Once people are ignited with the needed motivation to lose weight, they usually want to lose it rightnow. This sense of urgency to reach one’s goals as quickly as possible has led to a whole industry “fast weight loss” programs. However, the myth of fast weight loss is that you can transform your body in just a few short days or weeks and undo months or years of an unhealthy lifestyle.
While it is easy to fall prey to the promises of fast weight loss solutions, it’s important to understand the flaws of these products and why one does not need to waste money on various fast weight loss programs in hopes that one will eventually work.
Psychology of the Fad Diet
Excess weight is a problem that slowly creeps up on us. You don’t pack on that extra 40 pounds overnight. The weight is gradually added to your frame through poor diet and lifestyle choices. A few failures of dieting or exercise here or there can go mostly unnoticed. It is when these failures become a part of our daily lifestyle that we have a problem on our hands. The biggest enemy of anyone who struggles to control their weight is a lack of self-awareness. We let our right-hand turn into little automatic machines that stuff food into our face without us even realizing it.
Many of us eat out of worry. We eat while thinking about our relationships, jobs, world events, tomorrow’s to-do list. Very few of us actually focus on our eating while we are eating. We can all relate to that sensation of driving somewhere and not even realizing how we got to our destination. Our thoughts were preoccupied for the entire drive, and yet somehow we got there anyway. Eating works the same way. We eat without being aware of what we are doing. This is how the excess weight creeps on.
The appeal of fad diets is that they offer a fast solution to the conundrum we have created for ourselves by failing to be aware of our calorie consumption. A fast solution to any problem is always going to seem incredibly tempting, but it is usually not the best solution.
Downsides to Fast Weight Loss
Here are some downsides to fast weight loss techniques:
- Unsustainable. It’s a short-term solution to a larger more complicated problem. Fast weight loss programs are like an easy button in life that we push in hopes that everything will fix itself and we won’t have to do any hard work.
- Leaves behind excess skin. Losing weight quickly through a crash diet can leave behind excess skin folds. This can be very psychologically damaging to a person who thought the cure-all solution they found would leave them problem-free. Slower weight loss can reduce the appearance of loose skin.
- Unhealthy for organ function. Excess weight causes your body to work overtime to support the extra load. By dropping it too rapidly, a number of health problems can arise such as gallstones and hair loss from insufficient protein intake. More serious problems like heart attacks can be triggered by the nutrient deficiency that is common in fast weight loss techniques.
- Losing muscle tissue. A major downside of losing weight too quickly is that your body begins to digest its muscle stores for energy. It will not conveniently first go through your fat before eating away at your muscle. Remember, our bodies have evolved to store fat as a means of survival, so fast weight loss approaches go against our natural biological instinct to hold onto the fat we have. This is why it is important to lose weight slowly and in sustainable fashion.
The Right Way to Lose Weight
Putting aside the sub-optimal approach of dropping a significant number of pounds in a short period of time, we are left with one question: how fast can we lose weight without compromising health? The Mayo Clinic recommends a weight-loss approach of 1-2 pounds per week following a “quick-start” phase in which you may lose 6-10 pounds in the first two weeks. So if your goal is to lose 40 pounds, you can expect to complete your transformation in about 9 months. While that may seem like a long time compared to the promises of extreme weight loss programs that highly restrict calorie intake, you will have a better chance of keeping the weight off and avoiding the pitfall of gaining back even more weight than you lost, which is a common result of extreme, crash diet programs.
So as it turns out, there is a certain irony in fast weight loss programs. While others spend years falling for the trap of expensive “fast weight loss diets”, the person who takes the slow and steady approach will reach their goals sooner, healthier, and be well positioned to keep the weight off thanks to the lasting lifestyle changes they have made.