In a world where you can get nearly anything you want with a click of a button and it be at your home within 24hours, it’s no surprise that people want to lose weight as fast as possible.
That’s to be expected with the various challenges you’ll see advertised promising X amount of weight that can be lost in a short space of time. Who wouldn’t want their summer body in double quick time?
However, with a large part of the fitness industry advocating the slow and steady approach to weight loss, what actually is the best protocol for weight loss and how fast is too fast. Hopefully, this article will help to give you some answers.
What is classed as fast weight loss?
According to the NHS, a healthy and safe rate of weight loss is anywhere between 0.5-1.0kg a week (Should you lose weight fast?, 2020). If you’re losing weight faster than that week, that could be considered to be too fast and could lead to an increased risk of negative affects on your health.
The most popular methods of trying to lose weight is to start exercising a lot or follow a ‘crash diet’ or very low-calorie diet.
Regardless of how you go about losing weight, in the early stages of any training or nutrition plan, it’s completely normal to lose more than the recommended 0.5-1kg of weight a week. This is usually because the weight you lose is predominantly water weight. This happens because when you are eating less calories, your body starts to dip into your energy stores known as glycogen. This glycogen is bound to water, so when you burn glycogen as fuel, you also start to get rid of water.
Can you maintain fast weight loss?
Here’s a trade secret for you. Losing weight is the easy part. Keeping the weight off is where the real challenge starts.
This is because, for most people, half the weight they lost after following a ‘crash diet’ is regained after almost a year and after nearly 3-5 years, practically everyone who followed a ‘crash diet’ regain all of the weight they lost (Dulloo and Montani, 2015).
Let’s chalk that up as a win for the slow and steady approach.
This is why there is so much support in favour of losing weight slowly as it can allow you to build long lasting habits and behaviours, such as eating more fruit and veg and drinking less sugary drinks, to help stop regaining the weight you’ve lost.
The counter argument in favour of the ‘crash diet’, is that some studies have shown there’s no difference in regaining the weight you lost whether you lost your weight quickly or slowly (Vink et al., 2016).
However, this was only possible because the subjects had the support of health and fitness professionals to monitor their progress and provide a structure for after the study. To me this gives the slow and steady approach another point as long term habits and behaviours are sounding pretty important to stop regaining the weight you’ve lost.
Risks of losing weight too fast
- Muscle Loss – losing weight isn’t always the same as losing fat. Following ‘crash diets’ or low-calorie diets can lead you to under eat, resulting in the loss of muscle.
- Nutritional Deficiencies – like losing muscle, following ‘crash diets’ and low-calorie diets can mean you’re restricting yourself to certain foods you can eat. This may deprive your body of essential nutrients for optimal health.
- Fatigue/Tiredness – restricting the food you can eat can lead to increased levels of tiredness and fatigue which may start negatively impacting your lifestyle.
Tips to lose weight at a healthy and safe rate
When losing weight, you want to make sure you are maintaining as much muscle as you can whilst losing as much fat as you can in the healthiest and safest way possible. There’s no point losing wait and getting your summer body if you don’t feel good when you achieve your goal.
- Have protein with every meal – eating enough protein will allow you maintain muscle mass and keep you fuller for longer. This will reduce the risk of temptation to snack.
- Reduce sugar intake – people who lose the most weight successfully are those who reduce their carb intake. Reducing the amount of sugar you consume is a great way of reducing your carb intake.
- Eat slowly – eating slowly will allow you to feel fuller for longer and eat less food. Overeating or having to bigger portion sizes can hinder weight loss.
- Get plenty of quality sleep – lack of sleep can boost your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and lower your levels of leptin, the feeling of hunger hormone. This means that poor quality sleep could leave you hungry, making it harder to lose weight.
Take home points
If your goal is to lose weight, aim to lose 0.5-1kg a week over a long-term period. That way it will be easier to reduce any risk of regaining the weight you lost and allow you to build long lasting habits and behaviours.
Losing weight too fast, without the help and support of a health and fitness professional, can be detrimental to your health causing you to lose muscle and have nutritional deficiencies. However, if you are going to follow a short term weight loss programme, make sure you do it with the help of a health and fitness professional so that you have a plan to keep to the weight off after you’ve completed your short term goal.
If you have any questions about this article, or want to get involved in working together towards achieving your health and fitness goals, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading,
Dulloo, A. and Montani, J., 2015. Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview. Obesity Reviews, 16, pp.1-6.
nhs.uk. 2020. Should You Lose Weight Fast?. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/should-you-lose-weight-fast/> [Accessed 26 May 2020].
Vink, R., Roumans, N., Arkenbosch, L., Mariman, E. and van Baak, M., 2016. The effect of rate of weight loss on long-term weight regain in adults with overweight and obesity. Obesity, 24(2), pp.321-327.