Unhealthy Ways to Lose Weight

Doctors and nutrition experts are opposed to certain "fads" and "trends" when it comes to weight loss. So, what are these unhealthy ways to lose weight? In this article, we'll tell you all you need to know.
Unhealthy Ways to Lose Weight
Eliana Delgado Villanueva

Written and verified by the nutritionist Eliana Delgado Villanueva.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

By now, we should all know that the best way to shed those extra pounds is by adopting a regular exercise routine and a good diet. The latter should be composed of all of the essential nutrients, in their proper measure.

However, some people still ignore these good habits and opt for unhealthy ways to lose weight.

Most nutrition experts oppose the idea of losing weight with strict and restrictive diets. Even more so when these diets deprive the body of essential nutrients that are key to its proper functioning.

So, if you want to know what else they’re opposed to, keep reading.

Want to lose weight?

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to try to lose weight. Statistics show that a diet of fruits and vegetables that’s low in fat and refined sugar (along with regular exercise) will allow a person to lose weight and, above all, keep it off over time.

A woman measuring her waistline.

In the quest to lose weight in a short time, some people put their health at risk. It’s important to know how to identify unhealthy ways to lose weight, but more and more people are looking to lose weight quickly and with little effort. Undoubtedly, it’s a dangerous practice that can lead to unhealthy habits; causing the person to regain the weight lost and even end up gaining more.

Read: Lose Weight without Dieting: Seven Helpful Changes

Unhealthy ways to lose weight

Do you want to know which are the harmful practices we’re talking about? Below, we’ll offer you a list of the most common unhealthy methods. Take note and avoid putting them into practice.

Using fat burners

This misleading trend promotes the use of chemical substances and herbs that supposedly help your body burn fat. But the problem is that there are no studies to prove their effectiveness. In fact, far from it, there have been problems with their use.

Ephedra or ma huang, for example, was banned in 2004. According to a study conducted by several researchers at the University of California, it’s capable of causing heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure crises, and convulsions.

Eating cotton

This is another senseless, yet dangerous method. It consists of swallowing pieces of cotton soaked in some kind of liquid, such as orange juice. In this way, the cotton is intended to take up space in the stomach and give a feeling of fullness.

As an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains, bezoars–balls of foreign material–form and can cause intestinal obstructions. The same can occur when a person eats hair or dry vegetables.

Wearing a tongue patch or lining.

This crazy method is proposed and practiced by a surgeon in California, Dr. Chugay. The practice also exists in some Latin American countries. This method consists of sewing a membrane of synthetic material to the tongue, which can only be worn for four to six weeks.

The patch complicates or prevents food intake because of the pain and discomfort it causes. In the meantime, a low-calorie liquid diet supplements this plan.

Taking medication

Also known as “weight-loss pills,” these comprise a group of medications (usually belonging to the amphetamine family) that cause you to lose your appetite.

Weight-loss pills spilling out of a bottle.
The use of diet pills can have side effects. In addition, once they’re discontinued, the person regains the lost weight.

The problem is that these drugs can’t be used for a long time. And just as their effects are immediate, the person also immediately regains the lost weight when they stop taking them.

But not only that – they’re also capable of causing other side effects such as severe nervousness, anxiety crises, and sudden rises in blood pressure.

Vomiting, one of the unhealthiest ways to lose weight

Some people believe that if they throw up what they’ve just eaten, they’ll reduce the calories they ingest and, therefore, lose weight. But the truth is that this practice is a symptom of an eating disorder known as bulimia.

Therefore, people who practice this should be evaluated to rule out or diagnose this disease. Dehydration, loss of salts, and damage to the esophagus can be just some of the side effects caused by this unhealthy method.

Excessive sweating

People think that accumulated fat has a high proportion of water. According to this line of reasoning, they believe that if their body (or some of its parts) sweats more, they’ll burn it better and lose weight.

For that, they use plastic bandages on their belly or plastic clothes. However, this method won’t help with weight control and is capable of causing dehydration and significant loss of sodium, chloride, and potassium salts in the sweat.

Side effects of these unhealthy ways to lose weight

The methods described above are unhealthy and should never be used, as the side effects are dangerous and even deadly.

The best way to lose weight is by improving eating habits and adopting good lifestyle habits. Also, it’s always best to do so under the guidance of trusted professionals: Nutritionists, doctors, or personal trainers.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Chugay, PN y Chugay, NV (2014). Parche lingual para adelgazar: un método alternativo no quirúrgico para ayudar a adelgazar en pacientes obesos. The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery, 31 (1), 26–33. https://doi.org/10.5992/ajcs-d-13-00028.1
  • Gendall, K. A., Bulik, C. M., Sullivan, P. F., Joyce, P. R., Mcintosh, V. V., & Carter, F. A. (1999). Body weight in bulimia nervosa. Eating and Weight Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03339730
  • Haller CA, Benowitz NL. Adverse cardiovascular and central nervous system events associated with dietary supplements containing ephedra alkaloids. N Engl J Med. 2000 Dec 21;343(25):1833-8. PubMed PMID: 11117974.
  • Haslam, D. (2016). Control de peso en la obesidad: pasado y presente. Revista Internacional de Práctica Clínica, 70 (3), 206–217. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcp.12771
  • Jain, V., Ochoa, M., Jiang, H. et alUn parche dérmico personalizable en masa con indicadores colorimétricos discretos para una cuantificación personalizada de la tasa de sudoración. Microsyst Nanoeng 5, 29 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41378-019-0067-0
  • Zamora Navarro, S., & PérezLlamas, F. (2013). Errors and myths in feeding and nutrition: Impact on the problems of obesity. Nutr Hosp. https://doi.org/10.3305/nh.2013.28.sup5.6922

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.