toxin release was a problem. I’d love to hear more evidence either for or against the toxin thing…

Well, I’m a hundred pounds overweight, have stage I (and on some days last semester when I was stressing during clinicals my diastolic pushed over 100 into Stage II land). Also, my two hour post prandial blood sugar is running about 115 mg/dl when it was only running about 100 two years ago. Thus, I wouldn’t say that I have no medical reason for surgery. The only thing that motivates me to lose weight is competition, preferably with the threat of extreme humiliation, and or the loss of money.

Roland, you’re making your case worse here for doing rapid weight loss without medical supervision, not better. If you have blood pressure problems in Stage II, that’s even more reason why slow and gradual is better on your system.

Yes, you need to lose weight.

No, you don’t need to lose so much weight, so fast that you’re putting your health in further danger.

And for what it’s worth, most bariatric paitents are 200 or 300 pounds overweight. You’re not even 100 pounds overweight, you’re about 85 pounds overweight. But on a tall, heavily built man, 80 pounds isn’t so much that starvation is worth the risk.

I have direct experience with this and in my case certainly, rapid weight loss turned out to be a bad idea.
I lost 100 pounds in 7 months, at one point I was losing a pound a day. I thought I was doing great untill I started to feel like crap and my hair began falling out.

Im glad I lost the weight but I wish I’d done it a bit more sensibly. I haven’t put any back on yet, but I’ve been left with bad stretch marks and thin hair.
Its taken me longer to recover from losing weight than it did to lose it in the first place.

But the lock you are referring to is fitness, not weight loss. Walking for 90 minutes (approx. 4.5 miles at a 20-minute pace) will expend approx. 450 kcal, roughly the same as running 4.5 miles. Of course, if you ran for 90 minutes, you will have covered twice as much ground, more or less, and expend twice as many kcal. If weight loss is your goal, the amount of work performed, no matter how long it takes, is the proper key.

I’d like to get more information about the very low calorie diets.

According to this site, their average weight loss is huge.

A friend of mine went there when his PCP suggested the bariatric surgery.

Any of you in the know care to comment on this program?


I read a diet book once, I am pretty sure it was a Zone book, and I remember it saying that you can’t lose more than 2.5lbs of fat per week, that your body can’t do that, and that when people lose more than that, it is most likely that a lot of what they are losing is water, muscle or even bone and brain. I wonder if anyone knows whether that’s true.