Lose Weight Fast: How to Do It Safely (cont.)

Weighing yourself daily and tracking your food intake can also help you keep focused, experts say.

"Even if you write it down on a napkin and end up throwing it away, the act of writing it down is about being accountable to yourself and is a very effective tool for weight loss," says Bonnie Taub Dix, MA, RD, a food and nutrition blogger for USA Today.

Although it won't actually help you lose weight, Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet, says that eating fennel seeds, ginger, parsley, peppermint, pineapple, and yogurt with honey one to three days before the big event can help you de-bloat and keep your tummy feeling flatter.

Exercising for Fast Weight Loss

Even if you are currently exercising, you'll need to kick it up a notch if your goal is rapid weight loss, says Gidus. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that losing weight requires close to an hour a day of moderate exercise.

That fits in with Dansinger's recommendation of seven hours per week of cardio exercise leading up to your special event.

"Cardio burns the most calories, so it is ideal for fast weight loss, but afterwards you need to include a few hours a week of strength training," he says. To burn the most fat, try to break a sweat after your warm-up and keep sweating for the entire hour, says Dansinger.

Most everyone can do an hour a day, but the intensity of your workout will depend on your current state of fitness. Experts recommend gradually increasing exercise intensity to avoid injury.

When you can't do cardio, Tallmadge recommends doing strength training at least twice weekly, working all your major muscle groups, and fitting in at least 15,000 steps a day (get a pedometer to keep count).

Gidus suggests doubling up on your exercise routine: "Do a morning and evening workout, and if you don't have time to do two a day, expend more calories in the workouts you are currently doing."

Another option is to incorporate interval training. The new South Beach Supercharged plan by Arthur Agatson, MD, promotes adding high-intensity intervals to workouts to burn more calories in less time.

"Interval training allows people to work harder without having to spend the entire time at the higher level, and over time, the more you do it, the easier it becomes to burn more calories," says Blatner.

Fad Diets and Crash Diets

Many people don't have the time to do the rigorous amount of exercise required to lose weight quickly, and so turn to fad diets. But keep in mind that if a diet plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So steer clear of programs that promote pills, laxatives, fasting, or potions, and any that promise weight loss faster than 2-3 pounds per week.

The truth is that cutting calories below 1,050 per day is counterproductive, because you need strong muscles to be able to exercise effectively.

"When you eat too few calories you lose fat but also precious muscle, which is the worst thing you could do because it slows your metabolism and makes it more difficult to increase exercise intensity or duration," says Dansinger.

And what about over-the-counter (OTC) diet pills? Except for the OTC version of Alli, most respected experts do not recommend them.

"Diet pills are either ineffective or extremely dangerous, and not recommended," says Dansinger.

The bottom line? Weight loss experts agree that any rapid weight loss diet should be identical to a long-term, sustainable plan -- and not a fad diet. And fasting or cutting calories below 1,050 are not appropriate for the long term unless you are under a physician's care.

SOURCES:

Michael Dansinger, MD, Tufts Medical Center diabetes reversal program; nutrition adviser, The Biggest Loser.

Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; author, Diet Simple.

Bonnie Taub Dix, MA, RD, director, BTD nutrition consultants; co-author, Kosher by Design, Lightens Up; food and nutrition blogger, USA Today.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; author, The Flexitarian Diet.

Tara Gidus, MS, RD, spokesperson, American Dietetic Association; team dietitian, Orlando Magic.

Arthur Agatston, MD, cardiologist; associate professor of medicine, University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine; author, South Beach Diet Supercharged.

Archives of Internal Medicine, July 28, 2008.

National Institute of Health: "Obesity."

Reviewed on November 17, 2010

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Last Editorial Review: 11/17/2010 6:36:14 PM