New fad diets and workout routines come out all the time, and they all seem to claim the same thing. They all tell you that they’ll help you lose fat very fast. Without killing yourself in the gym or ever feeling hungry, with these diets, you’ll supposedly shed fat and inches in weeks instead of months or years.
We all know that those fad diets are almost 100% marketing and that they don’t really work the way they claim. After all, if any of them really did all that they said, we’d see a lot more svelte and gorgeous people running around, right?
All of this raises the question: can you actually lose fat as fast as some of these diets claim? And whether or not any of their claims are true, how fast can you really lose fat? Let’s explore how fat loss works, and then we can discuss the possibility of losing fat at a very fast rate.
Slow and Steady Doesn’t Always Win the Race
Traditional wisdom tells us that we have to spend as much time losing weight as we spent gaining it. Basically, your body has taken several years to get to its current size, and it’s had a lot of time to adjust to that size. So, to lose weight and keep it off, you have to lose it slowly and steadily.
However, a study performed in 2000 completely contradicted this old “wisdom.” It showed that people who use a short-term restrictive diet or other means to lose weight fast, who then transition to a long-term diet and exercise regimen, are more likely to lose more weight and keep it off. Why? Essentially, when people see results, they are more likely to continue to follow their weight loss goals. If they spend weeks or months trying to lose weight slowly but see no progress, they are more likely to give up.
What You Eat Matters as Much as How Many Calories You Eat
Another piece of traditional wisdom, “Eat less, move more,” has also been at least slightly debunked. It’s been shown that, even when calories are restricted, eating simple carbohydrates (like sugars and starches) will lead to insulin spikes, followed by crashes. These contribute to insulin insensitivity, which retards weight loss.
So, in addition to limiting calories, you can lose more fat at a faster rate by loading up on protein, good fats, and vegetables while you cut out sugars and other simple carbs. Drinking lots of water can help, as well, as you’ll feel less hungry when you are properly hydrated.
Building Muscle Burns More Fat Than Cardio
The final factor in the fat-burning equation is muscle. People assume that you can burn more fat by running and doing other cardiovascular exercise than you can by lifting weights and other strength-building exercises. However, though you will not burn as much fat in a weightlifting session as you will on the treadmill, you will continue to burn fat far longer, and you will burn more fat when you are at rest, thanks to your increased muscle mass.
So, how fast can you burn fat? If you understand how diet and exercise can improve your chances of weight loss and you follow the right regimen to optimize this, your fat loss will depend a great deal on your current body fat percentage. The more fat you have, the more you will burn. So, men and women who are overweight can readily burn between one-and-a-half and three-and-a-half pounds of fat per week, while leaner men and women may only burn half-a-pound to two pounds per week.