Want to lose weight?
Wondering how much weight you should lose each week?
Unsure whether you are making as much progress as you should be, or doing it in a healthy way?
It all comes down to the question: how much weight should I lose every week?
I have the answers for you below. Before we get to that though, I must cover a couple of points…
There is no definitive answer to this as everybody is coming from a different position, a different situation, with unique circumstances.
How much weight should I lose every week? – Considerations
I’m going to give my answer as a percentage of your total body weight, NOT an absolute amount of weight. This goes some of the way to accounting for different body shapes, height, body fat & lean body mass percentages. There are still other considerations such as age, gender, genetics and past history that are harder to account for.
Therefor you need to recognise that these are averages and the deviation either side may at times be quite large. If you fall on either side of the deviation, it does not necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong. At the end of the article I will present a checklist that should help determine whether you are likely to be an outlier.
It is important to recognise that the leaner you are, the harder it becomes to lose weight and the slower it happens. This is due to both input AND output. Here’s what I mean…
Input: If someone is 40% body fat they must have been living a lifestyle conducive to weight gain (bad diet, no exercise, etc.) meaning that they have LOTS of things they can change, and change significantly. On the otherhand if someone is 8/16% body fat (guys/ladies) they must have already been doing most everything right (good diet, appropriate energy balance, training hard, etc.) therefore there are FEW things they can change/improve upon because they are much closer to their ceiling and any change of input will have a smaller absolute effect.
Output: Being 40% body fat is simply not healthy. Given the opportunity your body will happily shed weight as soon as it is given the right inputs to become healthier, more efficient and be able to do its job better. On the other hand if you are very lean and looking to get absolutely ripped it is the other way around. Your body does not like being too lean and it is actually not especially healthy to be sub 8/16% body fat. If you’ve ever been there, you will know this from the constant tiredness, low energy, moods, and hormonal imbalances. Therefore your body is less willing to shed weight and you have to be a lot more calculated in manipulating macronutrients, fluctuating calories with ‘refeeds’ and not over doing training.
As I do everything, I am going to talk about this from a real world perspective. I will use real people that I work with as examples. Scientific experiments are great, but in my opinion nothing beats the real world experience for not what is possible in a laboratory, but what is realistic in your life.
How much weight should I lose every week? Beginners & Overweight
If you are overweight, which for the purpose of this I will use the national standard of over 18% body fat for males and over 25% body fat for females, or if you are a novice to fitness having never tried dieting and exercise before, how much weight should you lose every week?
Below are 2 examples of what people are doing, with full back story and information on what they are doing to achieve this.
Person A has lost 10lbs over 10 weeks with a plan she considers easy, enjoyable and in no way overbearing. This is a plan she could continue indefinitely. Consider that 10 weeks ago Person A said that she could not lose weight, had been trying and not going anywhere and that her body did not respond in the way that it used to, you can make the assumption that she is probably not in the optimal place for weight loss for whatever reason (past history, age, stress, hormonal balance, etc.).
1lb per week is approximately 0.5% of total body weight per week.
Person B has lost 7.6lbs in just under 4 weeks. Call it 2lbs per week. Again with a very simple and flexible plan that she has said is amazingly simple and really had no wholesale changes to her lifestyle, just very basic tightening up of simple things. Again this is a plan she is thoroughly enjoying and could follow indefinitely, with lots of room for stepping things up a gear when need be.
2lbs per week is approximately 1% of total body weight per week
How much weight should I lose every week?
For a novice trainee or someone classed as overweight by the national standard, it is very possible to lose 0.5-1% of total body weight per week WHILST being on a basic, simple and sustainable plan that is enjoyable and contains only small changes to an existing lifestyle.
Both of these people are in my one of my training groups. Therefore I know exactly what they are doing to achieve this which I will mention briefly below.
- Daily exercise of 10-30 minutes
- Eating ‘natural foods’
- Lots of work on mindset, beliefs and attitudes around food and exercise
- NO calorie counting, hardcore exercise, personal training, fasting/starvation, fad diets, etc
How quickly should I lose weight? Advanced level & already lean
If you are already in shape, have 2+ years of consistent training and eating right under your belt and want to go from lean to ripped, how quickly should you lose weight?
Below is an example of what I have done, with full back story and information on what I did to achieve this.
Person C (me)
The below 2 images were from 25th June & 16th July, a 3 week period.
These are my full measurements with skin folds so you can correlate the weight with the skin folds.
Please note this was the first 3 weeks of dieting down, so I would hypothesize that some of this weight loss is water weight, which would explain the relative large drop in abdominal skin fold versus the rest.
At this stage of dieting I was eating at 14 calories per pound of lean body mass. With an approximate 40/40/20 – carbs/protein/fat ratio.
In pounds it is 176 down to 171; 5lbs in 3 weeks or 0.6lbs per week.
0.6lbs per week is approximately 0.34% of total body weight
How much weight should I lose every week? Conclusions
- For the overweight and novice trainee 0.5-1% of total body weight is a realistic aim on a basic plan that is maintainable over the long term.
- For the already lean and advanced trainee 0.25-0.34% of total body weight is a realistic aim on a sensible plan that is advanced, but quite realistic for anyone to follow.
How much weight should I lose every week? Outliers
Some people have considerations which will impact the speed at which they lose weight.
Expect to Lose Weight Quicker If:
- you are a ‘naturally gifted’ athlete
- you have previously been in great shape & subsequently gained significant weight
- you are following a more aggressive plan
- you recently had a baby and are not currently breast feeding
- you have significant weight to lose (classified as obese) and significantly change your lifestyle quickly
Expect to Lose Weight Slower If:
- you have hormonal imbalances or major health issues
- you are on medication known to have weight gain as a side effect
- you are not adherent to your plan or following a plan that is not suitable for you
- you are already very lean and do not have much to lose