FORBES – People strive to lose weight for myriad reasons, and many fall into the fad diet trap promising real results fast. While there are certainly ways to accelerate your weight loss efforts, it’s important to understand that shedding pounds too quickly can actually backfire.
Like so many parts of life, safe, successful and sustainable weight loss is more about the journey and less about a scale-based destination and rapidly approaching deadline. Read on for expert advice on the best ways to lose weight—and keep it off.
Why Losing Weight Fast Isn’t the Best Goal
Though the allure of the “lose 5 pounds in a week” diet myth is strong, there are many reasons why speedy shedding may actually work against your best weight loss efforts.
First, when people lose weight rapidly, especially via fad or crash diets, they are typically unable to maintain it because the weight they lose is often more muscle mass and water and less fat mass compared to people who lose weight gradually.
“Maintaining lean muscle is important in weight loss because it plays a key role in metabolism,” says certified health coach Connie Bennett.
“Muscle helps you burn more calories. But when you lose weight too quickly, you lose muscle and your body slows down calorie burning. Fast weight loss can even cause permanent slowing of metabolism.”
Rapid weight loss often leads to the dreaded yo-yo weight cycling many chronic dieters experience.
In fact, a study of former contestants on NBC’s weight loss television show “The Biggest Loser” found the more pounds dropped quickly, the more the participant’s metabolism slowed. The study also found that the contestants regained a substantial amount of their lost weight in the six years following the competition.
Another Australian study of 200 participants in The Lancet found that while dieters in the study lost the same amount of weight, the group that lost weight slowly lost 10% more body fat and 50% less lean muscle than the rapid weight loss group.
Further compounding the issue, when people lose weight rapidly, appetite often increases as metabolism decreases …