One pound of fat is 3500 calories. This means that 2 pounds equals 7000 calories. If you want to lose 2 pounds in 2 weeks (14 days), you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. You can create the calorie deficit by either consuming less calories or burn more calories through exercise.
There are many ways to choose to lose weight: fad diets, expensive weight loss programs, supplements, etc. While weight may come off with these methods, the weight can come back soon after stopping these methods.
Successful weight loss can come about from long term changes made that can be sustained over the long term. This type of supported weight loss is usually associated with a slower, consistent weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.
Depending on how much weight you have to lose, weight loss may be more or less than this target. At the beginning of weight loss journey, the weight can come off more than 2 pounds in a week.
However, as weight loss stabilizes, weight loss can slow to a plateau or staying closer to 1-2 pounds per week. However, during this phase it is important to be consistent with your weight loss efforts to break through plateaus.
How to lose 2 pounds per week
Here are some general tips for sustained weight loss that can help you keep it off.
Step 1: Calculate how many calories do you need to lose 2 pounds per week
How many calories your body needs for weight loss can depend on several factors including: age, body size, activity level and other health parameters.
A 2017 overview (1) on lifestyle interventions for obesity suggest the following calorie ranges for weight loss that support a 500-1,000 calorie deficit:
- Those less than 200 pounds: 1,000 – 1,500 calories per day
- Those over 200 pounds: 1,500 – 1,800 calories per day
Remember one pound of fat is 3500 calories. This means that 2 pounds equals 7000 calories. If you want to lose 2 pounds in 2 weeks (14 days), you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. You can create the calorie deficit by either consuming less calories or burn more calories through exercise.
The following articles can help you achieve this:
Besides quantity, it’s important to focus also on quality of calories. A problem for many “diets” is they are so low in calories they can provide a stress response in the body that increases cortisol release.
These low calorie diets can be less than 1,000 calories per day and can leave you feeling hungry and deprived.
Eating a high volume of food when going through weight loss can still leave you satisfied. You can eat a high volume of food by filling up on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and balance meals with heart healthy fats and lean proteins.
Step 2: How much carbohydrate, fat and protein do you need to lose 2 pounds per week?
There is some debate among health professionals and researchers on the exact diet pattern best for weight loss. Is it a low carb diet? Low fat?
The good news is the macronutrient amount may not be so key for weight loss, and there is more than one way to eat healthy for long term health and weight success.
Some research suggests low carb diets may have an advantage for initial weight loss, and low carb diets may be best as a first approach for those at risk for diabetes (2).
Not all studies have shown an advantage for following a low carb diet on weight loss. A 2018 study (3) put over 600 research participants on either a low carbohydrate or low fat diet for 12 months.
After 12 months, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups.
What may be a more important factor for your weight loss success is what will you stick with long term? What diet pattern fits into your lifestyle and focuses on a high intake of nutrient dense foods?
Step 3: How much exercise do you need to lose 2 pounds per week?
Besides calorie intake, another key part of losing 2 pounds a week will be your exercise patterns. If you want to lose 2 pounds a week, you will need to incorporate a high amount of activity.
The minimum exercise guidelines won’t cut it for significant weight loss. Any activity can give you health benefit, but in terms of sustained weight loss, you will need higher amounts of activity.
How much exercise do you need? Like calorie intake, this can vary individually.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) (4) recommends 200-300 minutes of exercise per week for weight loss. This translates to about 40-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Greater than 250 minutes was associated with significant weight loss, so focusing on this amount may be recommended for aggressive weight loss goals.
In fact, after weight is lost, more exercise may be needed to prevent regaining weight. Therefore, after you lose weight, your fitness journey doesn’t stop. It is just the beginning.
Getting a variety of exercise is recommended for overall health and for retention of lean muscle mass. Get a variety of cardio exercise that is both moderate and vigorous intensities if your body can tolerate it.
Get strength training along with flexibility exercises to support lean muscle mass and strength. Consult your health care team before starting any exercise program and to get individualized guidance for your exercise needs.
See also: How many calories to burn a day
How can you keep the weight off?
Keeping weight off can be the hard part. This takes consistency, dedication to your health and recognizing when you lose weight means you need to stick with your healthy routines.
Once you reach a weight loss goal, don’t let up in your diligence to eating healthy and moving your body. This doesn’t mean you can go back to eating unhealthy foods and letting up on your exercise.
In fact, research suggests more exercise can be needed to counteract regaining weight.
There may be some trial and error along your way, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Mayo Clinic (5) suggests if you want successful weight loss, healthy habits need to become a way of life.
Start fresh after a setback instead of staying stuck. Long term successful weight loss takes commitment and focus.
If you find these are lacking at a point in your journey, remind yourself why you are making these changes and your goals for your health.