Friday, January 9, 2009

How Fast Can I Lose Weight?

You hear all kinds of fantastic promises from weight loss pills and potions: "Lose weight overnight!"; "Lose 11 pounds in 7 days!"; "Lose inches from your waistline in less than 3 weeks!". But how many of them are true? The scientific fact is, it takes 3500 calories to make one pound of body fat.

So the answer to "how long will it take to lose a pound" would be "as long as it takes you to deprive your body of 3500 calories". You might do this by eating less and you might do it by exercising more; the best way is probably a combination. So, how can you eat 3500 calories less than you usually eat? Well, most people don't eat 3500 calories in one day, so even if you fast you're not likely to lose a pound a day. The scale may show you losing more weight while you're dieting if you're losing water weight--but that's not really the weight you want to lose. For people who go on crash diets they can lose weight more quickly, but some of it will be muscle weight--that's not the weight you want to lose either. Muscle weight makes you look more tone, keeps you strong, and burns more calories than other body tissues.

To lose fat weight is going to take a little more time. The most common recommendation is to eat 500 fewer calories each day for a total of 3500 fewer calories by the end of each week. This will yield one pound of desirable weight loss. To lose faster you can burn an extra 500 calories each day.

What is the equivalent of 500 calories of food? It could mean eliminating a candy bar and a can of soda each day; an extra fried chicken quarter; a large milkshake or a large frozen cappuccino; a piece of pecan pie. Take a look at the extras in your diet: sweets, snacks, sodas, and second helpings. I would not recommend eliminating a meal like breakfast to try to lose weight--this will slow down your metabolism and work against you in the long run.

As for 500 calories of exercise that will take about an hour of jogging, swimming, or an aerobics class. If you can exercise an hour each day and eat fewer snacks and sweets, you could lose two pounds a week.

I know this doesn't sound like a rate you want to lose weight. Of course you want to get 20 pounds off as quickly as you can. But the rule is, weight comes back on quickly when you take it off quickly. Think about your future. What would you like to weigh in six months? If you lose 20 pounds this month you may easily gain it back next month. If you change your habits to eat more wisely and exercise more often, you could weigh 25 pounds less six months from now by losing only 1 pound a week! Now that sounds like a plan.

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