The Dangers of Losing Weight Too Fast
Losing weight is tough. Although I want to lose a few pounds. I don’t want to lose it too fast. I don’t think that’s healthy and the weight generally doesn’t stay off, does it? Look at the up-and-down weight loss battles Oprah has faced. Now there’s a study that confirms my opinion.
A recent article in The New York Times discussed a research study on Biggest Loser participants who competed in the year-long weight-loss competition. The article followed several people who had lost 100 pounds or more during the competition and discussed their ongoing battles to maintain their weight loss. It is a fascinating article—lengthy and quite in depth—following several contestants over a period of six years.
And frankly, the results were no surprise to me.
Let me tell you why…
I simply don’t think it is a good idea to try to lose weight fast. I believe the body thinks you’re starving and adapts to use calories more slowly so it can keep you alive. That’s why the metabolism slows down. Your body is conserving energy.
I have spent years watching friends and relatives struggle with weight. Usually, they do it by severely restricting their calories or following some fad diet that doesn’t allow them to eat anything—for instance—but grapefruit. The weight comes off fast. And then they start to eat more normally and the weight creeps back up. It’s demoralizing. And totally ineffective.
Few people can continue on a long-term basis to deprive themselves of foods they love. I certainly can’t.
I, too, followed many of the food trends, special weight-loss programs and the now-outdated U.S. food pyramid recommendations—and gained a couple pounds a year, every year, until I was an unhealthy 187 pounds. I’m 5 feet 5 inches tall. I should weigh around 130 according to the health charts.
One of my biggest mistakes was to follow the U. S. government’s low-fat recommendations. Not that I think you should eat a ton of saturated fat, but fat helps keep you satiated. And when I followed the low-fat diet, I was hungry all the time.
I began to think, “What the hell? I gain weight no matter what I do, so I might as well eat what I want!” So I ate ALL THE TIME. I suspect you sometimes think that way, too, don’t you?
My body started to get sick. I had a major wake-up call in 2007 when I had a heart attack. That hurt. (I’m not going there again!)
Surprisingly, my cholesterol was only 214—yes, higher that it’s supposed to be, but not as high as lots of folks’ results. My cardiologist said that’s actually typical of someone who has a heart attack. I was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes even though my A1C blood sugar result was only 6.3. According to the Mayo Clinic, the typical test result that helps a doctor diagnose a patient as diabetic is an A1C of 6.5 two times in a row.
I began to manage my food intake…
I cut down on carbs, ate more fruits and veggies, and reduced animal fats. I didn’t lose weight. And I still didn’t feel well. In fact, I felt worse.
I began to think I was allergic or sensitive to certain foods. So I started to write down everything I was eating and how I was feeling. What I eventually figured out by tracking my foods, moods, clear-headedness (or not), and overall feeling of health (or sickness), is that I am allergic to soy milk and reactive to other foods. A1 milk (but not A2 milk) gives me inflammation. Gluten (found in flour and bread, among other products) gives me skin and digestive issues—but only after 3 days so if I think I have eaten gluten, I need to stick close to a bathroom for half a day 3 days after I eat it. I am also bothered by raw, fresh fruits that typically are sprayed with pesticides. For instance, cooked apples don’t affect me, but raw apples (with the skin) often make me sick.
When I removed from my diet most of the foods that resulted in negative affects, I started to lose weight, about 1-2 pounds a month. After about 4 years, I had lost 35 pounds. Then my weight loss stopped. I don’t watch my calorie intake. I eat what I want to eat, including potatoes, chips and dark chocolate. Now that I have leveled out and my weight loss has plateaued, I’m working myself up to the next level—reducing overall calories a bit and getting some exercise. I’ll keep you posted on my success.
My personal opinion about the Biggest Loser results?
I think the participants should systematically test the foods they eat to see if the foods cause some kind of allergic reaction.
Surprisingly, I have found that people tend to crave the things they are allergic to. Love cheese? Try eliminating it and see what happens. According to Dr. Doris Rapp, a pediatric allergist and author of Is This Your Child?, you should know in about 4 days whether a particular food is a problem. Sometimes, however, it can be a certain combination of foods that, when eaten together, produce a reaction. Or you can be allergic (as I am) to soy milk but not tofu or endamame.
Using Dr. Rapp’s method of food elimination made a huge difference for me. By eliminating the foods that produce an allergic response, I lost weight, without being hungry, and I haven’t gained a pound back.
Here’s what I looked like before eliminating A1 milk, soy milk and gluten:
I eat until I am satiated and then I stop. It’s not willpower. It’s physical. If I eat gluten, I crave gluten (or whatever food is the cause) and the cycle begins. Don’t eat it? No cravings.
I would love to see a study on this idea! If you know of such a study, or have an opinion, please comment.