Although fast weight loss seems tempting, quicker isn’t necessarily better when it comes to shedding pounds – and keeping the weight off. Certain situations do require fast weight loss; obesity-related health conditions may warrant dropping the weight more quickly under your doctor's supervision. For most people, however, 1 to 2 pounds per week is a safe rate of weight loss, according to MayoClinic.com.
Rapid Weight Loss
If obesity is causing health complications – like diabetes or high blood pressure -- talk with your doctor to see if a medically supervised very low-calorie diet, or VLCD, is right for you. Although these diets, generally consisting of 800 or fewer calories each day, may come with some unpleasant side effects, you can lose up to 5 pounds per week, according to Weight-control Information Network. However, never attempt a VLCD without your doctor's supervision.
Many women can lose weight safely eating 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. However regular exercisers and women over 164 pounds may need up to 1,600 calories a day to lose weight at the recommended rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. An easy rule of thumb is to reduce your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day.
Since added sugars, refined grains like white bread, processed foods and saturated – or unhealthy – fat provide calories but few beneficial nutrients, reducing your intake of these foods is a nutritious way to cut calories for weight loss. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest that women eating 1,200-calorie diets should limit their calories from added sugars and saturated fat to 121 calories per day. Replacing empty-calorie foods with nutritious, fiber-rich foods -- like whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds -- can help you feel full from eating fewer calories, which is beneficial for weight loss.
Protein is a key to weight loss, because it helps you feel full to a greater extent than carbs or fat, according to a review published in a 2008 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” A study published in a 2010 edition of “Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews” reports that subjects following a protein-rich diet – containing 0.61 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day -- lost more weight and fat compared with subjects following a lower-protein diet. Therefore, if you weigh 140 pounds, aim to consume about 85 grams of protein per day. Although 85 grams of protein is roughly 34 percent of your calorie intake if you're eating 1,000 calories a day, the Institute of Medicine recommends getting 10 to 35 percent of your total daily calories from protein. Protein-rich foods include lean meats, eggs, poultry, seafood, soy products, low-fat dairy foods, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Mayo Clinic: Weight Loss
- Weight-control Information Network: Very-Low-Calorie Diets
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- Nutrition: Is Obesity Development Associated with Dietary Sugar Intake in the U.S.?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews: Enhanced Weight Loss with Protein-Enriched Meal Replacements in Subjects with the Metabolic Syndrome
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.