How much weight can I lose in a week?

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

The weight you lose in a week depends on a number of food and physical activity variables. 

Losing 1-2 pounds per week is the general recommendation for safe and sustainable weight loss. People with more weight to lose may see more weight come off when they begin a weight loss program while those with very little to lose may see less. While 1-2 pounds per week may take a bit longer, the slow and steady method tends to help keep the weight off long term.

For healthy weight loss, you should shoot for a goal of one to two pounds per week. In the beginning phases of a program, you could lose more pounds due to initial bodily changes that occur with increased physical demands. But, this fast weight loss should subside after about the second week and start to level off. In some cases, the weight might actually increase in the first week or two. If this happens do not be alarmed, the human body is very efficient. When new stresses like exercising are placed on the body, it reacts by compensating-increasing muscle size and function. This may lead to an increase it weight. However, do not be discouraged. This added muscle will help increase caloric demand and ultimately help you burn more fat in the future. Weight loss depends solely on the difference between the amount of calories burned and consumed. For every activity, you undertake your body must expend a certain number of calories it gained from food or stored in fat. The more energy intensive the activity the higher the caloric demand. One pound of fat contains roughly 3,500 calories. To lose one pound of fat, you must expend 3,500 more calories than you consume. Through exercise, you are attempting to get your body to use the calories that it has stored in the fat cells throughout your body. This process is culmulative, and you will have to continue to chip away at the fat stores in your body. Losing more than one to two pounds a week is very tough to do, and typically would require extreme dieting. This type of dieting is not only difficult to maintain, but it also can be counterproductive. For weight loss to be successful and long term, lifestyle changes need to be made. In some cases, doctors are able to prescribe very low calorie diets for obese individuals, but this requires medical supervision and is only used temporarily to achieve a healthy weight. Once the weight has been achieved, a more healthy form of nutrition is then implemented. One of the most important factors to consider when setting a weight loss goal is consistency. For most people, the weight did not just show up overnight. It took a few years to get there, so do not expect it to just disappear quickly. With proper nutrition and exercise, it can be gone quicker than it was gained, but it takes being consistent with your nutrition and exercise routine.
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
There is no set number of pounds anyone should lose in a week. Look at the big picture. Any weight loss is better than none. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. To lose one pound a week, you would have to eat 500 fewer calories a day. Life often gets in the way of weight loss. Shoot for 3-5 pounds in a month. You are still losing, but it doesn't put too much pressure on you. Some people think that if they don't lose five pounds in a week, they are a failure. Not true.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.