How much weight you lose in a week can be influenced by many things: diet, exercise, sleep, stress, genetics, age, etc. Losing five pounds in one week can be possible, but it will probably require significant changes.
There is also wide individual variance for weight loss: what may work for one person to lose 5 pounds may have different results on another person.
Weight loss is usually more rapid at the start because there is more water weight that is lost at first.
After the first week or two, weight loss may slow down to losing 1-2 pounds per week depending on changes made and how much weight loss is desired.
Fad diets can promise rapid weight loss of 5-10 pounds per week. However, the weight loss associated with following a fad diet does not last. The weight usually comes back quickly.
Instead of focusing on losing a lot of weight as soon as possible, focusing on making healthy lifestyle changes long term can be better for your overall health.
Even if you don’t lose 5 pounds in a week, any fat loss can have positive improvements on health.
What stage of weight loss are you in?
A drastic change in diet, exercise or a combination can result in significant weight loss. Drastic weight loss is usually seen more at the beginning of the weight loss journey.
Losing 5 pounds in a week may more likely happen at initial stages of weight loss because there is a mix of losing fat mass and water weight.
After the first few weeks of weight loss, weight loss can stabilize to 1-2 pounds per week. The CDC (1) suggests weight loss of an average of 1-2 pounds per week can increase long term weight loss goals.
Dietary changes for losing 5 pounds in one week
Following fad diets for weight loss usually includes eliminating one or more food groups.
Eating a restricted diet that eliminates food groups may present health risks (2). Instead of following a drastic fad diet that only includes a few foods, focus on cutting out processed food from your diet.
Processed foods like packaged snacks, sweets and sweetened beverages are a main source of empty calories.
Increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, heart healthy fats and lean proteins can be a healthy, sustainable approach to weight loss that provides your body with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
How many calories you need to cut to lose 5 pounds in a week can vary. Working with your doctor and a dietitian is recommended to put together an individual weight loss plan.
A general principle for losing 1-2 pounds per week is cutting back calorie intake and/or increasing energy expenditure by 500-1,000 calories per day.
Therefore, losing 5 pounds in a week would in theory would mean increasing calorie expenditure and/or cutting calorie intake by 2,500 calories per day.
Following a very low calorie diet (under 800 calories per day) is recommended only under supervision of your doctor.
Reducing your calorie intake this dramatically could increase risk for gallstones or other risks (3).
Following a very low calorie diet is recommended for treating obesity only under guidance from a medical team and for a short period of time.
Following a very low calorie diet can produce weight loss results of 3-5 pounds per week.
Those wanting to lose weight on their own should follow a low calorie diet that provides around 1,000 (or more) calories per day for women and 1,200 (or more) calories per day for men.
See also: How many calories should I eat a day?
Exercise changes for losing 5 pounds in one week
Weight loss may be obtained from diet alone or with a combination of diet and exercise.
However, exercise can play a crucial role to prevent re-gaining weight after weight loss.
Benefits of incorporating exercise for weight loss include: maintaining muscle mass, increasing metabolic rate, promoting fat loss and allowing your calorie intake to be higher than if you aren’t exercising.
Keep in mind exercise even without weight loss results can offer many health benefits by lowering risk for: stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol (4).
General exercise guidelines for adults for health include moderate exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes plus strength training major muscle groups 2 days a week.
Losing 5 pounds in one week will probably take more than this general amount of exercise.
According to a 2014 review (5), researchers suggest exercise volume needs to be high in order for significant weight loss to occur.
How much exercise you will need to do to lose 5 pounds in a week can vary. A variety of exercise that includes moderate intensity, vigorous intensity and strength training is recommended.
Safety concerns to keep in mind for losing 5 pounds in 1 week
Before starting a diet or exercise plan, consult your physician. While a high amount of exercise can help you lose 5 pounds in one week, you need to do what is best for your body and health status.
Avoid the temptation to follow fad diets that promote rapid weight loss. While you may lose 5 pounds in one week with a fad diet, chances are very high the weight will come back once you stop eating so restricted.
Cutting calorie intake drastically may help you lose 5 pounds in a week, but this is only recommended under a physician’s guidance.
More than the scale number
Whatever your weight loss goal, keep in mind the big picture for health and wellness is much more than a number on a scale.
You may be able to lose 5 pounds in a week by doing something drastic, but it won’t be sustainable long term.
Making healthy changes to your food intake, exercise, stress management and sleep patterns all are needed for weight management and supporting overall health.
If you incorporate healthy lifestyle behaviors but don’t see 5 pounds drop in a week, don’t get discouraged. You are making changes in your body that can’t be measured on a scale.