There is a perception in the fitness industry that thinks that rapid weight loss through dieting and extreme fitness may not be good for your health and perhaps cause a yo-yo effect after you have stopped restricting your body. Also, it may lead to certain illnesses and nutritional deficiencies. We aim to find out the answer and also would like to make a recommendation.
What are the ways to do it?
1. Intermittent Fasting (or IF)
This method is a low calorie or fasting on alternating days throughout the week. In principle it's a cheaper alternative to eating more meals more frequently. However, it may cause intense hunger and isn't necessarily better than the alternative. Losing huge amounts of weight with this method could be difficult and calorie cycling is important. Read more about IF here.
2. Intense Exercise and Strict Professionally Monitored Nutritional Program
When you watch the popular TV series The Biggest Loser it's hard not to ask yourselves how they did it. Contestants followed a nutritional guide in conjuction with a doctor to monitor their progress, had a trainer for much of the day and didn't work. This method is clearly effective. However, this little tidbit keeps popping up. Part of the report showed that when they ended the show their metabolisms had slowed rapidly and after the show they could 'not burn enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes' (see this diagram to see the results of their metabolisms).
Extremely effective, gastric stapling surgery or gastric banding surgery limits the amount of food a person can eat. There are plenty of benefits to this type of solution with lowering your blood sugar and pressure to lowering cholesterol levels. This method must be discussed with a doctor and there are plenty of risks involved.
4. CrossFit - A lifestyle route with transformations
CrossFit is a company that subscribes to exercise workouts that are extremely high in intensity. The exercises differ from traditional bodybuilding exercises by focusing on much more functional lifting and training more like a power lifter. As much as there are risks (see study) with CrossFit and it isn't for everyone, it does have a LARGE support group and anecdotally I have seen changes in the overall outlook to exercise and users desires to continue with it. Financially, CrossFit is difficult to maintain when you compare it to a regular gym membership ($300/m vs. $45/m).
5. Weight Training
Weight training is clearly a recommendation of a successful weight loss routine and this method alone will not produce any quick results. Circuit training mixed with advanced training principles should be a goal for anyone wanting to lose weight using this method.
6. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
With clear bodyfat busting results this method can be cycled into your training plan to help optimize your results. Read more about it here.
7. Fad Diets
You know what we will say about this one, but if you don't you can have a look at our Top 10.
What does the research say?
Studies have attempted at looking at wheather a slower method of weight loss and a biggest loser style weight loss regeme is best at keeping weight off longer.
In a 2014 study conducted by the University of Melborne, they tried to examine the difference between 204 participants (one was on a gradual weight loss and fitness rememe and one was on a more calorie restrictive/intense fitness program) and the result was surprising. They found that there was NOT a significant difference between the group on a rapid weight loss plan and the gradual programme group. They have inferred that it does not matter if you take the weight off slowly or lose it all quickly, there was no difference in the resulting weight gain after the fact.
2. Surgery will not fix terrible nutritional habits of liquid calories, grazing and eating out of participants and there are post-operative risk is still quite risky (source). Exercise for 60 minutes per day is required.
3. A study found that 20% of overweight individuals are successful at long-term (over one year) maintenance. Depression and medical triggers may cause failures.
4. Once you maintain weight loss for 2-5 years the odds of long-term weight loss greatly increase (source)
If you have gained a lot of weight, you need to carefully plan a LONG TERM solution. Any quick solution will slow your metabolism down and possibly for a long time. Metabolic adaptation, medical triggers and depression can cause a long term problem which may result in gaining the weight back.
What it comes down to is that if you are reading this as someone who wants to quickly lose a lot of weight while maintaining it, my advice is:
1. Find a personal trainer (here) that you can afford for a long time or join CrossFit and plan to stick with it.
2. Think about your current nutritional habits and what causes you to graze or go out to eat
3. Pay for a nutritionist to tailor a meal plan for you
4. Do all this with a friend and set goals and review them monthly
5. Track your progress
6. Have fun with it