You will be seeing them everywhere at this part of the year.

Promises of four week transformations, 28 days to change your body. They will be marketed with progress photos. Where men and women have seemingly lost large amounts of weight in a short time frame. Of course, the smaller version is deemed better, healthier, more attractive, more worthy, with no question as to whether they are actually healthier or what the person had to sacrifice in order to achieve it. All you see is two photos, side by side. Many of these are edited, photoshopped and taken with clever lighting to make the transformation seem more dramatic. Many of them are not even real.

Sometimes, they are real and they have lost a significant amount of weight. But at what cost?

The issue with these short term, quick fix transformations is that for those who genuinely achieve a large amount of fat loss, in a short space of time, calories have to be heavily restricted. The issues with low calorie diets are vast. They are super restrictive, all or nothing, often fuelled by guilt and shame and more often than not cause issues with disordered eating, weight regain and/or a poor relationship with food and body. People become so hungry they are unable to function properly, particularly if they are exercising too. They have low mood, low libido, skin issues, gut issues, sometimes hair loss. Their bodies are being starved of nutrients. The vital nutrients they need. If your body isn’t getting the energy it needs, it will also start to shed muscle. It doesn’t like being starved and will lose whatever it doesnt need. Yes you may be achieving fast results but you have to consider the cost and the long term associated risks.

If they do make it through the 4 weeks, people are generally so happy to be able to eat again that they overeat. Gorging on all the foods they weren’t allowed and refuelling their starved body. Needless to say, many regain the weight and more besides. How many of these fast term fixes have you seen 2/3/4 years down the line? Very few maintain the weight loss.

So you want to lose weight, so how should you do it? Slowly and sustainably is the key!

For some people this will mean they can eat the exact same things they always do but simply reduce portion sizes. For others it may mean reducing alcohol intake or cutting out their nightly hot chocolate. As you start to lose fat, it will get progressively harder to remain in a calorie deficit because as your body gets smaller, it needs less energy to live. The absolute key to losing weight is consistency and patience. Adjusting calories as you losing body fat is key to your success.

It is also important to look at your values and the sacrifices you are willing to make to reach a goal weight. Often people aim for something that may be hard to achieve and maintain in the long term. Deciding if the last 10lbs is worth giving up all your favourite foods and missing out on your monthly night out with your pals for is something only you can decide. Personally I would rather carry a little extra body fat and live life to the fullest, cinema sweets with my kids, wine with my friends and pizza on weekends.

But ultimately it’s your body, your choice.

If weight loss is your goal, it’s easy to see quick fixes and short term transformations and want it for yourself. It is human nature to want fast results. We aren’t designed to play the long game, we want to see the fruits of our labour instantly. But in the case of fat loss, slower is better. You are more likely to keep the weight off and less likely to form a poor relationship with food, not to mention the fact it will be a whole lot more enjoyable losing weight on higher calories.

Don’t be tempted by clever marketing, instead, look at your values, listen to your body and find a coach who cares about your long term health.