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 reciprocated results. Studies have shown that people who lose more than 2 to 3 lbs 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 3lbs per week is considered unhealthy and can lead to more serious health risks than feeling hungry and having food cravings.
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 3lbs and 5lbs 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.
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.
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. 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!