We all strive to keep our bodies functioning well. Part of this is maintaining a healthy weight so that our bodily systems can function at their best. We all face individual battles with our weight, but clinicians have recommended that losing a pound a week is a good place to start. In this article, we’ll look at what healthy weight loss looks like, some tips and tricks for exercise and nutrition, and the process of how to lose a pound a week.
How we gain and lose weight
Gaining and losing weight is talked about all the time. For most people, weight is a balance of calories consumed versus calories burned off. However, there are many other factors that influence how easy it is for you to lose weight. These include your genetics, the social and food environment around you and your stress levels. For a more detailed look at how weight loss works, check out another one of our articles.
It would be naïve of us to talk about weight loss without making mention of some of the negative consequences that losing weight can have. While it is definitely good to strive for a balanced lifestyle and a healthy weight, in many cases the weight loss journey can develop into something more serious. Stress, anxiety and depression have all been closely linked to weight loss stories. The development of eating disorders after dieting to lose weight is also not uncommon. Therefore, we strongly advise that any attempt to lose weight should be done after lots of research, conversations with friends and family and discussions with medical professionals.
Rapid weight loss
You might think that the quicker you can lose weight, the better. However, most physicians agree that slower weight loss is much healthier, for a number of reasons (R). For one, losing a bunch of weight in a short period of time is not usually sustainable. This means that although you might be able to lose the weight initially, after some time the weight will come back. This is because losing weight fast often requires some extreme dieting measures or crazy exercise routines, which are hard to keep up with for long periods of time.
When you take the first steps on your weight loss journey, you will naturally lose weight rapidly. This weight that you lose at the beginning is known as ‘water weight’ and is perfectly natural. Going into a calorie deficit, your body will begin to bring out the stores of energy from its cells. These energy stores are known as glycogen. Glycogen is bound to a lot of water, so as glycogen gets drawn out, so does your water weight. Once you lose all this initial weight, your weight loss will stabilize. This is when it really matters whether you are engaging in healthy, sustainable weight loss techniques. Let’s take a closer look.
Slow weight loss
Losing weight slowly is not only more sustainable but also helps you avoid some of the health problems associated with rapid weight loss. Losing weight too quickly can lead you susceptible to micronutrient deficiencies (R). You might also experience problems with your metabolism if weight is lost too quickly (R).
The results will not be as immediate, but losing weight slowly is much better for your body. You’ll be able to develop the right dietary patterns and exercise routines. Your lifestyle changes will feel less sudden and drastic. You should also be less stressed and anxious throughout the entire process. But what does slower weight loss actually look like? How many pounds a week should you aim to lose?
Weight loss goal
Before you decide to lose weight, setting a weight loss goal is a great idea. A weight loss goal serves to motivate you over the period it will take you to lose weight. Your weight loss goal should be realistic and achievable, but also challenging. What is a good weight loss goal?
Losing a pound a week
Many healthcare professionals have agreed that losing between one and two pounds a week is a healthy amount (R). This equates roughly to a 500 calorie deficit every day. Therefore, in order to lose a pound a week, you need to burn an average of 500 more calories than you consume every day of that week.
In order to understand how someone might go about doing this, let’s meet Ruth.
Ruth is a 42-year-old mother of two children. Before she had her children, she exercised fairly regularly and cooked most of her meals at home. However, since then, Ruth has found it hard to split her time between taking care of her kids and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She has put on a bit of weight as a result. At her most recent doctor’s visit, she found out her BMI was 26.7. This classed her as ‘Overweight’ but not ‘Obese’. Ruth’s doctor recommended she try and lose a pound a week. At first, Ruth was hesitant, as she was well aware of the struggles of dieting and weight loss. But once her doctor broke it down for her, she felt much more confident about her weight loss target.
How to lose a pound a week
After hearing it from her doctor, Ruth figured out that there were two main ways to achieve a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories.
As you already know, the food you put into your body can have drastic effects on your overall health and wellbeing. One of the simplest ways to achieve this 500 calorie deficit is to carefully manage the kinds of foods you eat over the course of the day. Some foods are much more calorie dense than others. This means you can ingest small amounts of the food but end up intaking lots of calories. As a general rule of thumb, when trying to reach a weight loss goal, stay away from these calorie dense foods.
Calorie dense foods include cakes, sweets, refined carbohydrates and fatty and oily foods. However, it’s much easier just to say ‘don’t eat these foods’ as opposed to actually doing it. How does someone like Ruth change her diet to meet this calorie deficit, but not completely take the enjoyment out of food?
Dieting tips and tricks
The general underpinnings of ‘eat lots of fruit and vegetables and ‘avoid cakes and sweets’ always ring true. But how else can we alter our diet to reduce our calorie intake? Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Not only do fruit and vegetables provide many important vitamins and minerals, but they also help you stay full for longer. This is why fruit is a perfect snack in-between meals. Apples and bananas have enough substance to tide you over to the next meal and are much healthier snacks than some of the alternatives.
- Another fruit tip: stay away from dehydrated fruits. Not only can these products be more expensive, but you are more easily able to consume larger quantities. Ruth might have her hunger satisfied by eating one whole apple, but it would take much larger quantities of dehydrated apple to achieve this same level of fullness. Dehydrated fruits also often contains added sugars.
- Watch out for sauces and condiments! Many sauces and condiments are actually super calorie dense. They can add unexpected and unnecessary calories if you’re not careful. For example, mayonnaise has 94 calories per tablespoon! Try and look for low calorie/zero sugar sauces and condiments while grocery shopping.
- It is important to have a cheat meal every now and then. This is a meal where you don’t strictly abide by the guidelines of your diet. A useful tip is to space your cheat meals throughout the week, instead of having one big cheat day where all your meals are cheat meals. This helps your body adjust and avoids behaviors that are more likely to lead to binge eating.
There are plenty of other good dieting tips and tricks out there, but these are just a few to keep in mind. Remember that breaking your diet, either accidentally or on purpose, shouldn’t mean you have to punish yourself. At the end of the day, the best diet is the one in which you have a happy, healthy relationship with food. It should take a bit of trial and error to figure out which diet does this for you, but don’t give up!
Ruth now knows that her food intake is super important. The number of calories she consumes will partly determine whether she can meet the 500 calorie deficit required to lose a pound in a week. But how about burning calories? What can Ruth do on the other side of the balance?
Burning calories is best achieved through exercise. Luckily, exercise doesn’t always have to be in the format of a 30 minute jog everyday. Any kind of movement is going to be beneficial! Let’s look at a few tips and tricks for weight loss; bear in mind that there are many other good sources of information for weight loss training, with physiotherapists being a great resource.
Exercise tips and tricks
- Sign up to play a sport you love! You might have some friends who are interested too, or otherwise there are plenty of social leagues that you can join as an individual player. The theory is that sport is a great way to burn calories without feeling like you’re doing too much hard work! You’re instead too concentrated on the game. For example, Ruth used to play field hockey in college and is now thinking about getting back into a social team. Good sports for weight loss are high intensity with lots of movement; some good examples are flag football, ultimate frisbee, soccer, tennis and basketball.
- If you have the time and the means, try and incorporate some weight training into your week. Lifting weights twice a week can help build muscle. Having more muscle mass is great because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue (R). Make sure you are clear on what exercises you are doing and how to do them correctly, otherwise you run the risk of injury.
- As said before, your exercise doesn’t have to be a strict 30 minute period everyday. Many people lead busy lives and find it hard to make time for this. Instead, try and be mindful of little ways that you can incorporate more movement into your day. Maybe you can walk to work. Maybe you can even get off the bus at an earlier stop, so you at least walk a little. Try and take the stairs wherever possible. Even things like hanging your laundry outside to dry, instead of hauling it in the dryer, involve more movement!
When you’re trying to meet a daily calorie goal, every bit of movement and activity counts. Try and find different ways to incorporate more movement into your day! Not only will your calorie goal become more achievable, but you’ll experience all the benefits associated with exercise, such as improved mood, cognition and sleep.
Tracking healthy weight loss
Now, Ruth knows the two different ways she can try and reach the 500 calorie daily deficit required to lose a pound in a week. Essentially, she has to eat well and exercise. Ruth is super motivated about her ‘pound a week’ journey and has already knocked out 3 weeks and 3.4 pounds! But Ruth has a problem.
Ruth currently has no way of tracking her weight loss journey. She has no way of noting how she feels every day, which is important to her because some days are much harder than others. Ruth wants to be able to look back in a year’s time at all her hard work. She doesn’t have time to handwrite a journal entry every day, because she’s a busy mother. Luckily, there is a modern solution for Ruth and many others who are in a similar position.
CareClinic is a mobile, multifunctional health tracker app that has everything you might need to track healthy weight loss. Let’s look at the features of CareClinic that are particularly useful when trying to lose a pound in a week.
CareClinic allows you to complete a daily check-in. One of the sections of this check-in is the ‘Measurements’ section, where you can input data like your total sleep, blood pressure and more qualitative measures like mood, pain and energy. However to someone like Ruth, the most relevant part of the ‘Measurements’ section is the ability to input weight, calories consumed and calories burned. This means that Ruth can track this information every day! Furthermore, this data is represented in easy-to-read formats and graphs.
The measurements section is perfect for someone trying to lose a pound in a week. After all, your baseline measurements are the root of your weight loss journey. However, CareClinic is so much more than just a tool to track weight!
CareClinic also has its own built in Nutrition database. Along with your daily measurements, you are able to put in everything you eat during a day. You can include details such as the amount of food you consume and the calories. You can also select from a wide variety of foods and food preparation methods. We’ve already seen how important nutrition is for someone trying to lose a pound in a week. Keeping track of your nutrition is a great way to stay on top of your weight loss goals!
Ruth is also looking for a way to track her exercise regime. She knows there are plenty of apps dedicated to health and fitness only. But Ruth was pleasantly surprised to find that CareClinic also has an ‘Activity’ feature! Here, Ruth can track all the different exercises she is engaging in, from abdominal crunches to field hockey. She can detail when she did the exercise and how many calories she burned.
One of the best things about CareClinic is that it puts all this useful information into one place. Ruth doesn’t have the time to jump between different apps. All she wants is a simple, easy-to-use interface where she can keep track of her entire weight loss journey. This allows her to concentrate on the task at hand, which is maintaining that calorie deficit and losing that one pound a week.
At the end of the day
A pound a week might not sound like much, but in the long run, this will add up. It might help to consider what losing over 50 pounds in a year would feel like, or even 100+ pounds over two years! When it comes to weight loss, the motto ‘slow and steady wins the race’ most definitely applies. Discovering how to lose a pound a week is very much a trial and error-process. Some of the methods described above will be perfect for you, and others might not be so effective. The most important thing however is to not lose sight of the end goal, which is to be happy and comfortable in your own body. Weight loss or not, everyone should be allowed to feel this way, and CareClinic gives you the platform to do so!