Weight loss tip: Slow Down

Weight Loss Tip 101 - Weight Loss is Not A RaceWeight Loss Tip 101 - Weight Loss is Not A Race

Remember, Weight Loss is Not A Race

Weight Loss Tip 101 - Weight Loss is Not A Race

Weight Loss Tip 101 – Weight Loss is Not A Race



In the United States, nearly two-thirds of adults are obese or overweight. Most want to lose weight, and many of them have tried to lose weight.  The question is if it is better to lose weight quickly or slowly.  I am sure you have read for years that slower weight loss is more sustainable than rapid weight loss and that fast weight loss is unhealthy.  It is true that weight loss that is too fast can result in adverse effects such as fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, and a stomach upset.  That being said, I wrote an article a few months ago on rapid weight loss and the new research that seems to support the possibility that rapid weight loss may actually appear to result in a similar degree of weight loss success when compared to slow dieting.  This finding directly refutes the prior belief.   

There is plenty of research that shows the benefits of weight loss.  A loss of body weight as small as 5% can improve your health through improved blood pressure and blood glucose control. So, it should not matter if you lose weight fast, right?  The problem with quick weight loss the percentage of water versus fat loss and there are some health complication with rapid weight loss. It doesn’t matter how much weight you lose if most of the initial weight loss is water weight.  Quick weight loss does not allow you enough time to burn off the fat.  Also, weight rapid weight loss, you are also more likely to develop adverse health effects such as gallstones.  

Experts say that slow weight loss also increases your likelihood of burning fat instead of muscle.  Your body prefers carbohydrates fo energy and parts of your body cannot burn fat for energy so there are limits to the amount of fat you can actually burn in a given period.   It makes sense in theory that significant deficits in calories which occur in crash diets will result in the loss of more muscle than a slower, more gradual diet.  Gradual changes to your diet and exercise allow us to learn to make healthy eating and exercise a habit that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Tortoise and the hare

Tortoise and the hare

So why did recent research show rapid weight loss was better?  Conflicting research often takes a novel look at the same or similar question.  The fact is that rapid weight loss gives people the results they want to see and builds their confidence to keep going. When you lose 5 pounds or more in a week, you can look at the results on the scale, and it builds your motivation to continue your attempt to lose weight.  Your clothes start to fit better, and you may even become more energetic.  The problem is that you may fail to build healthier habits that would lead to long-term weight maintenance.  

The key to weight loss success is not how much you lose or how fast it comes off.  The key is maintaining the weight loss once your calorie restriction is complete.  The most recent research indicates that it does not matter how fast you lose it.  Rapid weight loss is just as successful to maintaining weight loss based on one study.  

The bottom line: Regardless of whether you try a fast or slow weight loss, it is difficult to keep off.  This case is one in which it does not matter if you are the tortoise or the hare.  The key is follow through and long-term maintenance and not the rate of loss.  Rapid fat loss, when done right, can give you good results in the long run as long as you do not return to the old eating habits.  That being said, slow, gradual weight loss, for some,  may be more likely to become permanent lifestyle change and success.  You must individualize the diet to fit your personal needs, and I still recommend a gradual diet.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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