By Christine Roberts
Many of you have had a great success with weight loss during the first week of the 1 Million Kilo Challenge. This is fantastic but please don’t be disappointed if the rate at which you lose now starts to slow down! It is not uncommon to drop weight quickly during the initial stages of a weight loss program as you tend to lose quite a bit of fluid. Water weighs more than fat. The body stores small amounts of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen which is bound with water. When you reduce your calorie intake, this glycogen is broken down to release energy - and the water bound to it is expelled.
Then, as you continue to restrict your intake, you really start to break down unwanted stored fat that holds less water, and your weight loss rate slows to a healthier rate. This is good and shows you are eating adequately.
So what's a healthy rate to lose?
A healthy rate of loss for most people is 0.5-1.0 kg per week. This represents an energy deficiency of 500-1000kcal (2000-4000 kJ) per day but still allows for a good eating pattern.
If you restrict your intake too much, as may happen if you ‘diet’ too strictly, you can start to lose an excess of lean tissue, including muscle. It can also cause your metabolic rate to slow down, meaning you have to keep working harder to lose.
If, after the first couple of weeks you continue to lose at a rate greater than 1.0kg per week, you may need to make your servings a little larger. On the other hand if you are losing at a rate much less than 0.5kg per week it may take too long to reach your target weight (unless you only have a little to lose) and you may need to be stricter with the quantities you are serving yourself.
So let your rate of weight loss guide you.
The importance of a healthy eating pattern and regular exercise
If an eating pattern is too strict, it becomes difficult to get all the nutrients essential for good health. You can also get hungry and bored. Also, when the target weight is reached, larger adjustments are needed to find an eating pattern suitable which helps you maintain your weight loss. Eating well while losing weight helps you learn how to keep the weight off. This may mean your weight loss is slower than you would like BUT be patient, keeping it off is a big reward!
To successfully lose weight and maintain a loss you must maintain your lean tissue or muscle. Muscle is active tissue that burns energy (calories) - this not only aids weight loss but also helps you to maintain it. This is one of the reasons that it is important to develop a good exercise pattern. Exercise will protect your muscles, burn your excess fat and help keep your metabolic rate at a healthy level.
So to sum up, we advise against crash dieting and rapid weight loss because:
• the body responds to this by lowering the metabolic rate
• you will tend to use muscle tissue rather than body fat for energy
• it is harder make permanent change.
When should you weigh yourself and how often?
While on this program, most of you are probably weighing frequently, although you will often hear people advise you not to weigh more than once a week. Daily variations in weight are common so expect these if you're weighing yourself every day, or more than a couple of times a week. This is because your fluid balance may change depending on what you eat/drink, the weather, your exercise pattern or the time of day (or month in women). For most, weighing first thing in the morning without clothes and after emptying your bladder is the best time.
Set realistic and achievable goals
Make your goals realistic. Often people set unrealistic weight loss goals for themselves when they start a weight loss program. These are usually too difficult to reach and can lead to feeling like a failure and having a poor self-image.
Research has shown that weight losses of around 5 to 10 per cent of the initial body weight can significantly reduce the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. So weight loss, even if it doesn’t bring you all the way to the range you think is ideal, is very worthwhile.
Remember, the most important part of losing weight is keeping the weight off over many years; so changes that you make to lose weight should be healthy but also, more importantly, sustainable over the long term.
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