Rapid Weight Loss: Is It OK?
Rapid weight loss is something that I’ve been asked a lot about over the years and thought I would take a second to write a quick blog discussing my feelings. First and foremost, I believe that making change over a gradual period of time is by far the most effective way at losing weight AND keeping it off. Here is a couple reasons why:
- The education process is super important. Taking time to do it slowly allows you to understand WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Habits are formed. When habits are formed and you integrate them into your identity, they seldom leave you. For instance, if you identify as someone who goes to the gym or eats healthy, then you’ll always do that. If you identify as someone who is going to TRY to eat healthy or go to the gym, you’ll probably never make it.
- Trying to make significant changes in your diet, exercise, and lifestyle is significantly more difficult to do than making small, subtle changes that add up to HUGE impacts over time.
Great. We got that out of the way.
Now, let’s take a look at what can be found in support of rapid weight loss. There isn’t a lot but may be encouraging to those who just can’t wait for long-term changes or are wanting to make big changes now and maintain them the best they can in the future.
Here is some research (with links) that is a little more in favor of rapid weight loss:
- A 2000 review showed that “greater initial weight loss” led to improved weight loss maintenance long-term, even if extreme dieting is used.
- Another 2001 study found that rapid short-term weight loss (even when using very low calorie diets) can be effective at longer-term weight control if the person then uses a weight-maintenance program that encompasses more healthy activities (nutritional education, exercise, etc).
- Another study showed that the more unrealistic people’s weight loss goals were, the greater the weight loss was at 18 months. These goals were “unrealistically high” (losing 24-30% of their body weight).
- Another study looked at “middle-aged obese women” and found “both short- and long-term advantages of fast initial weight loss.” This showed that fast weight losers had greater weight reduction and long-term maintenance. Another positive note was that they were not more susceptible to regaining the weight than the slower weight loss groups.
- One more was similar to the previous. It showed that the rapid weight loss group were “no more likely” to regain their weight in the long term than those who lost more gradually. As a matter of fact, members of the faster weight loss group were more likely to hit their short-term weight loss goals AND stick with the program. While both groups gained most of the weight back long-term, the net weight loss of the rapid weight loss group was greater.
Is it safe?
This is the part that everyone needs to pay very close attention to. Rapid weight loss is not for everyone.
If someone is obese, you’re more likely to benefit from it than if someone is lean. We actually see that obese who drop weight rapidly can have a lot of markers improved, with insulin sensitivity being my favorite of them.
If you are not obese, then it probably is not for you. You’ll end up losing more muscle than fat and also have some other negative side effects along with it.
If you’re interested in a more in depth look at the safety of it, then let me know and I’ll be sure to do another quick post covering it.
What is the right path for everyone?
The truth is that slow and steady weight loss is often the best approach. By making gradual changes to your diet and exercise routine, you can achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss that lasts.
Here are some of the benefits of slow and steady weight loss:
- It's more sustainable: Making gradual changes to your lifestyle is much more sustainable than trying to overhaul your entire life overnight. Slow and steady weight loss is more likely to stick in the long run.
- It's healthier: Rapid weight loss can put a lot of strain on your body and may not be healthy in the long run. Slow and steady weight loss allows your body to adjust to the changes and can help prevent health complications down the line.
- It leads to better results: Studies have shown that people who lose weight slowly and steadily are more likely to keep the weight off in the long term.
Tips for Healthy and Sustainable Weight Loss
If you're looking to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way, here are some tips to get you started:
- Set realistic goals: Instead of aiming to lose a large amount of weight in a short amount of time, set smaller, achievable goals for yourself.
- Make gradual changes: Try making small changes to your diet and exercise routine, such as cutting back on sugary drinks or taking a daily walk.
- Focus on whole foods: Eating a diet that's rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help you feel full and satisfied while also providing your body with the nutrients it needs.
- Get moving: Regular exercise is key to healthy weight loss, and can also help improve your overall health and well-being.
In the end, the key to healthy and sustainable weight loss is to focus on making small, gradual changes to your lifestyle. By setting realistic goals and focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods and regular exercise, you can achieve your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way. Remember, slow and steady wins the race, and the most important thing is to focus on long-term health and wellness goals rather than quick fixes or drastic weight loss measures.
If you need some help, set up a nutritional consult and I’d love to help you out in any way I can, even if it is rapid weight loss.