How to Decide How Fast to Lose Weight

Three Parts:Determining How Much Weight to LosePlanning Your Weight Loss RateFinding the Right Type of Diet

There are several steps to losing weight. But before you decide to lose weight, you'll need to make sure you really are overweight by calculating your body mass index and talking to your doctor. If losing weight is right for you, there are several other steps to help you decide what's an appropriate rate of weight loss and how you're going to achieve your weight loss.

Part 1
Determining How Much Weight to Lose

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    Talk to your doctor. Your doctor is the best resource for guiding you on how much weight you should lose, how you should lose it and how fast you should expect your weight to come off.
    • If you think you need to lose weight or your weight is affecting your health or daily life, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss possible weight loss.
    • Talk to your doctor about why you want to lose weight and any ideas you have about how much weight you should lose. He or she should be able to help you decide what's an appropriate amount of weight loss and goal weight.
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    Calculate your BMI. BMI or body mass index is one method of determining whether or not you're overweight. Use BMI in conjunction with other weight measurements to decide how much you should lose.
    • BMI is a ratio of lean body mass to fat mass. It is only one small part of the weight picture. You can use BMI as one consideration in deciding whether or not you should lose weight.[1]
    • Both men and women should use the following equation to determine their BMI: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703.[2]
    • For example your weigh 145 pounds and you're 5'6". The equation would look like: 145lbs / [66"]2 x 703 = 23.4
    • If your BMI is 19.9 to 24.9 you're consider at a normal or healthy weight (anything less than 19 is considered underweight). If your BMI is 25.0-29.9, you're considered overweight and if your BMI is 30 and greater, you're considered obese.[3]
    • If you determine that your BMI is in the overweight or obese category, weight loss is most likely safe and appropriate for you.
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    Determine a healthy body weight. In addition to BMI, use this metric to calculate an estimate for a healthy body weight. This is an equation that gives you an approximate idea of how much you should weigh for your gender and height.
    • Using a combination of your BMI and your body weight as determined by this equation is the best for determining whether or not you should lose weight.
    • Use the following equation for men: 106 + 6 lb for every inch over 60 in.[4]
    • Use the following equation for women: 100 + 5 lb for every inch over 60 in.[5]
    • For example, if you're a women and you're 5'5" the equation would look like: 100 + (5 x 5) = 125 lbs.
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    Consider your lifestyle and desires. Tools like BMI will give you hard numbers regarding your weight. However, you should take into consideration how you feel about yourself and what you want for yourself in regards to weight.
    • Do you feel healthy? Are you able to do all the things you want to be able to do, or do you struggle with daily tasks such as going up a flight of stairs or carrying the groceries?
    • Think about your current pants or dress size and how you feel in your clothes. Would you like to be a size 6 instead of a size 10? Do you like how you look in your clothes?
    • Also think about the type of diet and exercise program it would take to get you to lose weight and maintain your desired weight. Is that realistic for you? You may be able to maintain or lose weight rapidly with a strict diet. However, a restrictive diet might not be realistic for your lifestyle.

Part 2
Planning Your Weight Loss Rate

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    Plan for gradual weight loss. Regardless of how much weight you want to lose, you should plan on gradual weight loss over a long period of time.
    • Health professionals recommended that you try to lose about 1-2 pounds per week.[6]
    • Many studies show that this slower rate of weight loss is safer and also more sustainable long-term. It might take you longer to lose the weight, but you'll be able to keep it off.[7]
    • Although rapid weight loss isn't advised, very slow weight loss is considered appropriate as well. Even if you only lose 1/2 a pound per week, that's still an appropriate rate of weight loss as long as you eventually meet your goal.
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    Avoid rapid weight loss plans or diets. Many diet programs advertise quick and easy weight loss in short periods of time. As tempting as this can be, try avoid these gimmicky diets.
    • If you're reviewing different diet plans, avoid diets that have claims of large quantities of weight loss in very short time periods, weight loss without having to change your diet or exercise routine, or using diet pills or supplements to cause weight loss.
    • If you try to lose weight faster, you'll have to resort to much more restrictive diets and higher amounts of physical activity. This may work in the short term, but typically is not sustainable long-term.[8]
    • Also, when you lose weight too quickly, you're most likely not eating enough calories or protein. This can result in loss of lean muscle mass and nutrient deficiencies over time.[9]
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    Plan a weight loss deadline. Many people want to lose weight for a specific event - a wedding, class reunion or for the upcoming swimsuit season. How quickly you plan for weight loss may depend on these deadlines.
    • If you have a special event coming up or just want to give yourself a timeline for weight loss, set an end date to weigh-in or see if you've met your goal.
    • As it's typically recommended only to lose a few pounds per week, you'll need to factor in this information when making your deadline.
    • Give yourself time to not only lose the weight at an appropriate rate, but also plan for weeks where you've slipped up or go through a weight loss plateau.
    • For example, if you know you have an upcoming wedding in 6 months, you'll have plenty of time to lose a decent amount of weight. So if you're looking to lose 10-15 pounds by that wedding, you'll have plenty of time to get started.
    • If you want to lose that same 10-15 pounds in two weeks, this is not a realistic or safe goal. You should revisit your goal or move your deadline if possible.

Part 3
Finding the Right Type of Diet

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    Count calories. One method to lose weight is by counting calories. You can determine a calorie limit that will result in weight loss and track your consumption to ensure you stay within the designated calorie goal.
    • Generally, if you cut out about 500 calories per day, you'll lose about 1-2 pounds per week. This correlates with the safe rate of weight loss that is recommended by health professionals.[10]
    • To start, calculate how many calories you're currently consuming. Use a food journal or a food journal app to get an idea. Then, subtract 500 calories from this number.
    • If your calorie limit for weight loss ends up being less than 1200 calories, your calorie target should be 1200 calories. This is the bottom, safe limit for calorie intake.[11]
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    Try a low-carb diet. Another way to lose weight is by following a low carb diet. This type of diet is popular because it can result in slightly quicker weight loss compared to low calorie diets.[12]
    • Low-carb diets all vary to some degree. However, they typically limit the total amount of carbohydrates you consume throughout the day. Stricter low-carb diets can result in faster weight loss and fat reduction.
    • The types of foods that are typically limited due to their higher carb nature include: grains, fruits, starchy vegetables and some dairy products.
    • Consider your lifestyle and what will be easy for you. However, starting a low carb diet by limiting your consumption of grains is a great place to start.
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    Consider doing meal replacements. In addition to low carb diets or low calorie diets you can try to do a more structured program with meal replacements.
    • Many meal replacement based diets are very low calorie and high protein. This can result in quicker weight loss initially.
    • Meal replacement diets typically use protein shakes, bars and other vitamin or mineral supplements to help induce weight loss. These supplements are generally considered full meal replacements and contain most of your needed nutrients.
    • There are some medical meal replacement diets and also many commercial meal replacement diets. Choose a diet that fits into your budget and lifestyle.
    • Many medically supervised weight loss programs also use meal replacements in combination with vitamin supplements and sometimes weight loss medications.
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    Talk to a registered dietitian. If you're having trouble deciding how much weight to lose, how fast to lose it or what type of diet to do, consider making an appointment with a registered dietitian for additional help.
    • A registered dietitian is a nutrition expert that has a wide knowledge of healthy eating, weight loss and determining appropriate body weights.
    • You can search online for a local dietitian or ask your doctor if he or she works with a local dietitian.
    • Talk to your dietitian about how much weight you're interested in losing, what target weight you want to reach and how you're going to lose weight.


  • Always talk to your doctor before losing weight. He or she can be a great guide to help you decide how much weight you should lose.
  • Regardless of what diet you try, always aim for slower, more conservative weight loss.
  • Don't hesitate about talking to your doctor or a dietitian to help you lose weight or continue to lose weight if you've hit a weight loss stall.

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Categories: Losing Weight