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Saturday, 21 June 2008
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When people want to lose weight they often want to do it fast.  This is definitely one of the biggest challenges with weight loss as there is a delay between hard work and achievement.  There are a number of reasons that contribute to making fast weight loss difficult.  Primarily this is due to the fact that when you have a large calorie deficit (burn more calories than you eat) your body goes into starvation mode.  Lack of fluids is another major reason for unsustainable fast weight loss.  Our body is made up of 70 - 75% water, so levels of only 2% dehydration would lead to a weight loss of nearly 2kg.  This weight is put straight back on when fluids are put back into the body.  In addition, hunger becomes a real distraction for fast weight loss as your body is crying out for calories to fulfill even the most basic bodily needs. 

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 So how fast can you actually lose weight? 

Let's look at Mary, who is 32 years old and weighs 80kg.  By looking at a few extremes we can see how quickly weight loss is actually possible.  If May ate absolutely nothing for a week, she would have eaten 0 calories against around 14,000 calories burnt.  Now it takes around 7,600 calories to burn 1kg of fat so this would equate to weight loss of around 1.8kg. 

Now in actual fact she probably would not have lost that much weight at any rate as her body would have shut down and gone into starvation mode.  Your body does this as a primal instinct as a defence against starvation.  As this happens the body becomes very efficient at making the most of the calories it does get.  However a consequence of this is that any extra calories it gets will quickly be converted into fat instead of being used. 

Another consequence of eating little or no food is your body continually feels hungry.  Being like this is never going to lead to sustainable weight loss as eventually you will eat and this tends to lead to binge eating.  So the most important question then becomes, what is the fastest weight loss achievable without bringing the body into starvation mode or feeling hungry all the time. 

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 It is generally accepted that the body can survive on between 1200 - 1500 calories without causing the body too much stress.  So if Mary stuck to her 1200 calorie a day diet she could lose up to 0.75kg a week or 3kg a month.  This is pretty much the fastest rate of weight loss that is sustainable.  However, over a year, this would be a staggering 38kg!  So the idea is really to find a calorie intake you are comfortable with and can stick to, so in the long term you can reach your weight loss goals.

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