How Fast Can You Lose Weight Safely?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma, MT, undergrad MD on July 3, 2019
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Obesity has become a serious health problem today. According to statistics in 2017, about 36% of American adults are obese; that is more than 1 in 3 persons. Globally, the ratio is more than 1 in 10 people (1).

a woman exercising

What is more alarming is that children have become heavier too! In the past 3 decades, the number of cases of childhood obesity has more than doubled among kids aged 2-5, and nearly tripled among youths and adolescents (2).

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop serious health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, and cancer, regardless of the presence or absence of other risk factors (3). This explains why most people would want and try to lose weight very quickly.

But losing weight is not that easy. It requires commitment and strategy. How much weight should you lose to be healthy? Is it safe to do quickly? How can you be successful at keeping weight off?

In this article, we’ll look at the many benefits of losing weight and some tips and strategies to help get you on the road to better health.

Why Lose Weight?

There are several great reasons why one should lose weight.

1. Reduces Risk of High Blood Pressure and Stroke

Controlling your weight can help reduce high blood pressure and stroke risks. Extra pounds strain the circulatory system and may cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Losing at least 10% of your current weight can help decrease your blood pressure and stroke risk (4, 5).

2. Reverses Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is also a very serious health condition that causes elevated blood glucose level. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 8% of Americans suffer from it (6).

There is a link between type 2 diabetes and obesity. One study looked at 30 patients aged 20-65 who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for 3-6 years and were not using insulin. They were from Scotland and England.

Half of the group were placed in a strict weight loss program. Their diet was replaced by milkshakes and soups for 3-5 months, with a maximum of 853 calories daily. This was followed by a gradual reintroduction of solids and support to maintain their weight loss long term. The control group, on the other hand, were given tradition diabetes care and continued their medications.

Results showed that nearly half or 46% of people in the weight loss group had normal blood glucose level after a year as compared to only 4% in the control group. The researchers think that this was because weight loss reduced fat inside the liver and the pancreas, allowing them to return to normal function (7).

3. Controls Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

Not all people know that weight loss and allergies are related. Excess weight may worsen asthma and allergies. It negatively affects the adrenal glands, which take part in controlling asthma and allergies. Excess weight also decreases respiratory function, which may exacerbate asthma symptoms (8).

4. Relieves Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Weight loss and arthritis also have a strong connection that is tied to inflammation in the body. One study found that a weight loss of 10% can help improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis (9).

A newer study analyzed data collected from 240 overweight and obese patients with painful osteoarthritis of the knee. They are at least 55 years old and had a sedentary lifestyle. Most were white females. Results showed that those who lost 20% or more of their body weight had significantly less inflammation. They reported less pain and could walk farther in a 6-minute test as compared to others (9).

5. Boosts Memory

Mental weight-loss benefits can go further, boosting memory. One study in Sweden looked at 20 overweight postmenopausal women. Results suggest that obesity-related problems in memory function are reversible with weight loss. Brain-activity has increased in regions that are very significant for matching faces or identification (10).

Another study done at the University of Columbia found that exercise may change the brain in ways that protect memory. Regular aerobic exercise can help boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in learning and verbal memory (11).

6. Improves Sleep

The prospect of getting a good night’s sleep is a strong weight-loss motivator. One study on 33 obese patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome showed that weight loss, induced by low-calorie diet and behavioral changes, can significantly improve sleep quality and daytime sleepiness (12).

Another study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine looked at 77 overweight patients with either prediabetes or type 2 DM. Most complain of sleep apnea, insomnia, daytime fatigue. Six months after, they had lost approximately 15 pounds and reduced their belly fat by 15%. Sleep quality improved (13).

Researchers from Oregon State University also found that people who exercise for at least 150 minutes weekly slept better and felt more alert and active during the day as compared to those who did not exercise much (14).

6. Changes Mood Positively

People who are overweight normally have imbalances, which includes the hormones that affect mood. As a result, losing weight can change your overall well-being positively and decrease the risk of depression.

A review of 10 studies investigating the relationship between weight loss and mood change was done. Results showed significant positive changes in mood were noted in 6 out of 10 studies. These positive changes were related to active participation in the treatment program (15).

Avoiding serious medical conditions aren’t the only great reasons why one should lose weight. In addition to these health benefits, one may also experience a healthier lifestyle after slimming down. Many successful losers report a more active social life, greater confidence, good sleep, less stress, better body image and mood, improved sex life, and heightened energy.

While the above-mentioned medical and lifestyle benefits of losing weight are enough to motivate you to stick to a good diet and exercise program, others do it to improve the quality of their relationship with others. For example, some people want to lose weight to save their marriage.

But how can you lose weight safely? How fast?

A Safe Rate for Weight Loss

Generally, health experts recommend a weight loss of 1-2 pounds weekly (16, 17). This rate demands a deficit of approximately 500-1000 calories daily, which can be achieved by increasing physical activity and consuming fewer calories.

Why Do A Slow and Steady Rate?

To achieve permanent weight loss, you must learn how to incorporate healthier habits that you can live with and maintain. This includes healthily satisfying your cravings and hunger by smart snacking, eating more vegetables and fruits, and reducing portion sizes. It also means finding a workout routine that you’ll truly enjoy.

This will result in a steady pace of weight loss, which is easier to maintain to reach your long-term goals. It may take time to build these good habits, but as soon as you become accustomed to them, losing weight and keeping it becomes a lot easier.

With a slow and steady rate of weight loss, your body metabolizes fat to provide enough energy to compensate your calorie deficit. You will not lose muscle mass and you’ll have a more fit and toned body.

Why Not Do Rapid Weight Loss?

At the beginning of your weight loss journey, you’ll be impressed with the drop of as much as 10 pounds in the first couple of weeks brought about by the changes in your eating habits and water weight loss. After that, however, you must slow down. If not, you risk losing muscles, which can decrease your metabolic rate over time (18).

Rapid weight loss will also involve habits that are quite hard to maintain like eating too few calories and exercising at intensity levels greater than what is appropriate for your level. The use of unhealthy pills and supplements, along with food restriction can also put you in danger.

These practices may lead to nutrient deficiencies and injuries due to overuse. As soon as you stopped dieting, there is a greater chance that you will succumb to your old habits and gain back the weight you lost.

How Can You Make These Permanent Changes?

Consider the following strategies to help you lose weight successfully and healthily.

1. Commit

Long-term weight loss demands commitment. Be sure that you are ready to make permanent changes in your lifestyle and that you’re doing it for the right reasons. You have to stay focused. Make a plan to address other stresses in your life first before starting your weight loss journey to avoid distractions.

2. Find Your Inner Motivation

While a little help from a gym instructor and a dietician may help, you must undertake diet and exercise changes to please your own self. To give yourself the drive to stick to your weight loss plan, create a list of what’s important to you to help stay focused and motivated. Think of an upcoming vacation or better overall health.

You can find also work with other people. Spend time exercising with friends who have the have the same priorities as yours when it comes to developing a healthier lifestyle and share. But if you prefer to be private, be accountable to yourself by doing regular weigh-ins, recording your progress in a diary or through digital tools.

3. Set Achievable Goals

As mentioned earlier, you have to do a slow and steady rate of weight loss because this is achievable. Again, it is best to aim for losing 1-2 pounds weekly. Burn 500-1000 calories by lowering your calorie intake and performing regular exercise.

Five percent of your current weight is also a realistic goal. Even this level of weight loss can help decrease your risks for chronic diseases (19).

4. Change Your Perspective

It is not enough to eat healthy foods and exercise for just a few weeks or months if you want long-term weight loss. These habits must become a way of life.
After assessing your personal challenges to weight loss, work out a technique to change your habits and attitudes that have sabotaged your past efforts. You’ll surely have occasional setbacks, but instead of giving up entirely, start fresh the next day. Changing your life won’t happen in a snap. Be patient.

Surprising Tips That Actually Work for Weight Loss

1. Drink Water Before Meals

Drinking water before meals can help with weight loss. It helps boost your metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, help9ng your burn more calories (20, 21).

2. Eggs for Breakfast

Studies show that eating eggs instead of grains during breakfast can help you reduce your calorie intake for the next 36 hours and lose weight and body fat (22, 23).

3. Drink Black Coffee and Green Tea

Coffee is well-known for its several health benefits because it is rich in anti-oxidants. Studies show that caffeine can speed up metabolism by 3-11% and hasten fat burning by 10-29% (24, 25, 26). Just make sure you won’t add too much sugar and other high-calorie ingredients to your coffee.

Though green tea only has small amounts of caffeine, it is packed with powerful antioxidants known as catechins. These are known to work synergistically with caffeine to boost fat burning (27, 28).

4. Eat Spicy Foods

Chili peppers have capsaicin, which can help boost metabolism and decrease appetite (29, 30).

5. Take Probiotics

Probiotic supplements containing some species of the genus Lactobacillus can help reduce fat mass (31, 32).

Takeaway

Always remember that the best to keep it off is with long-lasting lifestyle changes. Eat healthily and do physical activities slow and steady.
If you are not sure where and how to start, how many calories to cut out based on your weight, or how to do it safely, you may always consult a doctor or a dietitian.

References

PhentermineDoctors has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319902.php
  2. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/obesity.htm
  3. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/controlling-your-weight-is-key-to-lowering-stroke-risk
  5. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/hbp_low.pdf
  6. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/digestive_weight_loss_center/conditions/diabetes.html
  7. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/behind-the-headlines/diabetes-and-weight-loss
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22040049
  9. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/intensive-weight-loss-helps-knee-arthritis
  10. https://www.endocrine.org/news-room/press-release-archives/2013/weight-loss-improves-memory-and-alters-brain-activity-in-overweight-women
  11. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24351852
  13. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/losing-weight-and-belly-fat-improves-sleep-201211145531
  14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1755296611000317
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6545356
  16. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
  17. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/should-you-lose-weight-fast/
  18. https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140529/fast-weight-loss-may-mean-muscle-loss
  19. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047752
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14671205
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17519319
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373948
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18679412
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2912010
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7486839
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7485480
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702779
  28. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938410000703
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21093467
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19345452
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28001147
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26900391

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