Every dieter wants to lose weight fast, but every reliable piece of diet information says that slow and steady is the key to success. What’s wrong with rapid weight loss, anyway, and why does weight that comes off quickly usually return just as fast?
To understand the problem with rapid weight loss, you need to remember that our bodies did not evolve in modern time, where food is plentiful and our next meal is never more than a couple of hours away. Rather, our bodies are designed to convert any spare food we eat into reserves that will help us get through long periods where food is scarce. Those reserves are our fat deposits – the body’s best defense against starvation.
Fat is an extremely efficient method of storing energy for later use, and our bodies are reluctant to part with it, especially if there is any hint that hungry times are ahead. If we try to achieve rapid weight loss, our bodies panic, thinking that we are in danger of starvation. They will sacrifice nearly anything else to hold onto those precious, life-preserving fat stores.
With rapid weight loss, what you are really losing is water weight and muscle tissue. This is particularly bad because muscle tissue burns more calories at rest, helping you to lose weight even when you are not exercising.
Rapid weight loss makes you fell lethargic and drained, because your body is trying to conserve energy. Furthermore, you will be assailed with hunger pangs and cravings, since your body is trying to warn you of impending starvation. This makes it very difficult to stay on your diet.
When your body does receive food after a starvation threat, it stores as much of it as possible as fat, to replenish the reserves against another “food shortage.” This is why many dieters put on weight again quickly after they resume their normal eating habits.
The body’s defense mechanisms are extremely important when in danger of starving. In fact, many of us would not be here today if our ancestors hadn’t had this sophisticated protection against hunger to get them through long winters. However, it does mean that dieters today have much more success if they work slowly to lose those extra pounds, instead of insisting on rapid weight loss.