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Don’t Overdo Your Weight Loss Plan

By Kevin Taylor

After reading newspaper and magazine ads on weight loss – and also commercials on TV and the Internet, you might begin to think that losing weight is effortless. These ads tell you that you can “lose a pound a day,” “lose up to 18 pounds in two weeks,” and other amazing claims. After awhile, we might even begin to believe the ads. But are these expectations too high? Can we really believe these amazing results are possible?

According to the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Sports Medicine, one to two pounds a week is considered safe and appropriate weight loss. This guideline is often cited by the medical community to help dieters lose body fat without also losing lean mass and to avoid dehydration. Safe may be well and good, but one to two pounds a week sure sounds wimpy compared to what the weight loss industry has to offer!

Well, what’s truth, and what’s fiction? The first thing to consider is the energy it takes to lose 10 pounds of body fat. There are about 3,500 stored calories in a pound of body fat, so 10 pounds has 35,000 calories. On the average, most people burn about 100 calories when they run or walk. Therefore you’d have to run or walk 350 miles in the week, and this amounts to 50 miles a day. This assumes, of course, that your eating habits remain the same during this one week period.

Do you think it’s possible to cover 50 miles a day in walking or running mode? Even if you could, you’d be incredibly hungry and probably overeat. So losing 10 pounds in a week by exercise alone seems pretty silly, doesn’t it?

But what about losing 10 pounds of fat in a week by dieting? Is there a way to avoid eating 35,000 calories in a week (5,000 per day)? Considering that a typical middle-aged female (5’5″, 170 pounds, less than 30 minutes of vigorous exercise beyond daily routine activities) maintains her weight on about 1,900 calories per day, this too would be impossible. She can’t possibly eat less than nothing! How about eating nothing and running only 31 miles per day for a week? Now that would be a way to combine dieting and exercise to lose 10 pounds of stored body fat. Again, laughable.

Losing 10 pounds of fat each week really isn’t practical (or possible!), so we need to consider the alternative “guideline” of no more than a 2-pound weight loss in a week. To do this, let’s go back to the numbers. For example, 2 pounds of fat is 7,000 calories or 70 miles of running or walking every week. Should we expect a dieter to run or walk every day and still consume his or her usual foods? Or eat 1,000 calories less than usual for 7 days – then not go on a food binge every day? Thinking about our typical woman again, cutting 1,000 calories from her daily diet amounts to consuming around half her intake. This is about 500 calories fewer than what she must have to just keep her basic existence intact.

By now it should be clear that even one annoying pound of fat holds a significant amount of energy. By cutting back food about 300 calories a day and by adding a 2 mile walk each day, a person could expect to lose one pound of body fat each week. If this new routine is kept up each day for a full year, it would represent a hefty 50 pound weight loss. On the other hand, it takes adding only 100 calories more each day (or moving 100 calories less) to add up to an extra 10 pounds in a year!

No matter how you do the math, successful weight management involves setting reasonable and realistic goals. One day’s diet and exercise routine won’t necessarily affect your weight the next day, and it may even take a few weeks for significant weight changes to register on the scale. Keep up with the habit changes, however, and they’re bound to pay off in fat loss as the energy deficits accumulate.

Before you jump into a weight loss program, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly understand the ways you can safely and effectively lose weight. Check out this important information at weight loss advice, a site that offers really great ideas about safely losing weight.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Taylor, Kevin "Don’t Overdo Your Weight Loss Plan." Don’t Overdo Your Weight Loss Plan. 1 Jul. 2010. 29 Dec 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Taylor, K (2010, July 1). Don’t Overdo Your Weight Loss Plan. Retrieved December 29, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Taylor, Kevin "Don’t Overdo Your Weight Loss Plan"

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