So you’ve decided to embark on a weight-loss journey. Naturally, you would prefer to see results sooner rather than later; maybe you have a big event coming up or a pair of pants you’re trying to fit into by next week. Regardless, you want to lose a lot of weight and you want to lose it now.
We hate to break it to you, but shedding tons of pounds overnight is pretty difficult. Sure, some people lose weight faster than others, and you can slim down in your sleep, but for the most part, losing weight requires some smart choices and usually lots of patience. Here are some of the biggest myths about rapid weight loss. And if you’re just looking to begin your slim-down journey, don’t be swayed by common misconceptions about shedding the pounds. Check out these 28 Weight Loss Rules You Can Break.
Weight Loss Always Means Fat Loss
If you notice a sudden drop on the scale, especially overnight, you may be excited that you’re losing weight so quickly. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily fat loss — it could be water weight. “[Water weight] is extra water that’s hanging around the tissues, joints, and body cavities between cells,” says Abbey Sharp, R.D., owner of Abbey’s Kitchen. It’s a different weight from body fat; it’s not linked to calories consumed or expended. An uptick in water weight could be because of eating too much sodium or a change in hormones and can quickly be lost through exercise or drinking enough water (which sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true!).
You Can Target Trouble Spots
Maybe you’re really concerned about the weight on your thighs, and want to slim them down ASAP. We have some bad news: you can’t. Of course, you can lose weight overall by eating the right foods and incorporating some exercise, but there’s no telling where that fat is going to be shed from. Each body is different, and it’s impossible to target fat loss from specific body regions through diet. That being said, exercises can tone muscle, which may then translate to specific body parts looking slimmer. Check out these 30 Most Effective 30-Second Workout Moves to get a jumpstart.
Lose Weight Fast with a Juice Cleanse
Juice cleanses have been touted as a way to lose weight quickly and detox, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although you may be getting a reduction in calories, you are also ingesting a lot of liquid sugar, which can spike blood sugar and cause weight gain. And depriving yourself is never a good idea.
“Your body goes into conservation mode because it doesn’t know when its next meal is going to be,” says nutritionist Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN. She reminds us that, even though cutting calories will lead to weight loss, going too low for too long can have the opposite effect. This just one thing that happens to your body on a juice cleanse.
Drastically Cut Calories to Lose Weight Quickly
Like how going on a juice cleanse will deprive you of valuable calories and macronutrients, going on a super low-calorie crash diet will set you up for failure rather than helping you drop pounds. “Under-fueling is just as risky as over-fueling,” explains Carolyn Brown, MS, RD. Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN agrees: “In an attempt for quick, noticeable weight loss, many people wrongfully believe that eating as few calories as possible is the best solution. Not only can this lead to numerous nutritional deficiencies as the body is getting less food overall, but it can also have the opposite effect on weight loss.” Instead of cutting calories, which can cause your body to lose muscle mass and decrease the rate of your metabolism, stick to a healthy daily caloric intake (usually that’s around 1,200-1,800 calories, depending on your nutritional needs) and be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates.
Ditching Carbs Will Help You Slim Down Fast
Another crash diet people turn to when they are looking to lose weight fast is by ditching carbs altogether. Carbs have been deemed the diet devil, and people (wrongfully) assume they lead to weight gain in any context. This is nutritionally false, according to dietitian Jim White, RD, ACSM, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. Cutting out carbs altogether can actually make you gain weight because you’re missing out on filling fiber, which has been proven to help you slim down.
You Can Exercise the Pounds Away
If you’re thinking about slogging away on the treadmill for hours or hitting back-to-back spin classes in an effort to lose weight fast, you’re just wasting your time — and overexerting yourself for no reason! Research has proved time and time again that while exercise can help boost weight loss, shedding pounds is primarily due to diet. Exercise accounts for very little of your total energy expenditure, and it’s hard to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise. Since working out has a ton of health benefits not related to weight loss, keep hitting the gym, just don’t overdo it.
Or Sweat it Out Other Ways
In an effort to cut weight fast, some people turn to steam rooms or saunas in an effort to “sweat it out,” While you may notice the number on the scale change, you’re again only losing water weight. Your body can easily add that water weight back on after a salty meal or a glass of wine. Plus raising your body temperature for that extended period of time can be dangerous; be sure to consult your doctor before stepping into a sauna or steam room.
You’ll See Results Immediately
You’ve done all the right things to lose weight: you’ve ditched junk food, loaded up on healthy produce and lean meats, and have been reading Eat This, Not That! for go-to nutrition advice and smart swaps. But you still haven’t seen the scale budge. That’s because every body is different. Although some people like to boil weight-loss down to a specific science of “calories in, calories out,” the truth is the human body is much more complicated than that. Each person has a different metabolism, set of hormones, environmental factors, and potentially underlying health issues that could all play a role in how much he or she loses weight. So, seeing noticeable results could take time. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen; you just need to be consistent and patient and wait for the scale to move. But don’t expect to see immediate weight loss results the second you start eating healthy.
You’ll Gain it All Back
An old weight-loss saying states the quicker you lose weight, the quicker you will gain it back. That’s not always the case. Sure, when you lose a few pounds quickly due to water weight, that can easily come back on. But true weight loss is different for everybody. Some people lose weight fast with even simple changes and can keep it off if they are consistent. Don’t think you’re doomed if you have a particularly successful week (or two). Find out more ways to keep it off with our list of 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever.
It’s Better to Lose Weight Slowly
Conventional wisdom states that slow and steady wins the race, especially when it comes to weight loss. This isn’t necessarily true. In a 2014 study, Australian researchers studied two groups of dieters: one on a 12-week rapid weight-loss program, and another on a 36-week gradual plan. After the dieters lost the weight, they were put on the same maintenance plan and both groups fared about the same in terms of regaining the weight. The study concluded that there’s no advantage to losing weight slowly over quickly — both are equally effective.
Diet Pills or Surgery Are Your Only Options
Some people turn to dangerous diet pills or invasive surgery in an attempt for a “quick fix.” The truth is, these methods can be risky and don’t always translate to results. Diet pills are at best ineffective and at worst harmful for your health: weight-loss pills like phentermine are typically stimulants and associated with such risks as disrupting your heart rhythm, raising your blood pressure, and even seizures. Weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, can be incredibly successful, but not everyone is a good candidate. And since they’re still surgery, these procedures come with serious health risks like infection, blood clots, or lung or breathing problems. Plus, most candidates who get bariatric surgery regain the weight.
Bottom line: Unless prescribed or recommended by your doctor, don’t rely on diet pills or bariatric surgery to lose weight quickly. You can find similar results with lifestyle modification, such as eating the right foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting some exercise.
It’s Possible for Everyone
So you and your friend decided to embark on this weight-loss journey together: You both eat the same foods, get the same amount of exercise, and get the same hours of shut-eye each night. Yet she has lost 10 pounds in one week while you are struggling to get the scale to budge. It sucks, but it’s totally normal. Again, so much goes into weight loss beyond calories in and calories out. Since every body is different — with different metabolisms, hormones, and muscle mass — some people will find more success with certain diets while others won’t. You could have one of those bodies that just takes more time to lose weight, and that’s totally fine. Just be patient, trust the process, and keep avoiding the 40 Habits That Make You Sick and Fat