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Fast weight loss: What's wrong with it?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fast-weight-loss/AN01621
- With Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist
Donald Hensrud, M.D.read biographyclose window
Donald Hensrud, M.D.Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.
Dr. Donald D. Hensrud is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine with a joint appointment in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition at Mayo Clinic. He is an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Dr. Hensrud directed the Executive Health Program at Mayo Clinic for more than 10 years.
He received his B.S. from the University of North Dakota, M.D. from the University of Hawaii, M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota and M.S. in nutrition sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic and completed a clinical nutrition fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Hensrud is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, of which he is a past president.
His career interests have combined nutrition, weight management, and prevention. He is the author of many scientific articles and book chapters and was editor of Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody; The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook, which won a 2005 James Beard Foundation award; The Mayo Clinic Plan: 10 Essential Steps to a Better Body & Healthier Life; and The Mayo Clinic Diet, published in January 2010.
Dr. Hensrud says healthy lifestyle habits in diet and physical activity are extremely important as evidenced by a large body of scientific evidence. He also says implementing these lifestyle habits is realistic, sustainable and enjoyable. A primary goal of his work is to help people achieve this.
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Fast weight loss: What's wrong with it?
Why do doctors recommend a slow rate of weight loss? What's wrong with fast weight loss?
from Donald Hensrud, M.D.
The concern with fast weight loss is that it usually takes extraordinary efforts in diet and exercise — efforts that could be unhealthy and that you probably can't maintain as permanent lifestyle changes.
A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is the typical recommendation. Although that may seem like a slow pace for weight loss, it's more likely to help you maintain your weight loss for the long term. Remember that 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat contains 3,500 calories. So to lose 1 pound a week, you need to burn 500 more calories than you eat each day (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
Also, if you lose a lot of weight very quickly, it may not be fat that you're losing. It might be water weight or even lean tissue, since it's hard to burn that many fat calories in a short period.
In some situations, however, faster weight loss can be safe if it's done the right way. For example, doctors might prescribe very low calorie diets for rapid weight loss if obesity is causing serious health problems. But an extreme diet like this requires medical supervision.
In addition, some diets include an initiation phase to help you jump-start your weight loss. For example, the Mayo Clinic Diet has a quick-start phase in which you might lose 6 to 10 pounds in the first two weeks. You can lose weight quickly with an approach like this because it combines many healthy and safe strategies at once — no gimmicks or extreme dieting. After the initial two-week period, you transition into the recommended weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds a week, which is not only safe but also realistic and sustainable for the long term.Next question
Slow metabolism: Is it to blame for weight gain?
- Hensrud DD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 18, 2011.
- Eckel RH. Nonsurgical management of obesity in adults. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2008;358:1941.
- Aim for a healthy weight: Information for patients and the public. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/aim_hwt.pdf. Accessed May 16, 2011.
- Nader N, et al. Obesity. In: Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/117958748-3/0/1621/295.html#4-u1.0-B978-1. Accessed May 16, 2011.
- Hensrud DD, et al. The Mayo Clinic Diet. Intercourse, Penn.: Good Books; 2010.