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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 faster. 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 plum, but you might achieve your goal. Then you stop the diet and the weight comes right back on. Which can be bad news for the person you just married as well as for you.
So let’s be realistic about it. A two-year-old child weighs 20 kg. So you’ve asked your body to burn off the weight of a two-year-old in just a few weeks. Somehow, it might sound more challenging. It can help you learn what crash dieting does to your body. At first there will be weight loss that will continue for a few days and you will celebrate it. You are using up your body’s limited supply of glycogen. As you lose glycogen you lose water and this 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 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 might as well give up and then put all the weight back on. “Only about one in six Americans who were overweight or obese lose weight and keep it off” (Penn State College of Medicine). Now we know why.
What should you do? You should set goals, but this is where we come back to realism again. It might be a good idea to lose weight for summer vacation. But if you book your holiday in February and eat junk food until June, you won’t look like Victoria Beckham in August. If you start a healthy diet and exercise regularly in February, you just can. This should be your long-term goal to keep in the back of your mind while you achieve your short-term goal of losing 1-2 pounds each week.
To lose 1 pound per week you need to consume 500 calories less each day than you need to maintain your current weight. This is the equivalent of two chocolate bars or an almond croissant in your favorite coffee shop. But you need to do more than just give up chocolate and almond croissants. Give up junk food., you know what it is – everyone else is eating it. Cut back on sugars, animal fats, crisps and fizzy drinks. Clean your fridge of junk food, you’ll eat it if it’s there. You will need a lifestyle change, so you need to start eating healthy foods. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish such as mackerel. If that sounds daunting, just Google “Mediterranean recipes” and you’ll find plenty of French and Italian meals that use these ingredients and taste really good. Drink plenty of water, avoid skipping breakfast and eat smaller portions. But don’t be a witness to what you eat. The occasional glass of wine or festive meal is fine. Just stick to your new diet most of the time.
You will also need exercise to burn off the calories you eat. Don’t go to the gym if you don’t like it. Half an hour of brisk walking, swimming or cycling each day is fine. An hour is better if you have 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 diets and health problems, no giving up. Then it won’t take long for you to become the one person in six who lost weight and kept it off.
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