Weight loss; the inconvenient truth

I am a connoisseur of weight loss TV programmes. You name one, I’ve got it on series link.

But I’ve been watching a few lately that bother me.

Invariably they are promoting fast weight loss and extensive exercise regimes. Often those dieters featured are following very low calorie diets and exercising for three or four hours a day.  Neither of which are sustainable ways to actually live when the cameras stop rolling.  Personal Trainers shouting at clients.  Working them to the brink of or even past exhaustion.

One show in particular gives me the hump. The format of each episode is more or less exactly the same. An overweight individual who is secretly in love with someone and who wants to lose weight in order to tell this person how they feel. Sending a not very subtle and not very healthy message that in order to be attractive and stand a chance with the person that you care for you have to also be thin.  In the most recent episode the girl in the programme wanted to lose 90lbs.  In three months.  This is more than three times recommended safe weight loss amounts.

But it makes good TV I guess.

Here’s the thing.

If it took years to put it on it will take a long time to get it off – if you want to do it safely and in a way that you are likely to be able to sustain it that is.

There are quick fixes.  There are fad diets and diets that cut out whole food groups for no good reason.  There are diets that require you eat very low calorie levels or buy fancy branded products.

They will give you results.  Because if you reduce your calories enough then weight loss will occur. It is a simple formula.

But these quick fixes often aren’t what they seem. Sometimes what you are losing isn’t fat but water and lean tissue.  Sometimes what you are doing is putting your body into an unhealthy state.  Sometimes you will create a further problem down the line because when you return to normal eating your body thinks the famine has ended and stores even more fat than you had before.

And even more importantly….. these diets don’t change underlying habits or address why you put the weight on in the first place. These diets don’t promote long term behavioural change.  Making success much more difficult.  Making relapse and a return to original weight levels (or even higher) much more likely.

My warning signs for diets are these:

Diets that ask you to cut out entire food groups (when there is no medical reason to do so).

Diets that keep you eating under 1000 calories a day.

Diets that are ‘evidenced’ only by a celebrity who says that this is their secret.  Usually with an accompanying DVD to sell.

Diets that don’t include exercise… or programmes that require you to do nothing but exercise.

Diets that include skipping meals.

Diets that require you to spend lots of money on expensive recommended products.

Diets that make big, big promises.


As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Sustainable weight loss means slowly but surely.

2lbs a week.

Small steps.

One habit at a time.

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