You have a wedding coming up in two weeks or maybe your twenty-year high school reunion. You would love to lose 10 pounds before then, but that would require you to lose about a pound a day. Magazine headlines make us believe this is an achievable thing. Especially if they’re peddling some sort of “magic” potion or special pills. What is in those pills anyway? It’s probably best to be skeptical.
You need the truth about the goal of losing a pound per day. Although, you might be dedicated to making it happen, is it even possible? Is it safe to do? The answer is not totally straightforward, so let’s dive in.
Can you Lose a Pound a Day?
In theory, yes, you could lose a pound per day. But, the scenarios leading to you to lose a pound a day could be potentially dangerous. Furthermore, it would not give you the desired long-term outcome, nor is it sustainable for more than a few days. Continuing to lose a pound a day for more than a week or so, slows metabolism significantly. Also, your hormones get out of whack, and the weight returns once normal eating resumes. What is the point of that? More than likely you want to lose weight and keep it off long-term. The constant weight loss/gain roller coaster is so 90’s!
But, since we said, “in theory,” it is possible to do. Here are some ways that you could lose a pound per day:
Start at a very high weight.
The more you weigh, the more calories you burn to support your body weight. Therefore, if you are very overweight and cut calories drastically, you could create a large enough deficit to lose a pound a day. Eventually, the weight loss would slow down as you start to lose weight. Therefore, it’s unlikely you could sustain this for any long period of time.
If you become severely dehydrated, you will weigh less on the scale. This does not mean you have lost any actual fat. Also, as soon as you drink anything again, the weight returns. This is also not sustainable. Dehydration only leads to severe health problems and doesn’t equate to actual weight loss. Definitely not a viable option for losing a pound a day.
A very low carbohydrate diet, maybe.
A very low carb diet, particularly in the first week, usually results in significant rapid weight loss due to water. When we store carbohydrates in the body, called glycogen, we store water with it. When we use up the glycogen and don’t replenish it by not eating any carbs, the water stored with the glycogen also goes away. The amount eliminated the first week varies from person to person. That’s why we say maybe you can lose a pound a day on a low carb diet, but it also depends on your personal makeup.
Remove a limb.
This is so ridiculous, we won’t even talk about it.
As you can see, other than the low carb diet option, none of these are realistic or desirable. So, instead let’s talk about how to lose a pound and keep it off.
What Losing One Pound Means
You step on the scale and don’t see the results you want. You know you ate less than you burned yesterday, so according to your calorie tracker, you should have lost at least a pound right? Maybe, but not really.
You may have heard that to lose a pound of fat you must create a deficit of 3,500 calories. This simple equation has been accepted for a long time as the basic math you need to calculate weight loss. Many calorie trackers are based on this formula. Simply tracking your food can help you lose weight, which is why many of these programs do work for many people. But, new research has shown that this equation for predicting weight loss is not quite accurate and varies a lot from person to person (1). This means that even if you do create a 3,500 calorie deficit, there is no way to predict how much you will lose.
The number you see on the scale, particularly if you weigh yourself every day, doesn’t give you an accurate picture. Your weight can vary up to five pounds on any given day due to fluid fluctuations. It can go up if your muscles are sore after a workout. Frustrating we know! But, muscle soreness means that the muscles are inflamed and inflamed muscles hold on to water. Or if you ate something particularly salty the day before, even if it was low in calories, you can see an increase in the number on the scale.
If you want to lose weight, it is best not to go by what the scale says day to day. Instead, to get a realistic picture of what you are losing, weigh yourself weekly or even monthly and focus on figuring out what works for your body and losing weight. You may lose faster than others or slower, but the important thing is that you stay consistent in learning how your body works.
How to Lose a Pound and Keep it Off
The 131 Method is a way to lose a pound (or more) and sustainably keep it off by figuring out what works for your individual body. As we have learned, losing a pound a day isn’t going to be a long-term solution to managing your weight. And that’s IF you can even accomplish that goal without slowing your metabolism or hurting yourself in the process.
A good goal to set for long-term sustained weight loss is a pound or two a week. Although, you may see some fast results the first week due to reduced inflammation (and reducing water). In order to lose body fat, you must take the time to learn what your body responds to, instead of just focusing on achieving the fastest results possible. In the 131 Method, we have outlined how to do this so you will come away with tools to manage your weight in a sustainable and healthy way long-term. As soon as you start understanding your body, confidence skyrockets. We know it doesn’t help you with the wedding or reunion coming up, but learning about your body and discovering what truly works for you will be the best way of achieving your goals long-term.