Skip to main content

Why You'll Have More Success When You Look at Weight Loss Like a Marathon, Not a Sprint

< Back to the article list

Rapid weight loss may seem ideal, but it can actually do more harm than good.

If you’re hoping to lose weight this year, you’re not alone. A 2017 Marist poll focused on New Year’s resolutions found that losing weight was a top resolution for survey respondents, and when you couple that with all the weight-loss books, products, and plans that are still everywhere, it’s clear that weight loss is very much on many people's minds.

But even though most doctors advocate for a slow, structured weight-loss plan, a lot of us want to lose all the weight, right now! Here are a few reasons rapid weight loss (like the kind you see on certain TV shows) isn’t the best way to go about creating a healthy new you.

Crash Diets Can Harm Your Heart

Crash diets, which are very calorie restrictive and often leave out a bunch of food groups, can help you lose weight quickly. However, new research out of the Oxford Centre for Magnetic Resonance shows an initial “deterioration in heart function, including the heart's ability to pump blood” when subjects with high BMIs went on crash diets.

While the study went on to show that subjects’ hearts eventually recovered, researchers cautioned that those who are already dealing with heart issues should really consult with their doctor before trying any kind of restrictive diet.

Rapid Weight Loss May Mean Losing Lean Body Mass

When you lose a lot of weight quickly through an extreme diet or exercise plan, you may end up losing more than fat. Studies show that water weight, as well as “lean body mass” (which is our muscles and tissues), may also be lost. Losing too much lean body mass can actually impair muscle function, which means you may be doing some long-term damage.

Long-Term Weight-Loss Success Requires Dedication

Science is beginning to discover that keeping weight off after losing a lot of it may be harder than previously thought. A study published in 2016 looked into the reasons certain individuals who had lost an extreme amount of weight quickly regained a lot of that weight back over time and found that they were dealing with “metabolic adaptation,” which means their metabolisms had slowed, and their bodies were burning fewer calories. Because of this phenomenon, researchers theorized that “long‐term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation,” meaning the key to keeping the weight off may be just as psychological as it is physiological.

When you lose weight too quickly on a crash diet or extreme exercise plan, you may not develop the skills required to keep the weight off, such as meal planning, learning how to cook healthy foods to your tastes, and truly understanding how to nourish your body.

Like most positive things in life, slow and steady is the way when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. Taking your healthy journey one step at a time and utilizing support from alli, the only FDA-approved, over-the-counter weight-loss aid, can help you find real success, when used along with a reduced-calorie and low-fat diet. For every five pounds you lose with diet and exercise, alli can help you lose two to three pounds more, when used as directed1.

1alli® (orlistat 60 mg capsules) is for weight loss in overweight adults, 18 years and older, when used along with a reduced-calorie and low-fat diet. Follow label directions.

Related articles