It’s possible to shed 5, 7 or even 10 pounds in a week. But should you?
Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Vasudha Jain, who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road, says trying to lose a lot of weight very quickly may be tempting, but it’s not the best approach.
“Weight loss doesn’t occur overnight, and that’s completely OK,” Dr. Jain says. “Losing a couple of pounds each week is much more sustainable over the long term.
“If you drop four, five pounds or more in a week, the weight will likely come right back, and you may find it more difficult to stick to your weight-management goals.”
Dangers of extreme weight loss
Attempting to lose weight as quickly as possible by deeply cutting your caloric intake and/or exercising excessively can lead to unintended health consequences. Specifically, you could:
• Lose lean muscle
• Slow your metabolism
• Decrease your body’s immune response
• Become dehydrated
• Develop gallstones
• Experience cardiac stress
• Suffer injury
“When you try to lose weight rapidly by eliminating significant calories, your body thinks you’re starving, so it slows your metabolism down in an attempt to retain energy stores in the form of fat,” Dr. Jain says. “That’s why so many people gain back weight after a period of extreme dieting. Your body can’t sustain a huge caloric deficit.”
What’s more, Dr. Jain says slow weight loss gives your body time to adjust to healthy lifestyle changes, which makes it easier to maintain your weight over time.
“Instead of setting pound-related goals, set process-related goals to keep yourself motivated,” she says. Examples could include:
- “I will go to the gym three times each week.”
- “I will be able to run/walk two miles.”
- “I will drink 60 ounces of water every day.”
Losing weight safely
Losing weight is a bit of a balancing act. To reduce body fat, you must decrease the number of calories you consume while increasing the number of calories you burn through exercise.
Angie Hill, a senior exercise physiologist at Tidelands HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness, says it’s important to remember that weight loss is a journey, not a destination.
“The goal is to develop healthy routines that help you lose weight and keep it off,” she says.
Here are some of Hill’s tips:
- Eat nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats.
- Reduce or eliminate condiments, which are high in calories and fat.
- Snack on low-calorie veggies or eat a handful of nuts instead.
- Monitor your weight loss by weighing yourself first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom. If the number on the scale consistently decreases, it’s an indication you’re losing fat.
- Start new exercise routines slowly. Begin with 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. If you want to train with weights, start with one set of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise, eventually working your way up to three sets of each exercise. Jumping in too fast can cause injuries.
- Expect soreness. When you’ve effectively worked your muscles, they will feel sore. If it lasts longer than a few days, you may have an injury that needs medical treatment.
- Avoid drinking your calories. Soda and sports drinks can negate the calories burned during a workout. Choose water instead, which can help speed metabolism.
Before starting any diet and exercise program, always consult your health care provider.
“Some diets aren’t right for some medical conditions. For example, people with kidney disease shouldn’t follow a diet that calls for a high protein intake. That’s why it’s important to consult your physician or health care professional to ensure your diet plan is safe,” Dr. Jain says.
Dr. Vasudha Jain
Family Medicine Physician, Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road
Call to Schedule
Dr. Vasudha Jain is a family medicine physician who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road.Learn More
Ross University School of Medicine
Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program
Meet the Expert
Dr. Vasudha Jain
Call to Schedule
Dr. Vasudha Jain is a family medicine physician who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road.