In the era of “everything and now”, even a delicate issue such as the change of one’s physicality is faced with very little patience. We are increasingly striving to get what we want in the shortest possible time.
When we have a wish, we’re not willing to wait.
And when our desire is to lose weight, the fastest solution is certainly the most sought after.
The question is this: can you lose weight in a short time?
If you’re expecting a dry answer, you’re in the wrong place. But if you are interested in understanding a little more about your body and want to have a complete, no-nonsense answer, keep reading and you’ll find out.
How to lose weight on a physiological level
A figure that is now widely used when it comes to weight loss is the caloric value of one kg of body fat, which corresponds to about 7000 kcal.
This is because, although 1 g of fat provides 9 kcal, it must be considered that body fat is not exclusively made up of lipids, but also contains water and proteins.
A fundamental concept in dietetics is the energy balance: when the balance is positive you gain weight, when the balance is negative, i.e. less energy is introduced than is consumed, you lose ( in theory) weight.
What, however, often laymen ignore is that our basic organism tries to maintain a certain balance between energy introduced by food and energy consumed with metabolism and physical activity, a balance that is called homeostasis.
So the concepts and the mechanism of the energy balance explained above are not so automatic and linear: precisely because of this tendency to homeostasis, our body will make continuous adjustments , for example using less energy for the basal metabolic rate .
In any case, it goes without saying that to lose weight the energy balance should be negative .
This translates into either an increase in energy expenditure , for example by increasing sessions in the gym , or in a calorie restriction, eating less .
The problem is that the cards on the table change constantly, because the calculation of needs is established starting from many variables: weight, height, sex, age, physical activity, lifestyle.
The energy needs will change according to the changes in the body, the movement we make and the moment of life we are in. If the variables change, the result will change too.
Credibility of fast diets
The mechanism by which we are willing to make great sacrifices for a short time is curious, often even with absurd behavior, such as completely upsetting our eating day, but making a small change for a long time term (like giving up sugar in coffee, for example) seems like an insurmountable obstacle or a trivial practice.
After reading (in a very simplified way) what happens in your body during weight loss in the previous paragraph, you are still convinced that the lightning weight loss , the turbo diets and the loss of several kg in 3, 7 or 10 days that web advertisements promise us continuously are effective or valid?
If you are among those who object “ yes but my cousin / sister / aunt lost 5 kg in a week on the ice cream diet !”, the answer is one: calorie restriction.
“ I have removed the carbohydrates and I have lost weight ”: carbohydrates represent about 50% (if not more) of our usual energy intake, so removing them … you have caloric restriction.
“ I ate these special bars and took the diuretic supplement “: you are eating very little and you are using a product that helps you eliminate liquids.
It is good to remember that the variation of liquids normally occurs every day, making our weight oscillate on the scale in a completely physiological way, sometimes within a few hours. Taking diuretics can also become dangerous and cause severe dehydration, and should therefore not be done without medical supervision.
This type of diet is certainly effective in causing fast weight loss , but are you sure that what you are losing is really fat ?
It takes time to “attack” body fat: our body uses sugars as a primary source of energy from food and under form of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles.
This does not mean that we must stop eating carbohydrates : even in this case our body is smarter than us and activates alternative metabolic pathways to produce glucose from proteins.
The truth is these quick diets:
They are harmful to health
Both single-food diets and those involving the exclusion of an entire food group cause you to suffer from nutritional deficiencies, even important ones in vitamins, minerals or other nutrients.
The danger is losing muscle mass , if you don’t have a good protein supply and you don’t train, but remember that you want to lose fat and not muscle.
They are ineffective in the long run
Following a certain type of diet upsets our entire eating behavior and is completely anti-educational, so if at first you get the desired results, when you return to the previous habits, which were wrong, you will regain the lost weight .
They are useless compared to a balanced nutritional plan
You can achieve the same result with a limited calorie restriction and a balanced diet, without running any health risks or experiencing psychological discomfort due to self-imposition on food.
Then there is a further consideration: when we shop, many products emphasize the presence of “zero fat”, as if fats in themselves were harmful (and you already know that it is not so regardless), concealing the problem caused by the omnipresence of sugar.
Relationship between sugar consumption and weight gain
Sugar, understood as processed sweet foods (cereals, snacks, drinks, biscuits and snacks, brioches ..) and added sugar (such as what you put in coffee every day or that present in the form of syrups), are those to which definitely stay away when we are looking for weight loss.
The topic is present in many of my contents: it is now evident that sugar plays a major role both in weight variation and in representing an increased risk factor for many metabolic diseases, such as diabetes.
The relationship between obesity now rampant and the excessive consumption of simple sugars is so strong that in recent years initiatives have been taken to reduce it even at the level of national decisions, such as the taxes applied on soft drinks, the famous ” Sugar Tax “.
If on the one hand sugar causes a sort of addiction to sweet taste, on the other hand it brings “empty” calories, which do not give any useful information to our body except a surplus of counterproductive calories for weight control.
What science says about fast weight loss
The problems of fast weight loss therefore concern the adoption of the right measures to achieve weight loss without risk to health and the implementation of behavioral changes that will lead us to maintain weight more long in time.
Scientific research is a bit scarce on the subject: apparently the speed of weight loss itself does not affect the subsequent maintenance.
What I agree on, however, are the significant physical, physiological and psychological negative effects on those who practice fast weight loss diets.
In addition, research points out that a therapeutic program aimed at achieving gradual and moderate weight loss avoids the complications of rapid weight loss associated with inappropriate and unbalanced diets or even more harmful treatments.
These complications include loss of lean body mass and a stable decrease in energy expenditure with a high probability of regaining weight (the classic yo-yo effect).
There is a solution: a balanced diet
Losing weight doesn’t have to be about who comes first.
There are no rewards at the end of the diet that makes you lose weight faster, only dangers.
This is why the recommendations on weight management speak of gradual weight loss as a strategy for short- and long-term effectiveness.
The main indications for gradual weight loss and behavioral changes are:
Reduce simple sugars.
It’s a gesture that can be easily introduced into everyday life, which can have incredible effects on your health and weight with a little effort.
For example, in a study that lasted 5 years, in which a reduction in the sugars added to sugary drinks was applied, an average reduction in the energy intake and body weight of the population was seen, with a consequent significant reduction in cases of overweight and type 2 diabetes.
A correct consumption of all macronutrients, even with a moderate calorie restriction, will allow you to avoid the loss of lean mass and nutritional deficiencies.
In particular, you must not underestimate the protein intake from the diet, which will allow you to maintain muscle tone, and the intake of carbohydrates, thanks to which you can also obtain numerous micronutrients such as B vitamins and mineral salts.
Balance everything with a source of healthy fats and an abundant consumption of vegetables, while respecting the single dish.
Doing intense physical movement
Physical activity will allow you to maintain the calorie deficit and stimulate your muscles: even in situations of overweight and obesity it can malnutrition due to loss of lean mass and physical exercise are part of the effective interventions to avoid it.
But above all, what makes the real difference is the change in eating habits, without which the work done on weight loss will be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain.