When you first decide you want to lose weight, you usually have no idea how to do it. You don’t know what to eat, you don’t know what types of exercise to do, or even how long to do them, and you certainly don’t know how long it’s going to take to start seeing results.
I’ve done heaps of posts about eating, ranging from the basic “what kind of foods to eat“, to the advanced “fiber and its effects on weight loss“. Same with exercise, I’ve done posts on the best types of cardio, what kind of exercises to do at the gym, etc. As far as diet and exercise go, there is a vast amount of information already on my site. One thing I haven’t really dived into is the speed at which weight loss occurs. A long time reader recently sent me a question; “I’ve decided to lose weight, and was wondering how fast can you lose weight healthily?” I thought damn, that’s a really good question that I’m sure many other people are asking, so I decided to answer it.
Now, we all know you can lose weight really fast by starving yourself and exercising for hours on end every day. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, now you do, I guess. Losing massive amounts of weight through risky methods is all good and fine if you’re alright with taking gambles with your long term health, and if you’re not afraid of sudden, scary, painful death. If you’re more cautious, and actually care about your overall long term health and don’t want to die, then stick around because we’re going to talk about how fast you can lose weight through healthy methods. Healthy, fast, permanent weight loss is the name of this game.
So how fast CAN you lose weight healthily?
This question is actually really hard to answer, because “healthy” is subjective as hell. For the sake of this post, we’re just going to assume that the fastest weight loss that is still healthy is at such a rate that has been proven to:
- Not kill, or otherwise leave you incapable of living.
- Not burn you out to the point where you give up, binge eat, and regain all your weight.
- Not leave you with hideous stretch marks. (Some stretch marks might be unavoidable, but we can limit the severity of them by not going too fast.)
- Not cause any diseases, damage any internal organs, and
- Not cause any external injuries.
With these limits in mind, I set out to do some research that, combined with my own personal experience with weight loss, allowed me to come up with a weight loss rate that is fast, safe, healthy, and most likely permanent. You ready for it? Here it is….
One to Two pounds per week
If you’d done some research prior to finding this post, you’ve probably seen this amount mentioned. 1-2 pounds of fat loss a week is pretty widely regarded as the fastest rate of weight loss that is still safe and healthy. When I lost weight, I lost about a pound a week for nearly a year, and it was the perfect blend between not being too hard (the diet and exercise), and not being too slow (the amount of weight I lost). Every week I could feel myself getting smaller and smaller, and it wasn’t even that much of a challenge to eat less and exercise more. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to try and lose 3 or 4 pounds a week though, that would be really hard. If you’re a lot heavier than just “overweight” (300 pounds+) you could probably lose 2-3 pounds a week with the same effort it would take a slightly overweight person to lose 1-2. I’d recommend trying to lose 1 pound a week if you’ve only got a few pounds to lose, 2 pounds a week if you are 30-80 pounds overweight, and 3 pounds a week if you are any heavier than that.
At the end of the day it all comes down to how much you can individually lose by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. If you only lose a pound a week, so be it, and if you find yourself losing 5 pounds a week, then that’s ok too. As long as you aren’t starving yourself, taking weight loss pills, or working yourself to the point where you faint, any amount of weight loss is healthy.