What is a realistic weight loss goal?

Spring is here and you are ready to get outside, get active and lose some weight. First off, good for you! So what is a realistic weight loss goal? How much weight should you lose every week? Should we only consider weight loss goals or should we also consider body fat percentage goals? How do you keep the weight from coming back and bringing friends?!

According to the CDC, 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is a healthy goal. Research has shown that if you are losing much more than that every week the chances of gaining it back are much higher. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when we look at the big picture it really adds up. Over the course of one month our 1-2 pounds per week adds up to 4-8 pounds for the month. The CDC reports that modest weight loss, such as 5-10% of your overall body weight, is likely to improve blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars (for further reading check here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/ and here: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/ob_gdlns.pdf ). If you weigh 200 pounds, 10 pounds is 5% of your overall weight. Another benefit of even modest weight loss is that it will take stress off of the joints in your body. This will help you feel and move better.

We should also consider body fat goals in our quest for better health. This article provides a good example: http://www.healthchecksystems.com/bodyfat.htm . The example in the article is of a 130 pound woman that wants to lose 20 pounds. Her body fat is 23%. That puts her in the fitness category for body fat. Losing 20 pounds, even at 1-2 pounds per week, is not safe for her. A better goal for her is to decrease her body fat percentage from 23% to 18%, which puts her in the athletic category. This 5% decrease in body fat is only 7 pounds of weight, not the 20 pounds she wanted to lose, but it is a safe and healthy weight. If she lost the 20 pounds she wanted to lose she would be in the essential fat category and could risk health problems from not having enough body fat.

An active lifestyle promotes a healthier you, both now and in the future. Body fat and weight loss goals should be considered together to avoid unhealthy weight loss. It is a good idea to talk to your health care provider before beginning a new weight loss or exercise program. Discuss your goals with them and get some baseline measurements. They will be able to determine from your health history what program and strategies will help you meet your goals.

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