Why Do I Lose Weight So Fast? 7 Possible Reasons and Treatments

A skinny man looking at himself in the mirror

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Wanting to lose weight as fast as possible is normal if you’re putting in the work. But it can be quite unsettling if you can’t point to something that may have caused you to shed some pounds recently. You must investigate its reasons, as rapid weight loss may indicate a physical or mental health issue. 

Why Do I Lose Weight So Fast?

Unintentional weight loss has several possible causes, but first, you should know what it means. The National Library of Medicine defines it as when a person loses 10 pounds or 5% of their body weight over 6-12 months and does not know why. 

It’s possible to shed some pounds without changing your diet or exercise routine, but losing much too quickly could be a sign of something more serious. Any of these seven reasons could be why you’re losing weight too fast. 

1. Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid supercharges your metabolism, so you burn more calories and lose weight faster even if you eat well. It can also increase your rate of bowel movements and heart palpitations. This disorder is most commonly caused by an autoimmune condition called Graves’ Disease. Around 1% of Americans live with this illness, with people aged 30 and older the most likely to develop it. 

Experts say Graves’ Disease is not fatal, but you must carefully manage the condition. Different treatments are available and it’s ultimately up to your doctor to prescribe the right kind and dosage based on your medical history and diagnostic tests. 

2. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease inhibits your body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, which can cause rapid weight loss. This autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack the small intestine when ingesting gluten, the protein found in wheat and other grains. That means you’re not getting the health benefits from eating pasta, pastries and most desserts — foods that normally cause you to pack a couple of pounds. 

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, lifelong abstinence from gluten is the only treatment for the disorder. Don’t worry, there’s a wide variety of foods and beverages that are naturally gluten-free, like eggs, beans, lean meats and most low-fat dairy products. Your doctor might also prescribe vitamins and dietary supplements to support your eating regimen. 

3. Parasite

The presence of parasites in your gut can be why you’re dropping pounds so fast. Intestinal worms take up all your calories, so you’ll find you’re eating as usual or maybe even more but are still unintentionally losing weight. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, bloating and dehydration. 

Talk to your doctor immediately if you’ve been feeling these and are experiencing rapid weight loss. Medication is often the best course of action, but the type depends on the kind of parasite and other relevant factors like existing health conditions and restrictions.

4. Type 1 Diabetes 

The body requires insulin to turn blood sugar into energy. Diabetes hinders the pancreas’ ability to produce this insulin, so the sugar you eat doesn’t energize your body. When the cells run out of glucose, your system starts burning fat and muscles to keep your energy levels up, causing you to lose weight. Though typically common in children, anyone can develop Type 1 diabetes at any point in their life. 

Other symptoms include extreme thirst and chronic fatigue, so if you’re losing a couple of shirt sizes along with these issues, it’s time to go see your doctor.

5. Stress and Depression

Going through a particularly rough time like the death of a loved one, a divorce or losing a job can cause you to lose weight quickly. These periods often involve being so lost in grief that you forget to eat. Everyday stressors like traffic and bills can also exacerbate feelings of depression, affecting your sleep cycle, which is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. 

Depression affects around 8% of the population and can directly impact the health and well-being of the people around them. In many cases, you may need help from family, friends or even a professional counselor to break through the cycle. Barring any preexisting conditions, you should return to your regular weight after having time to grieve. However, if you continue to lose pounds afterward, you should talk to your medical provider. 

6. Substance Abuse

People who frequently abuse alcohol, tobacco or other harmful substances are more likely to experience rapid weight loss than those who don’t. Amphetamines such as cocaine can suppress appetite, so the users sometimes don’t eat as much food, which can contribute to them shedding the pounds much quicker. Also, the physical strain from the abuse can impact overall well-being, giving them a more worn appearance. 

If you think using recreational substances might be the reason for your unintentional weight loss, have an honest discussion with your doctor about your needs. They’ll recommend the best course of treatment to help you maintain your weight within a healthy range, 

7. Muscle Loss

Even if you are actively trying to lose weight, you should burn fat, not muscles. When you’re not trying at all, losing muscle mass from lack of physical activity can indicate a more severe issue like immunodeficiency or cardiovascular problems. According to experts, this condition mainly affects people aged 65 years and older, but it’s never too early to work towards preventing it. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help keep your muscles fit while reducing the risk of atrophy. 

Who Is Most at Risk For Unintentional Weight Loss?

Anyone can lose weight fast, but it is more common and severe in people over 65. An involuntary decline in total body weight over time can have a damaging effect on their quality of life and increase their risk of mortality. 

Why Do I Lose Weight So Fast? So Many Considerations

Unexplained rapid weight loss is no joke. If you notice fewer pounds on the scale, see your primary care physician right away. Make sure to record all your symptoms and how they impact your daily life so your doctor has a better idea of what you’re going through. They’ll educate you on their diagnoses of the underlying condition and recommend the best approach. It could be one of these seven issues or another explanation, but at least you’ll know and be well on your way to proper treatment.

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