02.Why trying to lose weight fast or get fit fast doesn't work
The problem with crash dieting
Keeping up a healthy routine can be difficult once the motivation of swimsuit season subsides and temptation gets the better of us - especially considering the fact that the average Australian is eating takeaway food for a large proportion of their meals. The oft-quoted statistics on the sustainability of dieting, for example, are grim: about 80% of those who lose weight won’t be able to keep it off in the long term.
CHOICE has long explored techniques for sustaining weight loss, but with the propensity for self-treating with diet pills or pharmacy weight-loss "solutions", or signing up with online diet programs and weight loss clinics that offer a quick-fix, it can be difficult to keep the extra kilos off.
In fact, one large-scale review of the long-term outcomes of calorie-restricting diets found up to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than they lost. According to the authors, “dieters were not able to maintain their weight losses in the long term… It appears that dieters who manage to sustain a weight loss are the rare exception, rather than the rule. Dieters who gain back more weight than they lost may very well be the norm, rather than an unlucky minority.”
Dr Rick Kausman, a medical doctor specialising in healthy weight management, says people are doomed to fail if their sole focus is on counting calories. “We need to take the focus off weight loss, and [put it] onto healthy behaviours and healthy thinking."
Focusing on fitness
Kausman argues the main focus should be on general fitness. “Fitness is a much stronger measure of health than a person’s weight. People who happen to be a lower weight may well be unhealthy if they’re not doing any activity or are smoking. Human beings come in a range of shapes and sizes, and we want people to take care of themselves, rather than focus on a number on a scale.”
So rather than looking at a short-term diet to shed those extra kilos, a long-term healthy eating and lifestyle change is a much better bet.