Whether your weight loss goal is easily attainable or relatively ambitious, it isn’t unusual to want to achieve it quickly. Why lose weight slowly when you could accomplish your goal in a few short weeks? Learn why quick fixes like crash diets can be so dangerous and how to lose weight the healthy way, with an effective meal and exercise plan.

Why Quick Fixes Won’t Help You Lose Weight

Quick weight loss fixes take advantage of the basic concept that burning more calories than you consume will cause you to lose weight. However, starvation and crash diets take this idea to the extreme.

Many of these quick fix diets require such severe calorie restriction that your body goes into starvation mode. This causes you to conserve calories for later rather than burning them normally, forcing your metabolism to slow significantly. Once you begin consuming your normal calorie intake again, your metabolism won’t automatically increase right away. That could cause you to gain back what you lost, plus more.

If you follow these dangerous diets for longer periods of time, the side effects could be even more serious than weight gain. Depriving your body of essential nutrients can cause muscle loss, severe fatigue, and poor brain function. You could even develop conditions like osteoporosis and an abnormal heart rate, which can lead to subsequent health issues down the road.

While losing weight quickly might sound tempting, try to think past your short-term goal. Given the drastic consequences you could encounter and the low likelihood that you’ll lose weight and keep it off, quick fixes aren’t worth the risk.

How to Approach Losing Weight in a Healthy Way

To lose weight in a healthy way, you’ll want to focus on making gradual changes. Rather than cutting out a large percentage of your caloric intake, determine how many calories you really need, and then subtract a moderate percentage from that. Start by determining your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which assesses your caloric needs based on your height, weight, and daily physical activity level. Then try decreasing your TDEE by 10 to 15 percent to reduce your caloric intake.

If this sounds like a lot of numbers to keep track of, invest in a weight loss app that will do the heavy lifting for you. The best apps monitor your daily caloric intake, your nutrient needs, and your physical activity. They essentially serve as high-tech food diaries that track your progress so you can make sure that your gradual changes are paying off.

Great weight loss apps don’t just track your calories and nutrients, though. When you find a weight loss app that you love, you’ll also discover a whole range of effective diet plans and find one that works for you.

For instance, you can choose a low-carb diet plan that emphasizes high-fiber carbs and a higher concentration of proteins and fats for long-term fat loss. You can also pick a high-protein diet plan that focuses on lean proteins that can help you build muscle without adding fat. You might also want to consider a keto diet plan, which focuses on burning fat and getting your appetite under control. Once you choose a meal plan, your weight loss app will help you shape your meals and snacks around your weight loss goals.

Of course, a substantial part of losing weight is increasing your physical activity level. For example, if your goal is to build muscle, you’ll need to hit the gym for a 30-minute weightlifting session several days a week. Consider hiring a personal trainer to ensure that you’re working the right muscle groups at the ideal intervals.

If you aren’t concerned about bulking up but you do want to lose fat, simply taking more walks could help you achieve your fitness goals. Try setting a step goal of at least 10,000 steps per day, and then use a fitness tracker to make sure you’re getting enough steps. No matter what your physical activity of choice might be, plan to stick to a consistent schedule and account for your daily energy burn in your TDEE calculation.

How to Sustain Weight Loss for the Long Term

Once you’ve decided on a diet plan that can help you achieve your weight loss goals, it’s important to plan for the long term. After all, once you’ve put in all the hard work to lose the weight, you’ll want to keep it off for years to come.

First, keep in mind that sustaining weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stick to the same diet and exercise plan forever without making changes. After you’ve reached your target weight, you’ll need to recalculate your TDEE, which changes depending on your size and your activity level. If you start a new job that requires you to be on your feet constantly or you find that you have time for one less gym session each week, you’ll need to recalculate your TDEE to make sure you’re still hitting your target calorie intake and physical activity level.

Next, understand that sustaining your weight loss requires long-term commitment, but it’s easier to stick to your objectives when you have an effective support system around you. Whether you have a few workout buddies who are always available to hit the gym with you or you get together with your neighbor for a weekly meal prep session, you’ll want to connect with like-minded people who understand the challenges of weight loss.

Finally, don’t leave your weight loss goals to chance. Use a food tracker app that counts calories, assesses macros, and helps you come up with inspiring meal plans. With a food diary app at your fingertips, you can rest assured that you’re getting the right balance of energy and nutrients, and you’ll be able to track your eating patterns so you can establish healthy habits for years to come.

No matter which diet plan you choose, do your best to focus on the long term. Commit to a healthy eating and exercise plan that’s ideal for you, and strive to achieve the long-lasting good health that you deserve.

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