The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend aiming to reduce only 1-2 pounds of weight per week for an effective and safe weight loss. Losing more than that is not advised because it may cause more harm than good.
Losing 5 pounds a week comes to reducing your food intake by 3500 calories over seven days. The value that represents the decrease in calorie intake is known as the calorie deficit. If you want to lose 5 pounds in a week, you will need to reduce your food intake by 17,500 calories, which is a huge calorie deficit. If you weigh 250-pound, you will need to reduce your daily calorie intake to about 1,250 calories per day, an amount that is too low amounting to starvation.
Reducing calorie intake drastically can reduce your weight by 5 pounds a week. However, this weight loss is not just from fat loss.
Our body weight is composed of muscle, water content, and fat, which vary as per our diet, lifestyle, and the physical activities we perform. When rapid weight loss such as losing 5 pounds of weight a week is achieved with a highly calorie-restricted diet, you lose out on the muscle mass and water as well. Without hydrating yourself, you can fall prey to dehydration. Losing on the muscle can make your metabolism slower because metabolism also depends on your muscle mass. A slower metabolism makes it hard for you to lose weight. Your bones may become more porous and brittle.
Rapid weight loss programs are considered unhealthy in the long term because they can make you fatigued, give you headaches, compromise your digestion, and even cause hair loss. You may also develop a medical condition known as gall stones (cholelithiasis), which may need surgery.
Remember, losing a few inches around your waist and hips is more important than weighing less on the scale. The focus should be on building muscle mass as well as losing the excess fat in the body.
What are healthier ways of losing weight?
A slow and steady weight loss is a healthier and sustainable weight-loss strategy than rapid weight loss.
Instead of simply keeping a check on calorie intake, concentrate on making smart dietary changes and following exercise regimes that support a healthy body and weight.
Here are tips for safe weight loss:
- Substitute high-calorie, low-nutrition food with low-calorie, high-nutrition food
- Opt for food containing whole-grain cereals instead of processed, packaged foods, such as white bread
- Choose boiled, roasted, or baked chicken over the fried chicken
- Cut back on soft drinks and instead replace them with fruit smoothies or unsweetened fruit juices
- Look for the fat content in dairy milk and go for low-fat milk
The American Heart Association recommends moderate physical activities of 30 minutes for 5 days a week or 150 minutes of activities spread over the week. To lose more weight, you can stretch it to 300 minutes a week. To spice it up and stay motivated, you can perform a combination of various exercises or physical activities that are dispersed throughout the week.
- Aerobic activities (also known as cardio exercises, endurance activities): These include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, Zumba, and swimming.
- Strength training: Gaining one pound of muscle through strength-training exercises will help you burn 5-10 extra calories a day.
Chronic stress that is poorly managed may lead to elevated cortisol levels that stimulate your appetite. This may cause you to gain weight or make losing weight difficult for you. Activities like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are proven stress-busters that can help you shed that extra weight.
You can stay in touch with a healthcare provider or a certified dietitian to counsel you throughout your weight loss journey. This method has been shown to accelerate the weight loss program than trying to manage it all alone.
What foods are high in protein but low in calories?
Protein is the best option when it comes to weight loss because it makes you feel fuller for much longer. A protein-rich food is also often lower in calories than most foods rich in fat and carbohydrates.
The 10 high-protein foods that are low in calories include:
- Eggs: One egg provides you with seven grams of protein and 85 calories.
- Eggs are cheap and easy sources of improving your protein intake.
- Prefer organic eggs whenever possible since these eggs are certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are free from antibiotics, vaccines, and hormones.
- The color of eggs does not matter because all have similar nutritional values.
- Wild salmon: Three ounces of wild salmon provides you with 17 grams of protein and 121 calories.
- Although it is high in fats, it contains more of the healthier fats known as unsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are best known for their heart-healthy effects.
- Having at least two servings of wild salmon one time a week can help you in your weight loss journey while also providing you with a whole lot of nutrients.
- Chicken: Three ounces of cooked chicken breast contain 142 calories and 26 grams of protein, which is more than half of the day's recommended protein intake.
- Go for the leaner cuts and roasted or broiled version instead of fried one.
- Greek yogurt: Just seven ounces of Greek yogurt provides you with 20 grams of protein but 150 calories.
- Apart from being rich in proteins, the probiotic content of Greek yogurt is one of the factors that help with weight loss.
- Good bacteria in probiotics can increase your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.
- While buying Greek yogurt, read the label and opt for brands that are sugar-free or low in sugar.
- Beans: Half a cup of beans provides you with 7 to 10 grams of protein and anywhere between 109 and 148 calories (depending on the type of beans).
- Beans are packed not only with proteins but also with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
- They are one of the best protein-rich options that make you feel full for a longer duration.
- You can easily have them during dinner time with brown rice or add them to other healthier options such as soups and salads.
- Lentils: One cup of lentils provides you with 18 grams of proteins (the protein present in three eggs) and 230 calories.
- Lentils are low in fat and high in fiber and are good at fulfilling your satiety and speeding up your fat loss.
- Eat them with brown rice as sides or add them to soups.
- Artichokes: One medium-sized vegetable replenishes you with 4.2 grams of protein but only 60 calories.
- Artichoke is not only one of the richest vegetable sources of proteins but also high in fiber. One medium artichoke contains 10.3 grams of fiber.
- You can boil and eat it or have it in the form of salad.
- Almonds: One ounce of almonds contains six grams of protein and 164 calories.
- To reap the maximum benefits, have them in the form of a mid-meal snack (combined with other nuts or seeds) or just before hitting the gym.
- Pumpkin seeds: One ounce of pumpkin seeds provides you with nine grams of proteins and 158 calories.
- You can consume them in raw or dry roasted form for your workout.
- Packed with proteins, fiber, healthy fats, and various minerals, they are a good source of energy apart from boosting your weight loss.
- You can easily sprinkle them over salads and soups or add them to muffins, bread, grain dishes, or trail mix.
- Chia seeds: One ounce of chia seeds contains five grams of proteins and 138 calories.
- Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- They can be easily added to smoothies, salads, and cereals.
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Mayoclinic. Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics. July 02, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065
Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am. January 2018;102(1):183-197. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29156185/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing weight. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
U.S. Department of Agriculture: “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference”. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/
Chia Seeds. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/
Seed of the month: Pumpkin seeds. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/seed-of-the-month-pumpkin-seeds
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