here are a lot of weight loss plans out there, promising dramatic results in a short space of time. And no wonder – given that the third most searched ‘how to’ term on Google is ‘how to lose weight’, it’s inevitable that there are people and companies out there looking to capitalise by selling the latest quick fix.
Of course, losing weight fast sounds great, but there’s a big catch. While seeing a difference in your body shape early on can be motivating and satisfying, nutritionists and dietitians warn that losing weight quickly is mostly unsustainable and doesn’t promote a long-term healthy relationship with food.
Though crash or ‘fad’ diets that lack nutrients are unlikely to have a huge impact on overall physical health because they are short term, their impact on mental well being can be long lasting.
“My biggest concern with losing weight rapidly is the affect it has on someone’s mental wellbeing,” says Dr Frankie Phillips, registered dietitian and nutritionist and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
“Crash diets often leave people feeling demoralised when they start to regain weight so quickly.”
A review published by Yale University’s Department of Psychologyacknowledged the correlation between yo-yo dieting (or weight cycling) and mental health issues. “Weight cycling appears linked to increased psychopathology, lower life satisfaction, more disturbed eating in general and perhaps increased risk for binge eating,” it says.
While the British Dietetics Association (BDA) promotes safe and sustainable weight loss of between 0.5 to 2lbs a week, dieters on certain weight loss programmes – such as the juicing diet, the GM dietand the New Atkins diet – report extreme weight loss of up to 15lbs in two weeks.
So what principles do these fast weight loss diets have in common, how do they work, and should you give them a go?
Introduce a daily calorie deficit
Perhaps the most crucial body factor in any weight loss plan is to be in a calorie deficit. That is, simply, to eat fewer calories than you require for you current body weight.
Eat fewer than this every day and it’s likely that you’ll drop weight. However, you need to do this in a safe range – a 500 calorie deficit on your daily needs is recommended by the BDA.
You can use a calorie counter to find out your daily intake needs to be in a calorie deficit. It’s both realistic and not bad for your health.