Losing one pound a day is not really a good idea. The general recommendation is to lose one to one and a half pounds a week steadily over the next few months. If you really need to lose weight drastically, you should do it under medical supervision.
To lose one pound in a day, you will need to exercise intensely daily and cut back on a lot of the calories daily. It may crash your metabolism, giving rise to other problems such as electrolyte imbalance and low sugars.
You need to burn 3500 calories a day to lose one pound a day, and you need anywhere between 2000 and 2500 calories in a day if you are doing your routine activities. That means you need to starve yourself the whole day and exercise as much as to lose the remaining calories. This is practically not possible.
Eating a high-protein food when you do moderate- to high-intensity exercises will curb your weight and help you build lean muscle mass. Additionally, you need to hydrate yourself after you sweat out. To lose one pound, you may have to restrict a lot of calories, including protein-rich foods as well. However, that is only going to make you unhealthy and give you only a skinny look and not a well-toned body in the long run.
A strong desire to lose weight drastically may signal a body image disorder and may need counseling and medicines. If you are obsessed with drastic weight loss or you keep counting calories every minute, it is not a healthy habit.
What are the side effects of losing one pound a day?
Rapid weight loss might make you shed those extra pounds quickly but at the cost of serious risks that include:
- Nutritional deficiency: Consuming less food to reduce calorie intake may make you prone to malnutrition. You may eat less protein and get fewer intakes of your vitamins and minerals. You may use nutritional supplements, but consuming nutrients directly from fresh food and fruits/vegetables provides more health benefits.
- Brittle bones: Reduced calcium and vitamin D intake will affect both the muscles and bones and make you prone to fractures.
- Gallstones: When you eat less, the gallbladder produces less of its digestive juice. Over time, the stagnated digestive juice gives rise to gallstones, which is a medical condition. It occurs in 12-25 out of every 100 people who try to lose weight quickly.
- Dehydration: This can make you feel tired, fatigued, and give you headaches and leg cramps. In the long run, persistent dehydration will make your skin to develop wrinkles more than for your age.
- Slower metabolism: Rapid weight loss has been shown to reduce the metabolic rate. This can make you more likely to regain much of the lost weight in a few years. An analysis of 29 studies on rapid weight loss programs found that more than half of the lost weight was regained within two years, and by five years, more than 80% of lost weight was regained.
Other side effects of rapid weight loss include:
What should you do to achieve sustained weight loss?
Gradual weight loss is sustained more easily than rapid weight loss.
It is recommended to lose one to two pounds per week and not one pound daily. This means reducing the calorie intake by only 500 kcal per day.
Losing one to two pounds/week just requires the incorporation of healthy dietary habits and regular physical activities.
Healthy dietary habits to achieve slow but sustained weight loss are as follows:
- Substituting high-calorie, low-nutrient foods with low-calorie, high-nutrient foods
- Replacing the processed, packaged food with whole cereals, fruits, and vegetables
- Choosing low-fat products instead of high-fat items (low-fat skimmed milk instead of high-fat milk)
- Including more proteins and less proportion of carbohydrates in the diet
- Intermittent fasting technique
The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activities five days a week or 150 minutes of physical activities spread over a week. You can do high-intensity exercises along with moderate ones in between. Along with aerobic activities (jogging, cycling), you can do weight-bearing exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises. Swimming is excellent exercise.
It is necessary to speak with your doctor, fitness expert, and certified nutritionist/dietician before you embark on any rapid weight loss programs. This applies more to people with an underlying health condition such as heart disease.
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Finkler E, et al. Rate of weight loss can be predicted by patient characteristics and intervention strategies. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(1):75-80.
Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am. 2018;102(1):183-197.