Fad vs. Fast Weight Loss

Posted: October 8, 2008 in Obesity Medicine by

Patients often equate fast weight loss with fad diets. They tell me they fear more rapid regain if they lose the pounds quickly. Does it matter if you lose weight quickly or slowly? Does a fat cell care if it shrinks too quickly?

There is no evidence to indicate that fat lost quickly has a greater chance of coming back than fat lost gradually, as long as it is fat that is lost. Fad diets are usually not nutritionally complete. They can lack adequate protein, resulting in loss of muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, you can see the pounds come off quite rapidly. Unfortunately, you won’t see your waist shrink. The lack of adequate nutrients such as essential amino acids (protein), essential fatty acids (fat), vitamins, trace elements, electrolytes (potassium, calcium and sodium), and water leave you feeling weak, hungry, tired and irritable.

The most extreme example of an unhealthy fad is the “cabbage soup diet.” While containing plenty of fiber, it is lacking almost all the other essential nutrients. Individuals on this diet must rely on a high degree of will-power, since they feel so poorly. Will-power rarely lasts more than a week or two.

On the other hand, a doctor prescribed diet should contain all of the nutrients, resulting in preservation of more muscle. Because your body is getting all of the critical elements, you won’t crave the way you do on a fad. Most importantly, you’ll feel better than you did prior to starting your diet. When you feel better on a diet, you will know you have found the right one for you.