When it comes to weight loss, the reality is that no one wants to lose fat slowly. Rather, we all want fat loss quickly with as little effort as possible. So, if you are really, really serious about losing body fat, what is going to be the quickest way to do it safely and in a way that will not see it regained the very next week?
What you need to know about body fat
The first thing to know when it comes to fat loss is that it is a relatively slow process from a metabolic perspective.
Unlike water weight, which explains the rather rapid drops of the scales we see when we cut carbs from our diet, fat actually has to be mobilised and burnt, which basically takes time. This explains why sometimes you see large drops on the scales when you are losing weight and at other times the weight loss is slow – when things slow down, most likely the body is mobilising fat stores to be burnt that may have been there for some time. In weight loss terms, this translates into an average drop of 0.5 to 1kg a week on a reduced calorie diet.
So, what about the people on TV weight loss shows who lose more, or even 3-4 kg a week?
First of all these people generally have more weight to lose, and the more weight you have to lose, the quicker you can lose it. These people also tend to be training for many hours each day and focusing on nothing other than weight loss, which few of us can do in real life.
Keto might be the solution
The other option to speed things up is to shift metabolism away from burning glucose or carbs as its primary fuel, and shift your metabolism into ketosis, or fat burning.
This shift can take 3-5 days of extremely low carb eating, but once you are there and maintain ketosis you may be able to burn 2-3kg of body fat a week, or even more if you have large amounts of weight to lose.
But there’s a catch…
While this may sound like a great option to speed up weight loss, the reality is that it is not so easy to achieve and maintain ketosis. The initial transition is tough as your body fights to keep burning carbs and once you are in it, you have to maintain a high fat, low carb diet. This means no bread, rice, cereal, fruit, starchy vegetables. Instead, it’s a diet packed with avocado, oil, nuts, seeds, eggs and fish – the novelty can wear off very quickly. If you can commit 100 per cent for a month or two, yes, you will be able to drop 5 to 10kg much more quickly than if you eat a 1200-1500 calorie diet with regular exercise.
The other option: intermittent fasting
If keto does not appeal at all, the other option you can try to give you a 1-2kg weight loss a week is to fast strictly and add in plenty of movement. This means eating just two meals a day, and giving yourself 14-16 hours overnight without food, along with lots of steps – 15,000-20,000 each day.
Here, your focus will be on weight loss 100 per cent of the time but you will drop kilos more quickly than general calorie control without having to limit your carbs.
Ultimately fat loss success depends on 1) choosing the diet that is right for you, and 2) sticking to it. Seemingly simple, but not so easy in modern life.
There are few ways other than weight loss surgery that can result in weight losses of more than a couple of kilos a week with the exception of keto, which may see slightly higher losses than this initially, especially if you have large amounts of weight to lose.
Ultimately, weight gain happens gradually over months, if not years, and it takes time to reverse this process.
And while slower weight loss may not sound that appealing, keep in mind that when you drop the kilos in a slower, more sustainable way, you are more likely to also keep them off long term.
Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist. Continue the conversation on Twitter @SusieBDiet.