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Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 370 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

Realistic weight loss is a question I get quite often. I’ve mentioned the risks of losing weight too quickly on Optimal Health Daily before. Most health professionals and large health organizations agree that losing 1-2 lbs. of body weight each week is safe.

What happens if we lose more than the recommended 2 lbs. per week?

Here are some of the risks associated with losing weight too quickly:

  • Dehydration
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • An imbalance of minerals in the body, like sodium and potassium
  • Low blood sugar
  • Feeling abnormally fatigued
  • Possible damage to the hear

This doesn’t mean all of these things will definitely happen, or will happen to everyone. Instead, it’s important to keep these in mind to “weigh” (pun intended) any potential risks and benefits.

It’s important to consider a lifestyle approach when trying to safely lose this weight. When we look at the causes of weight gain and the best methods for weight loss, it really comes down to doing a few things consistently.

Calorie control

One of the best ways to do help monitor the calories you consume is by writing everything down. Immediately after you finish a meal, a snack, or really take a bite or sip of anything write it down!

Write down:

  • What you ate or drank
  • How much you consumed (to the best of your ability)
  • Where you were when you ate (your dining room table, on the couch in front of the TV, at a restaurant, in your car, etc.)
  • How you were feeling when you ate (i.e., hungry, bored, tired, etc.)

This serves a number of functions: it will help make you more aware of what you are consuming, which in turn, will make you rethink how much of what you are consuming, whether you are more likely to partake in distracted eating, and whether you tend to eat when you’re actually hungry or for other reasons altogether.

Just by knowing you have to write down what and how much you ate and drank, you might find yourself planning your meals in advance. It’s a nice side effect! In fact, it’s such an amazing tool, that anytime you feel like you are going off track with your weight loss, start taking notes again!

The next most important tool for safe weight loss is… drumroll please…

Stay Active

When you work out, especially if you incorporate some resistance training, you increase the size of your muscles. When you increase your muscle mass, you burn more calories.

Also, when we restrict our calorie intake to try and lose weight, our bodies like to break down our muscle for fuel. But a mix of weight training and cardiovascular activity (like walking, swimming, bicycling, etc.) is most helpful for preserving muscle when you’re trying to lose weight.

On to the next recommendation…

Social Support

Your motivation is very high right now, so we need a way to keep that momentum going. If you are going to truly be successful in losing weight and actually keeping it off in the long term, having the support of your friends and family is crucial. Since weight loss is your goal, let it be known to those around you.

Change Your Environment

Remember the old adage: out of sight, out of mind. This really works.

I’ll give you an example:

Recently, a family member was telling me how they couldn’t remember to take their new medication every day at the right time like they’re supposed to. I recommended they leave the medication out on the counter (away from the direct sunlight) in an area that is clearly visible. Sure enough, it worked like a charm. Seeing that medication bottle on the countertop as a constant reminder led to the behavior occurring regularly.

The same idea can be applied to the foods we eat. Keep those foods that you want to consume more of, like fruits and vegetables, in plain sight and those that you want to eat less frequently tucked away. Works like a charm!

Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 370 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

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Neal Malik

Dr. Neal Malik ("Dr. Neal") has a Doctorate in Public Health with emphases in disease prevention and nutrition. He is also a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist. He is currently an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. Dr. Neal has published peer-reviewed scientific research and been featured as a nutrition and wellness expert in over 70 media outlets including Parade and The L.A. Times. Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
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