How to Avoid Unhealthy Weight Loss Techniques

Three Parts:Avoiding Unhealthy Dieting ProgramsPreparing for Weight LossLosing Weight in a Safe and Sustainable Way

Losing weight can be a difficult process. There are many factors that affect your weight and ability to lose weight. The weight loss industry offers dieters a whole host of options to help them lose unwanted and excess weight. However, not all programs that are marketed and advertised are safe or even effective. It's important to be very careful when making a decision about a weight loss product or diet to follow. You want to avoid unhealthy weight loss techniques and find a plan that will allow you to lose excess weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Part 1
Avoiding Unhealthy Dieting Programs

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    Do not aim for large quantities of weight loss in short periods of time. A common claim made by some weight loss programs is "fast weight loss". They'll advertise that you can lose large quantities of weight very quickly. This is a sure sign that this is not a safe program to follow.[1]
    • Some dieting programs will market their program or product to those who are looking to lose weight quickly. If you see claims like "lose 10 pounds in 10 days" or "drop 2 pant sizes in 2 days" this is a sign this is a fad or crash diet.
    • Health professionals recommend that you only aim for weight loss of about 1-2 pounds per week. This is safe and the most sustainable rate of weight loss long term.[2]
    • Avoid any programs suggesting that you can or should lose weight at a faster rate than 1-2 pounds per week.
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    Avoid programs that suggest avoiding multiple foods or food groups. You may also notice that there are several dieting programs on the market that suggest you avoid entire food groups or a very specific list of foods. Or, you might find that only allow you to eat a very small grouping of foods.[3]
    • There is no scientific evidence supporting a theory that only eating certain foods or avoiding certain food groups will result in weight loss.
    • Diets that propose avoiding all gluten, all dairy products, all grains or all carbs may result in some initial weight loss. However, once you add these foods back in, you'll most likely regain the weight.
    • The only foods that can be avoided (and should be at least limited) are fried foods, fast foods or processed junk food treats.
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    Be wary of diets that suggest taking a lot of supplements. Some diet programs advise the use of dietary supplements. These may be vitamins, minerals or herbal supplements that are touted to help you lose weight.[4]
    • Whether its green tea, green coffee, Vitamin B12 or garcinia cambogia, it's important to note that there is very little evidence supporting the use of any vitamin or herbal supplement for weight loss.
    • If a diet suggests taking any type of supplement without modifying your diet, you can be sure this is an unhealthy and possibly unsafe method of weight loss. Avoid these types of dieting programs or products.
    • Also avoid diets that recommend taking non-prescription weight loss medications. These can have serious negative side effects and are not a healthy way to lose weight.
    • Never take any dietary supplement without speaking to your doctor first. These supplements are not well regulated and many can interfere with certain diseases and prescription medications.
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    Do not follow diets that advise fasting or consuming very low calorie levels. Another popular form of dieting are fasting diets or programs that suggest only eat a very small amount of calories everyday. Both of these forms of diets are not only ineffective at weight loss but can be dangerous.[5]
    • There are many different types of fasting diets. There's intermittent fasting where you fast one or a few days a week, juice fasts and even cleansing fasts. Most health professionals see this as a diet trick that doesn't produce safe or sustainable weight loss long-term.
    • Other programs may suggest following a very low calorie diet - like 500 or 800 calories daily. It's never advised to eat fewer than 1200 calories daily. This can result in nutrient deficiencies over time.[6]
    • Both fasting and low calorie diets may result in some initial weight loss, but this is generally water weight. If the diet is continued, weight that's lost is mostly lean muscle mass.
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    See a doctor for eating disorders. Although not an advertised method of weight loss, eating disorders or disordered eating patterns are not a safe or effective method of weight loss. These should be treated clinically with a specialized doctor and psychologist.
    • Eating disorders can include anything from binge eating disorder, bulimia, anorexia or a combination of disorders. Disordered eating falls into a separate category of unhealthy eating patterns that don't necessarily fall into one specific eating disorder category.
    • Not eating, purging (by either vomiting, exercising or using laxatives) or avoiding many foods (without medical necessity) is not a healthy or safe way to lose weight. In addition, excessive exercising (working out for several hours) is also not considered a healthy way to lose weight.
    • If you feel that you have an eating disorder or having very unhealthy eating patterns, talk to your doctor for help.

Part 2
Preparing for Weight Loss

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    Talk to your doctor. One of the most important parts of healthy and safe weight loss is to start by talking to your doctor. They will be able to guide you and advise you on healthy and sustainable weight loss.
    • If you're interested in losing weight, make an appointment to see or talk to your primary care physician.
    • Talk to your doctor about your desire to lose weight. Ask how much weight loss is appropriate for you.
    • In addition, ask about different weight loss methods you've been considering. Discuss whether or not these are safe and effective for you.
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    Figure out how much weight you need to lose. Regardless of what diet you want to follow, you'll need to figure out how much weight you need to lose. Different diet programs are designed for different weight loss needs.
    • Determining how much weight you need to lose can help you determine what diet to follow and how long you'll need to follow it.
    • One method of determining how much weight you need to lose is by determining your BMI. You can easily figure this out by putting in your weight and height into an online BMI calculator. You can also look at a BMI chart to see what your BMI is.
    • If your BMI is in the overweight or obese categories you probably need to lose weight to get to a healthier weight.
    • Another way to determine how much weight you need to lose is by finding your ideal body weight. For women the equation to use is: 100 + (5 x inches over 5 feet). For men the equation to use is: 106 + (6 x inches over 5 feet).
    • Take your ideal weight from your current weight to find out how many pounds overweight you are.
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    Set realistic goals for yourself. Another important aspect about healthy and sustainable weight loss is making sure that you set realistic goals for yourself. Many times, it's unrealistic goals that fuel the desire to follow unsafe weight loss programs.
    • When you start with a new diet or weight loss plan, determine how much weight you want to lose. Is it 10 pounds or 30 pounds? Figuring this out will help you determine how long you'll need to follow your weight loss program.
    • Safe weight loss is losing about 1-2 pounds per week. Do not aim to lose more weight than this or to lose weight more quickly.[7]
    • Studies show that if you lose weight quicker than this you are more likely to regain the weight you've lost.
    • For example, if you want to lose 15 pounds, you should aim to be dieting for at least 8 weeks.
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    Find a way to track your progress. When you're trying to lose weight, studies show that the more accountable you are and the more often you track your progress, the better you do long-term.[8]
    • Find a few ways to stay accountable to yourself and your weight loss long-term. This helps keep your weight in check and prevents weight regain down the road.
    • One of the easiest and most important ways to track your progress is by regularly weighing in. Make sure to step on the scale 1-2 times a week to make sure you're on track with your weight loss goals.
    • Continue to weigh yourself regularly even after you hit your goal weight. Continually weighing in will help keep you aware of any unwanted fluctuations in your weight down the road.
    • You may also want to track your portion sizes, keep a food diary or keep track of your total calories daily. This helps you stay accountable to what you're eating and keeps you aware of your diet.

Part 3
Losing Weight in a Safe and Sustainable Way

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    Eat a well-balanced diet. One of the most important aspects about a healthy weight loss plan is maintaining a a balanced diet. Without a balanced diet you may not be getting all the nutrients you need.
    • A balanced diet means that you're eating the right amounts of each food group during the day. Each food group provides your body with essential nutrients to maintain your health and support your weight loss.[9]
    • You need to aim for a serving of lean protein at every meal, 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables and 3-4 servings of whole grains daily.
    • In addition, a balanced diet means that you're eating the right portion sizes of foods. Aim for 3-4 oz of lean protein, 1 cup of vegetables, 2 cups of leafy greens, 1/2 cup of fruit or 1/2 cup or 1 oz of grains per serving.[10]
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    Monitor calories and portion sizes. If you want to lose weight, you'll most likely need to curb how many calories you're eating each day in addition to following smaller portion sizes. Keep track of these to help you lose weight safely.
    • To lose that safe 1-2 pounds per week, you should cut out about 500-750 calories daily from your total intake.
    • If you try to cut out more calories it may be difficult to eat a minimum of 1200 calories daily and ensure that you're getting in adequate nutrition from your foods.[11]
    • You should also make sure to measure all your portion sizes. Guesstimating or eyeballing portions may lead to you overeating and consuming too many calories each day. Use a food scale or measuring cup to keep yourself on track.
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    Only drink calorie-free beverages. One big source of excess calories in many people's diet come from sweetened or high calorie beverages. Stick to beverages that are hydrating and do not have any calories.[12]
    • Health professionals typically recommend consuming 8-13 glasses of clear, hydrating and sugar-free beverages each day. This helps you maintain proper hydration.[13]
    • Sweetened beverages are high in calories and sugar and can lead to weight gain if you drink them on a regular basis. Skip beverages like: sodas, sweet tea, fruit juices, juice cocktails, alcohol, sweetened coffee drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
    • Instead go for beverages like water, sparkling water, flavored water, decaf coffee and tea.
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    Skip the high fat and high sugar foods. There is one category of foods that you can safely limit or avoid when you're trying to lose weight. High fat foods, sugary sweets and processed items do not offer any nutritional benefits and can cause weight gain.[14]
    • Although its not recommended to avoid whole food groups, limiting fried foods, fatty foods and sweets is OK.
    • These foods are typically high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium and do not provide any beneficial nutrition to your body.
    • Try to limit or avoid foods like: fried foods, fast food, breakfast pastries, sugary cereals, cakes/pies, cookies, candy, ice cream, chips and crackers.
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    Include regular exercise. Nutrition is a huge part of weight loss. However, another important part to safe and effective weight loss is regular exercise. Include this as part of your weight loss plan.
    • One type of exercise that's essential is cardio or aerobic exercise. Health professionals recommend aiming for about 150 minutes of cardio per week.[15]
    • Also include regular strength training. Aim for 1-2 days of strength training exercises each week.
    • The best combination for healthy and sustainable weight loss is a combination of a balanced diet and exercise.


  • Always talk to your doctor before starting any diet programs or taking any diet products.
  • In general, if a diet product or program sounds "too good to be true" it most likely is a fad or gimmick and should be avoided.
  • The best method for sustainable and safe weight loss is a combination of a modified diet and regular exercise.

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Categories: Losing Weight