Fit to Post Health

How fast should you lose weight?

Consider how much weight you should lose. (Getty Images)Consider how much weight you should lose. (Getty Images)

As you can imagine, getting into good shape is not just a physical but also an emotional experience.

Yes, you will need to change your food.

Yes, you will need to eat more veggies!

Yes, you will need to exercise better and smarter.

Yes it will take time to do it safely and with long term benefits.

But, because of the "instant gratification" tendency in today's world, everybody wants to get an ideal physique now.

This would be nice, but it would not be the smart way to to things.

When it comes to getting and maintaining a lean, strong, healthy body, slow and steady is definitely the way to go. Here are three reasons why.

1. Psychologically, changes made one at a time "stick" longer. Almost all councilors, psychologists and mental health professionals will agree with this. You may be highly motivated to "change your life" today, but if you make massive changes, these usually fade off quickly, and you don't get the long term results you want.

2. Losing weight fast is VERY stressful to your body. Your body is a survival mechanism, and if you starve yourself, or take on a very low calorie diet for too long, as in the case of people with eating disorders, this can cause problems which are very hard to reverse.

Imagine days where you don't drink much water, what does your body do? It conserves water and you sweat and pee less. The same thing happens when you don't eat enough food. You store and keep more of it. Your body down-regulates it's metabolism and you end up keeping fat that is hard to lose. Some of our most challenging client cases are those with former eating disorders, or those who have tried too many crash diets. It takes some time to gradually build up nutrient levels and metabolism again.

I always describe it as "paying interest". You may quickly lose 10kg in a month on a poorly planned diet or fitness program (like excessive long distance running). However when done this way, you end up paying interest on your weight loss i.e. you come back fatter than before. In our experience the interest seems to be about 10-20%. So you gain back 11-12 kg in the long run. This is a BAD deal!

3. Losing weight too fast burns muscle off and makes you look skinny instead of healthy. When you crash diet or over exercise, you end up burning off muscle rather than fat. After all, as noted in point 1, your body wants to survive, and muscle uses up calories that fat does not. Since you are already eating so little, your body will get rid of all that "wasteful" muscle.

Also, burning fat causes environmental toxins (which we store mostly in fat) to be released into the blood. This places an extra burden on your detoxification and immune systems so you need to be extra well nourished (protein and vitamins mainly) to make sure they don't affect your mood, focus and motivation levels.

Less muscle and more toxins further slow your metabolism.

So what should we do? Here are some general guidelines...

  • When you lose weight, do so with good food choices rather than excessive exercise. Cutting out all refined carbohydrates, eating enough lean protein, and adding healthy fats like omega-3, and coconut oil are a good start.
  • Your number one priority is to retain all your healthy, calorie-burning lean muscle. It has been estimated that 1kg of muscle burns an extra 100+ calories per day even when you do nothing! Make sure that your main form of training is resistance training to retain muscle.
  • If you are far from your target weight (e.g. 15kg or more). You can lose faster up to a kilo per week. But as you get within 10kg or so of your target weight, take it VERY slowly. 0.5kg per week is a good maximum. Weight yourself at the same time of the day, to make sure your measurements are consistent.

For the best fitness boot camp program, ExpressFIT program in the CBD, and personal training in Singapore visit www.genesisgym.com.sg or the Genesis Gym facebook page. Or visit Coach Jonathan's homepage and blog at www.coachjon.com

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