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Muscle loss

Rapid weight loss results in muscle loss

The average weight loss was a little over 19lbs among those on the very-low-calorie diet and just under 19lbs among those on the low-calorie diet.
Four weeks after the end of their diets, reductions in fat-free mass averaged 1.8lbs among those in the very-low-calorie diet group and 0.7lbs among those in the low-calorie diet group

Losing weight too fast can result in you lose more muscle than when you shed excess pounds more slowly, according to a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria.

The researchers put 25 participants on a five-week very-low-calorie diet of 500 calories per day. Another 22 volunteers went on a 12-week low-calorie diet of 1,250 calories per day.

The investigators found that right after the end of their diets, both groups had similar levels of weight loss. The average weight loss was a little over 19lbs among those on the very-low-calorie diet and just under 19lbs among those on the low-calorie diet.

The researchers then looked at the loss of fat-free mass, which includes all the tissue in the human body, except fat. The major tissues are blood, bones, organs and muscles. However, the mass of the organs, blood and bones does not change during dieting. Therefore, changes in fat-free mass during dieting are mainly due to changes in muscle mass.

Participants on the very-low-calorie diet had lost about 3.5lbs of fat-free mass, compared with 1.3lbs among those on the low-calorie diet. Fat-free mass accounted for 18 percent of weight loss in the very-low-calorie diet group and 7.7 percent of weight loss in the low-calorie diet group.

Four weeks after the end of their diets, reductions in fat-free mass averaged 1.8lbs among those in the very-low-calorie diet group and 0.7lbs among those in the low-calorie diet group. Fat-free mass accounted for 9.4 percent of weight loss in the very-low-calorie diet group and 2.9 percent of weight loss in the low-calorie diet group.

However, the authors also noted that muscle loss among people in the very-low-calorie diet was probably overestimated immediately after they completed the diet, compared with four weeks later. This is because they had a larger loss of water and glycogen when they had just completed the diet than four weeks later, the researchers explained.

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