You have heard this phrase thousands of times: slowly and always. But you have certainly seen on social media some “before and after” photos of people who lost considerable pounds in just a few days – with links that offer the same method so that you can achieve the same. Tempting, isn’t it ?!
This person’s effort may have earned him a smaller size of jeans and many emojis applauding his success, but his method should not be a cause for celebration. While it is true that some more restricted diets can lead us to scale success, experts say that rapid weight loss is generally unsustainable and, in many cases, harmful. Research suggests that a safe rate of weight loss averages one to two pounds a week. And here’s why:
1. Restrictive diets to accelerate weight loss can make you more hungry (and irritated)
At first, restrictive rules can make your body and brain feel better than before – especially if your old diet lacked balance or healthy ingredients. “The so-called ‘normal’ diet usually consists of unhealthy and processed foods,” explains Sari Fine Shepphird, a psychologist in Los Angeles. “Feeling an initial wave of well-being is not entirely wrong, but radical diets cause an intense and temporary spike in initial serotonin.”
Extremely low calorie diets can cause side effects like nausea, constipation, insomnia and irritability. And don’t be surprised if you also experience a headache, low energy and a bad mood. These symptoms appear when you eat very little – a 2018 study, published in the journal Emotion, found that hunger can cause people to experience a negative antisocial emotional state.
2. Rapid weight loss strategies are not permanent in real life
Following a restrictive diet for a week, which includes eating with your partner, family, friends or coworkers, will make you say a lot of “no”, and you will probably end up stressing about what you will stop eating. This is not only complicated (and a little sad), but all this deprivation can eventually fuel desires. So when you go out of the intensive diet mode, you eat too much. Conclusion: In the long run, most people who try fast diets can lose some weight, but ultimately fail and usually struggle to keep it off or even end up gaining more weight.
3. Rapid weight loss diets can cut the nutrients you need
Diets that eliminate carbohydrates, for example, can cause you to lose the essential vitamins and minerals for your body. Deficiencies in some nutrients can affect your immune system, your energy, your mood and even your sleep patterns. And what’s the use of losing weight if you’re going to get physically and mentally worse?
4. Taking the wrong approach can create problems for your body
It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any new eating plans. It will likely alert you that there is a general lack of research around the safety of fad diets (which is why they do not recommend them).
The risks are real: in a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that low-calorie diets can impair cardiac function in some people. In general, remember: a diet can reduce your weight, but the number on the scale does not tell the whole story of your health.
5. Suggested products can be unnecessarily expensive
Many supplements and foods that promise weight loss can be costly. But are they effective? In general, not – or not for a long time.
A proven method to lose weight healthily and slowly takes into account several components, including portion control, moderation and a focus on whole foods rather than processed ones. Since there is no tea, shake or pill that can replace these pillars, spending money on them for short-term results is a waste.
Start by making small changes to your eating habits, such as changing sodas or sugary drinks for water, sparkling water or unsweetened tea. For permanent weight loss, try a program that will help you establish healthy habits and allow you to go out to dinner and enjoy your favorite foods – even if it takes a little longer to reach your goal.