Lose A Pound A Day – Is It Possible or Safe?

By Ashley LoseApril 7th 2021

 

Quick weight loss is fast and easy– if you believe the advertising claims 

About 70% of Americans age 20 years and older are obese or overweight.1 As a result, there are millions of people foraging the internet looking for quick weight loss plans, like how to lose a pound a day. As enticing as it may be, trying to lose a pound a day may not be the best idea. When aiming to lose weight it all boils down to one thing – burning off more calories than you consume in a single day.2 You get this right and you’re well on your way to tipping the scale in your favor. But with quick weight loss plans people tend to jump on the bandwagon of crash diet plans while intensifying their workouts or committing to eating just 800 to 1,000 calories per day on a low-calorie diet.3 Between the two, people usually tend to choose the very low-calorie diet options as it’s often easier to lose weight from changing your diet than exercising.4 While some of these short-term diets can be effective in weight loss, others can result in electrolyte imbalances, nutrition deficiencies, dehydration, low blood sugar, hair loss, and other unwanted side effects.5 To put it simply, they are not long-term solutions to weight loss. (You may also want to read: Can My Chiropractor Help Me Lose A Few Pounds?)

Lose A Pound A Day – Is It Possible or Safe?

According to health professionals, the general recommendation for safe and effective weight loss is to lose one pound a week. To do this, experts say you’ll need to burn about 3,500 calories more than you consume in a single day to lose that one pound of weight. In practice, this would mean reducing your current daily calorie intake by 500 calories a day or 1,000 calories a day to lose two pounds in one week.6 This is overall a safer weight loss strategy than trying to lose a pound a day and it sounds pretty simple but weight loss is trickier than that. 

Lose A Pound A Day – Is It Possible or Safe?

What It Takes To Lose A Pound A Day

When you initially begin a diet or exercise program to lose weight and you begin the process of cutting the calories and trying to burn more energy than you consume, you aren’t just burning fat. Alternatively, you are also losing lean tissue and water too.7 By some estimates, there are roughly around 3,750 calories in a single pound of fat.8 What this tells us about the human body is that it may take cutting even more calories to lose a single pound of fat, especially if you hit a plateau in your weight loss journey, then you may have to decrease your consumed calories even more. While this may sound like a doable plan if you’re anxious to lose weight. This is not a sustainable lifestyle and may cause you to hit a weight loss plateau or worse, gain all the weight you lost back plus more.9 (See also: How Losing Weight Affects Your Body and Brain)

Lose A Pound A Day – Is It Possible or Safe?

Is Rapid Weight Loss Safe?

It’s common to want to lose weight as quickly as possible but rapid weight loss plans aren’t guaranteed to help you keep the pounds away.10 While slow weight loss can take months or even years, some health professionals say slow and steady weight loss, meaning losing about 1 to 2 pounds per week is the best practice. It reduces your chances of health complications and increases your odds of keeping the weight down long-term.11 However, other studies claim rapid weight loss can be just as safe if not more effective as slow weight loss plans.12,13,14 At any rate, the most successful rapid weight loss programs combine exercise with a significant reduction in the number of calories you’re allowed to consume daily.15 These diets are known as very-low-calorie diets (VLCD) and are usually very low in energy and nutrients. If not supervised by a medical professional or conducted for weeks at a time, these diets can put you at risk for various health conditions. 

Lose A Pound A Day – Is It Possible or Safe?

What are the side effects of rapid weight loss programs?

You Could Loss of Muscle Mass 

As mentioned before, losing weight is not the same thing as losing fat. The human body is so complex and there are so many variables at play. Specifically with low-calorie diets, when you may be under the illusion that you’ve lost body fat but you’ve burned into the muscles from the substantial cut in calories instead. 

In a recent study, researchers gathered 57 participants and split them into two groups – a low-calorie diet (1,250 calories per day) for 12 weeks and a very-low-calorie-diet (500 calories per day) for 5 weeks. Following the study, researchers found that while both groups had lost similar amounts of weight, the people who in the very-low-calorie diet lost more than six times the amount of muscle.16 This is important because muscle mass is critical to healthy aging. In addition to helping you maintain your posture, muscle mass also plays a part in breathing, locomotion, as well as regulating your metabolism.17 As we age, approximately 30% of people’s muscle mass will be lost by the age of 80, this is amplified by physical inactivity and poor nutrition.18  (Check out: How to Lose Weight In 12 Weeks)

You Could Be At Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies 

Anytime you’re not eating enough calories you can be a risk of nutritional deficiencies. When following a low-calorie diet this increases your risk because you may not be getting the key nutrients your body needs. Here are a few aftereffects of nutritional deficiencies:

  • Weak and brittle bones.19
  • Poor immune function. 20,21
  • Hair loss. 22

Additional side effects from following very-low-calorie diets include23:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation 
  • Nausea or diarrhea 
  • Ketoacidosis 
  • Gallstones
  • Mood swings

You can avoid nutritional deficiencies by eating whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients and provide your body with ample amounts of energy to function properly.

Sources: 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Obesity and Overweight. Selected health conditions and risk factors, by age: United States, 1988–1994 through 2015–2016. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2020, December 8). Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Weight Loss. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2017, October 11). The 10 Worst Ways to Lose 10 Pounds. healthessentials. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-10-worst-ways-to-lose-10-pounds/

  1. Schwingshackl, L., Dias, S., & Hoffmann, G. (2014). Impact of long-term lifestyle programmes on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors in overweight/obese participants: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Systematic reviews, 3, 130. https://doi.org/10.1186/2046-4053-3-130

  1. Obesity Action Coalition & Jacques, J. (2014). Some of the risks of crash diets are as follows. The Risks of the Crash Diet. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.obesityaction.org/community/article-library/the-risks-of-the-crash-diet/

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). I want to lose a pound of weight. How many calories do I need to burn? Food and Nutrition Center. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/i-want-lose-pound-weight-how-many-calories-do-i-need-burn

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2020, December 8). Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Weight Loss. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065

  1. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 6, Issue 5, September-October 1958, Pages 542–546, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/6.5.542 Published: 01 September 1958

  1. Lowe, M. R., Doshi, S. D., Katterman, S. N., & Feig, E. H. (2013). Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 577. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577

  1. United Kingdom National Health Service. (n.d.). Should you lose weight fast? Healthy weight. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/should-you-lose-weight-fast/

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Losing Weight. Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html

  1. Coutinho, S. R., With, E., Rehfeld, J. F., Kulseng, B., Truby, H., & Martins, C. (2018). The impact of rate of weight loss on body composition and compensatory mechanisms during weight reduction: A randomized control trial. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 37(4), 1154–1162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2017.04.008

  1. Wiley Online Library, Vink, R. G., Roumans, N. J.T., Arkenbosch, L. A.J., Mariman, E. C.M., & van Baak, M. A. (2016, January 27). The effect of rate of weight loss on long‐term weight regain in adults with overweight and obesity. Obesity A Research Journal, 24(2), 321-327. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21346

  1. Ashtary-Larky, D., Ghanavati, M., Lamuchi-Deli, N., Payami, S. A., Alavi-Rad, S., Boustaninejad, M., Afrisham, R., Abbasnezhad, A., & Alipour, M. (2017). Rapid Weight Loss vs. Slow Weight Loss: Which is More Effective on Body Composition and Metabolic Risk Factors?. International journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 15(3), e13249. https://doi.org/10.5812/ijem.13249

  1. Eva Tumova, Wensheng Sun, Peter H. Jones, Michal Vrablik, Christie M. Ballantyne, Ron C. Hoogeveen, "The Impact of Rapid Weight Loss on Oxidative Stress Markers and the Expression of the Metabolic Syndrome in Obese Individuals", Journal of Obesity, vol. 2013, Article ID 729515, 10 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/729515

  1. Wiley Online Library, Vink, R. G., Roumans, N. J.T., Arkenbosch, L. A.J., Mariman, E. C.M., & van Baak, M. A. (2016, January 27). The effect of rate of weight loss on long‐term weight regain in adults with overweight and obesity. Obesity A Research Journal, 24(2), 321-327. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21346

  1. Wolfe R. R. (2006). The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84(3), 475–482. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/84.3.475

  1. McLeod, M., Breen, L., Hamilton, D. L., & Philp, A. (2016). Live strong and prosper: the importance of skeletal muscle strength for healthy ageing. Biogerontology, 17(3), 497–510. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-015-9631-7

  1. Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004. 2, The Basics of Bone in Health and Disease. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45504/

  1. Peter Katona, Judit Katona-Apte, The Interaction between Nutrition and Infection, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 46, Issue 10, 15 May 2008, Pages 1582–1588, https://doi.org/10.1086/587658

  1. Chandra R. K. (1997). Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 66(2), 460S–463S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/66.2.460S

  1. Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology practical & conceptual, 7(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.5826/dpc.0701a01

  1. Dwyer JT, Melanson KJ, Sriprachy-anunt U, et al. Dietary Treatment of Obesity. [Updated 2015 Feb 28]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278991/

14/10 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Risk, Benefits, and Results

By Ashley LoseMay 7th 2021

Intermittent fasting is a growing health trend. It’s claimed to help with weight loss, improve metabolic health, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity. Read more


Dr. Nowzaradan Diet Guide – The Secret to My 600 lb life

By Ashley LoseMay 4th 2021

Ever since the premiere of the hit TLC reality show My 600-lb Life, viewers have been glued to their TV’s watching people who weigh more than 600 lbs embark on a year-long weight loss journey to transform their lives. The man behind these weight-loss success stories is Dr. Nowzaradan Read more


18:6 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Risk, Benefits, and Results

By Ashley LoseApril 13th 2021

There are so many different approaches to losing weight. One strategy that has grown in popularity is intermittent fasting. Read more


Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

Cardiovascular activity is usually the first thing people think of when they plan to lose weight with exercise. However, it’s essential to choose the right type of cardio exercise for your lifestyle and goals so that you will keep it up for the long term. Read more


5 Intermittent Fasting Methods: Which is best for you?

By Ashley LoseApril 13th 2021

During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all. Read this article to discover which is best for you. Read more


The Best Strategies for Abdominal Weight Loss

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

Some people tend to gain weight on their abdomen easier than others, and for those same people, it can stick around longer than other areas when you’re losing weight. Read more


Ayurvedic Diet for Weight Loss: How it Works and How to Try It

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

Ayurveda is a type of medicine that has been used in India for over 5,000 years. Read more


10 Simple Weight Loss Tricks To Absolutely Transform Your Body For Life

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

If you practice some simple techniques for losing weight and keeping it off, you’ll be able to change your habits and improve your health for good. Keep reading for 10 scientifically proven weight loss tricks to transform your body for life. Read more


8 Foods That Naturally Boost Weight Loss

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

Although there are no magic foods that can cause weight loss, there are some that can increase your chances of fat loss by keeping you full, fueling your body, increasing energy, and boosting metabolism. Read more


20/4 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

20/4 intermittent fasting (IF) is a diet strategy mainly used for weight loss or weight maintenance, although there are claims of other benefits such as slowed aging and better cognitive function. Read more