How fast should you lose weight?

When I seriously decided to lose weight in August 2008, I wanted it to be fast. With my 20 kilos of overweight who were starting to take up too much space in my life, one day I decided to finish it as soon as possible. Even if it had taken years to get there.
In the 30 days that followed, I lost 10 pounds.
The energy that this first weight loss required of me was immense. Me, unsportsmanlike, proud to avoid vegetables since adulthood, I had to fight to go out every morning and run 10 kilometers, regardless of the weather, side points or nausea. My meals were half a sandwich and a carrot… sometimes an apple for dessert.
And two months later, I had 8 more.
How many of you have given it all in a few weeks? I still receive emails from readers who want to do the same, and lose as quickly as possible. Just last week, a reader asked me for my opinion on an express diet that would make it possible to lose 5 pounds… in 3 days.
In this article, I share my experience of losing as quickly as possible ... and lessons to be learned: how much can we lose?

The enthusiasm of the beginning and lose as quickly as possible

The decision I made to lose weight was accompanied by a single decision: tomorrow morning and the following days, I will get up, put on my shoes and run 10 kilometers. Before anything else in my day.
The idea came to me a little by chance, and that seemed to me to be the most effective, at first sight. A few days later, it had become a habit.
After having managed to finish the miles on waking with nothing in my stomach, it was logical for me to continue in this direction from a food point of view: the mini-portions.
So I ended up halving everything I ate, while continuing my daily run. The combination of the two was apparently very effective, since I lost weight very quickly.
By wanting to go even faster, I realized that it was impossible.

The limits of sport

Indeed, even if you stop eating completely for several days to lose weight (not good!), You can't really go any further to reduce your intake. By fasting completely, we can thus hope to lose 1/2 kilo per day.
Sport is surely encouraged for weight loss because there are fewer limits than diet: you just have to spend more!
In theory, therefore, you can do non-stop sports to lose weight. For example, I could have doubled the distance and run 20km every day.
In practice, few people have the time, the motivation and the physique to expend the necessary energy. As far as I'm concerned, it didn't last more than a month: my knee started to hurt, after 45 minutes first, then over the days I had to stop after 10 minutes: the running was over.
This time it was my fault for doing too much ... But how many other reasons break us in full motivation? A change of position, a move, an illness.
One hour of sport per day… this is precisely what the WHO recommends: “adults should increase the duration of their moderate intensity endurance activity so as to reach 300 minutes per week”.
Ah… I was not far however!

Weight loss is not fat loss

A few years later, in the midst of research during the writing of Fasting, I came to understand that you do not necessarily lose fat. Muscle, water, glycogen ... organs are also part of the mixture burned by our body in the event of a caloric deficit.
You see, the body can only mobilize a certain amount of fat in a day. It will depend on your gender, your weight, and your metabolism.
The less weight you lose, the less you can afford to lose quickly.
As the body fat rate drops, the body searches for additional energy to use. So it will look for available amino acids ... in our muscles and organs. This phenomenon was observed in the famous study "The Biology of Human Starvation" of the University of Minnesota.
minnesota study
A great loss… of muscle.
As I explained in this article , we want to avoid losing muscle when we want to lose weight because we will probably resume then: the metabolism is slowed down, and therefore what we spend as daily energy ... we store when we eat normally.

The magic formula

For having been measured, the formula which calculates the maximum daily fat oxidation (and therefore the loss of fat), is around 77kcal / day / kg of fat mass.
In my case, a 90 pound man with 20% body fat, I could hope to lose 1390 calories of fat per day, or 155g (1.1 kg per week). Another example, a man weighing 70 pounds and 10% body fat… 540 calories or 60g (420g per week).
It is therefore difficult to lose more than 1 kg of fat per week!
Any method that offers you faster weight loss ... forget to tell yourself that you will mainly lose water (useless) or muscle (bad).
In my case, with an average of 2.5 pounds per week I was well above it. Of the 10 pounds lost, more than half was dry mass.

Obsession with scales and loss of water

One of the sources of the problem is the importance of the balance when you want to lose weight. In this article , I explained that one had to be careful before drawing conclusions from a weighing.
In the first week of a new eating method, for example, it is common to lose more than what I recommend. If you've lost weight in the past, water can sometimes get stored in your old fat cells.
By changing your diet, these cells are very easy to empty and you lose a lot of weight all at once. Don't worry if you lose a lot in the first week, then.
To solve this problem, I encourage you to use other means to validate your progress: photos, comparing yourself in a mirror, the pliers to measure fat mass etc ... often more accurate than your weight alone.

Conclusion: be patient.

Given the promise of certain methods and the over-motivation of those who want to lose weight, it is not surprising to see the rate of diet failure. Losing as quickly as possible is a national sport that is not compatible with lasting loss.
As I often say, it took several years of overeating and overeating to get to your overweight situation. By what logic could you lose it in a few weeks?
Overly drastic diets do nothing good in the long term, either for health or weight loss: when you lose muscle, you tend to get even more behind.
This wet firecracker from my first weight loss was the trigger for finding a permanent solution. Since then, I have tried a number of huge methods, to get to my goals of having abs, which has turned into an obsession with finding the perfect method. You know it if you are on this site, it is Fasting .
You have noticed, no crazy promises: 1 kilo per week is already not bad!

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