Are you ready to shed those extra pounds but wondering how fast you should do it? While you may want to see quick results, it’s essential to understand that healthy and sustainable weight loss is a gradual process. Rapid weight loss diets may seem tempting, but they are not always the best solution. So how quickly can you lose weight, and what is a healthy and sustainable rate of weight loss?
Factors That Affect Weight Loss
Several factors can impact how quickly you lose weight. According to Dr. Namratha Kandula, a primary care physician and professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, age, biological sex, genetic background, and hormones can affect an individual’s weight loss journey.
Women, for instance, find it harder to lose weight than men, and weight gain is typical, especially around their midsection, as they approach menopause. Additionally, certain hormonal conditions, such as hypothyroidism, can cause weight gain.
Crash Diets and Their Downsides
A significant number of Americans have experienced undesired weight gain during the pandemic. As per the “Stress in America: One Year Later, A New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns” report from the American Psychological Association, 42% of adults reported that they have gained more weight than they had intended since the pandemic started.
While the idea of losing weight quickly sounds appealing, it’s important to note that crash diets can be counterproductive in the long run. Low-calorie diets, for instance, may result in short-term weight loss but are hard to maintain in the long run. When the body consumes fewer calories, it feels like it’s being starved and starts burning muscle for energy.
This, in turn, leads to the body producing hormones that promote weight gain. Besides, the reduction in basal metabolic rate, the number of calories burned when resting, means that rapid weight loss is not usually sustainable and instead leads to rebound weight gain. In one University of California–Los Angeles review about two-thirds of dieters who had successfully lost weight ended up gaining back their weight, and sometimes more, within four to five years.
What Is a Healthy Rate of Weight Loss?
Dr. Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center in California, notes that what constitutes a healthy rate of weight loss depends on the individual’s starting point. In general, people who are trying to lose weight should aim to burn 500 to 1000 calories a day more than they consume. At that rate, most individuals would lose a pound or two per week, which is a reasonable and healthy goal.
Individuals who are overweight or have obesity may lose five to ten pounds a week initially, but this will plateau over time as they drop pounds and become more fit. The best way to lose weight is to adopt a healthy eating regimen while exercising regularly. Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, coupled with strength training twice a week, can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Healthy Weight Loss Tips
- Take it slow: Losing weight too quickly can lead to muscle loss, and it is not sustainable. Focus on losing one to two pounds per week.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet: A balanced diet should include protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly: Engage in cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, for at least 30 minutes per day, five times a week. Additionally, strength training exercises can help build muscle, which is essential for weight loss.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking water helps to flush out toxins and waste from the body and aids in digestion.
- Get enough sleep: A good night’s sleep is essential for weight loss. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
When you start a healthy eating and exercise routine, you will notice improvements in your physique even before you shed your first pound. Reduced intake of processed foods, excess sodium and refined carbohydrates is important for a healthy diet. Instead, focus on eating whole foods that are minimally processed, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. These foods are packed with essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
In addition to eating healthy foods, staying hydrated is crucial for good health. Water helps your body maintain its temperature, transport nutrients, and eliminate waste products. It also helps keep your skin looking healthy and may even aid in weight loss.
Another important aspect of a healthy diet is portion control. Overeating can lead to weight gain, which can increase the risk of a variety of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. To avoid overeating, try to eat slowly and mindfully, paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals.
Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is also important for maintaining good health. Regular exercise can help improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones and muscles, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can go a long way in promoting overall health and well-being. By making simple changes to your eating habits and incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, you can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. So, start small, be consistent, and stick with it for a healthier and happier you!
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.