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How to lose weight fast, but safely?


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

There are many reasons why someone may want to lose weight fast, such as a wedding or a beach holiday. However, it is important to take a healthy approach to weight loss and to avoid putting the pounds back on again after a fad diet.

What's wrong with shedding a few pounds as quickly as possible?

The tactic is not without its pitfalls. The British Dietetic Association carried out a survey in 2004. A third of people questioned said they had ended up heavier than before they went on a diet. The BDA says that is probably because fad diets are so popular these days.

How do I spot a fad diet or a crash diet?

If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Be wary of diets that insist on avoiding whole groups of foods. Diets that tell you to eat only specific foods (like cabbage) are another sign of a fad diet. Be sceptical about claims that certain foods (such as grapefruit) have magical fat-burning qualities. You should also be careful about any diet that focuses on how good you will look rather than on how much more healthy you will be.

What’s the best way to lose weight?

You can safely lose over 2lbs (1.3 kilos) a week at home with a healthy diet and lots of exercise, says dietician and weight loss counsellor Katherine Tallmadge.

In fact, having a goal like looking good 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. However, you need to plan ahead and allow enough time to make changes to your shape.

Losing weight is a simple concept: you need to burn more calories than you eat. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends a sensible weight loss of 1-2 lbs (approximately 0.5-1.0 kg) a week. This could mean cutting energy intake by about 500-1000 kcals a day. However, the actual reduction will depend on how much weight needs to be lost, how active the person is and whether they are male or female.

If you want to lose weight faster, you'll need to eat less and exercise more. Essentially, you need to eat no more than 1,050 to 1,200 calories per day (for important health reasons calorie intake should not be lower than this) and take one hour of exercise a day. On this type of plan, you can expect to lose 2-4 lbs (1.3-2.25 kg) in the first week, or more if you weigh over 18 stone (114 kg).

But the British Nutrition Foundation says there are advantages to not being over-ambitious about how much weight you lose. A measured approach is preferable it says because:

  • It is not damaging to health. A very low calorie diet (consuming less than 600 kcals a day) can be dangerous as the body loses too much lean tissue (as well as body fat). This type of diet can also be low in certain nutrients.
  • It is easier to stick to the diet.
  • Such a diet provides the opportunity to improve eating habits in general which can have long term benefits to health and help to maintain weight loss.
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