How Much Weight Can You Lose Per Week?

I get a lot of questions about weight loss - and more specifically, about how much weight a person can (safely) lose per week.

The general recommendation is that you can lose up to 1% of your weight per week. So, if you’re 200 lbs, then that’s 2 pounds the first week. Note that as you release weight, the per week amount changes. If you’re down to 150 lbs, then you wouldn’t want to release more than a pound and a half per week. Following this guideline, most of us wouldn’t want to lose more than a few pounds per week.

The recommend amount may sound low, but remember that losing weight slowly is more sustainable. In addition, in minimizes the sometimes harmful effects of rapid weight loss like loose skin.

But remember - losing weight is one thing, and losing fat is another. Fat is just part of our body’s variable weight. On top of our skeletons are layers of muscle, too. And our bodies contain a tremendous amount of water weight. Losing weight doesn’t tell the whole story.

For example, a dehydrated person will weigh less than when they are hydrated. But obviously, that’s not a good thing. And a person that is exercising and lifting weights may actually gain weight - though the weight gain is good, and the result of increased muscle mass. Clearly, weight is fairly limited as an indicator of body fat or as a measure of overall health.

Moving beyond the scale, I recommend using alternatives like inches lost (from the waist), inches gained (from the biceps, chest, etc.), increases in energy, health changes, body fat percentages and more.

About Davey Wavey

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  1. Sensible advice.. I can’t help but wonder what your opinion of shows like The Biggest Loser is, considering how much they flaunt the fact those people lose up to 10 or 15 lbs “per episode/week”.

    • I think shows like Biggest loser are very extreme and are for the EXTREMLY over weight. They are monitored by Doctors and trainers who are skilled in what they are doing so obviously that is not for normal people who need to shed 10 oe 15 pounds.

    • Reality shows like the biggest loser are closely monitored by a whole team of trainers and doctors. I’m sure that they would advise against the average person targeting such extreme and rapid weight loss.

  2. Nice article. This helps emphasize why fad diets are bad diets. You should eat a diet that you can sustain. Very often with fad diets you will lose weight by losing muscle, which will be counter-productive in the future since muscle mass helps maintain a higher metabolism.
    Zero carb diets are a classic example, and they’re very popular too. Since your body NEEDS carbohydrates to function properly, it will pull the nutrients that it needs to compensate from your muscles and thus you’ll lose weight by losing muscle.

  3. Thanks for the blog on weight loss, I needed the reminder.

  4. regarding body fat percentages:
    I bought one of those scales which calculates your water weight, body fat weight and bone mass percentage. They present the body fat as a percentage also. According to information I’ve come accross, the percentage of body fat I should have for a person my age, sex and height is between 22% to 27%. Currently, the scale indicates my body fat percentage to be 26% so I’m on the high end of what they recommend, and my overall weight is a bit high for a person my size and age. Anyway, I’ve been keeping a log of this information taking scale readings once a week over the past couple of months. While my weight fluxuates a bit, the % of body fat stays right at 26% +/- some decimal amount.

    So, I understand that tracking just the weight isn’t really what is most important. I started doing some bodyweight type exercises last week and the guidance I’ve gotten regarding that is I need to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight which for me is between about 175 - 195 (that varies depending on who you ask.)

    My question is, if I increase the protein intake and maintain this exercise regeme, could that added protein build more fat than muscle? I know it is a slow process and I don’t want to spike my protein intake only to find that my fat % increases because I’m not working out hard enough to build muscle fast enough.

    I am not looking to be Mr. Buffed guy, just trim and healthy.

    Thanks (if you decide to reply.)

    • Aryan Rezvani says:

      I know this is a late reply, Jerry, but I thought I’d answer your question for those who also may be wondering the same thing.

      Yes, you are correct. A proper diet should include approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM). However, that protein should be integrated within your diet.

      For instance, if you are on a 2000 calorie diet and you have 150 pounds of LBM then while staying underneath that caloric limit, you should include 150 grams of protein in your diet.

      The reason for this is the protein is meant to help preserve the muscle you currently have while you’re in a caloric deficit.

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