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Is losing 2 pounds per week realistic?

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Posts: 1,017
4/8/12 6:51 P

I feel age is a huge factor often overlooked. In my younger days, 2 lb. a week was easily achievable weight loss. Over fifty, I do good to lose 2 lb. a month! Your metabolism slows down as you age!


SparkPoints: (1,370)
Fitness Minutes: (736)
Posts: 47
4/8/12 6:48 P

When my husband helped me diet, we ate 1 cup of white rice and 2 cups of cabbage for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2 days and worked out. We lost 5 lbs in 2 days kicking off a diet that included cabbage and rice for 1 meal day, eating healthy protein rich meals for the other 2 meals. We both lost about 25 lbs in 2 months and were able to maintain the weight for about 8 months, slowly gaining weight for 2 months after we quit eating healthy and quit exercise all together.

Posts: 1,377
4/8/12 6:12 P

For me, I could lose 2 pounds a week if all 7 days I eat within my range (the middle of my range or lower) & I work out 6 days a week. So it's "realistic' to say that I could lose 2 lbs a week...but that lifestyle is not realistic for me!! There's no way I'll be able to keep up that perfect of a diet & that much exercise for the rest of my life. So it's more "realistic" that I set my goal at losing 1/2-1 pound a week, which is eating at the middle-top of my calorie range & exercising 4-5 days a week. Does that make sense? Work on setting realistic HABITS and then you'll know what kind of realistic weight loss you can expect.

Posts: 12,141
4/8/12 4:48 P

The best way to calculate is to think about percentage of your EXCESS weight. An overweight person with no other health issues can generally expect to lose between 2 and 3% of their excess weight per week. If you have 40 pounds to lose, that would be 0.8 to 1.2 pounds per week on average. (This formula gives you similar numbers to what others have given-- a person with 75 lbs to lose who loses 2 pounds a week would be at 2.5%) When you're down to the last 10 pounds, it's frustrating because your average loss is almost too small to see on a standard bathroom scale.

So if your ticker is accurate, one pound is much more realistic than two. You'll sometimes go higher than one, but you'll be disappointed if you expect two.

SparkPoints: (661)
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Posts: 145
4/8/12 1:56 A

Different sources give different exact guidelines, but the ones I bothered to record myself were that 2 lbs per week is safe if you're above 175 pounds, but then you should slow down to about 1 lb per week until you hit 145 (or maybe 1.5 pounds in the upper part of that range is ok). Then between 120 and 145, you should slow down to about half a pound per week.

One thing to consider is your skin - if you drop too much fat too quickly, your skin may not have enough time to adjust. So slow and steady is more likely to win the race without other problems. So don't be in too much of a rush. Your body will start fighting you if you lose too fast for it and you'll just gain it all back. That happened to me when I was too sick to eat much for a prolonged period - lost 20 to 30 pounds in just one month, which was way too much for anybody even though I was carrying enough extra to cover it. Once they got me on the right antibiotic and I was able to start eating more (and keep it down), I gained it all back within a few months and added more (although I was in good condition, so that wasn't an immediate problem). Took quite a while to convince my body that it was no longer in danger of starving... I actually started losing weight accidentally when I started eating small meals frequently for other reasons, didn't even realize it until I noticed my clothes were getting looser. But by then, my body was no longer worried about starving. Probably the frequent meals fooled it also. Anyway, you have to sneak up on the body to get it to let go of excess weight without fuss.

Also if you're exercising more now - you may not really know your true goal weight. You might know your "flabby weight" when you're not exercising, but you might weigh more at your "fit weight" if you're building more muscle than you had before. Best to just let your body decide. When I was at my proper weight both in younger days and when older, the scale would just stay steady with just the usual random fluctuations. And if I lost a few real pounds due to illness - on recovery, I would be very hungry and quickly eat my way up to my body's idea of the right weight. This was with no calorie counting at all. If you're eating foods that are right for you, for most people it will be safe to let your appetite guide you once your weight is in the right range.

SparkPoints: (54,915)
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Posts: 9,520
4/7/12 11:19 P

For your weight? Probably not. Generally, only those over 200 lbs can reasonably expect to lose that much. As you get below that (and you're at 190, by your ticker?) you can't really expect that anymore. Sparkpeople places you in teh 1200 to 1500 range because there is no lower range it will give you... it's a sort of failsafe to make sure they don't recommend unhealthily low amounts of food.

Yes, if you eat 1200 and burn 200, your net intake is too low. Unless you're sedentary and/or very small, 1200 isn't enough for you. I work out 5 days a week, and have to have between 1600-1900 calories just to function... and that still gives me enough of a caloric deficit to lose weight.

SparkPoints: (40,608)
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Posts: 16,780
4/7/12 8:31 P

I don't think that losing 2 lbs per week is realistic given you're only trying to lose about 40 lbs if I recall correctly. I know that seems like a lot, but some people have 100 lbs to lose, some people 200 or more.

The reality is, the heavier you are, the more weight you can lose consistently each week. But as we get closer to goal weight, the weight will come off more slowly.

It looks like you're thinking you can lose 40 lbs in 4 weeks, which seems to work mathematically but doesn't work in real-world experience. You *might* be able to lose 2 lbs at first, but I think 1 lb per week is a much more reasonable goal, and then don't forget that you'll be losing weight slower as you get toward target - think losing perhaps 1/4 lb per week.

I want to say that I've read on Spark if you have over 100 lbs to lose, you can lose 2 lbs per week, but below 50 it's 1 lb per week or less. Don't quote me on that, I can't remember for certain.

I don't do the "net" calories thing, I find it makes my mind like a ball of yarn the kitten played with. Maybe I do, I just think about it like this: If I'm at bedrest I need 1500 calories to maintain weight. If I'm moving about like most normal people I need 1800 calories. If I'm exercising I'm burning whatever that is, say 500 calories.

So 1800 calories to maintain my weight living life normally + 500 exercise calories is 2300 calories ... to maintain. If I want to lose, I take off about 250 calories, to make the math easy let's say 300, so I'd then need to eat 2000 calories to lose weight in a nutritionally healthy way.

People think lower is better, but that's not automatic. If you're eating 1200 calories you might be eating too few calories and not lose an ounce ... then again it might be perfect. Personally I'd be so hungry I couldn't think straight.

You need to consume enough to sustain you through all your activities in life, minus just a bit so you lose weight.

Posts: 1,080
4/7/12 8:08 P

Losing 2 lbs per week is reasonable, especially if you have quite a bit to lose.

As for which end of your calorie range to eat on, consider the following things:

1. You don't want to let yourself get too hungry...this can trigger unhealthy eating patterns, increased cravings...all kinds of un-fun stuff.

2. If you are doing much exercise (and you should definitely exercise if you want to lose 2 lbs per week) 1200 calories may not be enough.

Hope this helps!

Posts: 33,498
4/7/12 6:09 P

Most people should never try to lose more than 1% of their bodyweight per week. You can see that you'd have to be over 200lbs to make 2lb/week a reasonable goal, then. This also applies less and less as you weigh less - someone weighing 120 won't lose more than a pound a week on average - it's just too much.

Answers to each...

1. No, the entire range is calculated for the weight loss rate you've set in your goal date. Somewhere mid-range is ideally where the maths works out, but remember that this is only a guideline. Some people do well on lower ends of their ranges, others on upper ends. You are a unique individual and will have to experiment to find what works best for you.

2. Too fast at your weight. You might achieve it right now initially - you're not too far off 200lbs, but that's going to be less and less realistic the more you lose. Aim for one pound a week instead - it's much healthier and going to be far more realistic for you.

3. Exercise is already factored into the daily range. So as long as, over the week, you do as many calories burned as your goal says, then the range is fine every day, regardless of exercise. No daily subtractions required. But if you do regularly exceed (or fail to meet) the burn goal, change the burn goal to be more realistic.

The minimum of 1200 for anyone is based more on nutrition than energy levels. If you work out, you don't necessarily need to eat more calcium, y'know? So no, you don't have to ensure the "net" amount is over that 1200, just "what you put in your mouth".

Frankly, 1200 is for the absolutely sedentary extremely light person. You are neither. You work out, and you want to lose some weight. I would suggest that 1200 would be far too low. You would do better with a one pound a week goal and eating more like maybe 1400-1700 or so. See what range a goal of 1lb/week gives you.

SparkPoints: (32,307)
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Posts: 2,704
4/7/12 5:52 P

Did you set up your fitness goals accurately? On your start page scroll down and look for the red bar on the left side. Click "change" underneath. Scroll down to the last option, where you enter your average weekly calories burned through cardio (just cardio, not strength) and enter the average there. Some weeks might be more, some less, but put in the average. When you go back to your nutrition tracker the suggested calorie range will reflect your cardio activities and you should eat within the suggested range. Some people choose to eat at the low end of their suggested range on days they don't work out, and on the high end when they do, but I never cared.

As for losing two pounds a week, it could happen if you're quite overweight for your height and you have a lot of fat. If you're quite tall and/or already have a lot of muscle weight (like, you're very athletic and active), you won't lose two pounds of fat a week. But, really, if you keep eating within the recommended range and keep exercising (doing cardio to burn calories and strength training to build muscle) you'll see great results!

SparkPoints: (23,606)
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Posts: 777
4/7/12 5:51 P

I'm also on the 1200-1500 caloried recommended range and I've never lost 2 pounds in a week. I stay within my calorie limit and I also exercise 6 days out of 7 and I'm okay with my 1 pound a week or being stable for a couple of weeks. I'm not really looking at the pounds lost but how my clothes are fitting. I'm ready to slip into my spring clothing and I know they'll fit this year. Yahoo!

Posts: 16,242
4/7/12 5:41 P

2 lbs in a week is very realistic. 104 in the next 52 weeks is

I lose 7 in some weeks, and then stall for a month. 150 weeks after starting low carb I am down 138 lbs. Less than a lb a week. I lost 20 the first month. It will slow, there will be ups, there will be downs. Most times you will not have to worry about going over 2

The only thing that matters is staying on plan most of the time, and continually setting new lows. They add up, but usually not at 2 lbs a week, after the first month or so.

SparkPoints: (5,130)
Fitness Minutes: (2,902)
Posts: 307
4/7/12 5:38 P

I understand that 2 pounds/week of weight loss is the maximum recommended speed. I have some questions about this.

1. My SP calculated calorie range is 1200-1500 per day. Does eating closer to 1200 cal/day shoot closer to 2 pounds loss per week?

2. Is losing 2 pounds per week realistic over 3-4 months? Or is that too fast?

3. Should the 1200-1500 range be my daily NET calorie intake when considering exercise? In other words, I if I eat 1200 and burn 200, for a net intake of 1000, is that too low?

Thanks in advance for any advice :)

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