If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s likely you want to do it as quickly as possible. But it’s important to do it safely as well.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a safe rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Losing more than 2 pounds a week may cause more harm than good.
Before embarking on a weight loss program, make sure to talk to your doctor, certified nutritionist, or fitness expert who can help you make sure you are achieving safe and effective weight loss. This is especially important if you have underlying health conditions such as heart disease.
How to lose weight quickly and safely
One of the advantages of losing weight gradually is that it is much more sustainable than following a crash diet or exercising too much.
If you aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week, you can start by reducing your calorie intake by 500 kcal per day. It’s also important to start incorporating the following into your daily routine:
- Substituting high-calorie, low-nutrient foods with low-calorie, high-nutrient foods
- Replacing processed, packaged foods with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Choosing low-fat foods over high-fat foods (low-fat skimmed milk instead of high-fat milk)
- Including more proteins and fewer carb
- Intermittent fasting
- Staying physically active
Including high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises into your routine, as well as cardio exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, or Zumba, will be helpful in achieving your goal of losing 1-2 pounds a week. You can also try resistance training, which will help increase your muscle mass, which in turn helps you lose weight by enhancing your metabolism.
Why is it bad to lose weight too quickly?
Losing weight at a rate of more than 1-2 pounds a week comes with serious risks to your health, including:
- Gallstones: Not eating enough makes the gallbladder produce less digestive juices. Over time, stagnated digestive juice can develop into gallstones.
- Dehydration: Rapid weight loss can deplete your body of water and make you dehydrated, causing fatigue, muscle cramps, and skin dryness.
- Nutritional deficiency: Eating less and working out more may mean that you aren’t getting enough nutrients, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
- Brittle bones: If you do not get enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet, your bones can become weak, making you more prone to joint pain and fractures.
- Slower metabolism: Rapid weight loss has been linked with a decrease in metabolic rate. That means it will be hard to keep the weight off, and you will be more likely to gain weight again.
Other side effects of rapid weight loss include:
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing weight. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
Dieting & Gallstones. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones/dieting