Ask the Nutritionist: If You Lose Weight Quickly Are You More Likely to Gain it Back?

by Yossi Muller. Congratulations to last week’s winner Leah Abrahamson. Submit a question and you can be next week’s winner of a free dinner for two at the Reserve Steakhouse ‘heart healthy’ menu ($120). To submit a question to be featured in the “Ask the Nutritionist” column, email Yossi at Be sure to include your full name. If your question is published your name will be mentioned and you will be awarded a free dinner for two from The Reserve Steakhouse’s new ‘heart healthy’ menu.


“If you lose weight quickly are you more likely to gain it back?”


Yes, but not for the reason that most people think.

You hear people throw around the idea that if you lose lots of weight quickly you will gain it back quickly because such diets are unsustainable. For example: If you eat nothing for ten days and drink only lemon water and maple syrup mixed with cayenne pepper, you lose a whole lot of weight but ultimately slip back into your old eating habits.

Now this may be true, but by the same logic losing weight slowly will end the same way. If you lose weight slowly with a strict diet you still won’t be able to stick to it in the long run. What makes a person give up his diet is not the speed in which he lost weight but the method, namely: deprivation. Depriving yourself for five months is still depriving yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you didn’t eat cake for half a year, you will never crave it again.

Think about how much deprivation is involved in a regular slow diet. You need to eat only specific foods; you’ll need to be watching your portion size instead of just enjoying yourself like everyone else around you; you can’t eat anything on Shabbos and Yom Tov (except PITCHA!!!); and of course you’ll almost never feel full. Now while a quick two week diet deprives you even more, at least after the two weeks you are done whereas a slow diet is slow and painful.

That deprivation, and the notion that you need to suffer with it for the rest of your life is what causes most people to give up and go back to eating french-fries dipped in mayonnaise for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

There is, however, a real reason why people who “get thin quick” are more likely to gain their weight back. It is basically impossible for the average person to lose more than 2 pounds of fat a week. The crash diets (of which Atkins is the most notorious) that cause you to lose more than 2 pounds on the scale, work because it’s not fat you are losing, but rather water weight! These diets are designed to manipulate your body into shedding water weight, and fast! Water weight is only a temporary condition because your body needs its water. While you may quickly lose pounds of body weight, it is really an illusion because sometime your body will start taking back that water. When that happens, you’ll gain back a lot of the weight you proudly thought you lost.

Even those who go on slower long-term diets fall prey to this vicious cycle. Many diets are based on this technique of forcing water out of your body and after a while your body has simply had enough. When that happens you could be still be on your strict restrictive diet and not see any results which of course discourages you and causes you to give up dieting completely.

So the bottom line is that most people who begin diets are doomed to failure. The obvious solution is to go on the right diet! Learn the principles of nutrition before you start your diet. Go on a diet that’s not based on deprivation but plays to your individual strengths and specific needs. With such a diet you can eventually get to a point where you no longer even like unhealthy foods. With such a diet you can stay healthy while losing weight. And most importantly, with such a diet you can keep the weight off permanently.

Yossi Muller, CNWC, is a nutritionist with a private practice in Lakewood and also gives a college course in Applied Nutrition. His unique approach to nutrition is reaching hundreds of men in local businesses, schools, and organizations. You can reach Yossi at 732-806-7373.


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There are 5 Comments to "Ask the Nutritionist: If You Lose Weight Quickly Are You More Likely to Gain it Back?"

  • the REAL atkins story says:

    why do you and all nutritionists i have met seem to be so ignorant of the atkins diet yet dont hesitate to point out how bad a diet it is? I have been on Atkins for over 6 months, ( my grandmother has been on the diet for over 40 years) I have lost about 46lb and have halfed my clothing size.
    that being said – i also drink 8-12 cups of water a day as instructed by the atkins diet.
    In addition – the induction portion of which you are referring to is a intro to atkins – it is not the whole of the diet. It is the detox part which many low carb low sugar diets all agree make you hungry and crave carbs and processed foods.
    I am now in OWL which is a maintenance of sort while losing slowly and i eat PLENTY of healthy natural carbs ranging from berries to nuts even to whole grains in a limited fashion
    Atkins is a life style NOT A DIET so please do not comment on it when you obviously dont know much about it.
    I have done my own extensive research on this diet as all the nutritionist i have met dont study it and just dismiss it.
    Studies in very prominent universities have given in and and tested the Atkins diet and are shocked that it works just like it claims
    In addition the Atkins diet has been changed a bit to allow more naturals carbs and advise a limit on the protein and fat.
    The myth that Atkins died of a heart attack which is the only thing i have heard when opposition is faced with my story – is false! he fell on a patch of ice and hit his head. My parents and grandparents were his patients and he monitored them closely – even now the first thing that is instructed is get a blood sugar test and keep a doc on top of you.

  • Ploni says:

    How can a person tell if the diet is fat or water weight?

  • The photographer says:

    He didn’t say atkins is a bad idea. He said using it at as ‘get rich quick’ scheme of dieting is a bad idea – as all quick diets are. Any diet you can keep up for 40 years will help you keep the weight off. The point was not to bash atkins.

  • The fake atkins says:

    First of all, he fell on a patch of ice and likely had a heart attack causing him to fall! His family hid his body right away! Also, it seems that your family is the exception that proves the rule! Most people who go on atkins go back to their old eating habits eventually.

  • A client says:

    Hi Im a client of Yossis and I can assure you he knows 1000 times more than you do about the Atkins diet!