Too much ambition when losing weight can harm the heart

Europeans and especially Germans like to follow many cultural developments in the USA with a certain delay.
This also applies – unfortunately, as must be said from a medical point of view – to eating habits. People eat more, and more fast food and so-called convenience food is eaten, which in principle contains fewer healthy nutrients and more fat and sugar.

As a consequence, Germany is getting fatter. According to a study by the German Nutrition Society, almost three quarters of men in this country are overweight when they retire, and 56 percent of women in this age group are overweight. The proportion of obese people (BMI over 30) has increased by about 40 (men) and 24 percent (women) since 1990. This is a worrying trend, both for each individual and for society as a whole. For obesity is dangerous to health in several respects, it damages the cardiovascular system as well as the internal organs and the musculoskeletal system.

“Every overweight person who decides to lose weight is to be congratulated and supported, because it potentially prolongs their life and at the same time increases their quality of life,” emphasises cardiologist and general practitioner Dr Rainer Ruf from the Ambulantes Centrum Berlin. However, the experienced cardiologist has a warning at the same time: “You can also overdo it with weight loss. On the one hand, this applies to the complementary side of food intake, exercise: If you have been a sports slacker for years or decades, you should not suddenly demand top performance from your body. It is healthier to continuously increase the amount of exercise. On the other hand, many people make the mistake of reducing their food intake too drastically – this in turn can lead to heart damage in the end.”

Rule of thumb: Reduce by 500 kilocalories daily

The danger is that the body loses muscle mass if the energy intake is too low. In doing so, it does not stop at the heart muscle, which can ultimately promote cardiac arrhythmias. According to the German Obesity Society, the rule of thumb is: you should not reduce your daily energy intake by more than 500 kilocalories. The formula “normal weight (kg) times 30 kilocalories minus 500 kilocalories” provides an individual value. If you want to make a larger reduction, you should always seek medical advice beforehand and ideally have the diet continuously monitored by a doctor.

Not only cardiologically is a moderate diet preferable to an extreme variant. In addition, the yo-yo effect – i.e. weight gain after the diet – is less likely to occur if fasting is not too ambitious. And after all, if you save 500 kilocalories a day, you can lose almost five kilograms in a quarter of a year. Without having to torture yourself with excessive hunger.