By: Jordan Pete
Most weight loss products and services currently on the market promise quick, easy weight reduction. They emphasize loss of a specific number of pounds over a short period of time. This can be a really appealing possibility, especially if you're hoping to drop some weight in order to fit into a wedding dress, look good in a bikini, or wear that old suit. Unfortunately, these kinds of products don't always work the way you'd like them to.
Problems with Rapid Weight Loss
Losing weight fast sounds like a great idea until you learn about all the possible side effects it could cause. Your body is designed to hold onto fat in times when there's not much food available. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of programs designed to help you lose fat quickly actually end up taking off muscle mass and causing you to lose water weight. That means that you'll weight less, but you might not actually end up with the body you wanted.
That weight tends to come right back when you resume normal eating, too. After all, your body has an idea of what it's "normally" supposed to be like, and it wants to return to that size and shape. Studies have shown that people who've lost weight actually feel hungrier than people of the same weight who did not go through a loss program. This extra hunger lasts for up to two or three years, and it can be hard to deal with. The problems are bigger for people who lose most of their weight quickly because it takes longer for the body to adjust.
Losing weight too fast can lead to feeling tired and sluggish. It can also decrease your metabolism in the long run, making it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. In extreme cases, too-rapid weight loss can even damage your heart and cause other long term health problems.
A More Sustainable Alternative
With all these disadvantages, it's clear that programs that promise losses of 30 pounds in 30 days aren't a viable option if you want to stay healthy. Doctors tend to recommend losing only one to two pounds per week if you want to stay healthy and reduce the risk of putting weight back on. Ideally, this process should be relatively slow and gentle, allowing your body to get used to being smaller and needing less or different food. It takes a lot of patience and can be very frustrating at times, but slow weight loss is really the most sustainable option.
Finding a Happy Medium
Unfortunately, the slow speed of many truly sustainable weight loss programs can actually reduce your chances of losing weight. That's because so many people become frustrated with their progress, especially when they reach a plateau. They may decide that the difficulty of eating a healthier diet isn't worthwhile. They might even end up quitting their weight loss plan entirely. That's why some people end up seeking a happy medium between unsustainable, dangerous loss at a rapid rate, and the slower, safer and often frustrating methods that work best in the long run.
One option is to choose a plan that results in some relatively rapid loss at the beginning, then slows down and produces more sustainable results. It's still important to pay attention to these plans' effects on your system, since not all of them are healthy. However, the initial rapid loss may help you feel better about the slower pace later on. Popular options include low-carbohydrate plans such as the Atkins Diet, which feature large amounts of loss at the beginning, as well as weight loss techniques that start with fasting or other calorie-restrictive methods and reintroduce other foods later.
You can also work to reduce the damage done by planned or unexpected rapid loss. For instance, you may be able to decrease the risk of severe muscle loss by maintaining regular activity, especially if your exercise program includes a resistance training component. By making sure you use your muscles, you decrease the risk of serious loss. Maintaining good hydration, eating a balanced diet that's rich in all necessary vitamins and minerals, and taking care to consume foods that will provide you with plenty of energy can also help cut down some of the problems associated with rapid loss. When in doubt, talk to a doctor or nutritionist about your weight loss plans.
When Quick Weight Loss Isn't a Worry
Sometimes, losing weight fast isn't something you need to spend too much time worrying about. This doesn't refer to loss caused by unsustainable fasts or fad diet plans, but it can apply when you've recently made a healthy lifestyle change. If you used to live on fast food but you've recently changed to a vegetarian lifestyle, there's a good chance you may experience sudden, surprising loss. This sort of effect can also happen if you've suddenly taken up a strenuous new sport or hobby, such as running, cycling or dancing.
The change in your diet and your activity level could be enough to prompt rapid loss, but if your healthy new habit is going to be a long term one, there's probably nothing to worry about. Concentrate on taking care of your body, avoiding injury, and getting a balanced diet. If you stay active and provide your body with plenty of energy, the weight loss will slow down eventually and you should be able to maintain good health.
Dealing with the Side Effects of Rapid Weight Loss
Even quick weight loss that doesn't negatively affect your health can have some unpleasant side effects, however. Many people who lose weight fast find that they suffer from loose skin, changes in appetite and energy level, or unusual moods. These can be disruptive to your daily life and may also negatively affect your self-image, but there are some ways to reduce or eliminate them.
The first is to ensure that you're getting enough food. If you've recently lost a lot of weight due to a sudden increase in exercise level or a major change in your diet, there's a chance you're actually getting too few calories. This can affect the way you feel, the things you eat, and even how much you want to eat. Focus on getting plenty of lean protein, but don't cut out the fat entirely. Look for "good" fats such as nuts and olive oil. These will help you feel sated, so they'll reduce the risk of that ravenous feeling. They'll also provide the specific types of energy that your nervous system needs to work properly, cutting down on mental and emotional side effects.
Weight loss can also cause cosmetic issues such as loose skin. This is especially common in older people who experience rapid loss, since their skin isn't as elastic as that of younger dieters. While some amount of loose skin may be unavoidable after a quick loss, you have a few options to decrease it.
First, make sure you're engaging in at least some resistance training like weight lifting. This will help build muscle under the skin, filling it out and helping reduce sagginess. This plan is appropriate for women as well as men, since there's no need to fear bulking up unless you have an unusually large amount of testosterone in your system or are using performance enhancers. You can also help your skin stay firm and attractive by making sure you stay hydrated and consuming plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
If you have the option to pursue slow, steady weight loss, that's always the best choice. However, a short period of quick loss or a fast loss due to healthy lifestyle changes doesn't have to be the end of the world. In the end, just make sure you stick with healthy, balanced choices and focus on fitness, not just appearance
Jordan Pete is a research writer and author of three popular books on weight loss and dieting. To get a FREE eBook that will teach you how burn up to 500 extra calories per day without even exercising, go to http://dietpillsreporter.com/free-offer/.