When you want to lose weight, you want it to happen quickly. No one wants to spend weeks or months, or even years, working hard by dieting and exercising to slim down to their target weight.
Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, you shouldn’t rush the process or expect the results to come sooner than they safely should. In fact, experts always recommend gradual weight loss, especially if you want to keep the weight off for a long time to come.
Continue reading to learn about fast weight loss vs. gradual weight loss, and why gradual weight loss is always the way to go.
Gradual Weight Loss Can Lead to Longer Lasting Results
Most people are tempted to try and lose as much weight in the shortest amount of time that they can. This strategy can actually lead to unwanted results. Studies have shown that people who lose more than 2 to 3 pounds a week tend to gain the weight back faster as soon as diet and exercise is taken out of their daily routine. Losing more weight than your body will naturally allow will also cause you to lose muscle along with fat. In fact, losing more than 3 lbs per week is considered unhealthy and can lead to more serious health risks than feeling hungry and having food cravings.
Water Weight, Calories, and Fat: What You Should Know
When you set a goal for successful weight loss, you want to ensure it’s going to stay off. In the first few weeks of diet and exercise, many people experience rapid weight loss between 3 pounds and 5 pounds per week. Much of this weight is considered water weight that is used and lost through perspiration.
One pound of fat contains an average 3,500 calories, over a week’s time, to lose two lbs of body fat one would have to cut their caloric intake by 1,000 calories per day to make up for the 7,000 calories in two pounds of fat. By reducing caloric intake by 1,000 calories a day, not only will you remain hungry, but your body will also activate its famine response where your body will store fat instead of using it as fuel.
When You Don’t Focus on Gradual Weight Loss, Problems Might Arise
There is also an increased risk for additional health concerns for those who attempt to lose weight faster than your body is ready to lose naturally:
- Dehydration- the majority of initial weight loss comes from losing water weight. Our bodies need water to function properly. Losing too much water weight can lead to dehydration. In fact, when you are dieting it is recommended that you drink more water to stay hydrated and when consumed during meals can help you eat less.
- Fatigue- Most people think that by cutting your caloric intake in half you will lose weight faster. While this may be true for quick weight loss it will gradually catch up with you in the long term. Our bodies turn calories into energy. Without sufficient energy you will feel tired and lose motivation for exercise. Your metabolism will suffer.
- Malnutrition- Also by restricting caloric intake our bodies become deprived of the nutrients it needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are essential for keeping our skin, muscles, organs and bones healthy.
- Other health risks of trying to lose too much weight too quickly include ketone build up, heart rhythm disorders, gallstones, loose skin, weakened muscles, and digestive disorders.
How to Achieve Gradual Weight Loss Effectively and Safely
To maintain overall health and lose weight, it is recommended that you cut your caloric intake by no more than 500 calories a day. In addition, sticking to an exercise routine between three and five days a week can help keep the weight off and ensure you are burning true body fat.
According to WebMD, there are several ways that you can go about achieving a safe and healthy amount of gradual weight loss when you are working on slimming down. Those gradual weight loss steps include the following:
- Being careful about the beverages that you consume, as you can take in a lot of calories and sugar without realizing if you are drinking those calories and sweeteners. Stick to pure water as much as possible. And, drinking more water can even help reduce your appetite at mealtime by filling your belly before you start eating the food. When you want something other than water, stick with pure fruit and veggie juices that don’t contain additional sweeteners, or unsweetened teas.
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grains when you’re working on gradual weight loss. In other words, ditch the white flour products, like bread and pasta, for those that are made with whole grains, like whole wheat. Other whole grains that are great for dieters include brown rice, rye, bran, and quinoa. These will fill you up, and keep you satisfied, with nutrients and fiber, and they can even help support a healthy metabolic rate for weight loss.
- Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables into your diet? If you aren’t, you might find it harder to achieve your weight loss goals. Experts recommend consuming a greater amount of fruits and veggies that are low in calories, as this can help satisfy you so that you don’t end up eating other foods that are higher in calories and fat. You can do this, for example, by reducing the amount of meat that you eat and making the focus on your plate the vegetables. You can also start off dinner or lunch with a salad or veggie soup to fill your belly before the main course, thereby helping you reduce portions. Plus, these foods will deliver plenty of energy, thanks to the myriad nutrients that they contain.
Remember, Gradual Weight Loss Is Best
Weight loss shouldn’t feel like a punishment and although it may feel like losing 1-2lbs a week can take too long, over time you will notice that losing weight through diet and exercise rather than starving your body will last much longer and you won’t be subjected to the diet roller coaster. It’s important to remember that slow and steady wins the race; losing two pounds a week over 6 months time equates to a 50lb weight loss!