As a personal trainer, I don’t think I go through the day without someone coming to me with the comment: ‘I’m going on holiday in 2 weeks, I need to lose x amount of weight’ which is followed up by ‘…So I am on this special diet’. And my reaction tends to replicate that of silence.
What could be bad about losing a lot of weight in a short period?
Lets take a look at the real cost of the short term weight loss…
1 // Muscle Mass
When launching yourself into a huge caloric deficit, your muscle mass can quickly take a hit. Now, maintaining muscle mass isn’t just for those wanting to hit the stage; retaining muscle will not only help give your body shape and curves, but if you are over the age of 30 it is vital to maintain a vibrant, fast metabolism and longevity in your health
2 // Metabolism
Your body is a clever entity, but it still doesn’t know, nor does it care that you want to lose a vast amount of weight in a short space. When deprived of food, it believes that there is a famine and it is being starved. In the interest of preserving energy and keeping you alive, it will slow down the metabolism making it harder for you to shift that weight.
3 // Health
Leading on from the last point, rapid weight loss isn’t healthy. Extreme diets tend to focus on slashing out entire macronutrients, which means slashing out micronutrients from your diet too. Your body needs essential amino acids,fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and more to function optimally. Without these in your diet, your health can suffer.
4 // Performance
Lack of micronutrients alongside lack of muscle mass is a sure way to say goodbye to optimal performance in the gym, and in your everyday life. This will mean feeling sluggish and fatigued during your training time and reduce your activity during the rest of the day.
5 // Plateau and Rebound
During a diet, our bodies reach plateaus when we can’t lose any more weight until something is changed. If everything in our lifestyle is changed rapidly, when we reach a plateau in our fatloss (albeit short) journey, we haven’t got any straws to pick at that may be able to reignite the weight loss. When this happens, we get disheartened and the diet stops. Once the diet is stopped after weeks (or just days in some cases) of deprivation, 90% of the time (perhaps more), indulgence occurs and rebound in weight takes place.
So what’s the better approach?
1 // Seek permanent over temporary
Striving for a beach-ready body shouldn’t be temporary fix for a holiday or event; rather you should aim to adopt a permanent ‘leaner lifestyle’. This should involve consistent hard-work in the gym, increased activity outside of the gym and fuelling your body with the right foods year in, year out.
2 // Patience
Forget the short deadline; slow and gradual fat loss trumps rapid weight loss any day as it is easier to sustain. Be patient with the small weight loss victories as they are much likelier to stay off!
3 // Seek slight progression over all-or-nothing
A better approach to rapid weight loss is taking one small step at a time. Yes it takes a bit longer, but it’s far more sustainable. Instead of drastically slashing the calorie intake and upping the cardio every day, seek slight deficits by reducing the calorically-dense foods in your diet and increasing caloric expenditure through more daily movement and harder training sessions.
4 // Hit the weights and HIIT the cardio
Adding on from the last point, hit the training sessions hard; weight training forces your body to build or maintain lean muscle as it needs the muscle to survive the intensity of your training. In turn this will keep the metabolism up and give your body no alternative but to burn fat!
And one final point; focus on fat loss, not weight loss. The scales have a sneaky way of playing with your mind, take progress pictures and measurements instead of holding yourself prisoner to the scale. Take your time and enjoy the process!