[By Ali Jonas]
A recent interview with actress Mila Kunis in Harper’s Bazaar indicates that fast weight loss (in this case for a role) can sometimes result in fast weight gain — in all the wrong places. Already lean, Kunis dropped 20 pounds in order to play Natalie Portman’s ballerina frenemy in “Black Swan.” At 95 pounds, Kunis says she was all muscles, skin and bones.
Like a dream come true for some? Not quite. When she gained the weight back, Kunis says it ended up in completely different places such as her hips and stomach.
What’s more, fast weight loss usually affects your metabolism, slowing it down so your body will burn the calories it gets more efficiently.
“It all comes down to human physiology and biology. Your body doesn’t like it when you lose weight that fast” says Dr Kenneth Lee from The Sloane Clinic.
“When we help our patients lose weight, we are aiming for 1-2 pounds a week, which gives your body opportunity to adapt to the weight loss and minimizes the loss of lean tissue and muscle.”
REBOUND & the YO-YO effect
When you crash diet, you deprive your body of energy (food) for several weeks. Your body has retaliated by becoming tired, shedding muscle and desperately holding on to the fat. Now you’ve had enough. You’re constantly hungry, the exercise is killing you (making you hungrier!). But you tell yourself it will all be worth it. Will it?
You lose your targeted 5-10 pounds with your crash diet. So, you decide to return to your “pre-diet”-diet. Only this time you have a serious issue. Because you have less muscle and your metabolism has slowed, your body can’t deal with the increased number calories you’ve added to the mix. You rebound. You quickly hit your previous body weight…and then some. If you go through the whole process again, you’ll end up even heavier, even fatter – classic yo-yo dieting.
The essence of weight loss shouldn’t be merely “weighing less”; losing muscle, water and fat. The actual goal should be physical improvement, a better body with enhanced muscle tone and less fat; a body that looks, feels and performs the way you want it to. Don’t fall into the trap. Take a balanced, patient approach to looking your best. You might be surprised at the results.
Losing weight is a simple mathematical formula: You need to burn more calories than you eat. Experts generally recommend creating a deficit of 500 calories per day through a combination of eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity. Over the course of a week, this should yield a loss of about 1-2 pounds of fat.
If you want to lose weight faster, you’ll need to eat less and exercise more. Bottom line: 1,050 to 1,200 calories and one hour of exercise a day (but be sure not to dip below this calorie level for safety’s sake). On this type of plan, you can expect to lose 3-5 pounds the first week, or more if you weigh over 250 pounds.
#1 Watch what you eat
When you reduce sodium and cut starches, you reduce fluids and fluid retention, which can result in up to 5 pounds of fluid loss when you get started. A diet that minimizes starches, (even healthy whole grains should be controlled), added sugars, and animal fat from meat and dairy foods is recommended. For rapid weight loss, dieters should eat mainly fruits, veggies, egg whites, soy products, skinless poultry breasts, fish, shellfish, nonfat dairy foods, and 95% lean meat.
Here are some golden rules you should follow for healthy dieting:
- Eat plenty of low-calorie vegetables to help you feel full.
- Drink plenty of water so you don’t confuse hunger with thirst.
- Clear the house of tempting foods.
- Stay busy to prevent eating out of boredom.
- Eat only from a plate, while seated at a table.
- Always eat three meals and one snack daily — no skipping meals.
- Weighing yourself daily and tracking your food intake can also help you keep focused, experts say.
#2 Watch how you Move
Even if you are currently exercising, you’ll need to kick it up a notch if your goal is rapid weight loss. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that losing weight requires close to an hour a day of moderate exercise. That translates into seven hours per week of cardio exercise leading up to your special event.
Most everyone can do an hour a day, but the intensity of your workout will depend on your current state of fitness. Experts recommend gradually increasing exercise intensity to avoid injury.
When you can’t do cardio, try strength training at least twice weekly, working all your major muscle groups, and fitting in at least 15,000 steps a day (get a pedometer to keep count).
Do a morning and evening workout, and if you don’t have time to do two a day, expend more calories in the workouts you are currently doing. Another option is to incorporate interval training, adding high-intensity intervals to workouts to burn more calories in less time.
#3 Diet aids
And what about over-the-counter (OTC) diet pills? Most respected experts do not recommend them.
“If you are serious about losing weight, it is important to consult a doctor instead of self-medicating. Your doctor may then recommend suitable medicines or even meal supplements to help you reach your goal” says Dr Kenneth Lee.
The bottom line? Weight loss experts agree that any rapid weight loss diet should be identical to a long-term, sustainable plan — and not a fad diet. And fasting or cutting calories below 1,050-1,200 are not appropriate for the long term unless you are under a doctor’s care.