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Woman and man working out with an exercise bike to lose weight safely

How to Lose Weight Safely

Plate with mini alarm clock, measuring tape, chicken leg, and vegetables

There are a million and one ways to lose weight, but not all of them will give you long-lasting change, and unfortunately, many can be massively unsafe. The good thing is that we see a slight cultural shift away from the harsh diet culture that encourages people (primarily women) to eat as little as possible to shrink to be as small as possible. Still, the reality is that the dieting industry is still thriving, and there’s more misinformation about how to lose weight safely than there is accurate and effective information.

Let’s focus on how to lose weight safely, in a way that won’t hurt your body and that you can maintain for life.

Don’t Aim to Lose Weight Fast

Infographic on Weight Loss The Safe Way

Most people can relate to the jarring realization that you have an event or a holiday coming up and the stress felt when thinking about how much weight you’d like to drop beforehand. Shameful as it might be, you’ve probably taken to Google for a quick “how to lose weight fast” search thinking, screw ‘how to lose weight safely,’ this quarantine weight needs to come off!

While many dieting apps, programs, and tools are prepared to take full advantage of these searches, we’d like to encourage you to embrace your body, whatever size you are. Wear what you want to wear and feel good about it, no matter your current size! Be encouraged to lose weight only if that supports your overall health, not to look good in a couple of pictures from this event you are anxious about.

We also recognize that it’s easier said than done, so if you need a little more convincing, let’s take a closer look at the top tips that populate when you search “how to lose weight fast” on Google. 

Cut Calories

Obviously, reducing calorie consumption is pertinent to losing body weight; we mention this all the time. However, when you prioritize losing weight fast over everything else, you might be tempted to reduce your calorie consumption so drastically that it actually switches your body into starvation mode. This means:

Plate made up of fruit and nuts
  • your weight loss could plateau
  • you could continue to lose weight yet hang on to body fat around your hips, belly, and other “problem areas”
  • you could seriously and permanently disturb your metabolism  

If you care about how to lose weight safely, drastically reducing your calorie intake should be the last thing on your list.

Cut Carbs

Loaf of bread being held in mans hands

One of the most popular myths with the lose weight fast crowd (aka diet culture vultures) is that carbohydrates are the enemy. Sure, if you cut carbs completely out of your diet, you will drop weight quickly. That’s because you’re drastically reducing your calories, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the carbs themselves. Carbohydrates are not inherently bad. In fact, carbs are your body’s primary source of fuel. Your brain requires carbs to function correctly, and so do your muscles. So, yes, dropping carbs will make you lose weight fast, but it will also make you feel terrible, and guess what happens when you start eating carbs again? Say hello because all that weight you just lost is coming back.

Increase Protein

We encourage most people to increase their protein intake,

Salmon and avocado toastregardless of whether they’re trying to lose weight fast or gain muscle. The problem with implying that increasing your protein will help you lose weight fast is that it doesn’t consider how much protein a person may already be consuming. Increasing your protein without doing anything else to your nutrition planning will still increase calories. Active people need between 1.2 and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram they weigh. This recommendation is for anyone active, whether it’s someone focused on how to lose weight safely or an individual trying to gain weight. There is no need to go over 2.0 grams/kg, and you should still include a healthy balance of carbs and fats in your daily meals.

Do Crunches

The worst advice to anyone trying to lose weight fast is to add 100 crunches to their daily routine. This advice is ridiculous because if you know anything about the body, you know you cannot spot reduce body fat. Doing crunches doesn’t magically make you lose fat around your midsection. In terms of calories (because, as you know, losing weight fast comes down to burning more than you consume), crunches are one of the least efficient exercises you can do. Depending on how much you weigh, 100 crunches will likely only burn around 20 calories.

Instead of these lose weight fast methods, recognize that true change takes time. Don’t sacrifice the health of your body or your mind for temporary results.

How to Lose Weight Safely

Now that we’ve discussed what not to do, let’s talk about how to lose weight safely, effectively, and in a sustainable way. After all, losing weight should be a goal if it aligns with a healthier, happier you.

Modestly Reduce Calories

To lose weight, we need to reduce our overall calorie consumption. To do so safely, we recommend a modest reduction in calorie consumption. This could mean reducing 250-500 calories per day, which likely translates to cutting out just one or two snacks. 

Modestly Increase Cardio

Woman running in place

Simultaneously increase the number of calories you burn by adding cardio into your exercise plan. Plan to burn about 250 extra calories a day by walking for about an hour or running for about a half-hour.

By combining a small reduction in your consumption and an increase in your expenditure, you should feel neither over-exercised nor overly restricted. 

Add a Weightlifting Program

Weightlifting, strength training, or resistance training are all different ways to increase your muscle mass, strengthen your body, and give that desirable toned appearance that so many people are after. Adding a resistance training program will increase your muscle mass, thus boosting your metabolism rate. This means that as you build muscle, you will shed body fat faster. It also means that you’ll be able to consume more calories without the scale shooting back up like it would with crash dieting. In addition to these benefits, there are also various other health benefits to strength training like:

  • increased confidence
  • improved mood and mental health
  • improved bone density
  • enhanced mood 

Work on Your Relationship with Food

Woman holding bowl of salad close to her face

Because food, dieting, and losing weight are emotionally charged topics, we also highly suggest working on your relationship with food to get lasting weight loss results. Many times, wanting to lose weight fast and the cycle of restrictive yo-yo dieting is rooted in a tarnished relationship with food. Please be encouraged to learn about mindful and intuitive eating and start healing from the inside out. There are many ways in which the way you think about food may be impacting your ability to lose weight and keep it off.

When we prioritize how to lose weight safely over how to lose weight fast, we give ourselves a chance to make true, lasting changes that can benefit our health as opposed to doing long-term damage to our minds and our bodies. If you’re not losing weight for your health, you might want to reconsider losing weight at all.

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