How fast should I lose weight?

Many of you may know that I sometimes post emails I receive from PureWow. Today I received another email from them saying:

“Essentially a tech-savvy version of the age-old weight-loss competition (or, you know, The Biggest Loser), the new website DietBet facilitates one-month “games” between friends to see who can drop the most excess baggage. It’s up to the organizer of each competition to invite participants and determine how much money is at stake; you can bet nothing, though recent studies show that money might be the most persuasive motivator. Once everybody is ready to go, contestants enter a starting weight (don’t worry, the actual number is hidden from your pals) along with a telling “before” picture. At the end of the four-week period, dieters submit their final “after” shots and weigh-in numbers (to be reviewed by DietBet employees to weed out cheaters), and anyone who has lost at least 4 percent of their body weight wins or splits the pot. DietBet discourages dangerous behavior by disqualifying people who lose more than triple their goal, and of course a general air of sportsmanship is expected.”

It all looks good until you analyze at that 4% of weight loss that is required in a month for you to get any money from the bets (minus 5% commission). What the National Institutes of Health have recommended is for healthcare providers to design interventions for overweight and obese patients to lose 10% of their initial body weight in 6 months. That boils down to about 2% of their initial body weight per month.

DietBet requires you to lose weight two times faster than the clinical guidelines I mentioned and linked above. This increases the risks of rapid weight loss substantially and sets you up for failure from the beginning since the guidelines were designed to elicit optimal results. If those guidelines are challenging, but doable, the DietBet requirements are even more challenging.

This is, of course, more relevant for people that weight more. For example, someone that weights 200 pounds will have to lose 8 pounds in a month (or 4.3 weeks) to win the bets and get the money. That is 1.9 pounds per week which is within the recommended guidelines of losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week (from same document referred above). If you weight 221 pounds instead, you will need to lose 2.1 pounds per week to win. The heavier you are the less sustainable the weight loss is and the less healthy.

Here less is more, too.

Look for more clinical guidelines here.

Get more weight loss information at the Weight-control Information Network, from the NIH.

More weight control resources.


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