How to Lose Weight -- Safely
BY: Eric Butterman
Let’s face it: Most of us could shed a few pounds and be healthier for it. But dropping too much too fast can throw you out of whack, doing more harm than good. It can lead to a loss of mental focus, put you in a yo-yo bodyweight syndrome and even cause damage to a woman’s cycle. To lose weight safely, consider the following strategies.
While a scale can help you chart your progress, starving yourself to see the lowest poundage is not a safe way to lose weight, as it can actually bring your weight back up fast and cause serious damage to your health. “When we have too much of a caloric deficit, we’ll stuff our face even past the point of full,” says Phil Goglia, who holds a doctorate in nutritional sciences and is the author of Turn Up The Heat: Unlock the Fat-burning Power of Your Metabolism. In addition, “losing weight too fast can affect your organs,” says Goglia. “You need to have patience.”
One Less Bite
Small steps can lead to big results. As appealing as quick weight loss may sound, the smart way to drop pounds safely is to take it slow and steady. Remember, 3,500 calories equal one pound. If you have just one less bite a meal, it could make a huge difference over the course of a year.
Burn Calories, Don’t Burn out
Yes, exercise helps you lose weight, but pairing extreme exercise with extreme dieting is not only unsafe, it’s impossible to sustain for any length of time. To lose weight safely, you need to look to permanent lifestyle changes, not temporary adjustments. “People have to try things they can stick with,” says Karla Adams, a Riverside, Calif.-based personal trainer. “If they do a highly intense exercise routine after not doing anything before, there’s a good chance they could burn out and quit.”
Weigh in on the Web
Smart weight loss takes time and patience. Results won’t happen overnight. That’s why it can be helpful to have a good support system in place -- and the Internet can help with that. A recent study, reported in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that those who use a Web support program to log their weight and exercise accomplishments keep weight off more effectively than those who don’t.
Treating Isn’t Cheating
Denying yourself your favorite foods is a common way to end up binging -- which is not going to help you lose weight safely. So don’t close the drive-thru window forever. Says Goglia: It’s OK to reward yourself with a treat when you’ve been good for a long time.
Eric Butterman has written health articles for more than 20 publications, including Glamour, Men’s Fitness and Shape. Eric is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.