Friday, August 14, 2009

Safe Weight Loss?

Monique, I recently read one of your Q&A's, you recommended a weight loss rate of two pounds per month. That seems extremely slow to me. I have approximately 55 pounds I want to lose. Using your recommendation, it would take more than four years to lose this excess weight. I agree losing 55 pounds in one month is not a good idea, however 4 and 3/4 years is a too long. Is there a safe way to lose the weight in six months to a year. That a weight lost rate of approximately 5 to 10 pounds a week. Thanks Kim 

Answer: According to my calculations, it would take you about 2-1/3 years to lose 55 pounds, not 4-3/4 years. (2 pounds per month x 12 months = 24 pounds per year. 55 pounds divided by 24 = 2.29 years or 2 years and 4 months.)

I advise people of all ages that if they want to permanently lose weight, they should do it slowly in order to make healthy lifestyle changes. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) also shares this view. Losing 2 pounds a month, means that at the end of a year you would be 24 pounds lighter, and the eating and activity habits created to achieve this weight loss would become entrenched into your lifestyle. Additionally, slow weight loss will prevent your metabolism from slowing down, and will allow your body and skin time to adjust. Many people who lose too much weight too quickly suffer from hanging and sagging skin. Also, according to the ADA, most people who lose weight too quickly will regain their weight and then some within two years. This is why I promote a slower and longer approach to weight loss, so that the new and healthier way of eating and living will become a permanent part of your life -- not just a temporary quick fix doomed for failure.

Most quick weight loss methods make you feel deprived and hungry. Many people end up obsessing about food and what they cannot eat. A more sensible approach to weight management is one that helps you make painless changes in your eating habits to shave calories, and realistic changes in your activity level to burn more calories. Then, as a result of these two factors, you will lose pounds healthily.

If you desire to lose more than 2 pounds a month, I highly advise that you consult your doctor to ensure that you do not put your health at risk. Rapid weight loss puts your body under a lot of stress. It thinks it is going to die of starvation. Major changes to your body's chemistry can occur (hormonal, insulin, metabolism, etc.). This is why I tell people who want to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time to do so only with the help of medical supervision.

Here are some basic facts about calories and weight loss. One pound of body weight equals 3500 calories. This means that for every pound you wish to lose you have to: (1) eat 3500 fewer calories; (2) burn 3500 more calories; or (3) achieve a 3500-calorie deficit with a combined approach of eating less and exercising more. (I believe that option three is the best and healthiest way to lose weight.)

To lose 2 pounds a month you would need to create a 7000-calorie deficit (3500 calories per pound x 2). If you divide 7000 by 30 (for the days in an average month) you will see that you only need to adjust your daily eating and activity level by 233 calories. This is easy and painless to achieve and stick to in the long-run. Don't try to turn your eating habits and your lifestyle activities upside down to shed pounds. You will only get frustrated and not stick with it. Instead, set small realistic goals to make healthy behavior changes. This way you'll set yourself up to practice these healthy changes and control your weight well into the future.

To learn more about healthy weight loss and management, read:

(1) All about dieting at

(2) "Weight Management - Position of ADA" at

(3) All about exercising at

For more weight loss advice, read my Q&A's . . .

"Weight loss program for vegans and vegetarians?"

 " I have a weight problem - please help!"

"How can I tighten my torso after losing a lot of weight?"

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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.


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Permission must be obtained to use information from this blog.

This blog is only intended to offer health information to help you understand the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle. It is not intended to diagnose, dispense medical advise or prescribe the use of diet as a form of treatment for illness without medical approval. In the event you use this information without a health practitioner's approval, you are prescribing for yourself, which is your right. However, the publisher and author assume no responsibility.