To live in moderation is not an easy skill to learn and apply. You still need to exert more effort to be able to live consistently in moderation, especially if we apply it to eating and exercise. But eating in moderation is the most effective way to attain long-term effective weight control according to numerous published studies. But what’s the best way to jumpstart your weight loss? When we talk about the best way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the fastest way to achieve something. Choosing the best strategy to jumpstart something like lifestyle change will primarily mean being able to sustain a strategy that you intend to start on, otherwise it will just be like something that never occurred at all—like fast weight loss and then fast weight gain.
Every start of the year, health, wellness and fitness professionals like us receive more and more questions from clients, friends and the community regarding the effectiveness of various quick-fix strategies. Presented below are the reasons why most quick-fix strategies to jumpstart weight loss will not guarantee that you can sustain a weight-loss lifestyle, and if you already started one of the strategies, explore the ways on how you can start to live your lifestyle in moderation.
Meal replacement products (MRP)
Replacing your usual meal/s with available meal replacement bars and shakes can save you from eating a huge amount of meal or snack. Just imagine taking a 250-calorie shake against a 1,500-calorie fast-food combo meal, what a huge difference! This is equivalent to 1,250-calorie (1,500 minus 250 calories) per day savings or 8,750-calorie savings per week that can already help you lose 2.5 pounds a week just by replacing one fast-food meal with a meal replacement shake.
This strategy can really help you lose a lot of weight especially during the first two weeks. However, there’s a greater probability that you get dependent on MRPs to lose weight and, once you achieve your target weight, you would return to your old eating fast-food habits, then regain the weight back, or even more. Also reviews on MRPs show that it lacks fiber, nutrients, vitamins and minerals to be able to consider as a well-balanced and nutritious meal. You should be under a doctor or dietician’s supervision if you are taking MRPs to ensure a well-balanced diet.
Using MRPs to lose weight may not give you the chance to learn how to eat a meal in moderation, like how to address eating when you are in social situations without your usual MRPs. Factors to consider when choosing an effective diet include taste, accessibility, nutrient composition and the ability to keep one from getting hungry. If you are just taking MRPs to complete your nutrients for the day, let us say protein, then there’s a good reason to have some, but not as a long-term replacement to your main meals so you can ensure healthy eating adherence as you maintain your weight.
Most people would think of getting detox diets (can be a combination of fasting, nutrient restriction and supplementation) at the start of the year to get rid of body toxins and at the same time remove the extra weight gain from the holidays. It is better to review your objectives before you undergo detox diets. Using a detox diet to lose weight can actually work during the first week, but once you resume to your regular eating pattern, you can easily gain the weight back. A recent entry in “Ask the Expert” blog of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) website discusses some disadvantages of the traditional detox diets like dehydration, fainting, decrease in lean mass, slower metabolism and muscle cramps due to nutrient depletion.
Detox diets will not work long-term, in case you have the intention to use it for weight loss. But if you plan to change your lifestyle by trying something to be able to eliminate junk food, caffeine or processed food from your daily routine, then a modified detox regimen can be done by substituting more fruits to your usual desserts, eating more vegetables with less meat during main meals and drinking water instead of sugared drinks.
Low-calorie and low-carb diets
This strategy is the most common among all the jumpstart weight-loss strategies because you can lose as many as 10 pounds (lean mass and fat) a week just by drastically restricting your food intake from 3,000 calories to less than 1,000 calories per day or by eliminating carbs (rice, bread, pasta) from your usual diet of five cups of rice per day. But too much calorie and nutrient restriction will not give you enough energy to do physical activities to retain your muscles and metabolism. Low-calorie diet strategies can be used for people who may need immediate weight loss due to existing health complications of obesity but should undergo physical and even psychological screening, and should be strictly supervised by a doctor to avoid severe complications. But people who can still lose weight by trying lifestyle strategies of gradually modifying food intake and incorporating physical activities to their daily routine should not even consider these drastic strategies as the first option to lose weight to avoid various health problems, weakness, hormonal imbalances, even eating disorders.
There have been numerous diets that helped so many obese and overweight people lose a significant amount of weight and these results even helped them change their lifestyle and renew their discipline and motivation. But studies made on similar diets show that there’s still a greater chance of regaining the weight if there will be no physical activities incorporated to the lifestyle to maintain the weight. Also, if you do not learn how to eat and enjoy food in moderation, you may have a hard time avoiding your old favorite food once you get a chance to have a bite. Training yourself to eat everything in moderation while you lose weight, even slowly and gradually, is still the most effective solution to face the challenges two, five, 10 or 20 years from now.