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Healthy Weight Center

Is This Too Much for Healthy Weight Loss?

03/11/2009

Question:

I`m about 40 pounds overweight, and recently I decided to do something about it. I stopped eating junk food and for a week and four days I`ve been eating only a low-fat slice of bread and a grapefruit in the morning, a lettuce and cucumber salad with no dressing or fruit salad for lunch, and usually the same salad plus some fat free riccota cheese and broiled chicken for dinner plus some snacks during the day such as diet gelatin and fruit. I also take five 55 minute sesions of aerobics a week walk on a treadmill for 40 minutes five times a week, and ride a bike for 25. I think I`ve lost about seven or five pounds in this period. Is this too much?

Answer:

Congratulations for trying to get a handle on your weight. You've got the right idea - increased exercise and less food. The key to long term weight loss is maintaining these changes in the days, weeks, and years to come. Your diet may be so restricted that you can't realistically stay with it for more than a few days. Many people get frustrated quickly when they try to completely change their eating patterns overnight. If you can maintain the type of diet you've described, great. If it's too challenging, try choosing a more moderate diet. Many people can lose weight by simply cutting down on some of the calorie dense foods (i.e. junk food and fast food) that they usually consume, combined with a regular exercise program. The ideal rate of weight loss has been estimated by many to be 1-2 lbs/ week. Although this seems relatively slow, it could mean potentially a loss of 8-14 lbs at the end of 2 months. Faster rates of weight loss can be seen in some fad diets. Often, these dramatic weight losses reflect water loss (or dehydration). If this is the case, the body will quickly reaccumulate the lost weight when fluid intake is increased. Rapid weight loss can also be seen when a very low calorie diet (<1000 calories) is consumed. Unfortunately, if too few calories are eaten, the body doesn't necessarily turn immediately to fat cells for extra calories. Instead, the body may look toward essential proteins as a calorie source. This can lead to illness and does not achieve the look or the good health that you are trying to achieve. Keep exercising and watch those calories, but I bet you can eat a little bit more and still keep off the calories - provided that you save candy bars, chips and french fries for rare occasions. You're off to a great start. Hang in there!!

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Response by:

Jill Foster, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati