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Is fast or quick weight loss even possible or healthy?
A typical weight loss program aims for fat loss in the region of 1-2 pounds per week (½ to 1 kg). The reason for this is to prevent subsequent weight gain due to the body suffering a rapid lowering in metabolism and to prevent loss of muscle.
However, there is a place for faster weight loss in certain circumstances. Fast weight loss is only really appropriate for those who are very overweight.
Any rapid weight loss regime is not appropriate for those only looking to lose 2-25 pounds.
Do Any Fast Weight Loss Plans Work?
There are a number of quick weight loss programs that attempt to provide a nutritional balance supplied by a limited number of calories. These diets typically fall into the category of VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet). Average intake is between 400 and 800 calories per day.
Research shows these diets do offer a substantial weight loss for the very overweight. With active follow-up treatment long-term success is possible. Research shows losses of between 3 to 5.5lbs per week on these programs.
A University of Florida study showed that women who lost weight faster kept it off longer. This mainly was due to increased motivation, however, it only dealt with women who lost 1-1.5 pounds a week maximum.
Quick Weight loss Plans
Only a few fast weight loss programs have undergone clinical trials.
One of the most researched programs is Medifast. This combines 4-5 high-protein meal replacements, along with one home-cooked protein and vegetable meal.
The approach seems to work well with over 4 studies confirming superior weight loss over regular diets.
See more about Medifast here.
There are other very low calorie diets (such as the HCG Diet, Cambridge Diet, or OptiFast) must be medically supervised due to the possible side effects.
What Are The Risks Of Quick Weight Loss?
- Unless properly balanced and supervised, there can be nutritional deficiencies that can cause potential health problems.
- Along with extremely restrictive calories often comes fatigue and irritability.
- Other issues such as constipation due to a lack of fiber can occur.
- Another issue is a lowered metabolism that can begin a pattern of yoyo dieting.
- Depending on your goals, fast weight loss can also include loss of muscle mass (catabolism) as well as fat – this is not desirable.
- Potential formation of gallstones.
Who Can Use a Fast Weight Loss Program?
Weight loss programs that offer rapid weight loss are generally only suitable for people who are obese (a BMI of 30 and above). A person who is only mildly overweight will only really cause themselves problems in the long run.
Some VLCD’s need a doctors authorization, but other fast weight loss diets can be done without this.
What About Claims By Popular Diets?
Many claims of weight loss on popular diets are exaggerated. The claims are made due to a short and sharp induction phase, where for a period of a few days to a week, a stricter regimen is followed.
If you are seeking rapid weight loss, please remember that without thinking it through, you may be set-up to regain the weight.
As of writing, the only true rapid weight loss program available to consumers is Medifast.
- Shiffman, M. L., Sugerman, H. J., Kellum, J. M., Brewer, W. H., Moore, E. W. (1991). Gallstone formation after rapid weight loss: a prospective study in patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery for treatment of morbid obesity. The American journal of gastroenterology, 86(8), 1000-1005. Link
- Christopher, C., Jessica, K., Andrea, H. M., Carmine, S., Nicholas, F., Lisa, D. (2012). Use of the Medifast Meal Replacement Program for Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Clients: A Retrospective Chart Review of Three Medifast Weight Control Centers (MWCC). Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2012. Link
- Saris, W. H. (2001). Very-Low-Calorie Diets and Sustained Weight Loss. Obesity Research, 9(S11), 295S-301S. Link
- Haddock, C. K., Poston, W. S. C., Foreyt, J. P., DiBartolomeo, J. J., Warner, P. O. (2008). Effectiveness of Medifast supplements combined with obesity pharmacotherapy: a clinical program evaluation. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 13(2), 95-101. Link