Why Losing Weight Slowly Is So Important — And It's Not What You Think

Posted on: 14 December 2020

Anyone who's attempted to lose weight knows that the general advice is to lose weight slowly, restricting loss to less than 2 pounds per week — and hopefully even less than that. But a bunch of popular diets tout faster weight loss, at least in the first few weeks, and many people try them and seem to have great success. That might make you wonder if you can do what they did. It's not advisable.

Because you likely want your weight loss to be long term, you need to understand what is really happening when you're losing weight. There's a lot more going on behind the scenes inside your body, and when you lose weight, the speed of the loss has a ripple effect throughout your body.

Slower Losses Are Easier to Sustain

First, you 've likely heard that slower losses are easier to sustain, and that's usually the case. Someone can lose weight slowly but then end up reverting to old eating habits after reaching their goal weight, while someone who lost weight quickly could keep the weight off for longer because they still watched their diet and exercise habits. But in general, it's less stressful for your body if you can put it through these new diet and exercise regimes at more moderate levels. Your body basically has time to get used to the new calorie level it's getting, as well as its new activity level.

Slower Loss May Reduce the Amount of Loose Skin You Have

What a lot of people don't realize is that slower weight loss may reduce the amount of loose skin you end up with. Genetics and previous experience definitely play a role; for example, if you've been pregnant multiple times, you may have more loose skin in the end than someone who was never pregnant because that second person's skin was never stretched out by pregnancy. But the rate of weight loss also plays a role. Your skin has some elasticity, and the more time it has to tighten up on its own, and the smaller the increments, the better. A drastic, fast weight loss doesn't give skin much time to adjust, to put it simply. Again, this will vary for everyone, but it's one more factor to remember.

Gradual Loss May Preserve Heart Health

Gradual weight loss relies on higher calorie amounts and possibly less calorie burning each day. Losing weight too rapidly through a severe calorie reduction or excessive exercise can increase the risk of cardiac problems because you're also placing your heart under stress by essentially starving and overworking it.

The benefits of gradual weight loss can be summarized as just making it easier for your body to adjust to your weight loss program. Slower, gentler weight loss may seem boring, but the payoff is that it lasts longer and may have you looking and feeling a lot better than if you had lost weight rapidly.