When we lose weight we don’t just lose fat. We lose a combination of body fat, and muscle tissue. For example, studies show that when a person is dieting, the weight that is lost on average is 75 percent fat and 25 percent muscle. And a high percentage of this weight loss is likely to be water. Water accounts for about 70 percent of the total body weight of an average person, with muscle tissue containing roughly 75 percent water, and body fat containing roughly 50 percent water. The human body does not lose weight at a regular or uniform speed. Different people lose weight at different speeds. Many variables exist that will affect the rate of weight loss for different people. Some of these factors include, your current weight, diet and diet history and the lifestyle that you live (smoker, drinker); level of physical activity; genetics (which will include your metabolic rate) and current health and level of stress experienced throughout your daily life.
So not only does weight loss include other things besides fat-tissue, the actual speed of weight reduction is determined by a variety of factors related to each individual. So it’s difficult, if not impossible, to give a precise answer to the question “how fast can I lose weight?” However, as a rough guide, here are some basic guidelines for maximum weight loss. While it is possible to lose an abundant amount of weight quickly, most of it is likely to be water. It will therefore be regained as soon as you resume your normal eating habits. A person who is considered obese may be able to lose up to 3-4 lbs a week assuming they are in good health. Most all others, by comparison, can successfully lose between 1-1.5lbs of fat each week. If you are consistently within this range, your success rate for keeping the weight off in the long run increases substantially.
Our bodies are designed to survive and not to shed weight at a fast pace. This is why it won’t lose excessive amounts of fat in a short period of time. If you drastically reduce your calorie-intake in your meal plan, your brain takes active steps to slow down your metabolism, in order to conserve calories. This is one reason why we encounter a weight loss plateau. If you are an average sized man or woman looking to shed 20-30 lbs, a calorie deficit of more than 500 a day can put you at risk for this plateau. This means that if you currently maintain your weight by consuming 2500 calories a day and decrease to 1600, your body may have a reverse reaction and your metabolism will slow itself down.
Rapid weight loss can lead to unpleasant side effects. Studies have shown that people who lose excessive amounts of weight very quickly, have a greater risk of developing gallstones than those who lose weight at slower speeds. Gallstones are solid masses of material, mostly cholesterol that form in the gall bladder. Here bile breaks down fat during digestion and eliminates cholesterol. If the cholesterol becomes too saturated, gallstones can form. Too rapid weight reduction may also cause “silent” gallstones to become active. Silent gallstones produce no symptoms and people may never know they existed.
Sudden fast weight reduction is usually caused by artificial changes to our eating habits as a result of very-low-calorie diet plans. And to no surprise, this does not give us enough time to learn new eating habits. So although our physical weight may have changed, our mental approach to food and eating remains the same. Without support from others, we commonly find ourselves unable to sustain the new dietary habits required to maintain the new lighter weight, and we regain the lost weight. This in turn, leads to Yo-Yo dieting. The effects of this can not only lead to regaining the lost weight, but sometimes will add more weight each time an attempt is made. By making a plan to lose 1-1.5 lbs a week, you can give yourself the best chance for success. A Registered Dietician can help you plan your diet so you have a healthy meal plan and the right amount of calories for you. So when your next big event is around the corner, a reunion, vacation or just getting ready for swimsuit season, and you find yourself a few pounds more than you would like, plan ahead and give yourself enough time for safe and effective weight loss.