Weight loss challenges have become a popular way to lose weight. People who consider themselves to be overweight sometimes gather as a group and engage in them in order to lose the extra pounds they consider they have. On some occasions, these activities are promoted by gyms and “fitness” centers. They may consist on exercise routines that may be extreme and in dietary regimens that may be unhealthy. Here are 3 risks that any person participating in these challenges may be exposed to.
1. Risk of muscle injury. Muscle injury (rhabdomyolysis) is a condition that may happen if muscles which have not been subject to exercise regularly are suddenly exposed to it. The main problem with muscle breakdown (besides the pain) is the release of muscle enzymes into the bloodstream. These enzymes are known to be toxic to the kidneys and are known to cause kidney failure.
2. Risk of low sodium concentration. Low sodium in the blood (hyponatremia) can occur in people when they lose body salts through sweat from exercise and drink pure water or low salt-containing fluids. The body, when dehydrated, tries to retain fluid and when a dehydrated person drinks water most of it stays in the body, diluting the remaining sodium concentration. If sodium becomes too low, it can precipitate seizures .
3. Risk of low potassium concentration. Low potassium in the blood (hypokalemia) is known to happen when someone has a prolonged decreased food intake. The main risk of hypokalemia is the development of cardiac arrhythmias that can cause a person to collapse and even to have a cardiac arrest.
There are other risks of performing unusual physical activity coupled with severe restrictions of food intake. The ones presented in this post are ones that are known to happen and that may pose a risk to a person’s health. Whenever there is a health related issue that needs to be addressed, the primary physician is the best suited professional that can guide a person through the process. He or she should be able to create the best approach for losing weight
Marco A. Ramos MD