It’s a well-known fact that losing weight isn’t always simple or reliable. Weight training, a better breakfast, and drinking more water all take time and effort to reap the benefits. If you’re not seeing any progress, it’s easy to feel like quitting. Having an idea of what to expect can help prevent this from happening. But it’s difficult to predict how much weight you can lose in a given amount of time because of so many variables. Some people wonder how long it takes to lose 10 pounds.
Depending on how much weight you’re trying to lose, you can expect to lose anywhere from half a pound to two pounds per week, says Cory Ruth, RDN, a women’s health expert and CEO of The Women’s Dietitian. In one to two months, she estimates that she can safely lose about 10 pounds, but she emphasizes that everyone’s body is different. Some people should only gain half a pound a week, while others should gain two pounds a week.
Make sure you’re aware of the various factors that can affect how quickly you lose weight (hormones, medication, physical activity, age) as well as the weight loss goal you’re trying to achieve, says Ruth.
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How quickly can you shed 10 pounds?
Even though it’s enticing, Warren advises people to keep their expectations in check and approach weight loss in a healthy manner. She claims that if you try to shed pounds by abusing bad habits, you’ll only lose water and muscle mass, which you’ll quickly regain.
It’s best to start small and work your way up, says Scott Keatley, RD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. Before starting a new diet, you might want to start by cutting out late-night snacking and increasing the amount of vegetables you eat at each meal. In his experience, patients who try to lose weight all at once often give up after a short time, only to gain the weight they lost back plus more.
Weight loss can be accelerated by different types of exercise at different rates:
Running. A person of average height and weight can expect to lose about 300 calories a day if they run three miles every day, says Ruth. To lose two to five pounds in a month on a diet that remains the same, you need to create a daily calorie deficit of around 300 calories.
Walking. Ruth estimates that if you walked three miles every day for an hour, you would burn about 150 calories. You can lose up to one pound every two weeks by cutting out 150 calories a day, she says. “This would allow you to lose one to two pounds in a month,” she continues.
Nothing to do. “Zero exercise would result in no weight loss if your eating habits also remain the same,” she says.
Contrary to popular belief, maintaining a calorie deficit will not expedite your weight loss efforts. “The calorie deficit required to lose one pound of weight can be predicted mathematically. Beth Warren, RDN, the founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life With Real Food, says that people lose weight at different rates.
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital obesity medicine physician Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, agrees. As she puts it, “It’s not the rate of weight loss that matters.” “It’s the weight loss’s long-term viability.” Those who are obese, for example, may lose weight quickly, while those with less excess weight to lose may lose weight more slowly—and the actual rate doesn’t matter as much as someone’s ability to maintain the weight loss, Dr. Stanford says.
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Why am I losing weight so slowly?
Warren believes that if you’re not making progress as quickly as you’d like, there’s a good chance you’re doing something wrong. Because of their small allowances, “I often find that my clients aren’t losing as fast as I would like them to,” she says. Eating too much later in the day or night, overindulging, or treating yourself too frequently can all contribute to overindulgence.
As Warren points out, “there isn’t usually one glaring issue” for someone who is already trying to lose weight. “Instead, there may be a number of minor adjustments that can be made throughout the day.”
Then again, there are a few things you can do to speed up your weight loss journey. My Fitness Pal is an excellent free app for tracking calories and macronutrients. Ruth explains that tracking allows us to see if we’re over- or under-doing it.
If you’re following Ruth’s Plate Rule, you should aim to eat half of your plate consisting of low-starch vegetables (think broccoli or peppers), a quarter of your plate consisting of protein, and the remaining quarter of your plate consisting of carbohydrates.
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Is it possible to lose 10 pounds in a week?
The possibility exists, but Ruth advises against losing weight at such a rapid rate. It’s not sustainable and will put you into restriction mode, which means that you’ll likely fall off the wagon quickly….
As an alternative, aim to lose half to two pounds each week. Ruth explains that “but we can easily sabotage our metabolism (and not to mention our relationship with food) when we hop on these fad diets.”
Whatever you’re attempting, Stanford recommends making sure it’s a long-term endeavor. If a diet or exercise plan works for you, “I say that if this works, you’re going to have to do it for the rest of your life,” she explains. The question to ask is, ‘Is this sustainable in the long run?'” If so, rethink the strategy. It should be something that you can do indefinitely.
Keeping a food diary and working out on a regular basis are Warren’s recommendations for people who have already lost weight and want to keep it off. When you’ve shed the pounds, “the reality is that you want to be more flexible on your food choices,” she says. “By keeping a food journal, you’ll be able to keep track of when you’re consuming too many unhealthy options or large portions.” As a bonus, exercising at home or in the gym on a regular basis offsets any extra calories you consume.
The rate at which people shed pounds varies from person to person. Do not get discouraged if a friend loses weight faster than you, because you will get there in the end and doing it your own way will help you keep it.