It is said that at least 60 percent of the world’s population aged twenty and above is either overweight or obese, and a majority of these people have either sought to lose weight in the past or are currently going through a weight loss program, whether structured or otherwise.

The question then is, do I lose weight quickly through an intense and rigorous exercise and diet routine or do I lose weight more slowly through a commitment to lifestyle changes and a healthier way of living?

Both options are valid means through which an individual can lose weight. The question is, ‘which is more sustainable in the long run’?

Losing weight quickly

Losing weight quickly means that you are aiming to lose at least one kg (2.2 pounds) per week or as much as four kg (8.8 pounds) per week. This is usually achieved through the use of diet pills, a rigorous exercise regime or a drastic new diet. More often than not, these crash diets have you consuming fewer than 800 calories a day.

What you stand to gain when you choose rapid weight loss

Of course, the first benefit is that you get results very quickly. Losing four kg in a week will definitely show quickly. You see the results almost immediately and are therefore motivated to continue the path you are taking.

Choosing to lose weight quickly also means that you fit into your smaller clothes sooner rather than later.

What you stand to lose when you choose rapid weight loss

Rapid weight loss has more disadvantages than it does advantages. As easy as it is to watch the pounds melt off, that’s how easy it also is to pile it back on. In many instances, dieters often gain back more than they lost as a result of a loss of muscle tissue. Thus often begins a cycle from hell; dieters going on a rapid weight loss program, losing the weight, gaining it back and then some more, then beginning another quick weight loss program or diet.

According to a recent study by the University of Oregon, 95 percent of dieters usually gain the weight back within one to five years.

A rapid weight-loss diet may also lead to severe health challenges such as dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, gallstones, and a drop in metabolism. 

Losing weight slowly

Losing weight slowly means that you are working to lose less than one kg (2.2 pounds) per week. This means that it can sometimes take upwards of a year to lose 25 kg (55 pounds). Losing weight slowly is usually achieved through a commitment to healthier lifestyle choices.

What you stand to gain when you choose slow weight loss

The slower pace of a slow weight loss program means that you are able to maintain the weight loss, rather than lose the weight in one week and have it come back the following.

When you also choose to lose weight the slow and steady way, you have a better chance of losing fat, rather than muscle. Going the quick weight loss route means that your body resorts to burning lean muscle mass after a while because it can only burn so much fat in that short period.

Slow but committed changes to diet and exercise, however, allow you to form lifetime healthy eating and exercise habits.

What you stand to lose when you choose slow weight loss

The only disadvantage of slow weight loss is the time involved before you start to see results. This is hard to bear for most of us because we want immediate gratification. You will need to be self-motivated and self-driven to lose weight over a protracted period, and a lot of us just aren’t.

Our opinion

Standing with experts on weight loss and nutrition, we are of the opinion that a commitment to lifestyle changes is the way to go when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.

While many weight-loss plans will promise you quick results and deliver on their promise, the weight loss is usually temporary. To lose weight and permanently keep it off will require you to put in the time, effort and commitment.

Here is how to stay committed to a healthier lifestyle

Make the commitment: Be sure that you are really ready to make long-lasting changes and that you are willing to make these changes for the right reasons. Then you need to be focused, as changing your habits will require mental and physical energy.

Address other stress points: A lot of people engage in emotional eating to deal with the stress in their lives. So, you need to address the other stresses in your life head on if you are to succeed at long term weight loss. Whatever the stress points are, relationship, financial etc. deal with them to improve and sharpen your focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle.

Become your own cheerleader: Because slow weight loss is not easily noticeable, do not expect others to compliment you just yet on how great you look. You must understand that you have to be your own cheerleader, urging yourself to go on when you don’t even want to.

Set realistic goals: Realistic goals means aiming to lose 0.5 to 1 kg (1 – 2 pounds) per week. Attempting to go over that is simply not realistic and might backfire in the long run.

Choose the best routes to achieve your goal: Generally, losing 1 to 2 pounds a week will require you to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume daily, so how best to create this calorie deficit? How much physical activity do you want to include and what percentage of your goal will be achieved via diet.

Learn to enjoy healthier foods: Creating calorie deficit means you must lower your total calorie intake. You can do this by eating healthier options such as vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. To begin, go for three servings of fruits and least four servings of vegetables and daily; substitute whole grains for refined grains; use healthy fats such as olive oil, vegetable oils, and avocados; and reduce your sugar intake.

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Be physically active: Exercise will help you to burn off the excess calories that you cannot do through diet alone. And you get to maintain that weight loss in the long run.

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