Extremely quick weight loss is possible, but it’s rarely healthy and almost never permanent. The Weight-Control Information Network website warns that losing more than 3 pounds per week is too fast. Losing weight quickly by following a fad diet may get you into that wedding dress, but the extra pounds will most likely be waiting for you when the honeymoon’s over. Thus, you can go on a fad olive oil diet, or you can incorporate heart-healthy olive oil into a nutritious diet and drop five pounds that are much more likely to stay gone. Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet.
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Olive oil is made by crushing then pressing olives. It has been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years. Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of ripe olives, and, according to the Ochef website, it has less than 1 percent acid and offers the richest flavor. Virgin olive oil also comes from the first pressing, but can contain as much as 4 percent acid and its taste is slightly less smooth. The labels “light,” and “extra light” you see on bottles of olive oil refer to the color and flavor, not to how many calories or how much fat they contain. All olive oils contain the same number of calories, so choose olive oil based on your taste preferences.
Olive oil does not burn fat. It has no chemical properties that will magically dissolve the calories in that tiramisu you had for dessert. Taking a spoonful of olive oil before a meal, as some fad diets suggest, simply acts as a laxative, which plays to the mistaken belief that the faster food moves through you, the fewer calories your body will absorb. It simply doesn’t work that way. Losing weight means taking in fewer calories than you burn, no matter how many of them come from olive oil.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that you substitute olive oil for commercial salad dressings as a matter of heart health. Making healthy choices at every meal and for every snack is the most effective, long-term way to lose weight and keep it off. A consistent weight loss of 3 pounds per week is not only enough to take you down a whole dress size in a month, it can be done without depriving yourself. The Weight-Control Information Network also advises that too-rapid weight loss can result in gallstones. Contrary to what many fad diet websites claim, you can’t flush gallstones out of your system by drinking olive oil.
Olive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, is full of vitamin E and antioxidants. These help fight the free radicals in your bloodstream that may be the cause of some of the effects of aging as well as certain cancers. Olive oil contains 77 percent monounsaturated fat, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Monounsaturated fats are associated with lowering low-density lipoproteins — LDLs, the “bad” cholesterol — and raising the levels of high-density lipoproteins — HDLs, the “good” cholesterol — in your bloodstream. Proper balance between LDLs and HDLs can help decrease your risk of heart disease. The better your body functions, the better you feel, and the more likely you are to exercise and make healthy choices.
Drinking more than a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a day can have a laxative effect. That can lead to diarrhea, which leads to dehydration and possible laxative dependency. Also, olive oil does contain calories. Dipping bread in olive oil instead of buttering it will save you the saturated fats in animal products, but a tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories, where a tablespoon of butter only has 100. Twenty calories isn’t enough to tip the scales, but calories can add up fast if you’re not paying attention.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Weight-Control Information Network: Healthy Weight Loss
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: What Should You Eat?
- Ohio State University Extension: Chow Line: Chow Line: Olive Oil 'Good' Fat But High in Calories
- Ochef: How to Choose Olive Oil
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Weight Loss