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How Many Pounds Can You Safely Lose in One Week?

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Whether you’re on a weight-loss journey because you want to build muscle or live a healthier lifestyle in general, you likely want to have some kind of benchmark to check your progress. Besides taking before-and-after pics, the scale is another popular tool that probably comes to mind. While you shouldn’t put too much stock in the number you get (because your health and well-being are about so much more than that!), it’s reasonable to wonder, How much pounds can you lose in a week, realistically speaking?

There are seven main factors that play into weight loss.

If you’re curious to know how you can safely maximize weight loss in a week, read on for expert insight with everything you need to know.

1. Water Weight

“If you lose weight too quickly, it’s probably not coming from fat,” notes Alexandra Sowa, MD, a New York-based physician of internal medicine. It’s likely just water weight. She likes to remind her patients, “water can be shed be shed very quickly but comes back on just as fast.”

2. Calorie Deficit

If you’re serious about dropping some considerable weight, you’re going to want to focus on a calorie deficit. Dina Khader, RD, recommends having your doctor perform a bioimpedance analysis (BIA) to figure out what your deficit should be. This test will take into account your muscle mass and the amount of calories you burn at rest (otherwise known as your basal metabolic rate). Then it will calculate how many calories you need to consume in a day to lose one to two pounds a week. That number, plus how much you will lose during a workout, minus 500 will determine your general deficit.

3. Muscle Mass

If you’re shedding pounds too quickly, similar to water, you may be shedding muscle instead of fat. That’s why it’s so important to strength train while trying to lose weight.

4. Sleep

Night owls, beware. Your sleep habits could be getting in the way of your goals. “Seven hours of sleep is crucial for weight loss,” Dr. Sowa says. Often she finds that many of her patients who struggle with weight loss are actually suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. This sleep disorder, in particular, involves your body not getting the proper oxygenation it needs at night, leading to terrible sleep quality and tiredness. “And when you’re tired, your body craves carbs for energy,” Dr. Sowa says, derailing your weight-loss plan.

5. Stress

“In times of life stressors, it can be hard to lose weight,” Dr. Sowa says. “Your body knows it’s in a stressed out position. It’s not going to let you lose weight like you would if it was an intentional restriction.” Try to reduce the stress in your life when on a new weight-loss plan. It’s *okay* to prioritize yourself.

6. Thyroid Issues

Ladies, if you suffer from thyroid problems and are try to lose weight, know that those things don’t always go hand-in-hand. “When your thyroid is sluggish, it slows everything down,” Khader says. This includes the rate at which you burn calories and your metabolism, both could impede your ability to make the number on the scale go down.

7. Nutrition

This may be an obvious one, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Your diet before, during, and after your weight loss are incredibly crucial in how easily or quickly you’ll be able to lose or keep off weight off. The National Academy of Medicine recommends the average adult gets a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day, or a little over seven grams for every 20 pounds of body weight.

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