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Myths

Fast Fat Loss

If you lose more than 2 pounds of weight per week you are most likely losing water and muscle as well as some fat. Surprisingly, even with knowing this, many people will still do diets that cause unhealthy rapid weight loss (greater than 2 pounds/ .9 kg per week). The thought is, "what's a little water and muscle loss? I'll get that back later. At least I'm losing fat right now."

In fact, a person does not lose fat more quickly with this rapid weight loss caused by consuming too few calories. The person eating sensibly and exercising daily will lose about 1 pound of fat every 7 to 14 days, the same amount of fat lost in the same time as on the "rapid weight loss plan". However in the rapid weight loss plan, the "extra" weight loss is from water and muscle, not fat. No matter what name it goes by, most of the popular diets daily caloric intake amounts to between 1200 and 1900 calories. This easily drops the total calories below the average minimum (about 2200 to 2400 calories) intake for an adult male of 150lb or female of 120lb, and of course further below the minimum for those who weigh more than the "average" and are more muscular, stocky, and taller. The consequence of rapid weight loss is dehydration, loss of stored glycogen (sugar stored in the muscles and liver), and some loss of lean muscle mass as the body uses some muscle as food to make up for a shortage in the food consumed.

During rapid weight loss, a person loses about 40% to 60% of the "weight" from water and muscle, the remainder from fat. Since losing water and muscle is unhealthy, and since actual fat loss is not more rapid, there is no advantage to a "rapid weight loss plan".

Yet another problem with fad diets is a major emphases on restrictive food intake and a simultaneously insufficient emphasis on daily exercise. Even when trying to lose fat, increased daily exercise requires consuming more calories than when sedentary, but still consuming fewer calories than are expended during daily activity. Because of this a person adding regular exercise in combination with a fad diet may be causing an even more severe imbalance to calories consumed and calories expended. In general, when fat loss is the goal, a caloric deficit of 300 to a maximum of 500 calories per day is recommended. So if you need 2700 calories for a day that includes healthy activity and you have some fat to lose, the minimum intake would be about 2200 calories.

A simple solution:

While it is important to learn about determining how many calories you need in a day as well as meeting requirements for vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, the simplest weight loss plan has these two basic strategies:

1) Eat a little less than you eat right now

Don't go back for seconds, skip the fatty and sugary snacks, place a little less food on your plate. It really is that easy.

2) Exercise a little more

Get out for walks, join a gym, increase your daily physical activity. It doesn't have to be a huge undertaking, just a little bit of exercise will start you down the right path.

Be wary of the term "weight loss": Weight loss and fat loss, do not mean the same thing. (Click here to estimate how many calories per day you need)

Click here to download free software for finding the caloric and nutrient content of foods. This will take you to a USDA web page with piles of helpful nutrition resources.

2004 Rhino Fitness
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