During the past few years one of the things I have been telling myself over and over is: “What can be measured can be achieved.” Naturally, I don’t think a person should become obsessed and go to extremes, but I believe that we should have an idea of where we are headed. Years ago I was one of those people who turned their backs on the scale and I had not stepped on one in years. Then I realized the scale is not evil, but just a measurement tool, and the important thing is that it should not become our only way to measure our own significance and progress.
I work with a lot of people and each and every one of them has a different idea of how to assess their weekly progress. Some are glad to see even the slightest change in measurements, because they know this is a sign that they are moving forward, while others get angry even when they register 2 or 3 cm off their waist lines. Having unrealistic expectations of the rate at which the body changes can put us in a situation where we are really moving in the right direction with our diet and workouts, but we think we aren’t and we give up and keep wandering aimlessly about and keep looking for something new. This is why I decided to give you a different perspective to what you can expect when you follow a healthy diet and are looking for long-term results and nor merely a short-term fix, followed by a yo-yo effect.
How many kilograms is the normal amount of weight to lose in a week?
The answer that probably comes to mind is “as much as possible”. But this is not the right answer. How much weight it is normal to lose depends on many factors and we will discuss each of them separately.
1.It depends on how much weight you have to lose
How your weight changes from week to week depends on how much excess weight you have to lose. The more weight you have to lose, the faster progress you will make initially. Later you can expect the weight loss to slow down.
2.It depends on the diet you had before
If you paid no attention to your diet before and now you suddenly start eating healthy and choosing quality food, you can expect a much faster initial change. The body loves quality food and reacts positively to it even when you don’t cut back on the amounts you consume too much. It is a different matter when you have been eating quality food even before, but you have been eating more treats, which is the reason you can’t lose weight. When you adjust the amount, so that it fits your daily needs and activity level, you will see a change, but it will not be as sudden, as in the first case where a person has not been eating healthy.
3.It depends on whether there was more water retained in the body
Most people make the mistake of thinking that every gram they lose is burned fat. In fact, weight loss, especially at the beginning, may also be due to other factors. One of them is that when you correct your macronutrient ratios and restrict unhealthy food in general, the body retains less water. I.e. during the first one or two weeks you may see a more rapid weight loss and then the rate slows down, not because you are doing something wrong, but because during the first weeks the weight loss was accompanied by the loss of most of the fluid you had retained because you used to eat saltier foods and more pastries.
Does greater weight loss always mean better results?
In this case the answer is no. As discussed, not every gram of weight we lose is fat. If you do an extreme diet which is a short-term fix and cannot be a way of life, you might notice that your weight drops quickly. But this is because you lose muscles. Something you are not aware of, but which you definitely don’t want happening. Because when the body burns muscles, the excess weight stays on and you get the infamous “skinny fat” look. This is why there is an advisable amount of weight to lose and it is appr. 0.5-1% of your body weight per week. In numbers this would mean that if you weigh 70 kilograms and want to make sure you lose mostly fat (this can’t be a 100% guaranteed, of course), you must aim at losing about 700 grams a week. Initially you may lose a little more, but then the weight loss rate may drop to as little as 0.5%, which is 350 grams. What I mean to say is that you don’t have to lose 2-3 kg every week to be content. This recommendation applies to people who have 5-10 kg they want to lose. If you have more excess weight, you may see much faster progress during the first 1-2 months, like I said. But no matter what your starting point is, you need to know that the more progress you make, the slower your progress becomes. The closer you come to your desired weight, the slower things happen (unless you are doing an extreme diet and, let me emphasize this again – if you want your new way of eating to be something you can maintain).
How shall we use the scale?
It is very important for you to know that you can’t weigh yourselves once a week and then use this number to measure the progress you have made since the past week. As I wrote in this post (here), weight depends on a lot of factors and changes on a daily basis. So you should have at least 3 values, taken at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the week – always under the same conditions. Calculate the arithmetic mean afterwards – this way you will get your average weight for the week. You should compare this number to your result from the previous week or from the following weeks. For those of you who don’t like math classes and have forgotten what an arithmetic mean is, I will give a specific example. Let’s say you weighed yourselves three times this week. On Monday your weight was 70 kg. On Wednesday it was 69.800 and on Saturday it was 69.400. What you have to do is add 70 kg + 69.8 kg + 69.4 kg. You get 209.2. You divide this number by the number of measurements (in our case – 3). -> 209.2 : 3 = 69.7 kg.
This is going to be the number you use for comparison next week.
Weight is not the only way to measure success, but I will discuss the other ones in my next post.