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Is Fast Weight Loss a Good Idea?
Most people want to lose weight fast. Maybe there’s a wedding in a few weeks or a party or vacation and they want to lose 20 pounds or more quickly. There are diets available that promise just that. You might succeed. It will be bad for your health and your skin will shrink slower than your body, so you will look like a prune, but you might achieve your goal. Then you will stop the diet and the weight will return immediately. Which could be bad news for the person you just married as well as for yourself.
So let’s be real about it. A two-year-old child weighs 20 pounds. So you asked your body to burn off the weight of a two-year-old in just a few weeks. Said like that, it may seem more of a challenge. It might be helpful to know what your crash diet is doing to your body. At first there will be weight loss which will continue for a few days and you will celebrate. You are depleting your body’s limited supply of glycogen. When you lose glycogen, you lose water and that explains the rapid weight loss. You also risk dehydration, possible gallstone problems will come later. The body then goes into starvation mode and you begin to lose muscle as well as fat. Now, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. So, by losing muscle, your body slows down its metabolism in order to survive on less food. Which means your weight loss is slowing down. You may also find that you suffer from headaches, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, and diarrhea. Not necessarily all at once, but even one or two isn’t very pleasant. At this point, you may well give up and regain the weight you lost. “Only about one in six Americans who have been overweight or obese lose weight and maintain that loss” (Penn State College of Medicine). Now we know why.
What should you do? You should set goals, but here we come back to realism. It can be a good idea to lose weight during the summer holidays. But if you book your vacation in February and eat junk food until June, you won’t look like Victoria Beckham in August. If you start eating healthy and exercising regularly in February, you just might. This should be your long term goal to keep in mind as you reach your short term goal of losing 1-2 pounds per week.
In order to lose 1 pound per week, you must consume 500 fewer calories each day than you need to maintain your current weight. It’s the equivalent of two bars of chocolate or an almond croissant in your favorite café. But you need to do a little more than just ditch the chocolate almond croissants. Ditch the junk food, you know what it is – everyone eats it. Reduce sugars, animal fats, crisps and soft drinks. Empty your fridge of junk food, you will eat it if there is any. You are going to need a lifestyle change, so you need to start eating healthy foods. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish like mackerel. If that sounds terrible to you, just Google “Mediterranean Recipes” and you’ll find plenty of French and Italian dishes that use these ingredients and taste really good. Drink plenty of water, avoid skipping breakfast, and eat smaller portions. But don’t become a martyr of what you eat. An occasional glass of wine or a celebratory meal is fine. Just follow your new diet most of the time.
You will also need exercise to burn off the calories you consume. Don’t bother with a gym if you don’t like that sort of thing. Half an hour of brisk walking, swimming or cycling every day is acceptable. An hour is better if you have the time.
That’s all there is to it. Just eat good food, exercise every day and you will lose weight slowly and safely. No rapid weight loss and sagging skin, no yo-yo dieting and health issues, no giving up. Then it won’t take long to become the one in six people to have lost weight and stay that way.
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