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If I Ate Just One Meal A Day ...

Question:

Hello, I know this is unhealthy but i’ve tried everything to loose weight and either it doesnt work or i loose motivation or many other things. I was wondering if you could tell me if i just ate 1 meal a day if i would loose weight or gain it and how long would it take me to loose 15-20lbs in your estimate. i figure if i can just loose that that’ll be the encouragement i need to start eating healthy and get on the right path. Thanks so much and i hope to hear from you soon

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Answer:

I expect that if you did eat only one meal a day, you’d lose weight rather rapidly. However, it would be a very bad idea to try to lose weight in this manner. Your body is not designed to take in all its necessary calories at once, while fasting for long periods. You are likely to become very hungry if you attempt to fast, and such hunger is likely to create strong cravings for food which may lead to binge eating. Various medical conditions you may have or be vulnerable to having may become exacerbated as well. Starving yourself is not sustainable, and actually unhealthy, and as such, is a bad idea.

If you must do something gimmicky like eat only one meal a day, try something like this to make the strategy slightly less gimmicky. Put the entire meal you propose to eat on a plate, and then divide it up into four to six portions. Eat one of those portions when you wake up, and then consume another every few hours, taking care to space them out evenly over the portion of the day you’re awake. Breaking up your eating into small meals in this manner will help you better manage cravings and blood sugar levels, etc. You are still likely to be very hungry because you will be radically cutting back on your normal caloric intake, but it will be at least better than your original proposal.

There is no magic secret to losing weight safely. You simply have to burn more calories than you take in. In order to do this you have two choices. You can increase the number of calories you burn (through exercise), or decrease the number of calories you consume. The easiest way to reduce the number of calories you consume is to cut the portion sizes you eat. Here is a simple trick for doing this. Order food as you normally would, but when it comes to your plate, immediately cut each portion of the food in half and put it in a doggy bag to take home later (or throw it away or give it away to someone else who wants it). If you can do this consistently, you’ll lose weight, or at least stop the rate at which you’re gaining.

In addition to adjusting the total number of calories you consume, you would be wise to look at the nutritional profile of the foods you choose to eat as you restrict your diet. If you are eating candy and other “junk food” you won’t be getting the nutrients you need, and you will be better off shifting to a more healthy diet, characterized by whole grains, vegetables and fruits, etc. You know the drill, I’ll bet. This isn’t rocket science.

There is no substitute for making permanent changes in your diet and exercise lifestyle if you want to keep the weight off once you have lost it. The weight will return in a matter of months the moment you stop dieting, otherwise. This is another reason why it is not a good idea to starve yourself into losing weight; it isn’t sustainable.

Ultimately, it is your motivation that is problematic here; not your eating. You have to learn how to sustain the motivation to exercise and eat less (and healthier) before you will really lose the weight. Consider joining a weight loss support group for assistance with this important task. The Weight Watcher’s program is scientifically sound and available in most areas and is never a bad choice for this sort of thing. More suggestions for healthy weight loss are available in our Weight Loss topic center, and suggestions for establishing a healthy exercise practice are available in our Exercise topic center.

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