How rapid weight loss affects gut health as woman loses 4st in 5 weeks

Vanessa Gregory saw rapid weight loss after losing four stone in five weeks. (SWNS)
Vanessa Gregory saw rapid weight loss after losing four stone in five weeks. (SWNS)

A woman who saw rapid weight loss after losing 4st in five weeks says she feels like a ‘new person’.

Vanessa Gregory, 28, would regularly finish her son’s leftover dinners which, combined with a regular takeaway and ready meal habit, led her to weigh 18st 2lb at her heaviest.

The mum-of-two decided that she wanted to lose weight before a family trip to Tenerife for her sister’s 30th birthday, so she decided to join a slimming group in February last year which saw her lose 4st in five weeks.

In total, Gregory has now lost 6st 7lbs and weighs 11st 11lbs, which she says has left her with "so much energy" to play with her sons.

"It’s changed my life completely, and I feel like a new person," she adds. "I always wanted to lose weight but this was the first time I’d dieted in my life.

"I thought I’d lose a stone. But within five weeks, I lost four stone, and it started from there. I used to go to the gym first thing in the morning when it was quiet. At first, it was scary and intimidating. But you just have to think about what you are there for."

Gregory has lost six and a half stone in total. (SWNS)
Gregory has lost six and a half stone in total. (SWNS)

Gregory adds that setting interim goals played an important part in her weight loss efforts.

"If you want to lose weight and get fit, set yourself an interim goal, like by Valentine's Day, I want to lose a stone," she adds.

"If you know you can do that, you can keep carrying on. And if you think you can do it, there’s nothing stopping you."

Is rapid weight loss safe?

Rapid weight loss is not a new thing, with many quick-fix diets promising fast weight loss as the goal. But with the introduction of ‘skinny jabs’ and the growing prevalence of weight loss surgery, quick weight loss is becoming more common.

While losing weight quickly can have its benefits, rapid weight loss can often be more perilous than beneficial, nutritionist Rimas Geiga explains.

"The human body is an intricate system that prefers gradual change. Rapid weight reduction can shock the body, leading to serious health consequences," she adds.

"This type of weight loss typically involves extreme calorie restriction or unhealthy eating patterns, which can result in malnutrition, a weakened immune system, and a decrease in muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active; losing it can slow down your metabolism, making it harder to maintain weight loss in the long term. Furthermore, rapid weight loss can disrupt electrolyte balance, leading to heart arrhythmias and other cardiovascular issues."

A low-angle view of a young woman who is weighing herself in a weighing scale
Rapid weight loss can have serious health consequences. (Getty Images)

Impacts of rapid weight loss

Along with the aforementioned disruptions, Geiga says that rapid weight loss is "akin to putting your body through an ordeal".

"It can lead to gallstone formation, as rapid fat breakdown may cause an increase in cholesterol in the bile, leading to stone formation," she adds.

"Hormonal imbalances are another concern. The body might increase the production of hormones like cortisol, a stress hormone, which can lead to increased fat storage and weight gain over time. Rapid weight loss can also lead to hair loss and skin problems due to nutritional deficiencies. In women, it can disrupt menstrual cycles and potentially impact fertility."

How rapid weight loss affects gut health

Rapid weight loss can also have an impact on gut health, Geiga says, as our gut microbiome "thrives on stability and diversity".

"Rapid weight loss, often through restrictive diets, can starve the gut of essential nutrients and fibres needed for healthy gut bacteria to flourish," she explains. "This imbalance can lead to gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome, increased inflammation, and even affect mental health, as there's a strong gut-brain connection. Long-term, this can increase the risk of chronic diseases."

Best way to approach weight loss

"A holistic approach to weight loss is key for both overall health and particularly for nurturing gut health," Geiga advises.

"Instead of drastic calorie cuts, focus on a balanced diet rich in various nutrients. Incorporate plenty of fibre from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support a healthy gut flora. Fermented foods rich in probiotics, like yoghurt and sauerkraut, can enhance gut health. Lean proteins and healthy fats are also vital."

Geiga adds that lifestyle factors such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management are equally as important.

"Slow, steady, and sustainable weight loss not only is more manageable but it also supports a healthier gut microbiome, leading to better long-term health outcomes," she says. "Remember, it's a journey towards better health, not just a race to lose pounds."

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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