Our ancestors, by necessity, were more patient people. Back in the days of powdered wigs and minuets, it generally took four to five days to travel from Boston, MA to Philadelphia, PA. These days, you can hop in your car and make the trip in less than six hours or, if you’re really in a rush, grab a non-stop flight that will cross the distance in less than an hour and a half.

These days, we demand speed. We all want a faster Internet connection, a quicker commute to work, immediate service, instant gratification and an express line that actually moves.

In these hasty, hurried and often harried times, many people are in a rush to discover the fastest way to lose weight. In their search for instant results, they fall victim to expensive and dangerous schemes or ill-advised methods. The dream of extreme weight loss can easily turn into a nightmare; one that can wreck your budget, ruin your health and, actually, cause you to gain back every unwanted pound that you lost.

If a rapid weight loss technique sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Weight loss can ONLY occur when you take in fewer calories than you burn. For instance, a 30-year old female office worker who avoids exercise might require 2000 calories a day to maintain her current weight. Assuming no change in her exercise habits, she will only lose weight if she consumes less than 2000 calories a day.

There are many ways our office worker could choose to achieve her caloric deficit. If she is seeking rapid weight loss, however, she could stumble into some dangerous territory.

Two scary extreme diet techniques that have recently snared victims seeking accelerated weight loss are known as the hCG diet plan and the k-e diet. They are the latest in a long string of crash diets that have captured the popular imagination in modern times.

Crash diets tend to severely restrict calories while focusing on a special food, substance, food group or technique. The hCG diet combines daily injections of a pregnancy hormone with a  500-calorie a day diet plan while the k-e diet involves feeding you 800 calories a day through a feeding tube that is threaded into your nose, down the esophagus, through the stomach and into the duodenum.

Will our office worker lose weight if she cuts her intake of calories down to these extreme levels? Yes, she most certainly will! With a caloric deficit of 1200 to 1500 calories a day, she can be expected to lose several pounds a week after her initial water weight loss.

She can also expect to experience constipation, bad breath, loss of bone and muscle tissue, electrolyte imbalances, gallstones and potentially harmful strain on her kidneys and her liver. The extremely low amount of carbohydrates permitted in these diets inevitably results in ketosis which can lead to excessive production of uric acid. Increased uric acid levels put her at risk for kidney stones, gout, high blood pressure and heart disease.

To make matters worse, the weight loss she is risking her health to obtain is virtually guaranteed to be temporary. Hundreds of nutritional studies on various crash diets all come to the same conclusion; people who have lost pounds on these diets inevitably put those pounds back on and often gain a few extra to boot.

As dangerous as extremely low calorie crash diets are to your health, there are even worse ways to lose weight fast.

In recent decades, purging has become a popular practice among some whose professional image demands a slim profile. Giving your taste buds a treat and eliminating those calories before they have a chance to find their way to your hips certainly may seem like fun, but once you understand the price your body pays for this “free ride,” the reality rapidly shifts from attractive to scary.

Purging is most often accomplished by vomiting. Other purging methods include the use of laxatives to speed the passage of food through the digestive system and the use of diuretics to shed water weight. It is not unusual for dedicated purgers to use all three methods.

The medical risks of purging include:

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Irregular heart beat (arrhythmia)
  • Weakened heart muscle
  • Intestinal problems
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Kidney infection or damage
  • Overall muscle weakness

When vomiting is part of the purging routine, these additional risks are added:

  • Swollen cheeks
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Loss of tooth enamel
  • Damage to the esophagus

Regular purging as a weight loss or maintenance method has also been linked with severe depression, lethargy and fatigue.

Reaching your ideal weight with permanently bloodshot eyes, ruined teeth, constant stomach pain and a damaged heart isn’t a very pretty picture. If you need further encouragement to avoid purging, consider this; regular purging, as is often seen in people who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa, can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

A comprehensive look at all the techniques being promoted for “easy” weight loss would take hundreds of pages to cover. While you can certainly discover dozens of techniques to lose weight fast, maintaining that loss is the true challenge. To maintain a healthy weight, you need to commit to changing your lifestyle and eating habits. A sensible, balanced diet program might not seem as exciting as the latest, glitzy extreme “pound-flushing phenomena” but it will teach you something the crash diet won’t; how to alter your dietary habits to maintain your ideal weight for the rest of your life.

Don’t get trapped in the sad cycle of losing the same five pounds, over and over and over again. Make the decision to choose a healthy diet plan and take your first step toward altering your life for the better. When you stop the vicious cycle of “yo-yo” dieting; you’ll look better, feel better and develop a better attitude about yourself and the world around you.