Losing Weight Slowly Works Better than Losing It Too Fast

Can a single bagel make you gain 5 pounds? Yes! In a way.

Just as “get skinny fast” diets help you lose water weight, they can make you gain it right back in a single day.

bagelOne pound of fat is equal to 3,500 cal­ories, so for every pound of fat you want to lose, you need to create a caloric deficit of at least 3,500. Based on what we know about calories in versus calories out, this deficit can’t be achieved in a day, or even a few days.

To put it into perspective, losing one pound of fat in a day would require a daily workout equiv­alent to running 35 miles. That’s a tough day! And, of course, all that slow, long-distance running could actually help you gain fat over time.

The truth is, there’s no fast, easy method to lose weight and keep it off. Sure, the scale might say that you’ve lost 5 pounds in 5 days when you follow a highly restrictive diet, but in fact most of that loss won’t be fat; it will be water pounds lost through dehydration.

Here’s an example: If you were to lose those 5 pounds in 5 days and then eat a bagel on day 6, you would magically gain back those 5 pounds you thought you just lost. How is this possible? For every gram of carbohy­drate you consume, the body stores 3 to 4 grams of water. That means for every 400 grams of carbohydrate you consume, your body will store 16 ounces (1 pound) of water. By simply cutting out 400 grams of carbs a day, you can “lose” 1 pound on the scale. But again, this is just a reduction in hydration, and staying well hydrated is a key factor in long-term weight loss. And long-term weight loss is all about losing fat, not dehydrating your body.

weighing scaleFad diets that promise rapid weight loss can be dangerous. Rapid weight loss usually means loss of muscle mass and water, not fat. Chronic fad diets can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and liver disease. And some strict diets (often called elimination diets) can actually cause malnutrition because they cut out entire food groups.

My book Core Envy offers a much more sustainable and realistic approach is to create a daily caloric deficit of 500 calo­ries through a combination of consuming less and moving more. Over the course of a week, a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories would add up to 1 pound of weight loss. [See how to find your daily calorie goal here.] If you have more than 30 pounds to lose, you might find that you initially lose weight much faster than the 1 pound per week pace, but as you approach those last 5–10 pounds, the rate of loss will inevitably slow down.

Here’s the bottom line: You can expect to lose 8–16 pounds over the 8 weeks of the Core Envy program, and if you do it right, you will also gain muscle tone and feel great.

Losing 1 pound a week might sound painstakingly slow—you’ve probably fol­lowed diet plans before that promised much bigger results in a shorter amount of time. In fact, you may have enjoyed rapid weight loss on these types of plans, but I’m guessing that the weight came back, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog post. So try Core Envy! Core Envy is a well-balanced program because it combines high-intensity cardio, sculpting exercises, and a diet makeover. You can try it free for a week here.

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

Target.com
VeloPress
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
local booksellers

 

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