How Fast Should I Lose Weight?

No one wants to lose weight too slowly. The problem is, if you do it too quickly, you have a significantly higher chance of gaining all that weight back when it’s all said and done.

So what is the ideal speed for weight loss?

I have all the details for you.

“Safe” Weight Loss

I remember when I was a kid and we took a trip across the country. My parents folded the back seats down, laid out sleeping bags, and my sister and I slept (with no stinkin’ seat belts to cramp our dreams) as they drove through the night.

I can only imagine what it was like when my parents were kids themselves. They probably got set on top of the family station wagon and were told to grab the luggage rack and hold on tight.

Losing weight too quickly doesn’t run the same risks as not wearing 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 (read more about that in “Did You Break Your Metabolism?”).

However, dropping too many pounds at once CAN cause your body to adapt and burn less calories throughout the day. This makes it more difficult to continue losing weight and easier to gain it again, putting you right back where you started (or even worse off).

So when I talk about how fast you should go, I’m talking about finding a “safe” rate of weight loss, from the perspective of what will have the least negative effect on your body AND that will give you an actual shot at long-term success.

So How Fast?

A common rule you’ll hear 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, the amount of weight a 350 pound person could be ok to lose (theoretically) is way more than what someone who weighs 150 pounds can expect to drop each week (in real life).

Giving a blanket “1 or 2 pounds per week” statement doesn’t make sense in either of those scenarios.

Heck, no matter how much you weigh, it’s possible to lose more than 2 pounds in your first week from water weight alone. That’s certainly not a sign to panic.

Another problem with that recommendation is that it can make you think you’re failing when you aren’t.

For example, some people are able to get more consistent results simply by working on better eating habits, keeping the stress threshold low, and losing 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 12 months of dieting.