Fad diets promise great results in a short period of time. Many people will try them to see if they receive the results they promise. It’s true that most fad diets and other rapid weight loss solutions can succeed in helping you shed pounds in a short time. However, it’s important to know that this weight loss is generally due to the loss of water weight and muscle mass. The weight loss is not permanent and you are usually back where you started.
The constant “yo-yo” dieting, or weight cycling, with your weight may increase the risk for certain health problems. Some of these risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gallbladder disease. For adults who are not obese and do not have weight-related health problems, maintaining a stable weight to avoid any potential health risks associated with weight cycling is recommended. Obese adults, however, should continue to achieve modest weight loss to improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases.
Modest weight loss is losing 7-10% of your current body weight over a time span of six months. Slow weight loss will lead to sustained weight loss. This will also help to instill good, healthy habits. Remember, losing weight encompasses eating right, engaging in physical activity and behavior modiﬁcation. So, it makes sense that it will take a sensible amount of time to achieve results.
Losing and regaining weight may also have a negative psychological effect if you let yourself become discouraged. When you are unable to keep the weight off, after many attempts, this may result in depression, stress and developing an eating disorder. Weight cycling should not be a reason to “feel like a failure.” Instead, it is a reason to refocus on making long-term changes in your eating habits and level of physical activity to help you keep off the pounds you lose. If you happen to overindulge in a meal or snack, get back on track with the next meal or the next day.
Prevent weight cycling by instilling small, healthy habits one at a time, instead of trying to conquer everything all at once. Habits are formed out of repetition, so give yourself some time to accomplish your nutrition, activity and behavior goals.
Give your metabolism a boost instead of slowing it down. You can achieve this by increasing your daily physical activities, not skipping meals and spacing out your calories throughout the day. Remember, to have a variety of foods in your daily eating and to stay adequately hydrated. You should also look for ways to lose weight gradually and safely, because this produces a more effective and longer-lasting weight loss.
Christina Bartlett RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Everything In Moderation. Dedicated to providing nutrition information that is tailored to the individual.
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2012 Magazine