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Health Magazines are Full of S**t

by Fred Hahn on August 2, 2012

Uh yeah, right...

Uh yeah, right...

Don’t even dream about losing fat this fast. It’s horse-hockey my friends.

When approached correctly, fat loss is a slow process. Very slow. At best you can lose about a pound, maybe two per week.

This is especially important to understand when you’re not that over fat to begin with. Patience is a virtue.

Try to purge your mind of what you believe is possible and instead, realize what is actually possible. I hear clients say all too often “Well Fred, it’s just that I thought I’d lose a lot more weight by now.” “Four pounds of fat loss in 4 weeks is excellent Susan. What did you expect to lose?” “I dunno – just more.”

But when politely and patiently pressed, the typical unrealistic client will say something like “Well, I was hoping to lose 15-20 pounds this month.”

Where, oh where, did they get this idea from?

You guessed it – the ragazines.

Photo shopped and air brushed to the max!

Photo shopped and air brushed to the max!

Not one statement on the cover of this magazine is true – save for one that I happen to agree with.

So remember – fat loss is a slow, gradual process. If you’re losing a half-pound to a pound a week on the scale, you’re doing fantastic! Relish in your efforts and discontinue your magazine subscriptions. The pages inside of these ragazines aren’t fit to pick up your dogs poop with. Slow and steady wins the fat loss race.

A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.
– George Savile

I've been involved in exercise ever since I became a member of The Charles Atlas Club when I was 10 years old. In 1998, I founded and established Serious Strength on the Upper West Side of NYC. My clients include kids, seniors (and everyone in between), top CEOs, celebrities, bestselling authors, journalists and TV personalities.
my book. my Gym.

in Losing weight/diet,Nutrition,obesity,weight loss/diet · 12 comments


Evinx August 2, 2012 at 6:36 PM

I think anything more than 1 lb per week is doomed to lead to failure (yo-yo effect). A diet tends to connote a temporary change in eating while we are looking for a life style change – that is the only lasting approach. Slow weight loss will show a shift in life style eating habits while rapid weight loss just shows some unsustainable modification of food intake which in time, will lead to a return to the old eating habits + regaining the weight.

Liz August 3, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Agreed! It’s hard to market this line of thinking so magazines choose to simply lie in order to make a buck. Sometimes I’ve quit eating right and working out b/c after 2 months I don’t see the changes I want to see. Perhaps if I would have stuck it out 9 months those changes would have happened. It’s a lesson I still continue to learn :/

Graham Lutz August 3, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Evinx – I’m with you that in order to really be successful, you need a complete change in how you eat and live your life. If you plan to go back to beer and pizza everyday, then you’ll be fat again.

On the flip side, when I got the motivation, I would go really strict on diet, exercise, sleep, etc. and could routinely lose 4-6 lbs. of fat in a week. Then I’d back off the intensity and lose .5-1 lb. other weeks.

Our hormones will do exactly what you tell them to do, so when you tell them to burn fat, they’ll do it!

Fred Hahn August 4, 2012 at 7:26 AM

Graham –

Allow me to clarify your comment a tad for those who might not know better: If you lose 4-6 pounds in a week it’s not all fat you are losing. That’s impossible. A lot of the weight will be water IF you are on what is referred to as the low carb diet.
.5 – 1 pound per week however will be all from fat IF you are eating a low carb diet and strength training. If, however, the diet you’ve adopted is low calorie / high carb and your exercise is aerobic, you will lose lean tissue as well. Not good.

For Liz –

If after two months you didn’t see or feel any changes, you were probably not on a low carb diet or strength training. What were you doing may I ask?

Liz August 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Fred–great question! Back when I was a low fat, high carb vegetarian I lost no bodyfat in two months (no surprises there!). When I began eating meat, practicing IF, and strength training I began to lose but did not live on a very low carb diet.

I tell everyone this: I got myself down from 28% bodyfat to 21%. Then I did P90X and ended up at…21% bodyfat! Fred, in retrospect, I think it was not being low-carb enough! I shared the thought above b/c it seems a lot of Paleo people (mostly men) brag about losing tremendous amounts of weight quickly, and most of us can’t relate. So we practice Paleo and forget that it’s a slow and steady journey and then perhaps think there’s something wrong with our approach. It’s as much a psychological game as physiological!

Liz August 4, 2012 at 10:25 AM

PS–I don’t live far from your gym–will definitely check it out!

Fred Hahn August 4, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Great Liz! Please do drop buy!!

Michia August 4, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Face it, no one wants to read an article on “How I Lost 120 lbs in 6 years” 😉

I’ve lost 120 lbs over the last six years for an average of under 2 lbs a month. (I’ll be turning 60 soon.) Still a way to go but still rolling, some stalling but not much backsliding.

Huge benefit of slow loss, btw, is that, unlike what’s reported by other people who have lost in the three figures, no loose elephant skin.

Evinx August 8, 2012 at 5:14 PM

If you lose weight too quickly, you are not allowing your metabolic set point to reset. Hence, you will re-gain what you lost. Slow and easy will win the weight loss race providing you go low carb (I think not more than 50 grams per day but maybe less) + moderate protein (not too much) with high fat. It probably took months +years to gain the weight; you must allow time to lose it and re-establish your weight set point.

Judy Barnes Baker September 18, 2012 at 10:52 AM

I lost 2 pounds a day when I started low carb. It slowed down after the first week or so, but I lost over 25 pounds in a month or two and have been maintaining for 12 years. And although I try to get some exercise now, I didn’t when I lost the weight.
Maybe I’m not typical, but if you read George Stella’s story, he lost over 260 pounds without exercise–he was in a wheelchair suffering from heart failure and his spine could not support his weight, so he couldn’t do much of anything, at least not at first.

I agree that exercise is very important, but not that it is essential for weight loss.

Jason October 17, 2012 at 5:18 PM

My apologies for coming back to an old blog post. A lot of my clients have seen weight loss competitions and TV shows that show people losing amazing amounts of weight in very short periods of time. A popular TV show has the largest numbers in the first week, but the numbers still remain impressive throughout the competition. I struggle to explain this to my clients when I am trying to convince them that losing a pound or two per week is a far healthier approach. How would you explain this?

sonny November 8, 2012 at 11:02 AM

I used to like Mens Health but discontinued my subscription and deleted their newsletter because I’m sick of seeing their “new ab shredding workout” headlines.

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