If you’ve hopped on board the diet train with a plan that promises you’ll lose more than two pounds per week (or more than eight pounds per month), it may be time to hit the brakes!
“According to the CDC, recommended weekly weight loss goals for most people are one to two pounds,” explains registered dietitian Anna Bessonova. “Adults who lose weight at this pace are more likely to keep the weight off long term.”
Considering that one pound of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories, one should reduce daily intake by 500 to 1,000 calories to reach this ideal one- to two-pound-per-week pace.
And the best strategy to avoid gaining all the weight back? Take it slow.
“After losing 10 percent of your initial body weight, it’s best to maintain your new weight for about six months,” says Bessonova.
Here are five reasons super-speed weight loss may not be for you:
- It’s not sustainable.
Most of the calorie-restrictive diets are fad diets, which fail about 95% of the time. In 2007, researchers at UCLA reviewed 31 long-term studies lasting between two and five years. They concluded that at least 1/3 to 2/3 of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years.
They fail for a reason! Focusing only on calorie restriction without changing your lifestyle and habits is not a recipe for success. Instead, gradual, sustainable changes over time will help you lose and maintain your desired weight.
Here’s a real life example. Instead of just eliminating carbs across the board, as some fad diets would have you do, learn about right portion sizes and healthiest types of carbohydrates. Most importantly, work on becoming more aware of what triggers your eating habits (boredom? Stress? Irregular meal times?)
Become more mindful by slowing down and chewing your food. Also, consider adding regular physical activity so you can better balance energy consumed from food. These lifestyle changes will make more of a difference over time than just focusing on numbers on the scale.
- Dropped weight might be from losing water and muscle.
When eating very low calorie diet, you might be losing more than just fat—you’re shedding water weight and eventually your muscles. This can slow down your metabolism and have a negative effect on weight loss.
- Deprivation can have unintended consequences.
Restricting and depriving yourself of certain foods and calories can cause weakness, dizziness, hunger, mood swings and might eventually lead to binging and overeating.
Moderation, on the other hand, is a more reasonable approach: pacing yourself and allowing yourself to have your favorite foods once in a while can help keep you from losing control over them.
For example, the 90/10 rule is a good approach. Eat very healthy foods 90% of the time and allow yourself your favorite foods 10% of the time.
- Losing weight too fast can cause gallbladder stones.
People who lose more than three pounds per week may have a greater chance of getting gallstones than those who lose weight more slowly.
Weight cycling, or losing and regaining weight repeatedly, can also lead to gallstones. The more weight you lose and regain during a cycle, the greater your chances of developing gallstones.
- Your body doesn’t feel satiated.
Many “lose weight quick” diets rely on low-fat or non-fat foods, which are often stripped of real nutrient that your body needs.
To lose weight at the safe rate, focus on real, unprocessed, unrefined foods and balance protein, fat and carbs at each meal to feel full and balanced. Most of the time, quality of foods matter more than quantity: upgrade your packaged snacks to fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean poultry and fish, and replace sugary drinks with water and unsweetened tea or coffee.
More Quick Tips For Safe and Sustainable Weight loss:
- Come up with a realistic and reasonable weight loss goal, like one to two pounds per week. Consult a doctor or dietitian if you’re not sure what your ideal body weight is, or use a BMI calculator to find out your safe range.
- Don’t eat fewer than 800 calories per day unless under strict medical supervision. It’s recommended to eat a minimum of 1,200 calories/day for women and 1500 for men.
- Say no to fad diets, meaning any short-term, quick-fix type of diet
- Keep track of your food intake, physical activity and weight using an app like Mealviser
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activitylike brisk walking most days of the week; add muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
- Eat meals at regular meal times and don’t skip breakfast
- Balance your nutrients by including all food groups on your plate (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and focusing on quality. Fill ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruits which are high in fiber and rich in nutrients; ¼ of your plate with lean proteins such as skinless poultry, fish, nuts and seeds, eggs, organic dairy; and the remaining ¼ of your plate with high fiber starches like brown rice, whole grain pasta/bread/sweet potato, etc. Use only highest quality fats like olive oil, variety of nuts, seeds, and
- Stay committed by getting support from friends and family.