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April 1, 2011

Is Losing Weight Fast Healthy?

Losing Weight Fast: How Safe is It?

To get to the point the answer is “No”. Losing weight fast is not healthy.  There’s really no quick fix to weight loss that is safe and effective in the long run.  No one gets overweight overnight, and no one loses this excess weight overnight.

To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume.  So you can either consume less food or try to find a way to burn more calories, or a combination of both.  When you consider there are 3,5000 calories in a pound, and then look at how many calories you can “save” in a day by not eating, and how many calories you burn from walking or running a mile you’ll quickly see that weight is not going to come off very fast.  Let’s look deeper into this.

Calorie Restriction

There’s only so much room to consume fewer calories.  There’s more in food than calories. There are essential nutrients in food the body needs to function properly.  Reduce calories too much and you risk not getting these critical nutrients, which support all our bodily functions, and help us fight disease and toxins in our food and water supply and environment in general.

Reduce calories too much and your body goes into survival mode sensing that it is being starved.  Metabolism slows down as the body preserves its energy supplies, and this means your bodily functions begin to slow down.  This makes losing further weight even more challenging, because you are now burning fewer calories when you need to burn more.

Weight loss associated with severe restrictions in calories comes at the expense of lean body mass in the form of losing water and protein or muscle neither of which is healthy.

One more word on calories.  Not all calories are the same, and that’s because some calories influence insulin in such a way that certain foods encourage fat gain.  These foods and more specifically these carbohydrates are high glycemic causing a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin, and insulin promotes fat gain.  So it is possible to keep calorie intake the same and lose weight by making smarter choices when it comes to your carbohydrates.

Burning Calories through Exercise

Burning calories represents work and work = force x distance.  When you run a mile the force you’re moving is your body weight.  Simply, whether you run or walk a mile you burn nearly the same amount calories (you will burn slightly more running a mile than walking, but it is not that much more).  Now if you run twice as fast as you walk you can burn twice as many calories in the same time, because you are covering twice as much distance.  Make sense?

Most people will burn between 50 and 100 calories for every 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.  So to lose one pound one needs to do a whole lot of exercise..   Now exercise is essential to weight loss and has many other health benefits, but it doesn’t lead to fast weight loss.

But there are ways to get a better bang for your buck when it comes to exercise.  More calories can be burned through strength training and high intensity interval training.  Moreover, these two forms of exercise can promote growth hormone and testosterone release leading to improved metabolism and better weight control.  See “Exercises to Lose Weight“.

Hormones: Another Metabolism Booster

Another way to ensure your metabolism is optimal is make sure your hormone levels are optimal especially sex hormones and thyroid levels.  These hormones begin to decline around age 30 and in some even sooner.  Once they decline past a critical level maintaining a healthy weight becomes progressively more difficult.  See also “Natural Metabolism Boosters“.

To lose weight, eat low glycemic carbs, incorporate strengtht training and interval training into your exercise, and maintain optimal hormone levels.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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