How Fast Can You Safely Lose Weight?
It’s not that losing weight quickly is impossible.
It’s just that if you do it too fast, it can negatively affect your metabolism and make it more difficult to keep the weight off once it’s gone.
So what is the ideal speed for weight loss?
A Quick Look at “Safe”
Most states have laws requiring kids to wear helmets when they ride a bike.
Compare that to when my parents were kids. Not only were BIKE helmets not a thing, but if the family took a car trip, you’d pretty much just set the kids on top of the car and tell them to hold on tight to the luggage rack.
Losing weight too quickly doesn’t run the same risks as not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt. Barring any extremes, it’s not going to kill you. Contrary to what some would have you believe, it also won’t “break” your metabolism.
However, it can SLOW your metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight, and easier to gain it, putting you right back where you started (or even worse off).
That’s what we’re trying to avoid when we talk about losing weight safely.
So How Fast?
A general rule you’ll find is that you can safely lose 1-2 pounds per week. While that’s not a terrible target, it’s not particularly helpful, either.
For instance, if you have a lot of weight to lose (like if you’re medically considered obese), you can lose more than a couple pounds a week (at least in the beginning) and still be ok.
Heck, even if you don’t have that much weight to lose, you could lose 5 pounds in your first week from water weight alone. That’s certainly not a sign to panic.
On the other hand, some people (not all) find when they avoid extreme diets and just start creating better eating habits (which is what we recommend), they simply lose weight more slowly, like a half pound per week.
That’s a perfectly normal rate of weight loss, but if you go into it with the expectation of losing 1-2 pounds per week, you might think you’re doing something wrong.
Half a pound per week will feel like nothing for the first couple months. Yet if you quit, you’d be giving up on losing 26 pounds over the course of a year.
I don’t know about you, but 26 pounds in a year sounds better to me than losing 20 pounds in a month just to gain 30 back later.
There’s no definite number on how much weight you should lose per week. That’s why I suggest tracking progress in other ways.
Pay attention to how your clothes fit.
Then step on the scale if you want (and if you can avoid obsessing over it), but don’t rely on it as the sole indicator of your success. Keep track of your progress over the course of a week or two, rather than worrying about the daily fluctuations.
Just don’t be discouraged if you’re losing less than you hoped (or none at all), as long as there are other signs of progress.
For the Record
There are times when you can be intentional about losing weight more quickly than I discussed here. However, it should be considered an advanced strategy, done under the supervision of a coach who knows how to do it effectively. And it should be temporary — not a long-term approach.
That’s something we offer as part of our 1-on-1 coaching (which you can read about here). But not for everyone. Only those who have shown they are ready for it. A temporary phase of rapid fat loss can never be a substitute for good eating habits, no matter how “safe” the plan.