How much weight should I REALLY try to lose per week? Due to the popularity of The Biggest Loser TV show, realistic weight loss goals have become confusingly unrealistic. Home viewers seeing contestants’ radical weight loss, and may get discouraged about how much weight you should aim to lose in a week. “To lose 10 pounds a week is such a bad message to people,” states Boston area Registered Dietitian and author Nancy Clark, RD, MS. “The physiological reaction to starving is to overeat. … People say ‘I lost my willpower,’ but it’s just the body reacting by doing the opposite of eating less by overeating.”
Seasoned viewers know that NBC’s Biggest Loser weight loss competition actually tries to have it both ways, as trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels offer tips on safe and healthy diet and exercise one moment, just before riding on contestants’ backs during workouts that can unrealistically last up to eight hours. Former contestant Jenn Widder says the show, which starts contestants who may not have exercised in years with four-hour workouts, and just 1,300 calories each day, ” it was almost like we went through a detox program. I felt like I was sweating out sugar for the first week.”
So again how much weight should you safely and realistically expect to lose in a week? Let me give you the REAL skinny. The right and safe answer according to most well respected diet and weight loss organizations including The American Dietetic Association (ADA), Mayo Clinic, and National Institute of Health (NIH) is 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Let me break it down for you. One pound of fat contains approximately 3,500 calories, so to lose one pound a week; you should consume approximately 3,500 fewer calories per week. This can be done by reducing your daily intake by 500 calories per day (500 x 7 days will provide a deficit of 3,500 calories per week). To lose 2 pounds per week, a deficit of 1,000 calories per day is required. If this seems impossible, remember that physical activity also contributes significantly to weight loss. Successful weight loss happens from a combination of increased physical activity, and reduced intake on a daily basis.
The NIH U.S. Committee on Dietary Allowance has published recommended energy intakes (number of calories) for various age and sex groups. These numbers also depend on activity level and medical conditions, including pregnancy. Therefore, you don’t need to experience significant food deprivation. The lowest intake per day recommended for women is 1,200 calories, unless they are in a medically supervised weight loss program, very low-calorie regimen that may have a daily level of 500 to 800 calories per day. The lowest level recommended for men is 1,500 calories per day. (A very low-calorie diet can also be used by males if they are in a medically supervised program.)
According to The Mayo Clinic, aim for realistic weight-loss goals. Healthy weight loss occurs slowly and steadily. Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. To do this, they also recommend that you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day through a low-calorie diet and regular, safe exercise following the American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines. Losing weight more rapidly usually means you’re only losing water weight or muscle tissue, rather than fat—which you’ll regain once you stop whatever fad diet you’ve been following.