We are bombarded with advertisements on how to lose a lot of weight, fast.  Is this a realistic expectation?  Read on to find out more about real life weight loss.

How much weight should I lose?

The media overloads us with  weight loss strategies. From skinny teas to juice cleanses, high fat diets to low fat diets, we know all to well the “quick weight loss” strategies.  The majority of these advertisements target women and push an unrealistic expectation of weight loss. We googled ‘‘lose weight’’ and the overwhelming theme was quick and easy ways to lose weight. Unfortunately, these types of messages are creating an unrealistic expectation that can lead to dangerous habits, risky products and disappointment.

weight lossWhat to expect when trying to lose weight

Studies and health professionals agree that losing 1 to 2 lb per week is ideal.  This pace allows your body to adjust to the weight loss and makes it more likely for you to keep the weight off. Losing more then 3 lb per week on a continuous basis or consuming less then 1000 calories daily, can cause dangerous side effects such as lowered metabolism, fatigue, nausea, digestive issues, weakened immune system and development of eating disorders.

Many of the strategies used to lose more then 1-2lbs per week are not realistic and can not be maintained.  Sure, you might drop 10 lbs in a week on a juice cleanse, but once you begin eating food again you will gain all the weight back (sometimes even more).

The first recommendation for losing weight is maintaining what is called a “negative energy balance”.  This means you are using more energy (calories) than you are eating. There are two ways you can go about this.  You can increase the energy you use (through working out more) or you can decrease the amount of energy you eat.  This doesn’t mean starving yourself or eliminating an entire food group.  Generally, working out a bit more and eating a bit less tends to be the most effective.

Why should weight loss be gradual?

Lets talk in term of weight management, where phase one is weight loss and phase two is keeping the weight off. Rapid weight loss will disturb the body’s natural balance.

Your body doesn’t realize you want to fit into that perfect outfit.  It just “thinks” there is no food available and enters into starvation mode. This fires up the body’s defense system and drives you to regain weight. Dieting that drastically alters the body from a steady-state will have little success in long-term weight management. This back and forth is known as the yo-yo diet effect.

Gradually losing weight will let your body adjust to the changes and prevent the biological drive to regain weight. Weight management strategies that take into account your unique metabolism in combination with environmental, behavioral and dietary modification can lead to great success.

Should I take supplements?

Any supplements you take to aid weight loss should be based on increasing nutrient and/or fiber intake.  Many weight loss supplements are strong stimulants that work to increase your metabolism.  The problem with these supplements is that they are often extremely hard on your body, particularly your heart, and often result in a rapid, unsustainable weight loss.

Following a whole food diet that includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, and lean protein such as eggs, fish and poultry while avoiding processed foods has helped many individuals with long-term weight management. However, some individuals with a lack of food diversity are low on essential vitamins and minerals. The right supplements can help balance your metabolism, and assist with weight management. Dietary supplements can make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to live a healthy and active life.

Factors that cause weight gain

1. Diet: The quantity and quality of food is a major factor that impacts your weight.
2. Genetics: Some individuals are more prone to gaining weight. These genetic predispositions CAN be counteracted by eating healthy food, exercising and avoiding unhealthy habits such as eating junk food and drinking pop.
3. Inactivity: Physical activity will do wonders for your health and is a key to successful weight management.
4. Sleep: A good night sleep will help you with weight management. Weight management is harder for individual with disturbed sleep (Check out our blog on sleep).

Paul S. MacLean, Audrey Bergouignan, Marc-Andre Cornier, and Matthew R. Jackman Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Sep; 301(3): R581–R600.

Ashley JM1, Herzog H, Clodfelter S, Bovee V, Schrage J, Pritsos C. Nutrient adequacy during weight loss interventions: a randomized study in women comparing the dietary intake in a meal replacement group with a traditional food group. Nutr J. 2007 Jun 25;6:12.

Gupta H1. Barriers to and Facilitators of Long Term Weight Loss Maintenance in Adult UK People: A Thematic Analysis. Int J Prev Med. 2014 Dec;5(12):1512-20.

Poddar K1, Kolge S, Bezman L, Mullin GE, Cheskin LJ. Nutraceutical supplements for weight loss: a systematic review. Nutr Clin Pract. 2011 Oct;26(5):539-52.

Seagle HM, Strain GW, Makris A, Reeves RS; American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: weight management. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Feb;109(2):330-46.

Share This