More than 70% of American adults are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who want to lose weight as quickly as possible are faced with an important question: how can you lose that weight quickly and safely?
“The fastest way to lose weight is to create a consistent calorie deficit with balanced meals and physical activity,” says Gaby Vaca-Flores, registered dietitian and founder of Glow+Greens, a nutrition and healthcare consultancy. skin based in Santa Monica, CA. .
While it’s certainly possible to restrict calories enough to lose a lot of weight in a week, Vaca-Flores says it’s not a good idea to choose the most extreme diet. “Although you may initially see quick results, a weight loss plateau may be waiting around the corner due to your metabolism slowing down,” she says.
This slowdown, also known as metabolic adaptation and sometimes referred to as “starvation mode,” occurs when rapid weight loss, aka crash dieting, tricks your body into thinking you’re starving.
“The body needs energy – calories – to fuel basic biological functions, including digestion, breathing (and) pumping blood through the body, as well as the activity you do throughout your life. day,” says Mia Syn, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, in the south of the country. Carolina and author of “Mostly Plant-Based”. “When you don’t get enough energy from food for these functions, you can be putting your health at risk.”
To compensate in a calorie-restricted environment, the body adapts to using fewer calories daily to function. This leads to a slowed metabolism, which makes it even more difficult to lose weight and ultimately leads to rebound weight gain.
Cutting calories too much can also lead to weight loss through muscle loss, further compounding the problem. Muscle is metabolically more active than fat, which means it burns more calories at rest than fat. If your body begins to break down muscle to fuel its basic functions, it can further slow your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight and maintain it long term.
Rapid weight loss can lead to a rebound in weight gain
If you’ve been following dietary advice and have experienced significant weight loss only to bring it back, you’re not alone. It’s not your fault either. The human body is designed to maintain balance as much as possible; your metabolism adjusts as you lose weight because the system thinks food scarcity has become a threat to survival.
Because the body wants to preserve weight, a slow approach to shedding extra pounds is healthier than drastically cutting calories. “It’s best to pace your weight loss by eating just enough calories to keep you in a deficit while meeting most of your body’s energy needs,” says Vaca-Flores. “It will help your metabolism run efficiently.”
Determining how many calories you need to eat to achieve this rate of weight loss will depend on several factors, including your age, starting weight, activity level, and gender. Candace Pumper, staff dietitian at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, says, “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position statement on adult weight management recommends 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day for men. to support weight loss.
She notes, however, that these guidelines “are not intended to replace professional nutritional advice or treatment. It is recommended that people follow the advice of their dietitian regarding appropriate caloric intake, as many factors affect caloric needs.
Plus, “if you lose weight too quickly, you’ll likely see low energy and even headaches, which can make it harder to continue your weight loss journey,” says Vaca-Flores. “It usually happens when you don’t eat enough or exercise too much.”
Rapid weight loss may only be appropriate in rare circumstances. “A very low-calorie diet is sometimes recommended for obese adults who need to lose weight for health reasons or before bariatric surgery,” says Syn. In these cases, the diet “is only followed for a short time and under the guidance of a doctor or dietitian”. If you’re looking to lose weight fast, she advises “working with and being supervised by a health care provider.”
Other Weight Loss Options
Although many people want to lose weight quickly without exercise, it’s important to note that exercise can help you kick-start weight loss and maintain it over the long term. Remember that muscle is metabolically more active than fat and can help you maintain your weight. As a 2021 review study in the journal iScience revealed, exercise is more important for longevity and health benefits than weight loss.
Bariatric or weight loss surgery and other types of medically supervised weight loss can help people with a lot of weight lose weight safely and permanently. However, these approaches are not always lightning-fast routes to success and may require patience.
Certain weight loss medications can help adjust the hormones affecting your rate of weight loss. Wegovy, for example, is an injectable drug recently approved by the FDA to promote weight loss. Wegovy acts on the GLP-1 hormone secreted in the gut, which causes the stomach to slow down its typical rate of emptying so you feel full longer after eating. It also suppresses the appetite. Metformin, usually given in pill or liquid form, is used to treat type 2 diabetes and may provide additional support for dieters. This drug works by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin and leptin, two hormones that can affect feelings of fullness and help you feel less hungry.
These are options you can discuss with your doctor. It’s important to note, however, that taking a strong drug is not a magic bullet to help you lose a lot of weight in two weeks to prepare for the next high school reunion. Instead, it should be one component of an overall long-term lifestyle change that can help you achieve a healthy weight at a rate that’s safe for your body. Your doctor can help you find the right weight loss program for your needs and goals.
The best way to lose weight
Syn says that when looking to lose weight, “it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself.” Going too fast can set you up for weight rebound and potential health complications later.
To avoid the all-too-common fate of yo-yo dieting, Vaca-Flores recommends aiming for modest weight loss of around half a pound a week. “Taking a slower route can help prevent burnout or a frustrating weight loss plateau,” she says.
As exciting as rapid weight loss may sound, “it’s usually short-lived” because the extreme measures used to achieve quick results are not long-lasting, “which can lead to burnout and regaining all the weight.” “, adds Vaca-Flores. “Taking a slow and steady approach is the key to achieving consistent results that last.”
Reducing portion sizes, swapping out more nutrient dense food options, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all good strategies for healthy, lasting weight loss.
“Weight loss requires a lifestyle change, not just a quick diet,” says Syn. “In order to stay healthy and be your best in the long run, you have to make a lot of small changes.”