The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend aiming to reduce only 1-2 pounds of weight per week for an effective and safe weight loss. Losing more than that is not advised because it may cause more harm than good.
Losing 5 pounds a week comes to reducing your food intake by 3500 calories over seven days. The value that represents the decrease in calorie intake is known as the calorie deficit. If you want to lose 5 pounds in a week, you will need to reduce your food intake by 17,500 calories, which is a huge calorie deficit. If you weigh 250-pound, you will need to reduce your daily calorie intake to about 1,250 calories per day, an amount which is too low amounting to starvation.
Our body weight is composed of muscle, water content, and fat, which vary as per our diet, lifestyle, and the physical activities we perform. When rapid weight loss such as losing 5 pounds of weight a week is achieved with a highly calorie-restricted diet, you lose out on the muscle mass and water as well. Without hydrating yourself, you can fall prey to dehydration. Losing on the muscle can make your metabolism slower because metabolism also depends on your muscle mass. A slower metabolism makes it hard for you to lose weight. Your bones may become more porous and brittle.
Rapid weight loss programs are considered unhealthy in the long-term because it can make you fatigued, give you headaches, compromise your digestion, and even cause hair loss. You may also develop a medical condition known as gall stones (cholelithiasis), which may need surgery.
Remember, losing a few inches around your waist and hips is more important than weighing less on the scale. The focus should be on building the muscle mass as well as losing the excess fat in the body.
What are the healthier ways of losing weight?
A slow and steady weight loss is a healthier and sustainable weight-loss strategy than rapid weight loss.
Here is what you can do:
- Substitute high-calorie, low-nutrition food with low-calorie, high-nutrition food
- Opt for food containing whole-grain cereals instead of the processed, packaged foods, such as white bread
- Choose boiled, roasted, or baked chicken over the fried chicken
- Cut back on soft drinks and instead replace them with fruit smoothies or unsweetened fruit juices
- Look for the fat content in dairy milk and go for low-fat milk
The American Heart Association recommends moderate physical activities of 30 minutes for 5 days in a week or 150 minutes of activities spread over the week. To lose more weight, you can stretch it to 300 minutes a week. To spice it up and stay motivated, you can perform a combination of various exercises or physical activities that are dispersed throughout the week.
- Aerobic activities (also known as cardio exercises, endurance activities): These include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, Zumba, and swimming.
- Strength training: Gaining one pound of muscle through strength-training exercises will help you burn 5-10 extra calories a day.
Chronic stress that is poorly managed may lead to elevated cortisol levels that stimulate your appetite. This may cause you to gain weight or make losing weight difficult for you. Activities like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are proven stressbusters that can help you shed that extra weight.
You can stay in touch with a healthcare provider or a certified dietician to counsel you throughout your weight loss journey. This method has been shown to accelerate the weight loss program than trying to manage it all alone.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Mayoclinic. Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics. July 02, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065
Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am. January 2018;102(1):183-197. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29156185/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing weight. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html