How Many Pounds Should You Lose a Week for Healthy Weight Loss

Healthy weight loss is possible, but you probably won’t be impressed with its speed. If you have a lot of weight to lose, the idea of losing it slowly might be discouraging. After all, who wants to spend months following a weight loss plan when there are so many diets out there that promise massive losses in just a month? The truth, however, is that weight lost through a sensible diet and exercise program is more likely to stay off for the long term.

Healthy Weight Loss

According to experts, a healthy weight loss of two pounds per week is the maximum you should aim for. A pound equals 3,500 calories. This means you need to eliminate that many calories in order to lose a pound. Two pounds would mean getting rid of 7,000 calories. This can be done through exercise or by reducing your calorie ingestion.

Depending on how many calories you’re currently eating, eliminating 1,000 calories a day (7,000 a week) can be very easy or extremely difficult. For example, if you regularly eat fast food or tons of sugar and high-fat snacks, just eliminating those will considerably reduce your calorie intake. If you already eat healthy, however, you might not be able to cut so many calories from your day.

Losing Massive Amounts

Losing more than two pounds a week is a bad idea. For starters, you will need to cut your calorie intake drastically in order to achieve this. According to medical site MedLine Plus, women should be eating a minimum of 1,200 calories per day in order to meet their body’s minimum nutritional requirements. Men should be eating at least 1,500 calories.

If you cut your calorie intake to less than that, much of the weight you’ll be losing is water weight. After that, your body will start burning muscle. Losing muscle mass has an adverse effect on weight loss. Because muscle increases metabolism, losing muscle will slow down your body, making it harder to lose weight in the long run. Also, because very-low calorie diets are difficult to sustain for the long term, you’re likely to eventually gain all the weight back.

Getting Into Dangerous Territory

Very-low calorie diets (those under 800 calories per day) should only be pursued under medical supervision. When you cut down calories so much, you’re likely to also be cutting down on nutrients. Lightheadedness, dizziness and headaches are common as you reduce the amount of carbohydrates that can help maintain your blood sugar stable. Maintaining this type of very-low calorie consumption for a long time can also lead to eating disorders. If you find yourself losing very large amounts of weight week after week, it’s time to stop or talk to a doctor. Losing up to six pounds during the first week of dieting is common, but the weight loss should stabilize to the one to two pound range after that. Also, keep in mind that the more weight you have to lose, the easier it will be at the beginning. If you only have ten pounds to go, the weight loss is likely to be slower.


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