If you’re planning on quickly losing the excess pounds you’ve gained over the winter, you might want to think twice, because fast weight loss can do more harm than good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests losing weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. This might not seem like a lot, but there are various reasons why experts recommend losing weight gradually.
Keeping Off the Weight
A gradual weight-loss rate, during which you create a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories to shed 1 to 2 pounds in a week, is easier to incorporate into your lifestyle. The exercise and dietary requirements aren’t too drastic to the point where they’re hard to maintain long-term. This is also why it’s easier to keep the lost weight off. Fast weight loss often requires drastic methods that are impossible to keep up in the long run; the lost weight quickly comes back when you’re unable to maintain the drastic weight-loss tactics.
Quick weight loss often requires that you change your eating habits. You end up eating a lot less than you did before you planned on losing weight. Suddenly “starving” your body in this manner can slow down your metabolism and therefore also impact your weight loss. Your body goes into survival mode where it slows your metabolism and holds onto fat, because it’s not sure when it’s going to get its next meal. Also, when you start eating normal again, you’ll quickly put on weight until your metabolism restores itself.
Not Losing Fat
It takes time to burn fat, and if you lose more than 2 pounds in a week, it might not be fat that you’re burning. Dr. Donald Hensrud, an expert at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, states that fast weight loss is most likely water weight or lean muscle tissue. Water weight is quickly gained back, and losing muscle tissue impacts your body’s ability to burn calories, because muscle uses up more calories than fat to sustain itself. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn.
Gradual weight loss that becomes part of your lifestyle won’t negatively affect your health. If anything, the lifestyle changes you’re making are improving your health. The opposites is true if you lose weight too fast. Rapid weight loss can trigger health problems, such as dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, gallstones, dizziness, menstrual irregularities and headaches. You’re also likely to feel fatigued and sluggish during the day.
If you plan on losing weight, do so gradually by losing no more than 2 pounds a week. Also, consult your doctor before starting a weight-loss program, especially if you have preexisting health conditions or injuries.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight – It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle!
Helpguide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
MayoClinic.org: Weight Loss
WebMD: Rapid Weight Loss