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You’ve heard it time and again: fad diets just don’t work for permanent weight loss. But it’s hard to pass up the promise of crash diets like the Lemonade Diet when your mission is to squeeze into a new outfit in time for a reunion, wedding, or other special event.

The truth is, there’s actually nothing wrong with losing weight rapidly — as long you do it the right way, says Michael Dansinger, MD. He’s the medical doctor for NBC’s The Biggest Loser show, which spotlights quick and dramatic weight loss.

In fact, having a goal like looking great at a wedding or reunion can be a great motivator, as long as you follow a weight loss plan that you can keep up after the special event. But you need to plan ahead and allow enough time to make changes to your shape.

“Don’t wait until one week before the reunion to try and lose 10 pounds,” advises Tara Gidus, MS, RD, team dietitian for the Orlando Magic.

Eating for Fast Weight Loss

Losing weight is a simple mathematical formula: You need to burn more calories than you eat. Experts generally recommend creating a deficit of 500 calories per day through a combination of eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity to lose about 1-2 pounds.

If you want to lose weight faster, you’ll need to eat less and exercise more. Bottom line: 1,200 calories and one hour of exercise a day (but be sure not to dip below this calorie level for safety’s sake). On this type of plan, you can expect to lose 3-5 pounds the first week, or more if you weigh over 250 pounds.

“Dieters who follow the plan can lose 2 pounds from diet and 1 pound from exercise each week, and even more if they have more to lose, because the more fat you have to lose, the faster it comes off,” says Dansinger.

For rapid weight loss, Dansinger advocates a diet that minimizes starches (including healthy whole grains), added sugars, and animal fat, and focuses mainly on fruits, veggies, egg whites, soy products, skinless poultry breasts, fish, shellfish, nonfat dairy foods and 95% lean meat.

Additional Tips Include:

• Eat plenty of protein that’s distributed evenly throughout the day to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss.

• Eat plenty of low-calorie vegetables to help you feel full.

• Drink plenty of water so you don’t confuse hunger with thirst.

• Clear the house of tempting foods.

• Stay busy to prevent eating out of boredom.

• Eat only from a plate, while seated at a table.

• Always eat three meals and one snack daily — no skipping meals.

• Keep a food diary – it’s an effective weight loss tool that forces you to be accountable

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