"What is the fastest way to lose weight?"
It has to be the most often asked question I get as a Trainer and Coach. The answer is simple:
Stop eating and drinking. Everything.
And, if you have any energy left, you should exercise at a high intensity all day long.
But we all know that that's bad advice. (Seriously, people - don't do it.) But, if you ask the question, I'm going to give you the correct answer. The problem isn't the answer, it's the question.
You want to lose weight fast.I get it. The scale isn't moving. You're stuck. You're trying (operative word) to eat better. You're trying (operative word, again) to exercise regularly. But, you're just not losing weight fast enough. Fast enough for what? For someone to notice? To fit into your pants again? To look good in a swim suit?
Who set the goal for rate of weight loss? Was it you? Are you trying to meet a deadline, like a trip to a beach in four weeks, or a reunion in three months?
What happens when you diet?
Typically, a diet is a temporary calorie or food restriction. You eliminate calories or certain "bad" foods from your diet. The result? You lose weight. Then, when you reach your desired goal weight, you celebrate, because "You Made It"! The end of the diet, typically means that the calorie and food restrictions can be lifted.
Friend: "Wow. You look great! How much weight did you lose?"
You: "Twenty pounds! I haven't been at this weight in ten years."
Friend: "How'd you do it?"
You: "I was on this really great diet. I could eat as much vegetables as I wanted. I was allowed (ooh - I hate those words) to eat lean meats like chicken and fish and I could eat a couple servings of fruit a day."
Friend: "So - you must be pretty excited. Wanna go out for pizza and beer tonight to celebrate?"
You: "Well, I really like how I feel, so I want to keep eating like this as much as possible. But, I guess as long as I have a huge salad with pizza, I'll be just fine. And, a couple of beers won't hurt."
Friend: "Atta boy!"
After the diet.
Any calorie or food restriction will help you lose weight. Often, the more restricted, the more weight you will lose, faster. With any restriction, however, there are side effects, the most noticeable being irritability and lack of energy. But, if you get to your goal weight, you definitely don't want to gain it back, right? (Please see previous blog on the dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting.) So, the secret (hush - don't tell anyone, right?) has to be in what you do after you've reached your weight loss goal.
Certainly, a diet that is restrictive will help you lose weight, until you reach a plateau. When you reach a plateau, you'll have to further restrict calories or food to continue to lose weight. If you're happy at your set point, you simply need to continue to do what has been working for you up to this point. Stay on your current diet and not waiver from it at all.
Example of a plateau: Joe weighs 200 pounds. It takes 2,000 calories to keep (burn) his 200 pound body alive and functioning (also called basal metabolic rate). Joe is on a 1,500 calorie/day diet and loses one pound a week. At the end of six months, Joe loses approximately 24 pounds. At 176 pounds, Joe's body now burns about 12% less (See laws of Thermodynamics.) Therefore, if he stays on a 2,000 calorie/day diet, his rate of weight loss will slow to about .5 pounds/week. The less Joe weighs, the less calories Joe needs to sustain his weight. When Joe decides that he's reached his goal weight, his calorie and/or food restriction may be so much that it is not sustainable. Therefore, as Joe starts adding back foods and calories, he will eventually gain weight back.
Avoiding the Yo-Yo.What's going to be most important after successful weight loss, is keeping it off, which is often harder than taking it off in the first place. In order to keep the weight off once and for all, you'll have to change the way you eat permanently. If a low carbohydrate diet helped you lose weight, and you had energy and weren't irritable, and didn't experience any other side effects, then stick with it. If a low fat diet helped you lose weight (and maybe because heart disease runs in your family), stick to it.
The Best Diet
Ultimately, the best diet is one that is a lifestyle solution and is sustainable for the long haul. In my opinion, the best "diet" closely resembles the Paleo diet, which is basically eating sensible, with an emphasis on vegetables over meat, and choosing high quality, lean meats. It's as close to eating fresh and natural as possible. It specifically excludes processed and fast foods and refined flours, sugars and starches. (Note: this diet may not be for everyone. See your doctor.)
The old saying, "You can't have your cake and eat it too" may just be right when it comes to losing and maintaining your weight and improving your overall health. Moderation may or may not work for you. More times than not, though, one person's idea of moderation, is all that is keeping them from losing weight.
The Living 365fitt, 12-Week Program to Lifestyle Wellness can help you figure out what's right for you and your health once and for all. Chapter Eight, It's All About the Details, discusses directly what types of foods to choose to improve your health and potentially, lose weight.
If you need additional help, please contact Kathy at Kathy@365fitt.com for more information.
For related articles, see also:
Are Your Diets Failing You? Or, Are You Failing Your Diets (yo-yo dieting)
All You Wanted to Know About Fad Diets and More
Lose 24 Pounds in One Week
Raspberry Ketone Diet
What Isn't In a Diet Supplement?
The Anatomy of a Diet Scam