How to Safely Lose Weight Fast

Are you looking for fast ways to lose weight? Whether you’ve set a goal for the New Year, you have a wedding coming up, or you’re tired of your current weight and want to see results right away, it’s completely understandable to want to shed pounds quickly. But while there are healthy ways to lose weight fast and keep it off, you need to be careful: there are also a lot of fad weight loss ‘solutions’ that can cause you real harm in the long-term.

No matter how quickly you want to lose weight, it is crucial that you do it in a healthy, sustainable way. Trying to lose weight the wrong way can lead to unpleasant side effects.

You may recall the fable involving the tortoise and the hair. Although the hair was faster, the tortoise won the race with steady diligence. This is also the healthiest focus when attempting to lose weight. While there is not necessarily a healthiest speed to lose weight for every person, the most successful outlook is one in which diligent philosophical changes accompanied by genuinely effective treatments produce a consistent change in the way your life is lived every day. When this happens weight loss is often the side effect on your way to winning a healthier life.

Diets and programs that promise fast weight loss can be dangerous; but ‘fast’ weight loss is possible if you change your time horizon. Think of it this way. If you change your diet and exercise regime, and also go through bariatric surgery, then you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. That works out to 50-100 pounds per year. In a course of a year, you could completely change your life. That’s a pretty fast transformation, all things considered.

So how can you lose weight safely and sustainable? In this blog, we’ll show you why you should avoid ‘crash’ and fad diets and other weight loss products that promise too-good-to-be-true results. We’ll also show you two ways to shed pounds that are sustainable and healthy, and enable you to keep the weight off long-term.

The Most Common Fast Ways to Lose Weight

When it comes to fast weight loss, some of the most common strategies include:
• Dieting
• Weight loss medications
• Weight loss supplements

While each of these strategies can lead to rapid weight loss, they often come with unwanted side effects. Even worse, they often don’t work long-term; so if you start a ‘crash’ diet, you might find that the weight melts off for a few weeks, and then comes back with a vengeance in a few months.

Let’s review how each of these three methods work, and the pitfalls of each.

Dieting to Lose Weight Fast

If you’re looking for fast ways to lose weight, odds are you’ve already considered dieting. While there are many different diets around, studies have shown that changing how you eat for a short period of time is not an effective way to lose weight and keep it off.

According to a study conducted by Medicare in 2007, between one third and two thirds of dieters who suffer from obesity lose some weight through dieting. But this weight loss is transient. According to another study by the American Diabetes Association, 95% of people who lose weight with only diet and exercise gain it all back long-term. While it’s understandable to want to slim down during wedding season, the last thing you want is another yo-yo diet.

So why don’t short-term or ‘crash’ diets work? There are a few reasons, but they boil down to how dieting affects your body.

Crash Dieting Can Slow Down Your Metabolism

Most diets work like this: deprive yourself of X, Y, or Z for a short period of time while cutting your calories, and you lose weight fast. For instance, the “Grapefruit Diet” involves eating grapefruit with every meal, avoiding most foods that aren’t protein, and only consuming 1,000 calories per day for 12 days.

Consuming only 1,000 calories per day can be a fast way to lose weight, but it can also have a negative impact on your health. It can also slow down your metabolism, meaning that you might struggle even more with your weight in future.

One study took formerly obese patients who were maintaining a reduced weight and examined their resting energy expenditure. The study found that these men and women’s resting energy expenditure was 28% lower than it was before they lost the weight. What this means is that their overall metabolism had slowed, making it difficult to maintain the lower weight. That’s one reason that many people experience “yo-yoing” weight, where they lose weight only to watch helplessly as the scale creeps back up. They diet, see the pounds melt off, but then have to struggle with a slower metabolism in future.

Losing Weight Fast: Some Diets Are Better Than Others

One important note when it comes to dieting: not all diets are created equal. There are fad diets on the market that may lead to rapid weight loss, but can also wreak havoc on your health. Humans need a balance of nutrients in order to stay healthy, and many fad and ‘crash’ diets will leave you missing vital nutrients.

For example, the “No Grains, No Dairy, No Fruit” diet recommends that you cut out dairy and fruit. But if you do this for longer than a couple of weeks, you might find yourself short on antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These deficiencies can have serious health effects in the long-term.

On the other hand, there are some diets that work well to help you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way. One of these is the diet we recommend for our patients at the Bariatric and Metabolic Center of Colorado, which we’ll cover later in this article.

Weight Loss Medications: A Fast Way to Lose Weight?

When searching for simple and fast ways to lose weight, you might be tempted to turn to weight loss pills. Weight loss pills fall into two categories: weight loss prescription drugs, and weight loss over-the-counter drugs.

Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs are regulated by the FDA. The FDA requires that all drugs undergo rigorous scientific testing to ensure efficacy and safety.

There are three main problems when it comes to weight loss pills: long term efficacy, side effects, and safety.

Long Term Efficacy of Dieting Pills

Just like with dieting, weight-loss pills can help some people lose weight in the short-term but tend to lose their effectiveness as the body gets used to them in the long-term. This can happen even with medications that are reportedly designed for long-term use. Additionally, many patients may not be able to tolerate the long list of potential side effects. Even if you’re seeing results, using any diet pill for a long time may not be safe and is unlikely to produce a sustained benefit.

Side Effects of Weight Loss Medications

Some common side effects of pills designed to help you lose weight include:
• Nausea
• Diarrhea or Constipation
• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Fatigue and memory problems
• Birth defects

Just like other prescription drugs, medications approved for long-term use can come with unwanted side effects. One example is orlistat, a drug that carries a warning for the potential to produce serious liver injury.

Dieting Supplements

Weight loss medications may have problems, but at least they are tested and approved by the FDA.
By contrast, dieting supplements are classified by the FDA as foods rather than drugs, so they do not have to prove their safety or effectiveness and are not tested by the FDA.

Many of these supplements can interact with or interfere with medications, and may have ingredients included that aren’t listed on the label. You can learn more about the problems with weight loss supplements here.

It’s important to speak with your doctor before adding any weight loss supplement. When taking either supplements or physician-prescribed weight loss drugs, you should be closely monitored by your doctor.

How to Lose Weight Fast in a Healthy Way

If you need to lose weight fast, there are ways to shed pounds safely and keep it off. Lifestyle Transformation Therapy and bariatric surgery are two of the safest and most effective ways to lose weight for good.

Lifestyle Transformation Therapy

When you’re looking for fast ways to lose weight, it’s important to understand that there is no one simple answer. Lifestyle Transformation Therapy, practiced at the Bariatric and Metabolic Center of Colorado, is a combination of changes that help you to lose weight and not regain it back. These changes are composed of integrated dietary, exercise, and behavioral therapies. While Lifestyle Transformation Therapy can be very effective, it must be a lifelong commitment. That said, our patients have found that it’s more effective than fad diets.

While temporary or fad diets aren’t the answer to weight loss, what you eat has a huge impact on your health and weight. At the Bariatric and Metabolic Center of Colorado, we recommend the following lifelong dietary changes:

1. Cut back on processed foods: Processed foods often contain flavor enhancers that actually stimulate the appetite as you eat. Additionally, they often contain empty calories and are missing key nutrients.
2. Calorie control: You don’t want to starve yourself, but it’s also important to understand how many calories you eat in a day and look for empty calories (like soda and chips) that you can cut. If you’re eating empty calories, removing these can often help you begin to lose weight fast.
3. Building your micronutrient environment: Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals and another class of compounds called phytochemicals. These nutrients are critical for optimal health and prevention of chronic disease. A good way to build micronutrients is to eat more plants, like fruits and vegetables.
4. Optimizing your microbiome: Your microbiome is all of the bacteria living inside your intestines. It is also a very important part of your digestion process. Reducing how much meat and cheese you eat and increasing vegetables, for instance, can help guide your microbiome to reduce chronic disease and facilitate weight loss. If you want to lose weight, this can be an effective part of your overall strategy. You may not lose weight fast, but Lifestyle Transformation Therapy helps you lose weight sustainably. And consistent weight loss gets you to your ultimate goal a lot faster than one-step-forward-two-steps-back dieting fads.

We also recommend a safe and sustainable exercise plan. While many studies have suggested that by itself exercise may not result in the desired weight loss, combining the correct amount exercises with appropriate dietary and behavioral changes can lead to weight loss. A recent study at the University of North Dakota indicated that increasing exercise toward 300 minutes per week with complementary dietary changes prevented patients from replacing all of the lost calories, leading to weight loss. Getting enough exercise is also a critical component if you want to lose weight as fast as possible and keep it off. Diet and exercise together lead to increased weight loss compared to dieting alone or exercising alone. It is also important to remember that if you have heart disease or other serious health problems you should begin your exercise carefully with input and clearance from your doctor.

Bariatric Surgery

Finally, if you’re suffering from obesity, for many people dieting and exercise alone may not be enough. In fact, national data indicates that 80-95% of people suffering from obesity fail to lose weight and keep it off with just diet and exercise. This is because fat cells are hormonally active and actually defend against weight loss, which traps many people in their current state of health. Additionally, there are many different genetic mutations, epigenetic variations, and other health conditions that make weight loss by lifestyle modification alone very difficult or impossible for many people. If this has been your experience then it is important to recognize that your experience is common, you are not alone, and you are not a failure.

If you’ve struggled with your weight, and lost 50 or even 100 pounds only to watch the scale creep back up, then please understand that this is not your fault. Obesity is a disease just like cancer or heart disease, and it will help you to treat it like one.

Bariatric surgeries like the duodenal switch is designed for people trapped in obesity, who have tried and failed to lose weight through many traditional methods. When combined with Lifestyle Transformation Therapy, bariatric surgery can help you to lose weight fast, keep it off, and regain the quality of life that you deserve.* Most of our patients lose an average of at least 1-2 pounds per week after surgery and gain a powerful tool to help them keep their weight off for life.

If you’re ready to learn more about how bariatric surgery can help you to transform your life, schedule an appointment with our friendly staff today.

*It’s important to note that results vary person to person and are not guaranteed

Dr. Joshua Long headshot

This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS. Dr. Long is a double-board-certified bariatric surgeon and bariatric medical director for Parker Adventist Hospital.
Full Bio: Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS
Page Updated: January 6th, 2023

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*Please note that individual results can vary and are not guaranteed.