The Fastest Way to Lose Fat — and Tips to Help

Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for your health. You need to balance the calories you take and burn to remain at the same weight. If you're overweight or obese, your doctor has probably already recommended weight loss. How can you do it, though?

Key takeaways:
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    There are lots of diets promising fast weight loss. These diets come with either very low caloric intakes or food restrictions which may result in unhealthy weight loss.
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    Fast weight loss may result in nutrient deficiencies, slower metabolism, and even gallstone formation.
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    To achieve healthy weight loss, you need to adopt a healthy and balanced diet that provides you with just enough calories to lose weight but that also meets nutrient requirements.

There are lots of diets promising the fastest weight loss. In this article, you'll learn how to lose weight healthily and the risks of losing weight too fast.

How healthy are fast weight loss diets?

Fast weight loss happens if you eat far fewer calories than you need — at least for a while. However, after a time, your body adapts to the low caloric intake, and your metabolism slows. That's why low-calorie diets aren't the long-term solution to reaching a healthy weight.

Very low-calorie diets consist of 800 or fewer calories. This is very low, considering the daily recommended calories of 2000 to 2500 on average.

Very low-calorie diets can sometimes be used to treat obese and severely obese patients with additional health problems. A very low-calorie diet should only be followed on a doctor's recommendation. Eating a low-calorie diet is best done so under medical supervision — and for a maximum of 12 weeks.

Potential side effects of very low-calorie diets:

  • Low energy levels
  • Feeling hungry
  • Digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Hair thinning
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Do not consider following very low-calorie diets if you're:

  • Not an adult
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Diagnosed with an eating disorder

Potential risks of fast weight loss

If you need to lose weight to reach your healthy weight range, make sure you're following a healthy and balanced diet individualized for your caloric and nutrient diets. Fast weight loss diets, including very low-calorie diets and FAD diets, can cause health problems:

Nutrient deficiencies

Your body needs enough vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. All food groups are necessary for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Fast weight loss diets restrict certain foods or food groups or are very low in calories. In both cases, you're at risk of nutrient deficiencies which may result in health problems.

It is unlikely to get all the nutrients the body needs while eating too little. For example, adults need 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium daily. Calcium deficiency can diminish bone strength leading to osteoporosis. In addition, not eating enough carbohydrates and protein may break down muscle. Therefore, muscle loss can be mistaken as fat loss.

Slow down metabolism

Your body adjusts to your daily calorie intake. If you drastically reduce your calories, at first, you can lose weight. However, after your body adapts to the low-calorie intake, weight loss slows down and even stops.

Reducing calorie intake by only 300-500 calories is recommended for healthy weight loss. As an example, take a look at a 12-week weight loss plan designed by The National Health Service. The program aims for healthy weight loss, 1lb to 2lb (0.5 to 1 kg) weight loss in a week.

Decreased concentration

Your brain needs glucose. If you feel hungry all day, you may find it hard to concentrate on a demanding task.

Gallstone risk

Rapid weight loss achieved with very low-calorie diets increases the risk of gallstones.

Gaining weight in the long term

Restrictive diets are not sustainable for most people. Fast weight loss diets often result in weight gain in the long term because it is hard to maintain a healthy and balanced life with very little energy while lacking nutrients.

3 Common weight loss myths

There is a lot of misinformation about weight loss. Here are some myths:

Myth 1: Extreme exercise is needed

Long-term healthy weight loss is not about extreme changes. It is about making little changes you can stick to in the long run.

Although you don't need to do an extreme exercise regimen, it is recommended to do a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of activity which may include fast walking, running, cycling, swimming, and dancing, along with strength training twice a week.

Myth 2: Starving yourself leads to weight loss

Starving is not a healthy way to lose weight. On the contrary, it probably interferes with your daily activities and work. Eating regular portion-controlled meals with fewer calories is best.

Myth 3: Specific combinations make you lose weight

Unlike the popular opinion, eating a combination of certain foods does not burn fat or make you unhealthy by producing toxins. However, it is best to avoid processed foods to avoid harmful ingredients.

5 tips for healthy weight loss

Now that you've learned the mistakes to avoid, let's look at some tips for healthy weight loss:

1. Set realistic goals

It is common to rush weight loss. However, reaching a healthy weight takes time, and that's normal. The small gap between calorie intake and burn makes a change in the long term. It is healthy to lose around 1-2 lbs. weekly.

2. Plan your meals

It is hard to make healthy food choices while feeling hungry. Planning your meal beforehand makes it easier to stick to a healthy weight loss plan. Do not skip meals. Feeling satiated helps you avoid snacking on high-sugar and high-fat foods.

3. Eat high-fiber foods

Eat high-fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Besides loads of health benefits, fiber helps you feel full.

4. Be physically active

Physical activity helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. It's helpful to find activities you enjoy so you can incorporate physical activity into your daily life.

5. Get the support of your healthcare professionals

If you want to learn how to lose weight healthily, you should reach out to your doctor and dietitian to find a suitable weight-loss diet. Your doctor or dietitian can provide you with nutrition education and a weight loss plan.

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