“If I lose weight quickly am I 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. 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 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; and of course you 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. This 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 on the scale, it is really an illusion because eventually your body will start taking back that water. When that happens, you’ll gain back a lot of the weight you so 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. After a while your body will have simply had enough. When that happens you could still be on your strict restrictive diet and not see any results. This, of course, will discourage you and cause you to give up dieting completely. 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. Go on a diet which causes weight loss and not only water loss. 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.