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Healthy Weight Center

How Can I Lose 5 Pounds Quickly and Safely?

03/11/2009

Question:

How can I lose about 5 pounds in about 10 days and keep it off?

Answer:

Unfortunately, there is NO safe or effective method for weight loss that is both quick and easy and successful long term. Most methods that induce rapid weight loss result in either dehydration or depletion of your body's protein stores, not a decrease in body fat! These methods can be dangerous, as demonstrated by the recent 1997 deaths of collegiate wrestlers and the ballerina Heidi Guenther. Rapid weight loss methods pose a significant strain on the heart, increase the risk of gallstone formation, and can cause serious imbalances in the body's sodium and potassium levels. Following rapid weight loss, the body will try to quickly restore depleted water or protein to pre-dieting levels as soon as normal eating resumes. So, if you are planning a crash diet to get into a cute dress next week, you're chances of keeping the weight off are pretty poor and your chances of getting sick are pretty good. The key to successful long term weight loss and a reduction in body fat continues to be a modestly reduced calorie diet and exercise. A reasonable weight loss diet generally contains 1200- 1500 calories for women and slightly more for men. Use the food pyramid as a guide to selecting a balanced diet. Cutting down on fatty foods can often decrease caloric intake considerably, while eating high fiber foods, such as more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain carbohydrates will often provide filling foods without a lot of calories. Careful meal planning and preparation can help minimize impulsive consumption of high calorie, ready to eat foods. A prudent exercise program is comprised of 30-60 minutes a day, three or more days each week. Exercising more frequently during the week may help promote more rapid weight loss. Good examples of vigorous aerobic activity include aerobics, swimming, brisk walking or use of an exercise bike. If you are not used to regular exercise, it may take some time to build up a tolerance to this level of activity. A healthy approach to weight loss will generally result in 1-3 pounds lost per week. Some individuals lose weight more rapidly during the start of a weight loss program, especially if they are very heavy or usually consume many more calories than their bodies need. One of the most frustrating aspects of successful weight loss is maintaining a reduced weight. Individuals who are most successful in keeping the weight off make a long term commitment to a prudent diet and regular exercise regimen.

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Response by:

Jill Foster, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati