3 reasons why I recommend slow, steady weight-loss

One thing I can promise that you will never hear from me is wild claims about how much weight I can help you lose in one week – here’s why.

When I’m helping people to lose weight I always recommend that they aim to lose around 1-2lb per week as it’s a nice steady sustainable amount to lose.  Some people may even find that they lose weight more slowly than this when they’re making life changes – as opposed to following the latest faddy diet or quick fix ‘solution’.

A lot of my clients over the years have found it hard to adjust to this weekly target as they are used to losing larger amounts in their previous weight-loss attempts; three, four or even five pounds per week.  The main problem with losing more each week is that they’ve always ended up putting the weight back on again in the long-term, as they were focusing on making changes to lose weight rather than focusing on what they were going to do forever.

Reflecting on their past weight-loss attempts, many of my clients seemed to share the attitude that as soon as they were at their target weight then they would figure out how they were going to maintain their weight long-term.  In reality what actually happened was that once they’d shifted the weight they would think “Ahh now I can eat whatever I want – phew what a relief!”

Inevitably this is when they would pile the weight back on, often with a few extra pounds each time.

Is this sounding familiar to you?

Sounds like what needs to change is your attitude towards weight and weight-loss – how about taking a different approach?

Here’s why I recommend aiming to lose weight slow and steady:

1.   One pound of fat is actually quite a significant amount.

A lot of people over the years have stepped on my scales and said “Oh no, only a pound!  That’s rubbish….”  Or something to that extent!

Here’s a pound of fat – looks like a lot to me!

1lb of fat with my hand for comparison purposes!
1lb of fat with my hand for comparison purposes!

A pound of fat is worth about 3500kcal of energy, so to lose a pound in a week you would need to find a way of getting rid of around 500kcal of energy each day – that’s quite a chunk!  You could do this by making a few significant changes to your eating habits or by working-out every day.  The easiest way is to do a bit of both – i.e. make a few small changes to your eating habits and do a little more physical activity each day or a few exercise classes each week.

The problem with drastically overhauling your whole diet and losing a lot of weight each week is that you are likely to be losing water and muscle glycogen (the energy stores in the muscle).  The body doesn’t really like losing fat and it will try hard to stay a stable weight, so you will probably find that making drastic changes increases your cravings for treats.  Then as soon as you go back to ‘normal’ eating after following a strict plan, the water and muscle glycogen will be replaced i.e. your weight goes back up.  So forget the strict diet and give yourself a huge pat on the back each time you lose a pound – it really is a big difference to the body!

2.   A pound a week adds up to 52 pounds per year.

Think about how long it took you to gain weight in the first place.  Why should you rush your body to lose the weight quicker than that?  Why put yourself and your body under that pressure?

Here’s five pounds of fat – imagine steadily losing a pound each week – in just five weeks this will have gone from your body.

5lb of fat with my hand for comparison!
5lb of fat with my thumb for comparison!

Try picking up (carefully!) something that weighs five pounds, like five or six cans of baked beans, and imagine that you are carrying that around with you all day – or no longer carrying that around with you!

Losing weight steadily gives your body a chance to get used to the changes that you are making and in the long-term it really does build up.

3.   Slow, steady weight-loss is easier to keep going in the long-term.

There comes a point in your weight-loss journey when you may find that your weight stays the same week after week – sometimes known as the ‘weight-loss plateau’.  If you’re doing the same things as when you were losing weight, this can be really frustrating.  It can be even more frustrating if you really don’t think you can change anything else about your eating habits.  This can lead to having a relapse; “Oh stuff it all, I’m going to go and pig-out!”  Leading to weight-gain and eventually giving up “What’s the point, it doesn’t work anymore!”  This can then lead to piling all the weight back on again leaving you miserable and believing weight-loss will never happen for you.

However this doesn’t have to be the case.  If you focus on making a few small changes that you are happy to stick to forever, rather than changing everything, then when you get to the plateau you are more likely to still have other things you can change.  A few tweaks here and there and the weight-loss will get going again!  Try thinking of weight-loss like a marathon – rather than burning yourself out in the early stages, you’re better off taking it slow and steady, then you’re more likely to get to the finishing line.


e-book cover borderedIf you’re struggling to get started with your weight-loss why not check out my e-book ‘Your Guide to Self-motivation’ – FREE to download click here.

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Louise Tanner-Stokes
Hi I'm Louise, a Food Relationship Coach and registered Dietitian with a passion for helping mums to ditch dieting forever. I help you to eat normally again, enjoy your food and still lose weight.

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