How much weight can you lose in a week without compromise?
This is an important topic and one that is often neglected due to attention-grabbing claims in newspapers, social media posts, and ads.
I’m sure you have seen the ads “lose 45lbs in 4 weeks, lose 75lbs in 5 months” both are actual real ads I saw.
Let’s break these down to a weekly weight loss.
45lbs /4 = 11.25lbs / week, and no they did not recommend amputations 🙄
75lbs/20 = 3.75lbs / week, closer to reality but still off the chart.
spoiler alert neither one is realistic nor sustainable.
What is missing here?
- The starting weight is important for the following reasons, a person weighing 400lbs will have a higher metabolic rate than a person at 200lbs.
- What was the default diet before the weight loss, studies show conclusively that eating ultra-processed foods and drinking calorie-dense drinks will increase calorie intake dramatically.
- What were the exercise or movement habits? Without going too far into this topic, looking at return on investment, resistance training is the winner here.
- Was the person insulin resistant? Insulin resistance aka metabolic syndrome responds better to a diet low in carbohydrates that includes a good amount of protein up to 1g per lbs.
- What was the body composition before and after the diet? Strictly focusing on the scale can be a problem, you can lose weight and unfavorably shift your body composition.
Why is this important?
- A higher metabolic rate due to a higher starting weight will make weight loss easier due to a larger calorie budget available.
- If the current diet is high in ultra-processed foods it’s easy to overconsume (often 500kcal) without reaching satiety, think baked potato vs potato chips. When switching from a high carbohydrate diet to a low intake the initial weight loss can be substantial due to a loss of stored water when glycogen is depleted. Carbohydrates are bound to water in a ratio 0f 1:3 (1gram of glucose 3g of water)
- Going from a sedentary lifestyle to a highly active one. A word of caution here, using exercise as the main driver of weight loss is not sustainable and is the wrong focus.
- Although very common now, not everyone is insulin resistant, and if you are not in this camp you can eat a larger amount of carbohydrates without detrimental effects.
Focusing on whole foods, minimally processed and you will do well.
- Strictly focusing on the scale, cutting calories more than 25% of the daily requirement for weight maintenance, and a heavy emphasis on cardio workouts can lead to lean tissue loss (muscle) and alter the body composition to less muscle and more fat. This will reduce metabolic rate and set you up for failure in the future. Muscle mass is more expensive metabolically and when faced with long-term starvation your body will make adjustments to reduce the big spenders to make the calorie budget work.
As we age muscle is lost already and I want to stress the importance of muscle mass, it is directly linked to longevity and long-term weight loss success.
What is a realistic goal in regards to weekly weight loss?
- 1% of the current body weight is generally a good number to strive for (please note it is still quite a bit and lower numbers are not failures), as you lose weight the number changes obviously, this helps account for some of the changes in metabolic rate or in other words caloric requirements. At 2oolbs shooting for a 2lbs weight loss per week is a realistic goal.
Other Factors to consider!
- Focus on body composition more than weight. This is important for future success, longevity, and health. In other words, don’t become the thin person without muscle to protect you from injury and keep you from carrying the groceries to the car or lifting your kids, grandkids, or pet. Look at muscle mass like retirement funds, more is better.
- Consider weight loss breaks, this is important to long-term success and sustainability, holiday season may be a good time to maintain weight as a goal rather than take the weight off.
- You may be a slow responder, this can be tricky as you are doing the right things but the results are delayed, and you may give up before the results happen. This is where a coach is helpful to keep you on track and ensure success.
- It has to work for you, your schedule, and your goals! This is important if you can’t stick to it don’t start, another area where a coach can help you determine what’s right for you and how to make it work for you.
- Put health first. Don’t compromise your health to reach a weight loss goal, most cleanses and diet supplements are useless at best and potentially harmful. Focusing on health can be a powerful way to avoid a restrictive diet mindset.
- Make the goal weight realistic, and create intermediate goals to keep you on track, if you have to make adjustments, change the timeframe, not the goal.
- Think long-term, focusing on rapid weight loss may compromise future weight loss (lean mass loss).
- Make it a lifestyle, not a short-term solution that you ditch as soon as your goal is reached only to regain the weight.
- Avoid Jojo dieting losing weight only to regain more is teaching your body to get fat faster and more efficiently, very much the opposite of what you want.
- 80% of weight loss is driven by the food you eat, eating less and working out more fails 95% of the time.
- Don’t focus on calories alone, focus on the hormonal response from foods. 100 calories from chips don’t provide the same satiety as 100 calories from salmon.
- To point 11 don’t ignore calories entirely they do matter.
- If you don’t tolerate the food don’t eat it, not even in moderation, elimination diets can be very helpful here.
Stay healthy my friend, share this with friends that will find this helpful.