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I often like to set short term goals that don't really work for weight loss. I'm wondering if there is a general principle I should obey like 'lose 1 kilogram per two weeks' - what sort of rate of weight loss should I work towards? I'd appreciate it if anyone had any good information or sources that discuss this topic.

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10 Answers 10

up vote 22 down vote accepted

You lose weight because you either eat less or exercise more. So it will depend on a combination of those two how fast you would lose weight.

Since 1 kg fat gives your body 7000 kcal of energy, 7000kcal/14 days = 500 kcal/day.

It depends on your activity level, your job and lifestyle whether that's a healthy goal. The purpose of any diet is not just to lose, but also keep off any weight you lose. So rushing yourself only to swing back a couple of months later won't do you any good.

So what can you do? Get more exercise, but here exercise means working out at 50-60% of your maximal heart rate, examples? Take the stairs at work, cycle to your work or for grocery shopping, get a dog and walk it each day, take a stroll through the park at lunch, anything that will keep you moving.

On top of that, like the other mentioned: pick a sport and set yourself a goal. I prefer running, because you'll be burning lots of calories from the start and it will only get more once you're able to run longer. While jogging for 20 minutes may seem like a bad exercise, you'll be surprised how long you'll be able to run three or six months from now. If you can run 5 km every other day, you'll be burning at least 5000 kcal a month, so you'll keep losing weight as long as you keep it up.

My take home message: The goal is not to lose a kilo every 2 weeks now, but to permanently keep them off for the rest of your life. You're working out to improve your fitness, so you'll be able to lose weight once you're fit enough.

And perhaps more importantly: there's a strong correlation between your capacity for exercise and your general health. So you should be working out regardless of your weight, losing weight in the process just makes it more worthwhile.

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Great answer, thanks very much –  Ciaocibai Mar 2 '11 at 11:47
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-1. While doing sports for the health benefits is a good idea, doing them for losing weight is seriously sub-optimal solution. Running every other day: wastes lots of time; and makes you hungrier, diminishing the benefits; doing it regularly whole life puts too much strain on joints. –  Boris Jul 3 '12 at 23:15
    
@Boris while you're right it may be sub-optimal in terms of time-efficiency, I feel like a lot of people get overweight by being extremely sedentary (myself included). If you have a desk job all day and sit on the couch at night, you need to get some exercise. As for the joints, I believe that's plain wrong: if you don't use it, you lose it. So sitting behind a desk puts more strain on your joints than regular jogging (except perhaps for morbidly obese) –  Ivo Flipse Jul 4 '12 at 7:13
    
5km not 5K a day ;) –  Vivek Jul 5 '12 at 17:31
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@boris - Done properly, with good form and good equipment (proper shoes), there is no problem with running 5-7 days a week. There are many many thousands of people that have been doing this for years with no problems. If you are predisposed to injuries that can be exacerbated by running, then yes, it's a bad idea, but that's the same for any sport/activity. Running gets a bad rap because people dig out their old sneakers and leap off the couch and go run 20 miles in a week, then wonder why they got hurt, and blame running rather than their own bad actions. –  JohnP Aug 21 '12 at 14:55

This will widely vary person to person and most claims that you will lose x number of kilos in a certain period of time are unfounded. You should consult your GP or a dietician if you want a definitive answer.

You should set your exercise goals based on fitness milestones and have your weight milestones as a consequence of that.

Depending on your current fitness level you could set yourself a goal for either distance or time with either walking, jogging or running.

Swimming is also a great for setting goals as it can be done by people of all fitness levels.

You can also apply similar goals to your eating habits.

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Weight loss depends from person to person. Some people are able to lose the weight faster than others. It can also be a terrible metric of success if weight-loss is the only concentration. (For example, muscle weighs more than fat, if one gains more muscle than he/she loses fat, they will actually gain in weight)

A better mindset to have is to set goals regarding the actual exercise rather than weight loss. As you set a goal to exercise more frequently and with greater efficiency. Some example goals can be:

  • Run x miles everyday
  • X amount of push ups each day
  • By end of the month, I will be push myself to do X amount of sit-ups

As you set goals like these, fat will be lost, and you will become more healthier.

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Your metabolism slows down as you age, so a rate that is good (or sustainable) for one age bracket will not be suitable for an older age bracket.

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This book recommends 0.5kg a week in order to avoid muscle wasting, which assumes you are exercising regularly while you lose weight.

0.5kg is also fairly achievable if you don't over indulge on chocolate, crisps or alcohol etc. on a regular basis. It may get tough if you're a social eater or drinker, but as long as your daily calorie intake, averaged across the week, is less than the amount you require then you'll lose weight. A slow steady burn is far easier and a lot more rewarding than losing 1-2kg quickly and bouncing back again.

The 'algorithm' it uses is fairly easy to apply, and has been adapted slightly and used on sites like livestrong. It goes into great details, giving you your daily intake of grammes of fat, carbs and protein.

  • Estimate your RMR (resting metabolic rate):
    • 31-60 male : (body weight kg x 11.6) + 879
    • 31-60 female : (body weight kg x 8.7) + 829
    • (There's other age ranges which I'd need to look up again)
  • Calculate your daily energy expenditure:
    • Sedentary: RMR x 1.4 (n.b. this coefficient assumes some degree of walking during the day)
    • Moderate: RMR x 1.7
    • Very active: RMR x 2.0
  • Estimate the number of calories expended during exercise over the course of a week then divide by 7.
  • Add figures from steps 2 + 3
  • Reduce your calorie intake by 15%
  • Calculate your carbohydrate needs in g - step 5 x 0.6%, divide by 4.
  • Calculate your protein needs in g - 1.6g per kg, per day.
  • For a percentage, multiply by 4, divide by total calories from step 5, multiply by 100.
  • Calculate your fat needs (percentage) : 100 - 60 - (protein %)
    • Turn this back into grammes: (cals x fat %) / 9

From my own experience this formula gives you more calorie allowance than you should get on the Sedentary level. If you want to something to calculate it for you, I wrote this calculator based on it.

In my view the livestrong.com version is more refined and a better option.

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I've been going to nutritionist & weight-loss expert in the past few months who helped me loose about 20kg, and he recommended 0.5 - 1kg per week.

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What you want is probably fat loss, not weight loss. It's more a body recomposition thing and it's not easy to track. The best low-tech, cheap method is measuring the waist, using a tape measure or calipers. That's what worked for me.

In any case you will want to combine a nutrition / feeding habits component with an exercise regimen component (otherwise you will loose muscle mass). My experience is that adhesion to a given regimen is really the most important variable, and this is a personal thing. I think some diets are more effective than others but a 50% effective diet adhered to 100% is better than a 100% effective diet adhered to 30%...

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Between 0.5Kg and 0.6Kg per week is safe. More may be dangerous.

Several studies show that "A slow weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds a week, until the desirable body weight is reached, is best."

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.

Rockville American Heart Association Nutrition Committee; A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss

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I'm sure they included as to why that was considered a good rate of weight loss, care to add that as well? –  Ivo Flipse Mar 11 '11 at 9:54

Dr Barry Sears (Zone Diet) claims that no one can take of more than about 0.75 kg every week, in pure fat that is. Everything over that is not healthy

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There is no such thing as ideal weight loss rate. Although I agree with many saying that 0.5kg per week is a nice goal to avoid muscle loss and gaining all later, you should think that a good loss rate changes every 5kg of your total body weight.

If you are a male past 120kg losing more than 1 kg a week should be your minimum. If you are a female trying go below 60kg, depending on your condition, 150 grams a week might be the way to go.

I am sure that there are many complicated formulas out there, but it would be better if you think more of body fat percentage. If you are in the obese section, then any consistent and weekly weight loss, not foo far from 0.5kg/week would be great

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