The truth behind rapid weight loss, is not a convenient one or one that may of us want to hear, but unless you are obese losing anywhere near that amount is near impossible and certainly not without its cons!
Firstly, I should probably start by making something clear, and that is fat loss and weight loss are NOT one in the same, they often go hand in hand but they are NOT the same.
Why do I say this? well quite simply fat is lost through a calorie deficit, it is the ONLY way to lose fat, and this rule applies the same no matter what diet is, be it keto, intermittent fasting, paleo or whatever diet you happen to be following. As I have written many times 1lb of fat = 3500 calories, and so you need to burn and be in a net deficit of that by the end of a week to lose even 1lb of fat. If you aren’t then quiet simply by the end of the week, you won’t have lost even 1lb!
So the question is? How did I lose a stone then? Or at least how did I lose 3-4lbs in the week? Simple answer water, you lost water, that’s all! Honestly a simple tweak in your diet, the time of month for ladies or even the time of day you weigh yourself can create a massive change in your weight.
If you have gone keto, or a low carb variant of the diet the vast majority weight you will have lost is simply water, and honestly this won’t necessarily reflect much on inches lost! This is due to how carbohydrates trigger water retention. 1g of carb can trigger 2.7-4g of water retention so 300g of carbs eaten in a day could potentially add 1.2 kilos of water to your weight!
For women hormones also play a big role in water retention, this can cause a fluctuation in weight sometimes by up to 6lbs! a similar fluctuation in weight can also be caused just taking your weight at different times of the day. I weigh significantly more during the evening hours compared to what I do first thing in the morning when my stomach is empty.
So why do we see people claiming that they have lost a stone in a week? Well as I said before, a person who is obese is carrying a lot of excess weight around, this means that that extra weight requires significantly more energy to move around, in the same way that lifting a light dumbbell takes little energy compared to a heavy one, a lighter person will use less energy than a heavier person, just to move around. This often means that as soon as they begin a diet, their calories deficit can be in the extremes! But a lot of their weight loss will be be water, but also significant amount of fat as well.
An interesting anecdote, is a former work colleague of mine was recently told by the docs they really needed to lose weight, as it was now a medical issue, and within his first week of dieting and exercise he has lost 1 stone 5lbs. Simply from a change in diet and being more active! It is important to note though this weight loss will slow down, as the water weight drops and the body settles into burning more fat.
A great diagram I am borrowing from Layne Norton PhD actually highlight quite well the relationship between weight loss and fat loss
So as you can see in the diagram above although the “weight loss” is greater with keto, the level of body fat lost (which is what we really want) is the same at just below 200g a day, and with the starvation that water weight lost and overall weight loss is MUCH great, so too is the loss of protein (muscle mass) which we want to keep. Which highlights the significant drawback of the starvation diet. Yes, you will lose fat, but you are forcing your body to consume what it needs as well to ensure your health.
The other drawback of extremely rapid weight loss is the creation of loose skin, this is where your body loses fat and water at such a rate and your measurements decrease so quickly that the collagen in your skin can’t keep up, resulting in stretch marks or loose excess skin. Again a friend of mine recently messaged me about what he can do to get rid of his excess skin as has now become very self-conscious about it. This is a man who went from being extremely overweight to now looking great in his clothes, but extremely conscious of the fact he has hanging skin around his mid-section, and the ONLY way for him to deal with this now? Surgery to get a tummy tuck.
Ideally we should aim for a maximum of 2lbs of weight loss a week, at maximum but it would recommend aiming for around 1lb of consistent fat loss, as this generally is far more sustainable, and healthier for you.
So what was the point of this rambling blog post? Well firstly it was to answer the question can you lose a stone in a month or even a week? Well YES!... depending on what diet approaches you take, how consistent you weigh yourself and for the ladies what time of month you weigh yourself can all affect how much weight you lose… But should you? Probably not! Most of the weight you lose remember will be water, and if you lose too much weight too fast you will end up with other problems such as excess skin and stretch marks, as well as risk losing muscle that we should be aiming to keep.
So what is my advice? Don’t look for fast weight loss, look for sustainable weight loss… in fact forget weight as a concept and go by measurements focus on the loss of inches as weight is a cruel numbers game that is going to play with your head, and measurements are far more consistent.
I have helped people lose tons of weight one girl lost 110lbs in 10 months! But honestly. I’m more impressed with the inches my clients lose, as that is the most accurate barometer of success.