Whether you want to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, there is no shortage of fast weight loss advice all around us. Some advice works, but a lot of it doesn’t work. And worse, some guidance and advice are unproven or even a lie.
Many times, companies selling products for fast weight loss put out advice that should be avoided at all cost. Why? Because it doesn’t lead to weight loss, or it does, but in ways that are really unhealthy and cause problems down the line.
Is it possible to lose weight quickly? Yes, but how much weight and how quickly vary from individual to individual. And either way, it’s usually not easy.
Here are 9 big lies – myths, really – that somehow find their way into weight loss articles online and in magazines. Avoid these lies, and then read on for some actual, practical guidance on fast weight loss.
9 Big Lies About Fast Weight Loss
1. You should just go hungry
All too often, you’ll hear someone say, “It’s okay to feel hungry. You’ll get over it.” You might, but fast weight loss doesn’t require you to go hungry. Usually, this advice revolves around the idea that fewer calories mean automatic weight loss.
It’s true that eating fewer calories can lead to weight loss, but not necessarily overnight. Going hungry on Sunday will not guarantee that you’ll be three pounds lighter on Monday. It’s much more complex than that.
2. All fat is bad fat
The body needs fat for so many reasons. One good reason is that some vitamins and minerals are soluble only with fat, not water. Your body needs fats, and fat is a great source of energy.
When you scrap the fat as an energy source, you’ll most likely replace it with processed foods high in simple carbs. Those foods can actually make you gain weight, not lose it. This is exactly why simply eating low-fat, but highly processed foods doesn’t lead to weight loss.
3. Surgery is the quickest way to lose weight
Undoubtedly, surgeries can help with fast weight loss in extreme cases. But over and over again, you’ll find stories of people who have successfully lost 100 pounds or more with simple lifestyle changes.
At the same time, while surgery may lead to fast weight loss, it is not always a permanent fix. So this type of fast weight loss isn’t always advisable. Every individual has a unique set of circumstances. With surgery, the big thing to keep in mind is that you must maintain a healthy lifestyle afterward.
4. It’s all about calories
Some people claim that weight loss requires only that you eat fewer calories. You might hear someone say, “It’s just a matter of diet. Just eat less.” But truthfully, some diets containing more calories, but a better assortment of nutrients, work better than just a low-calorie diet.
Additionally, just counting calories may not work, especially if your lifestyle contributes a great deal to your weight issues. Successful, sustainable weight loss comes from more than just fewer calories.
5. It’s all about exercise
On the other hand, another common myth about fast weight loss implies that all you have to do is work out. Shows like The Biggest Loser help perpetuate the myth that hours and hours of workouts automatically lead to weight loss.
No, they don’t. Plenty of people struggling with their weight work out many days a week, for many hours a day. And they don’t lose weight. So, working out is not a magic pill for weight loss.
6. You can lose a pound a day, easily
You can definitely lose a pound a day, but certainly not easily. The weight that took years to come on doesn’t shed that quickly or that easily.
But the real issue with this myth goes beyond the fact that weight loss is hard. Your weight fluctuates daily, and usually, you don’t notice it unless you weigh yourself every day. One day you might weigh a little more than the previous day, but that doesn’t mean you’re gaining weight. And at the same time, you can be a pound lighter tomorrow than you are today, and that doesn’t mean you’re losing weight, either.
7. It’s easy to shed water weight.
“Just sweat it off.” Have you ever heard someone suggest sitting in a sauna for a few hours to shed water weight? It’s a common myth. If losing weight were that easy, then all you would have to do is sit outside in the heat for a few hours. A trip to the beach could help you lose five pounds, right?
Wrong. Water weight doesn’t work that way. Additionally, unless you have a serious issue with inflammation or water retention, you probably do not have that much “water weight” stored up and ready to be released.
Regardless, be very careful about following advice meant to shed water weight through diuretics, as these can lead to serious complications and dehydration. And whatever you do, do not avoid drinking water for fear of gaining water weight.
8. Avoiding grains makes you thin.
Unfortunately, grains have gotten a very bad rap over the past decade or so. Many people avoid grains altogether, believing that they make you fat. But that isn’t necessarily true, and simply avoiding grains may not lead to fast weight loss.
In fact, some whole grains provide just the right amount and type of fiber your body needs for digestion. Whole grains are not the enemy. Some diets that cut out grains are fine, but if you choose that kind of diet, just know why you’re doing it and be smart about it.
9. To lose weight, just do cardio.
Of all the fast weight loss lies, this may be the biggest one. Cardio can definitely help you lose weight, but so can a number of other physical exercises.
It makes sense, though, because people often associate cardio with burning lots of calories. Then, they associate burning lots of calories with weight loss. But, cardio alone does not equal fast weight loss. If your diet undercuts the progress made by the cardio, you won’t see any progress.
How to Lose Weight the Right Way
1. Stick to whole foods.
Avoid processed foods altogether if you’re looking for fast weight loss. In their place, eat a diet of whole, delicious foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fats, and meat or poultry. Clean eating will get you closer to the weight loss you’re looking for than processed foods, even if they’re low in calories.
Try and keep your meals balanced, and eat when you’re hungry. Think about eating consciously rather than mindlessly, and avoid eating out of boredom.
2. Move your body and include resistance training.
Movement helps your body burn calories, stay flexible and mobile, and release stress. For best results, balance cardio with resistance training, including lifting heavy weights. You can also incorporate yoga, Pilates, or HIIT training. Anything that keeps your body moving several times a week will work. Body weight exercises such as planks, burpees, push-ups, and squats also work well.
Hike, walk, dance, and do other movements that become part of your lifestyle, too. If you change your lifestyle to include more movement, the weight loss will be much easier to sustain.
3. Get help and support.
Find a personal trainer to work with you, support you, inspire you, and hold you accountable. If that’s not possible, grab a few friends and use them as a support group.
Lastly, consider getting help from a therapist if you think you may have a food addiction. Food addictions undermine weight loss and make it challenging or even impossible to lose weight. Therapy may make all the difference in that situation.
Fast weight loss often means cutting corners or choosing paths that aren’t healthy. Alternatively, solid, sustainable weight loss comes with intentional steps toward a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, if you want to lose weight quickly, you can start by making positive, dramatic changes to your diet, fitness regimen, and lifestyle.
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