Just last week I had this conversation with my mother.
Mom – “My doctor told me I need to lose at least 10 pounds. I’m going to do Keto again. Last time I lost 20 pounds.”
ThisBitch – “but you gained it all back, so IMO it didn’t actually work.”
Mom – “plus 10.”
ThisBitch – “?”
Mom – “I gained back 30 pounds.”
I don’t tell you this story because I’m against keto (I’m not) but because yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy. If something only works for you temporarily, is it really working? (answer: it’s not)
How Much is Healthy Weight Loss?
The common advice if you’re looking to lose weight is that you should lose 1 to 2 pounds a week (up to 1kg). I find it hard to believe that you haven’t already heard this.
But is it true? Yes and No. Let’s examine the 5 reasons that 1-2 pounds per week is the standard.
#1 – Muscle Loss
People who lose weight quickly are more likely to lose muscle. People who lose weight slowly are more likely to lose fat.
A 2016 study found that participants who lost the same amount of weight in 5 weeks as those in 12 weeks lost significantly more muscle mass (8.8% vs 1.3%).
Losing muscle mass is not healthy weight loss. You want to make sure that you’re losing fat!
#2 – Slower Metabolism
What is your metabolism? Simply put it’s what determines how many calories you use. That decrease in muscle from #1? It helps contribute to slowing your metabolism. A slower metabolism means you’re burning fewer calories each day.
A 2016 study of the metabolism of participants from the TV show THE BIGGEST LOSER at the end of the show and 6 years later. It found that participants metabolisms slowed during weight loss AND metabolisms never returned to pre-weight loss levels even after regaining weight.
If you’re achieving healthy weight loss, then you won’t be slowing your metabolism as much. You want your metabolism to stay as speedy as possible.
#3 – Nutritional Deficiencies
If you’re not eating enough calories, you’re not getting enough nutrients. The most common effects of nutritional deficiencies in dieters are:
Extreme fatigue can be caused if you aren’t getting enough Iron, Vitamin B12 and Folate.
Lower Immune Function
Lower immune function increases your chances of getting sick.
This is a great 2008 scientific article about the relationship between nutrition and infection.
Not enough Vitamin D, Calcium and Phosphorus can cause weak bones.
A whole host of vitamins and minerals are involved in hair growth. Get deficient in some of them and you’ll notice thinning hair.
#4 – Gallstones
Your gallbladder aids your digestive system in breaking down food. If you’re not eating very much, your gallbladder isn’t called to play. This can lead to gallstones which cause terrible pain and indigestion.
#5 – Weight Regain
If you lose weight in an unsustainable manner, what happens when you stop dieting?
You gain the weight back – often, more than you initially lost.
The cornerstone of healthy weight loss is that it’s sustainable. You can keep the weight off without having to live an extreme diet for the rest of your life.
The main reason that all five of the above happens is when people don’t consume enough calories for their bodies to function optimally. This is largely the result of unhealthy and/or unsustainable diets.
Skip the unhealthy & unsustainable diets. Compare these 13 popular diets and find a healthy option that’s right for you. What works for one person isn’t going to work for everyone.
Keto is a viable option for a lot of people. But for some people, like my mom, it’s not.
So, What’s a Healthy Weight Loss Rate?
1 to 2 pounds a week (up to 1kg) is a reasonable and healthy weight loss goal. If you’re not heavily restricting calories and are engaging in healthy eating behaviors it’s okay to lose more. However, you should keep your goal realistic and 1 to 2 pounds a week is realistic.
Healthy Weight Loss Behaviors
Eat real foods. Eat enough calories for your body to function properly. How many calories is a harder question to answer because it depends on you.
You should never – NEVER – eat less than 1,200 calories a day (unless you’re under doctor supervision). Even 1,200 calories is a ridiculously low number that’s likely to lead to the negative effects listed above.
If the diet you’re participating in feels like something you couldn’t do long term, it’s time to stop and evaluate. Is it healthy?
While weight is a factor in your health, it’s not the only one. Don’t ignore your overall health for short-term gains in weight loss.
What About Exercise for Healthy Weight Loss?
You should definitely be exercising. Not just when you’re trying to lose weight but as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise alone isn’t going to be enough to lose weight. Diet alone, could be. But the best way to lose weight is a combination of diet and exercise.
At a minimum, you should be exercising at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes per session.
But that’s a healthy minimum. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should try to incorporate more.
SMARTER Healthy Weight Loss Goals
A Support System
You’ve probably heard of Weight Watchers (now WW). It’s been around since the 1960s.
One of the reasons that Weight Watchers works so well for so many people is the support system.
You’re held accountable. You have people to talk to who understand your journey. It’s a support system that celebrates with you.
People with support systems are more likely to succeed (in life, not just weight loss). Find one for your weight loss journey and you’re more likely to succeed.
Healthy Choices for a Healthy Life
Don’t fall into the trap of crash diets or unhealthy choices for a number on a scale.
Make sure that your choices will lead to healthy weight loss that you can sustain for life.
Share you favorite (healthy) weight loss tips in the comments.
Ready for more? Check out 7 Vegetable Superfoods next.
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