Harley Pasternak: Losing Weight Quickly Can Actually be Healthy

07/30/2014 at 02:41 PM ET

Celebrity Traine Harley Pasternak
Maria Tornberg

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Can you lose 11 pounds in 4 days? Yes. Is it a good idea? No way. Recently, a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reported on a group of 15 healthy, but overweight, men who subjected themselves to an extreme weight-loss regimen.

For 4 days, they consumed only 360 daily calories in either a high protein drink or a sugary drink. The guys started the day with a 45-minute upper body cardio workout, followed by an 8-hour outdoor group walk. Each hour they could take a 10-minute break and consume an unlimited amount of a low-cal sports drink.

The results? Each participant lost about 11 pounds, half of it body fat and half muscle mass, regardless of whether he’d had the protein drink or the sugary drink. Aside from a few achy joints and blistered feet, none felt any ill effects. Nor did they experience extreme hunger. Better yet, a month later, the men had shed on average another 2 pounds of fat. A year later, they were still down 5 pounds, mostly in body fat.

Am I recommending you try this program yourself? Not in a million years! But it does suggest that just because you lose weight quickly doesn’t mean you can’t keep it off. It all depends on whether or not you change your habits. In this case, the guys made those changes stick.

This is hardly the first study to find that the more pounds lost quickly, the more likely that weight loss can be maintained. In other studies, being physically active, eating breakfast, eating on schedule and making lifestyle changes, along with a number of psychological motivators, were also crucial to success.

In a more recent study, women were put on programs designed to achieve fast, moderate, or slow weight loss. The groups predictably lost the most, the middle amount, and least weight, respectively. And at 6 and 18 months later, the women who lost weight quickly were almost 5 times as likely to have lost 10 percent of their original weight and and keep it off than women in the slow group.

What’s my read on these results? Successful long-term weight loss is all about permanently replacing unproductive habits with positive habits. How about the ASAP factor? I see my clients regularly lose 5 pounds in 5 days. And no, it’s not anywhere near as grueling as walking for 8 hours and drinking meals with a straw! Instead, I ask them to simply follow my moderate diet plan, engage in a few minutes of vigorous resistance exercise, walk at least 10,000 daily steps, get enough sleep and disconnect from their electronic devices for 1 hour a day. With the motivation fueled by their initial success and by adopting these habits as their daily routine, they go on to achieve their weight loss goals.

Like the men in the study, my clients ate less and moved more. They changed their lifestyle, but without any blisters or achy joints!

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Showing 17 comments

joanne1965 on

he needs to be VERY careful what he says…VERY careful…

baby pie on

he is an asshole. 360 calories, work out for 8 hrs and 45 minutes upper body workout?

What is this? anorexic new workout du jour?

Truthfinder on

He is a “weight loss guru” to the STARS…very dangerous information!
PEOPLE MAG., should really evaluate what they consider health experts for REAL people… not a good idea.

anniebanannie on

Just wondering if you read the same article as I did? He clearly says what they did in the study is NOT SAFE. His point was that for a long time, people have been saying that if you lose weight quickly, it’s only water weight and you’ll put it right back on. He’s saying that’s not necessarily true. He never at all said that people should consume such few calories, nor did he say people should be working out for 8 hours a day. I don’t understand not reading an article thoroughly before offering input.

Synia on

What the hell??

life goes on on

now he thinks he is a doctor. don’t tell people such stupid things.

_Kristine on

“Am I recommending you try this program yourself? Not in a million years! But it does suggest that just because you lose weight quickly doesn’t mean you can’t keep it off. It all depends on whether or not you change your habits. In this case, the guys made those changes stick.”

From the article. For those who just skip straight to comments :)

Someone Random on

I think that when someone loses a noticable amount of weight quickly, they feel more of a sense of success and are less inclined to allow themselve to gain the weight back (I know from experience, although I wasn’t trying to lose). Losing slowly would be somewhat depressing I would think, and the struggle to lose may feel like a losing battle (pun not intended) and it may seem more like, why bother trying so hard for so little return. I can see it being easier to let a few more pounds creep back on when the battle is so hard to win to get it off.

Selena on

Well, every Dr. in the country will tell you the opposite, but ok, Harley. By the way, where did you get your MD? What? You don’t have one? Then you probably shouldn’t be giving this type of advice. And Kristine and Annie, yes I did read the article. But between Harley and People, the message has been muddled. Probably because Harley is a “guru” to the stars, and not a medical expert, and People is a celebrity rag.

Jasmeen on

Ive done it. Worked for me and Im still alive and kickin!

clakatos on

” I see my clients regularly lose 5 pounds in 5 days…” 5 pounds lost is 17,500 calories either burned or cut total, 3500 a day. Does “I ask them to simply follow my moderate diet plan, engage in a few minutes of vigorous resistance exercise, walk at least 10,000 daily steps, get enough sleep and disconnect from their electronic devices for 1 hour a day,” sound like it would cut 17500 calories? NO. 5 pounds in 5 days is lost water weight and poop. This guy has NO credibility, and is borderline DANGEROUS with his cavalier attitude about “health” and “fitness” and “diet.”

DS on

PLEASE do NOT listen or take the advice of this so-called professional. I have read several of his articles (bored in the moment) and have found that he is not educated nor has the experience to give advice to anyone. I don’t know how he got this job..I thought People Magazine was higher on the fact checking chain than other magazines. His advice is highly suspect and his exercise videos are lacking in correct form, execution, and knowledge. It is quite disappointing that someone of this low caliber can be advertized and given precious magazine space. There are so many other legit and honorable exercise professionals with degrees and application/clinical experience that would benefit the masses and truly promote health and fitness!!!

ann on

Checking back after a year is not good enough. The critical point is between 2 and 3 years after weight loss. If someone can make it past 3 years than it is generally more likely to stay put. i believe this is because people can live with a restrictive diet for a certain amount of time but eventually they still generally slowly fall back into old habits. People need to modify their meal and exercise to fit specifically to what they can tolerate and maintain. I gave up real pop and it wasn’t a sacrifice to me. I keep cereal out of the house most of the time but will periodically eat some so I don’t feel deprived. I only eat ice cream out at restaurants in single serving and don’t bring home a tub. I don’t walk on the treadmill because it s too boring. I turn on the music and dance (at a decent pace) for 30 minutes which feels like fun to me. I also do tasks like weeding the garden or whatever that accomplish something while also having health benefits. All of these things are examples of things that to me personally don’t feel like a sacrifice or a chore. I’ve kept off the weight for almost 10 years now. If it feels too much like an unreasonable sacrifice you will not be able to keep it up long term.

MommaMondy on

He is not suggesting anyone do what was done in the article, he is merely pointing out that quick weight loss can be permanent if habits also change for the quick results. Read the entire article people.

Simone on

For those of you that actually DID read the article….and still found what he said as offensive, your not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Ive been a fan of Harleys every since 5 Factor Diet.
For those of you that think Harley is an “idiot celebrity trainer with no credentials”, i just wiki’ed him…..he has an Honors Degree in Kinesiology, a degree in Nutrition, a Masters Degree in Nutrition, was a Nutrition/Exercise Scientist for several years for the Department of National Defense, bestselling nutrition author with 6 books in 15 languages ,etc, etc……..If hes not credentialed, who is? An MD? MD’s are NOT trained in weight loss, or nutrition.

Some people can't afford to pay attention... on

People need to pay attention to what they’re reading. He didn’t advocate this diet, he simply said… “Am I recommending you try this program yourself? Not in a million years! But it does suggest that just because you lose weight quickly doesn’ mean you can’t keep it off”. So before you talk bad about someone that is trying to help you, learn to pay attention to what your reading…

peeler on

You’ve made some really good points there. I checked on the net
to find out more abbout the issue and found mst people will go along with your views on this
site.

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