Losing Weight at a Safe Rate
Losing weight at a rate greater than an average of two pounds per week (after the first few weeks) can increase your risk of developing some health problems.
“Slow and steady wins the weight loss race” is probably not what you want to hear, especially if you’re currently losing more than two pounds a week [after your first few weeks on the plan]. But shedding weight too quickly isn’t good for your health, and it can make it harder for you to maintain a weight loss in the long run.
Still not convinced?
The Health Risks
You’re trying to lose weight to improve your health—not harm it. But losing weight at a rate greater than an average of two pounds per week (after the first few weeks, when you may lose more because you’re shedding water weight) increases your risk of developing health problems like heart beat irregularities, anemia, excessive loss of lean body mass (muscle), bowel irregularities and gallstone formation.
The Other Downside to Rapid Weight Loss
Cutting too many calories, especially when following a “quick-fix” diet that restricts certain food groups, can actually cause your metabolism to slow during weight loss. This occurs because your body becomes more efficient, requiring fewer calories to perform the necessary daily functions for survival. Eventually, this will slow (but not stop) the rate at which you lose weight. Some people cut calories even further in an attempt to restart their weight loss—a tactic that can backfire and start a vicious, unhealthy cycle.
Why? If you’re not eating enough, your body is not getting enough of the calories or nutrients it needs. Furthermore, restricting too many calories can set you up for periods of overeating—which can in turn make you gain weight and feel like your efforts have failed. Plus, you haven’t learned how to eat healthfully and aren’t likely to stick to a restrictive plan for the long haul.
The Benefits of Slow Weight Loss
That’s why the Weight Watchers plan teaches you to make smarter choices about food and exercise while still letting you eat the things you love. You’re learning new healthy habits and have resources and support to keep you on track when you hit a plateau or face a weight gain. This four-pronged approach is unique to Weight Watchers and is available to you both as you are working toward your weight goal and while you are maintaining your weight loss. When you’re prepared for both the journey and the destination, you’re more likely to stay at your weight goal for good.
A Special Note for New Moms
Before beginning a weight-loss program, get your doctor’s approval. It is generally recommended that breastfeeding women wait six to eight weeks before attempting active weight loss, as the body needs time to recover from childbirth and establish a good milk supply. Breastfeeding women need an extra 500 calories per day to provide an adequate milk supply. Protein needs are also increased from 46 to 71 grams (the equivalent to 3 servings of protein-rich foods) a day when breastfeeding to help preserve the lean body mass needed to help maintain a good milk supply.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) a weight loss of 1 pound a week while breastfeeding is safe and does not negatively affect infant growth. A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is recommended for new moms who are not nursing. It is especially important when breastfeeding to make wise food choices and eat a wide variety of healthy foods to ensure adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in breast milk. Additionally, most physicians recommend taking a prenatal vitamin while nursing and the American Medical Association recommends taking a multivitamin when following a weight-loss program.
Why can’t I set my goal weight below the Healthy Weight Range?
Research has shown that once you fall above or below the healthy weight range, health risks start to increase. There is also the concern that those who become underweight may have an eating disorder or be malnourished, which can in turn compromise immune function, increase risk for all sources of diseases including respiratory disease, digestive disease, cancer, osteoporosis and increase potential for falls and fractures.