Female Athletes Should Avoid Rapid Weight Loss, Seek Certain Nutrients

When wanting to lose weight, the goal should be slow and steady. Rapid weight loss can cause many side effects. In addition, women need certain nutrients that should not be avoided.

Dried figs provide an excellent source of potassium.
Wikimedia Commons

I will explain the risks involved in losing weight too quickly. I will also cover the nutrients that women should not avoid, even when aiming to shed pounds.

What are the possible side effects of rapid weight loss?

One of the more serious risks associated with rapid weight loss is obtaining gallstones. In fact, 12-25 percent of people who lose a significant amount of weight consistently, for several months, acquire gallstones.

Malnutrition can result from not eating enough protein for several weeks. Dehydration and an imbalance in electrolytes can also occur.

Hair loss can result from rapid weight loss. Who wants to have thin hair to go along with their new slim body? I know that I don't.

Other side effects can include:

* Constipation

* Dizziness

* Fatigue

* Headaches

* Irregular menstrual periods

* Irritation

* Loss of muscle

Who should lose weight rapidly under the supervision of a doctor?

Since rapid weight loss and obesity can both have negative effects on the body, those who are obese may need to shed pounds rapidly under the supervision of their doctor. When weight must be lost quickly to have weight-loss surgery, very low-calorie diets (VLCD) are used.

Essential nutrients for women, even when aiming to lose weight

- Protein is needed in amounts of 70-100 mg each day.

- Foods rich in potassium, such as dried figs, avocados and potatoes, are needed for the cells, nerves and muscles to function properly. Not getting enough can cause many side effects. It is recommended that potassium is obtained from food sources rather than from a supplement. Just as too little potassium can cause health problems, too much can also cause side effects. Hyperkalemia can cause an irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.

- Calcium is needed for strong teeth and bones. It is recommended that women get at least 1,300 mg of calcium every day.

- Food sources rich in iron are needed by women. Many female athletes do not eat enough iron rich foods. It is recommended that female athletes eat 18 mg of each day. The best sources of iron are meat, poultry and fish. Supplements should only be taken under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

In addition, remember to stay well-hydrated with water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes.


Web MD

American Medical Society for Sports Medicine

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

PubMed Health

The Mereck Manual (online)

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Rebecca completed courses in Medical Terminology, Administrative Medical Assisting, and Coding and Billing. She is recognized by the National Healthcareer Association as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) and Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA). In addition, Rebecca is a former gymnast and is avid about swimming, jogging, and other athletic activities.

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Updated Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011