How to lose 2 pounds a week
To lose 2 pounds a week, you need to remain in a calorie deficit, which can be achieved via a combination of diet and exercise. When you do this, your body is forced to use its fat stores as a source of fuel, to make up for the energy that you would ordinarily obtain from food. As a result, you end up losing weight.
Calorie requirements can vary greatly from person to person and are dependent on age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals. You can use the tool below to estimate the number of calories that you should be consuming.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 35 year old lady who weighs 180 pounds, is 5 feet 6 inches tall and exercises 3 – 5 times a week will require approximately 2400 calories to maintain her weight, 1900 calories to lose weight and 1400 calories to lose weight fast.
Before we go ahead with the rest of the article, there are two points I would like to mention:
- For a long time, it has been believed that a deficit of 3500 calories will lead to 1 pound of fat loss. This means that a deficit of 7000 calories will lead to 2 pounds of fat loss. However recent studies suggest that the calorie deficit required to lose 1 pound of fat varies from person to person. You can use the downloadable desktop based tool available on this page to run a simulation that compares the 3500 calorie rule to a more realistic personal expectation.
- Weight loss is not a straightforward linear process; one week you might lose 2 pounds and the next week only 1 pound. A lot of factors determine how much weight you lose, so it is important not to get discouraged if the numbers that you see on the scale are higher than you expected. If your clothes start to feel looser, the number on the scale is going down, or you notice visible positive changes when you look in the mirror, that is progress.
With that being said, if you want to lose 2 pounds a week, I would suggest that you aim to consume the ”lose weight fast” number of calories shown when you use the tool on this page. This means that for the example of the lady above, she should aim to consume 1400 calories a day.
Once you do this, you can weigh yourself weekly and determine if eating these many calories is doing the job. If so, great! If not, reduce your calorie intake a bit more and see how much weight you lose the following week. Continue doing so until you are happy with the amount of weight you are losing per week.
After some time, the rate at which you lose weight might begin to slow down. If so, you will need to recalculate your calorie requirements and make adjustments accordingly.
It is very important to keep in mind that you require a minimum number of calories per day in order to remain healthy. Consuming too few calories can negatively impact your metabolism and slow down weight loss. It is suggested that you shouldn’t consume fewer than 1000 – 1200 calories per day without medical supervision. If you plan on eating fewer than 1200 calories per day, speak to your doctor before doing so.
Many people struggle to effectively reduce their calorie intake. But by following the few simple rules below, you can make this much easier for yourself.
Eat lots of vegetables
It is a well known fact that vegetables are crucial for good health. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that are needed to keep your body in tip top shape.
Thanks to their large water content, most vegetables are also very low in calories. A cup of cooked cabbage only has 34 calories and a raw medium sized carrot has 25. Because of this, you can eat large amounts of vegetables without having to worry too much about going overboard on calories.
Vegetables also contain a lot of dietary fiber, which cannot be digested by the body. When you consume fiber, it absorbs water and forms a thick gel that slowly passes through the digestive system. This helps to induce feelings of fullness and may therefore reduce calorie intake.
Aim to eat at least 3 servings of a variety of vegetables per day. This includes leafy greens like kale, root vegetables like turnips and fruit vegetables like tomatoes. Vegetables can be used in soups, salads, smoothies and many other delicious recipes.
Eat some fruit
Just like vegetables, most fruits are bursting with nutrients and are low in calories. They also tend to contain naturally occurring sugars, making them the ideal sweet tooth satisfying food. In place of ice cream, you could have a cup of juicy mango; it has less sugar and fewer calories, but more vitamins.
Dried fruits such as dates and raisins are higher in calories and sugar than fleshy fruits. If you eat them in moderate quantities and don’t overindulge, they can also be enjoyed as well, and are the perfect replacement for candy.
There’s a wide variety of fruits to choose from including bananas, strawberries, apples, peaches, melon, grapes, kiwifruit and pineapples. You can eat fruit on its own, add it to yogurt & oatmeal or include it in smoothies. Aim to eat 2 – 3 servings of fruit per day.
Eat more protein
Protein has a strong influence on hunger hormones and can help you to feel satisfied faster. It has also been shown to boost metabolism and increase energy expenditure slightly. What this means is that protein helps on both ends of the calories in – calories out equation.
A number of studies have investigated the effect that protein has on weight loss and most show promising results.
This study found that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories resulted in 441 fewer calories being consumed. Another study found that a protein rich diet may help to reduce obsessive thoughts about food.
There are a variety of protein rich foods that you can add to your diet, including eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy and even some vegetables. A protein intake of 25% – 30% of total calories seems to be the sweet spot, so this is what you should try and aim for.
Reduce or eliminate junk & highly processed foods
Junk & highly processed foods are usually full of refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, added sugar and salt. When you eat these foods, they provide large bursts of energy and cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise and fall dramatically, but they don’t leave you feeling as satisfied as other foods would.
The foods that you want to reduce intake of include things like cakes, cookies, potato chips, pastries, pizza, doughnuts, burgers, ice cream, bagels and milkshakes.
A slice of a 14 inch cheese pizza and a grilled chicken breast both have almost the same number of calories. However, eating the chicken breast will leave you feeling far more satisfied than the pizza, and so you will end up eating fewer calories overall.
This doesn’t mean that carbs and fat should be avoided completely. It is true that low carbohydrate diets are highly effective for weight loss, but keep in mind that low carbohydrate doesn’t mean no carbohydrate – you still need some carbs.
The important thing is where these carbs come from. The carbohydrate rich foods that you should ideally eat are those that are as close to their natural state as possible and have not been processed much. These include vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
The same rule applies to fat; a large amount of the fat in your diet should come from foods such as avocados, olives, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and high quality coconut oil. Not only are these foods highly satiating, they also provide lots of nutrients for the body.
Drink plenty of water
Unlike many other beverages, pure water has 0 calories, which makes it the best thing to drink when trying to lose weight fast. Not only does it boost your metabolism slightly, it can also help to reduce your appetite.
In this study, 48 adults were split into two groups, both of whom followed a calorie deficit diet. One group also drank 500 ml of water before each meal. After 12 weeks both groups lost weight, but the water drinking group lost an average of 2 kg (4.4 lb) more.
A lot of people are chronically dehydrated but don’t realise it. Because of this, they often mistake thirst for hunger and reach out for food instead of water. The next time you feel hungry, have a glass of water, wait 15 minutes or so and then decide whether you really need to eat or not.
Also, like in the study, have one or two glasses of water 30 minutes before each meal; doing so might help you to eat less.
The beverages that you definitely want to drink less of are those that have been sweetened with sugar. This includes soda and unfortunately, some types of fruit juice as well.
When you eat solid food, the act of chewing and the bulk that the food adds to your stomach tells your brain that you have eaten and you should therefore feel less hungry.
Unfortunately this process does not happen as efficiently with sugar sweetened beverages and you are likely to consume more calories than you require later on. This is one of the reasons why sugar sweetened beverages have been strongly linked to weight gain.
Stick to plain water whenever possible. If you don’t like the taste, adding in a few slices of lemon or infusing it with a bit of fruit will make it more palatable. You can also drink carbonated water, coffee and tea occasionally.
Now that you know the types of foods that you should be eating and how many calories you should be consuming, you can create a meal plan for yourself. Certain apps and websites will provide you with the nutritional information for a lot of different foods, which comes in handy when devising a meal plan.
As an example, lets take the 1400 calorie example from above. Daily meal plans for the lady could look something like the following.
Breakfast: 2 large boiled eggs and 1 cup of cooked oatmeal – 320 calories
Snack: 1 cup of Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of strawberries – 220 calories
Lunch: 1 grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables – 394 calories
Snack: a handful of almonds and a medium sized apple – 257 calories
Dinner: 1 cup of cooked lentils – 230 calories
Total calories: 1421 calories
Breakfast: 1 large omelette with 2 slices of whole grain buttered toast – 256 calories
Snack: 1/2 an avocado – 161 calories
Lunch: 1 cup cooked lentils and 1 medium baked sweet potato – 333 calories
Snack: 1 cup low fat cottage cheese and 1/2 cup strawberries – 188 calories
Dinner: 2 cups black turtle bean soup and 3 dates – 496 calories
Total: 1434 calories
Exercise will allow you to create a larger calorie deficit and should be combined with a good diet. The more active an individual is, the more energy he or she uses up. A person who cycles for 45 minutes 4 times a week will burn far more calories than someone who does no exercise at all.
A combination of cardiovascular activity and weight training would be ideal.
Cardio burns calories, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) is especially effective. It involves doing short bursts of intense activity followed by the same activity at a more relaxed pace. For example, you could sprint ‘all out’ for 15 seconds and then jog at a leisurely pace for 45 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 15 – 20 minutes. Studies have shown that HIIT is very effective at burning body fat.
Weight training also burns calories but helps you to retain muscle mass as well. This is crucial because when you are in a calorie deficit, your body might use some of your muscle tissue as a source of fuel, leading to muscle loss. Regular weigh training combined with a high protein diet will help to minimize this.
A final thing to keep in mind is to not just rely on the numbers that you see on the scale to monitor progress (see when the best time to weigh yourself is). This is because ordinary weighing scales don’t tell you whether the weight is coming from fat or muscle.
If you know that you have been eating fewer calories than you burn and have been exercising regularly, but the number on the scale hasn’t moved significantly, don’t worry too much. All this probably means is that you have burnt fat and built muscle. Just like fat, muscle has mass, but a pound of muscle is much more compact than a pound of fat, so takes up less space in your body.
Besides using a weighing scale, also measure your body fat percentage at regular intervals to monitor fat loss progress. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t just want to lose a certain amount of weight per week; you should also want to have a better body composition.
Losing 2 pounds a week will require a combination of a good diet and sufficient amounts of exercise. That being said, don’t be too disappointed if you lose 2 pounds one week and only 1 pound the next. Weight loss hardly ever happens in a linear manner and fluctuations are normal. The important thing is to persevere, make changes where necessary and not give up.