Exceptional results don't happen overnight. Weight-loss requires adaptation, commitment and permanent lifestyle changes and as such, results take time.
While extreme weight-loss programs and fad diets may promote a quick fix, one-size-fits-all approach to immediate weight loss, our experts at Pritikin Longevity Center know better. The answer to tremendous results that will be long lasting is to lose weight slowly.
The Problem with Fast Weight Loss
Diet trends promising immediate results are not only ineffective, but also dangerous to your health as well. Denying your body of essential vitamins and minerals not only deprives your body of nutrition, but the results of crash dieting will also cause your metabolism to slow. Though the instant results you see in the mirror may look promising, this slowed metabolism will most likely lead to additional weight gain later on. Thus, you wind up on a yo-yo diet, constantly fluctuating and never really achieving permanent weight loss.
Another downside of losing weight quickly, especially if you have a lot to lose, is that you may end up with excess skin. In fact, this was the case for many of the contestants on the hit television show "The Biggest Loser." In a feature article – on the hallmark study of season eight of the show – showcasing the struggles of many participants gaining all or even more of their original weight back, The New York Times reported that on the season finale many wore compression clothing to hide the rolls of excess skin they were left with.
When it comes to losing weight safely and effectively, the process is typically slow. It is not rapid, it does not mean starving or overworking yourself and it won't result in your body turning against you. Rather, it involves moderate physical activity such as what is promoted on the Pritikin Exercise Plan and healthy and balanced eating like the Pritikin Diet and Eating Plan, according to Certified Exercise Physiologist and Pritikin Fitness Manager Lizbeth Simancas.
"Proper nutrition and an exercise routine are both steps toward preventing saggy skin," she said. "However, your age and how much weight you have to lose play big role in this as well."
The Elasticity of Your Skin
Did you know that skin is the largest human organ? As your body's most protective layer, your skin is comprised of the proteins elastin and collagen. The fibers of these proteins are what give your skin its firm strength and elasticity. This is what helps your skin to stretch during weight gain without tearing.
"Slow and steady is the key to permanent weight loss."
However, over time and with increased weight gain, these protein fibers become weak and often damaged. As such, when significant weight loss requires the elastic and collagen fibers to retract to their original state, it is difficult for them to do so.
"Skin stretches to form the shape of your body since it's an 'elastic' organ," explained Lizbeth. "Your skin may not contract back to its smaller shape if weight is lost too quickly."
This inability for the skin to contract as well as it once would have, due to the weakening of the fibers over time, is what leads to excess or saggy skin during weight loss. Often, the more weight that is shed, the harder it will be for the skin to revert back to normal.
How to Prevent Saggy Skin During Weight Loss
Naturally, a concern of many guests is preventing excess or sagging skin after losing a sizable amount of body fat and weight. One of the key things to keep in mind when working toward your weight loss goal is to shed the pounds gradually.
"The general recommendation is to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, which translates to 4 to 8 pounds per month," said Lizbeth.
When you go slowly, you burn fat while building muscle. And as our experts have explained, losing weight steadily can increase your metabolic rate, rather than slowing it. This heightened metabolic rate actually helps you to shed pounds that will stay off in the long term.
"Cardio and weight training are both required if your goal is to lose weight, get lean and toned," said Lizbeth. "Cardio is more effective at burning calories and weight loss, while weight training is more effective at building lean muscle mass."
However, if you're just doing cardio, you'll risk losing lean muscle mass, she explained. This can result in saggy skin and also impact your metabolism.
"To keep your metabolism at a decent level, it is important to keep up with a weight training routine," Lizbeth explained. "This typically leads to a higher calorie burn throughout the day. Weight training maintains muscle mass, protects and shapes your muscle."
Building this muscle can help to avoid excess skin. Replacing the body fat you once had, the muscle will take its place and help to fill out your skin. Likewise, strength training is an important part of weight loss which is why it is one of the three pillars of the Pritikin Exercise Plan. In addition to cardio conditioning and flexibility, guests take part in strength training when undergoing the Pritikin Program. This weight lifting and resistance training not only helps you to lose weight, but improves muscle tone and lends toward a leaner figure as well.
"A pound of muscle burns about six calories a day when resting," said Lizbeth. "A pound of fat however, burns around 2 calories a day. This means fat is three times less metabolically active at rest than muscle. In other words, having more lean muscle will benefit you more than fat for long-term weight loss."
Adopting a diet rich in whole, natural and minimally processed foods that have a low calorie density is beneficial for long-lasting, effective weight loss. Rather than eating high-calorie dense foods that don't even satisfy you, the Pritikin Diet and Eating Plan promotes a filling diet that won't leave you hungry. In fact, you can eat as much of these low-calorie dense foods as you want! Filling up on legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, fish, lean calcium-rich foods and starchy vegetables provides you with the vitamins and nutrients you need, as well as the energy to keep working toward your goals.
At Pritikin, we provide you with the education, the expertise and the tools to help you reach safe, permanent weight-loss.