Most people who resolve to lose weight want to see quick weight loss. For many people, that means going to extremes with gusto, such as dramatically increasing exercise and drastically limiting caloric intake. For example, they may run 10 miles a day and eat salads for every meal with fat-free dressing. Five main problems with this approach:
1. Unrealistic to sustain
Most people would not enjoy eating the same salad and fat-free dressing daily after a couple of weeks. Okay, so maybe you’re not eating the same meals daily, but how about the caloric restriction? If you’re eating dramatically fewer calories each day, enjoying your days without yearning for food could be difficult. I knew someone who ate 500 calories a day, but was unhappy and unable maintain this regimen for long. On the exercise front, going overboard on certain types of exercise could lead to injury.
2. Potential to regain the weight
Your efforts to achieve quicker weight loss in the short-term could actually hinder your progress in the long-term. The quick weight loss could cause your body to freak out that you are undergoing starvation and drive you to binge on calories. Unfortunately, you could experience a domino effect of consuming more calories, thereby gaining all your weight back — or more.
3. Possible long-term damage
Alternatively, or in addition to the last reason, consistently eating less calories than your body needs could slow your metabolism. Your body will become used to using less calories, so is more likely to convert any unexpected influx of calories (such as from a binge) to body fat rather than energy. Thus, if you cannot maintain your routine and end up consuming more calories than initially, you risk regaining weight.
Let’s say you are able to stick with a high-exercise, low-calorie regimen long-term. Unfortunately, you are doomed to maintain this lifestyle, since any major deviations from your routine could lead to weight gain for the aforementioned reasons. Thus, you may feel “trapped” in a routine you don’t actually enjoy. Although you could recondition your body away from these extremes, many people don’t like starting anew from established routines or feel uncomfortable trusting in other processes.
5. Potential emotional effects
People who regain weight after weight loss can feel discouraged from trying to lose weight again. The same is true of people who took extreme measures and didn’t get the results they expected. The danger is if your metabolism is damaged, any new or old tactics may seem useless, making you feel particularly hopeless. You may be more vulnerable to yo-yo dieting, unhealthy fads, or giving up altogether.
For those reasons, I am against sudden extremes in dieting and exercise for quick weight loss. Quicker results in the short-term could mean more trouble in the long-term.