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Unhealthy ways to lose weight fast

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Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can be difficult to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan. Weight loss can be a long and difficult journey, causing some people to get frustrated and forcing them to resort to fast and easy ways to shedding the excess pounds.

However many of these methods are far from healthy and can cause some serious damage to your physical and mental health.

In this article, I shall list out some of the most common unhealthy ways to go about losing weight. It is important to note that many of these ways of losing weight only lead to temporary loss and once the practices are stopped, the weight comes rushing back.

Fad diets

Fad diets are those that become popular very quickly, and there are new ones coming out all the time, claiming to help you lose weight easier and faster than ever before. The problem with these types of diets is that yes, they may lead to quick weight loss but you will either gain the weight back or you will end up malnourished thanks to extreme restrictions. Here are some common characteristics associated with unhealthy fad diets:

  • They claim you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. In order to lose weight, you need to be consuming fewer calories than you are expending. The calorie deficit will cause your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy. It is true that managing your diet is the most important part of losing weight, but exercise plays a role as well. For example if you walk for an hour, you burn 300 – 400 calories. If you sat on the couch, you would need to cut those 300 – 400 calories from your diet instead. Diets that claim you don’t need to exercise are likely to be extremely restrictive as they don’t take into consideration the weight loss and other health benefits exercise can bring.
  • Whole food groups are completely eliminated – your body requires adequate amounts of the 3 macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrate & fat) as well as vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Some fad diets require you to avoid certain food groups entirely. Whilst doing so will make you lose weight fast (again because of extreme calorie restriction), you will likely end up feeling sick and weak due to nutrient deficiencies.
  • They claim extremely rapid weight loss – experts suggest that losing 1 to 2 pounds of weight per week is healthy. Some people might be able to lose slightly more. But diets that claim you can lose 10 pounds or more in a week are likely to be very unhealthy.

Some extremely unhealthy and strange fad diets include the cotton ball diet (yes, you actually have to eat cotton balls), the sleeping beauty diet and the tapeworm diet.


Nicotine, the main active ingredient in tobacco is what gives smokers the rush they feel after having a cigarette. It is also an appetite suppressant. A worry that many smokers have is if they quit they will end up gaining weight. While starting to take up smoking might help you to lose weight, it is one of the most unhealthy things you can do. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals including 43 that are known to be carcinogenic. Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t take up smoking just to lose weight:

  • It increases your risk of cancer – not just lung cancer but mouth, throat and bladder cancer as well. Smoking is responsible for nearly 20% of all cancer cases and more than 80% of lung cancer cases.
  • It can lead to other diseases – when you smoke, all of the organs in your body are affected and so it can lead to a myriad of health problems such as heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Smoking is highly addictive – most people who start smoking do so casually, not intending to carry on doing it for a long time. But smoking is highly addictive and once you start it can be difficult to stop. Your intention might be to smoke for a little while and then quit once you have lost weight, but chances are you will find it extremely difficult to do so.


Some people suggest taking laxatives to lose weight. There are many different types available on the market from strong prescription only formulations to herbal ones. The general purpose of laxatives are to loosen stool and induce bowel movements. They usually do this by increasing the fluid content in stool. As a result, you end up using the bathroom more than you usually would.

When you climb on a weighing scale, it might seem as though you have lost a fair bit of weight in a very short time. This is far from the truth. All that has happened is your body has lost a lot of water, making it seem like you have lost weight. But no fat (which is what you really want to lose) has been lost. Here are some issues related with taking laxatives for weight loss (besides the fact that it doesn’t really work how you would want it to):

  • You might become dependent on them – this means that you will not be able to have easy bowel movements without taking a laxative first.
  • They can lead to severe electrolyte depletion – when you lose water from your body, you also end up losing vital salts known as electrolytes. This in turn can result in further complications.
  • Toxicity – certain laxatives whilst powerful are also extremely toxic to your body and can overburden your liver if incorrect doses are taken.

The only time a laxative should really be taken is if you have problems with your gut and a qualified medical professional has asked you to do so.


Purging is often associated with bulimia nervosa, whereby individuals binge eat and then force themselves to vomit due to feelings of guilt. Purging tricks the brain into thinking that the stomach is full and adequate food has been eaten, however a lot of the calories eaten are lost when you throw up. This in turn might lead to weight loss but is extremely unhealthy to do. Here are some of the problems associated with it:

  • It affects your digestive system – when you vomit, your stomach is forced to empty its contents and this includes stomach acid, which is highly corrosive. The acid can damage your teeth, gums and oesophagus.
  • It dehydrates you – similar to laxatives, purging gets rid of water which leads to dehydration and the loss of electrolytes.
  • It is a violent event – vomiting puts a lot of stress on your body and this can result in ruptured tissue leading to bleeding and pain.


Stimulants such as cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetimine, Adderall and Ritalin can lead to weight loss. These drugs are stimulants and speed up heart & breathing rates. Research has shown that cocaine not only decreases appetite but also reduces the body’s ability to store fat. Needless to say, this results in dramatic weight loss. However as you probably know, drugs are bad:

  • They are addictive – many addicts start off as recreational users with the intention of not getting addicted. However, certain drugs have a strong grip, making it extremely difficult to stop.
  • They lead to health problems – sure, they might help you lose some weight, but at what cost? Drugs don’t only affect your brain but other vital organs such as your heart as well.
  • The are toxic – the more you use a drug, the higher your tolerance to it becomes. This means you need to have more and more of it for the same effect. At the same time, drugs are extremely toxic to your body and can lead to an overdose which in turn can lead to death.

Starving yourself

Practicing intermittent fasting by following diets such as the 5:2 diet or the 16/8 method might help you lose weight but going without food for extensive periods of time is not recommended. Your body needs food to support itself; it might have stores of fat, however it also requires sufficient amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and water in order to function optimally.

Forcing yourself not to eat over a long period of time might make you lose weight but it can also result in other health related problems that you did not have to begin with.


There are many different unhealthy ways of losing weight, however none of them are recommended and should not be attempted. Following any of the practices listed above can have some serious repercussions on your overall health.

The only surefire way to lose weight healthily is to follow a well balanced calorie restricted diet (of at least 1200 calories) and to exercise regularly. Healthy weight loss can be a lengthy process but in the long run, it is well worth it.

If you are thinking of drastically changing your diet or exercise routine, speak to your doctor before doing so.