Fad diets and quick weight loss schemes can seem quite appealing. Especially when we want to fit into those old jeans now! But, unfortunately, weight loss and weight maintenance are not effortless. Both involve daily effort to making positive and healthy choices. The effort is required now. The results will come later.
Although we want results now, if you are breastfeeding, you need to be patient to protect your milk supply. When you're breastfeeding, a healthy weight loss goal is 2 kilograms per month. If you are not breastfeeding you can aim for 4-6 kilograms per month. Any program that promises more weight loss than that is probably a fad diet of some kind.
Research shows that people who lose weight rapidly are more likely to gain it back. This is because that the methods used to lose weight rapidly are not sustainable. Sure eating only carrots for weeks would make you lose weight rapidly. But you would not have any energy and your milk supply would be impacted if you're breastfeeding. And, as soon as you returned to eating normally again the weight would also return. On top of that your metabolism could be slowed down long term, making weight management even more difficult.
Remember it is not just about the number on the scale!
Following a weight loss program is not just about the number on the scale, but improving health matters too. Especially if you need to maintain your energy to take care of a family. And, if you are breastfeeding, you need to be healthy to maintain your milk supply.
A recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analysed the micro-nutrient composition of four popular diets (Atkins, Zone, LEARN, and Ornish) to determine their nutritional adequacy. Overweight participants were required to follow one of the assigned diets for 8 weeks. No vitamin or mineral supplement was required by the study.
After eight weeks of being on the diets, over 25% of women had nutrient levels lower than the daily requirement for thiamine, folic acid, vitamins C, A, and E, iron, and magnesium. Eliminating entire food groups, which many of these diets do, may result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which is never good for overall health or maintaining energy.
So what do you do if you want to lose weight?
Follow a balanced diet which includes lean protein, whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Each food group provides a specific nutrient your body needs to function properly, so make sure each meal is well-balanced.
Even though it may be tempting to try to speed up your weight loss, don’t eat less than 1200 calories per day. If you eat less than 1200 calories per day, it is too difficult to fit in all the nutrients your body needs (plus if you are breastfeeding, you may affect the quantity of your milk supply and the nutrition you are providing to your bub).
Remember, it took 9 months to gain the weight and create a beautiful baby, so the weight isn’t going to fall off overnight either. Just stick to a balanced eating program and your body will naturally achieve its own healthy weight.