If you’re actively trying to lose weight, then anything that promises to shed the pounds as quickly as possible can seem appealing. But often, these rapid diet methods are unrealistic, unsustainable and can do more harm than good. Read on to discover what unhealthy and healthy weight loss actually looks like from the experts at XLS-Medical.
What is Healthy Weight Loss?
You may be tempted to try and lose weight as quickly as possible, but the health problems this can lead to mean it’s not a great idea. In fact, the recommended safe and healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week (which is around 0.5-1kg) – so it’s important not to expect too much at once.
To shed excess weight, your body will need to be in a calorie deficit (in other words, you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume), and the best way to achieve this is through healthy eating and exercise. Of course, every person’s calorie deficit will be different, depending on factors such as how much exercise they do, hormones and metabolism. Still, in general, it is thought reducing your calories intake by 500 calories should lead to one pound of weight loss per week.
Other healthy weight loss tips? Try to reduce your alcohol intake and replace sugary treats with healthy weight loss snacks instead.
Why Losing Weight Fast Isn’t Good
Forget fad diets and ‘miracle’ products that promise results in a week, weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, and if it does happen too fast, it could have scary consequences — here are some you should know.
Lack of Nutrition
If you’re regularly taking in too few calories, it becomes difficult for your body to get all the nutrients and minerals it needs to function correctly. This can sap your energy and cause you to shed more hair than usual. And that’s not all – it can weaken your immune system and is linked to megaloblastic anaemia and osteoporosis, too.
There’s the common misconception that weight loss always means fat loss. However, when you’re experiencing rapid weight loss, it’s likely muscle and water that you’re losing. What’s more, losing too much muscle can slow down your metabolism and mean you’ll burn fewer calories per day.
Gallstones are another unexpected (and painful) side effect of losing weight quickly. These small stones are usually made of cholesterol and form in the gallbladder. Ouch!
What Unhealthy Weight Loss Habits Should I Ditch?
While you may be trying to lose weight, that doesn’t mean cutting back on the number of meals you eat per day. It can be counterproductive if you’re skipping breakfast or trying to last through to dinner without having lunch. Starving your body of a meal makes your metabolism slow right down and increases ghrelin levels, also known as ‘the hunger hormone’, which increases appetite. This means you can end up eating more than you would normally! Instead, it would help if you stuck to a daily schedule of regular eating.
Cutting Out Entire Food Groups
Starchy carbs? Tick! Lean protein? Tick! All five food groups contain essential nutrients our bodies need, so completely cutting one out isn’t a good idea, as it can mean we end up craving them more. However, when it comes to practical, long-term weight loss, a balanced diet is key. Some of the best foods for weight loss include fruit, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
Here’s the truth: setting out to lose weight as quickly as possible never turns out well. That’s why crash diets get such a bad rap as they essentially aim to cause fast weight loss on a short-term basis. It may be tempting if you have an upcoming event or holiday and want to get rid of some extra pounds, but it means eating an extremely low number of calories a day. The result? You’re left feeling hungry with low energy, which can lead to overeating and piling the pounds back on. Rather than putting yourself under the pressure of a crash diet, try to give yourself more time and set realistic weight loss goals.
Juice cleanses may still be a popular weight loss method, but as it contains very few calories, you’re likely to put weight back on as soon as you resume a regular eating pattern again. Not to mention the fact that they contain no protein, which is essential for losing weight as it boosts metabolism and reduces the appetite.
How Can I Sustain Weight Loss?
The hardest part can be sustaining weight loss once you’ve first managed to lose it. But, if you ditch those quick fixes, build healthy habits and lose weight gradually, you’ll have the best chance of keeping it off for the long term.
Need Extra Support?
If you are thinking about losing weight or need some extra support and guidance, why not check out our free weight management service available at Superdrug Pharmacy stores up and down the country? Here you can speak to one of our pharmacists while checking your weight and BMI. You may then even be entitled to a free weight management programme provided by the NHS, so you don’t have to embark on your weight loss journey alone!