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Recently, a client asked me how to lose a pound a day.
Weight loss is a complex thing. As a registered dietitian, I always encourage people to play the long game, but this takes time. And let’s be honest, people want results as soon as possible.
While losing one pound a day is possible, it isn’t sustainable.
In reality, most people who lose weight fast gain it back (and maybe more). One main reason is they don’t learn new healthy habits. They make drastic, short-term changes to lose the desired weight. Once they reach it, they return to their old habits.
However, if you need to lose a couple of pounds fast for some specific reason, there are some ways to make it happen.
But, as I always recommend to my clients, these are just in case of emergency. Remember that slow and steady wins the race. If you want to keep that weight off, you need to make lifestyle changes.
Keep reading to review 10 ways you can lose a pound a day. I’ll also explain the risks and how safe these methods are.
Is it possible to lose a pound a day?
Related: How To Lose Upper Body Fat
Yes, it’s possible to lose one pound a day. If you reduce your caloric intake, control your hydration levels, and keep your sodium intake low, you might be able to lose one pound in 24 hours.
However, don’t expect that one pound to be from pure fat. Most weight loss occurs in water weight as well as some muscle and fat mass.
According to some research, to lose one pound of fat mass, you need to be in a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than the body needs) of 3,500 kcal.
On average, people need to consume around 2,000 to 2,500 calories daily to maintain weight. So, to be in a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories per day, you must be on a severe caloric restriction and spend three to four hours at the gym.
Needless to say, that’s a very challenging task.
Still, it might be a more realistic task for heavy people. This is because heavier people tend to have bigger energy requirements (3,000 to 4,000 calories) to maintain their weight.
In that case, a caloric restriction of 3,500 calories per day might be possible.
But that brings us to the next point. Is it a safe practice to follow?
Is it safe to lose a pound a day?
Related: 32 Foods That Burn Belly Fat Fast
Losing a pound a day is not a safe practice. It means creating a severe caloric deficit.
Also, it can create several health complications, such as hormonal imbalances, affecting the metabolic rate, and increasing the risk of eating disorders. I’ll go into detail about this later in the article.
While losing one pound a day is possible, it is not something the research recommends. In reality, studies show that losing 0.5 to 1% of your body weight per week is a more sustainable and safe approach.
On average, this would mean losing one to two pounds per week.
To sum it up, losing a pound a day is unrealistic, unsustainable, and possibly dangerous.
Factors To Consider When Losing a Pound a Day
Related: 100 Squats A Day Challenge
Even if you practice all of the methods we discuss later in the article, some factors can affect how much weight you lose.
Here are some things you need to consider that can affect your weight loss rate.
As you age, the metabolic rate might slow down, meaning it makes it harder to lose weight and it makes it easier to gain it.
So, the younger you are, the easier it is to lose weight. If you find weight loss more difficult as you age, this is common.
Men tend to lose weight faster than women due to a higher muscle mass. More muscle mass means you burn more calories.
However, this might be an initial phase. After a while, men and women might experience similar weight loss.
Your genes might play a role in your weight loss. If you have a family history of being overweight, your genes might affect the amount of fat you store.
As we saw in the article, a higher weight makes it easier to lose a higher amount of weight. That is because a heavier weight means you are more likely to have a higher caloric intake.
So, reducing 2,000 to 3,500 calories per day might be easier for someone with a higher weight than someone with a lower weight.
Another thing that can affect your weight is how much water you initially contain. The more hydrated the body is, the more water you can lose.
A well-hydrated person can lose two to five pounds of water weight in one day.
A hormonal imbalance could make it harder to lose weight.
For example, women who suffer from PCOS have insulin resistance, a fat-promoting hormone.
While it is not impossible to lose weight when there is a hormonal imbalance, it might be more challenging.
The food choices you make during the day can affect your weight loss.
Eating foods high in sodium (salt) can make you retain water which leads to a weight increase.
Additionally, red meat might take a longer time to digest, meaning you might see a higher number on the scale the following day.
Sleep and Stress
Finally, insufficient sleep and high stress levels can lead to more snacking and hormonal imbalances, affecting weight loss.
So, while you might be doing everything else right, elevated cortisol levels (stress hormone) make losing weight more difficult.
What is the difference between body fat and water weight?
Related: 10 Simple Tricks To Eating Less Food
Body fat is the amount of fatty tissue in the body. Higher body fat means more fat is accumulated in those adipose cells (fat cells).
On the other hand, water weight is the total amount of liquid in the body. On average, 60-70% of the body is water. However, some factors might affect how much water you have.
For example, the menstrual cycle, sodium intake, water intake, and food choices can all affect water weight.
One of the biggest differences between body fat and water weight is how quickly you lose them. Losing body fat might take some time, but you can easily reduce water weight in hours.
How many calories do I burn to lose a pound?
Related: Metabolic Confusion Diet
Research indicates that you must burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. This varies based on the factors we’ve already discussed, such as starting weight, age, and genetics.
Typically, professionals recommend that you aim to lose one pound a week, not per day. This means you’d aim to burn 500 calories per day.
What are the risks of losing a pound a day?
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Losing a pound a day is tempting, but as I mentioned before, it is not a safe practice.
So, what are the possible risks of losing a pound a day?
- Slowed metabolism
- Might increase muscle loss
- May increase the risk of osteoporosis
- Can lead to nutrient deficiency
- Potential for hair loss, fatigue, and memory problems
How To Lose a Pound a Day
Related: Tired Of Skinny Legs With Big Belly?
Here’s a quick rundown of methods that can help you lose one pound a day. We’ll cover them in detail in the next section.
Now, remember that while you might follow all of them, the results might vary depending on the factors we mentioned before (age, gender, hormones, etc.).
Here are some things you can do to lose one pound a day.
- Follow a low-calorie diet
- Get regular exercise
- Hit your step count
- Boost your protein
- Drink more water
- Use weight loss supplements
- Increase your fiber intake
- Reduce your processed foods intake
- Prioritize sleep and reduce stress
- Try intermittent fasting
The 10 Best Methods To Lose a Pound a Day
We’ve determined the best methods to lose one pound a day.
Here, we’ll go into detail on which are the best ways to help you lose weight.
- Follow a Low-Calorie Diet
To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, meaning you need to eat fewer calories than the body needs.
Let’s say that you need to eat 2,500 calories per day to maintain your weight. If you drop your caloric intake to 1,500 calories per day, you have a caloric deficit of 1,000 calories.
The body, to compensate for those 1,000 calories it is not getting, goes into your fat reserves to provide the body with energy.
The amount of calories you need to restrict depends on your weight, height, age, and activity levels. But, for most people to lose one pound a day, consuming 1,200 calories can be a good start.
With that said, make sure you talk to your doctor or registered dietitian. They’re the best source for determining how many calories you need to avoid affecting your health.
There are several risks of consuming a very low-calorie diet. It can increase the risk of slowing down the metabolism, affect muscle mass, and increase the risk of nutrient deficiency.
- Get Regular Exercise
Related: How Many Exercises Per Workout?
According to research, the best results come when you change your diet and exercise.
Besides allowing you to burn more calories through exercise, it helps you support your muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn without doing additional work.
Combining all types of exercise (not solely relying on cardio) is a good practice to help you lose weight.
Make sure you follow the minimum daily activity for the week. According to the World Health Organization, this is at least 150 minutes of light to moderate exercise.
However, the more exercise you perform (within reason), the better results you can obtain.
Remember that you need rest days to allow your muscle to recover adequately and prevent burnout.
- Hit Your Step Count
Most people focus on their exercise routine but spend the rest of the day sitting down.
So, besides exercise, focusing on your daily step count can also play an essential role in weight loss. A study showed that hitting 8,000 steps per day is almost the same as doing a 30-minute workout.
There are several ways to increase your step count. Here are some options for you to try:
- Try parking further away from the entrance.
- Get a standing desk and a walking pad.
- Take a walk during your lunchtime.
- Walk whenever you are on a phone call.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Focusing on counting steps allows you to burn more calories throughout the day, instead of only spending one hour on exercise.
- Boost Your Protein
Related: 25 Protein Boosters To Increase Your Protein
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for weight loss. This macronutrient can help increase metabolism and increase fullness levels.
In a study, those with a high-protein diet burned an extra 260 calories per day, making it easier to reach a caloric deficit.
Another study showed that those who consumed 30% of their calories from protein reduced their caloric intake by 400 to 500 calories per day due to the satiating effect of protein.
For that reason, make sure that there is a protein source in every meal (yes, including snacks).
Later in the article, we’ll talk about the best protein sources you can include.
- Drink More Water
Drinking water might help you suppress your appetite, meaning you are less likely to snack throughout the day (especially if you are on a low-calorie diet).
In a study, people who drank 375 to 500 mL of water before a meal had a calorie reduction of 22%.
To determine how much water you need, divide your body weight in pounds by half to obtain the number of ounces you need per day. Make sure you are drinking at least that amount.
Another thing to keep in mind is consuming a calorie-free drink.
Avoid drinks high in calories or sugars since they can easily make you overboard the caloric intake without you noticing.
- Use Weight Loss Supplements
Weight loss supplements are not necessary.
However, in some cases, they might allow you to burn more calories and reduce your appetite, making it easier to cut your caloric intake.
There are thousands of weight loss supplements on the market. You need to be careful which one you buy, so you know the ingredients are safe and don’t waste your money.
One of my favorite weight loss supplements is PhenQ.
PhenQ has ingredients such as Capsimax powder, alpha-lacy reset, piperine, niacin, chromium picolinate, caffeine, nopal cactus fiber, L-carnitine, and calcium carbonate.
The supplement can help increase your energy levels, thanks to the caffeine, making it easier to hit the gym or your step count.
If you’re interested, you can read my full PhenQ review.
Before you purchase any supplement, be sure to consult with your doctor to determine if it’s right for you.
- Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber, like protein, allows you to feel fuller for longer, which prevents you from snacking during the day. Most people don’t follow the recommended fiber intake, 25 g for women and 28 g for men.
Research shows that consuming high-fiber foods allows you to lose weight.
Make sure to add fiber slowly to your diet, especially if you are not used to eating too much during the day.
If you add too much fiber all of a sudden, it can increase the risk of digestive symptoms such as bloating or gas.
Also, with more fiber, remember to increase the water intake to aid digestion.
Later, I’ll discuss the best high-fiber and low-calorie foods.
- Reduce Your Processed Food Intake
Processed foods tend to be very high in calories.
Also, they are not very filling.
In a study, participants who consumed an ultra-processed diet compared to a non-processed diet ate 500 extra calories per day, which resulted in a two-pound weight gain.
Besides being high in calories and fiber, ultra-processed foods are low in nutrients, putting you at risk for nutrient deficiency.
As a recommendation, make sure to follow the 90-10 rule whenever you want to lose weight, meaning 90% of the foods should be natural and only 10% processed foods.
- Prioritize Sleep and Reduce Stress
Sleep and stress play a crucial role in weight loss.
During your sleep is when your body recovers. When you don’t sleep well, it affects your mood and can make you more tired (less likely to hit the gym) and with more cravings (adding more calories).
Research shows that people who had a bad night’s sleep had higher ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is the hunger-signaling hormone. Higher ghrelin often leads to a higher food intake.
Stress can have a similar effect to sleep.
When the body has high levels of stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol. An increase in cortisol levels might lead to a reduction in metabolism, which makes it more difficult to lose weight.
So, what can you do about it?
Make sure you are having a good night’s sleep. Here are some things to help you improve the quality of your sleep.
- Sleep and wake up at the same time.
- Lower the temperature in your bedroom.
- Try an aromatherapy pillow spray or diffuser.
- Practice meditation before going to bed.
- Have a nighttime routine.
- Take a hot bath.
Regarding stress, I would love to tell you there is a way to eliminate it. Realistically, there’s no way to cut out stress; you have to learn to effectively manage it.
You can train yourself to manage stress by practicing meditation, journaling, doing yoga, or going for a walk.
- Try Intermittent Fasting
Finally, the last thing you can try to help you lose one pound a day is to practice intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is when you have fasting hours and eating windows.
For example, if you practice 16:8 fasting, it means that you fast for 16 hours and have an eight-hour eating window.
When you decrease the eating windows, it makes it easier to be in a caloric deficit.
If you are going to start fasting, make sure you do it slowly. Don’t start with 16 hours straight away.
First, determine how many hours you are naturally fasting and add one hour to it.
For example, if the last meal you eat is at 7 pm and the first meal you eat the next day is at 7 am, it means that you are naturally fasting for 12 hours. The following day, move the breakfast to start at 8 am.
Do this until you reach the desired fasting hours.
While fasting seems like a beneficial approach, there are some things you need to consider.
If you are not careful and fast the wrong way, it might lead to hormonal imbalances, trouble losing weight, and the risk of eating disorders.
You can read our intermittent fasting for beginners.
The Best Workouts To Help You Lose a Pound a Day
Related: How To Burn 1000 Calories Per Day
Below is a split workout routine to help you lose a pound a day.
This program will be based on an upper and lower body split workout, with a cardio exercise of your choice to complete each session.
There will also be a dedicated cardio day mid-week to break up your training.
This will allow you to get to the gym on back-to-back days, targeting different muscles with each workout, while still recovering.
On the weekend there will be rest days. However, to burn those extra calories we recommend performing a light cardio session such as walking or recreational activity on Saturday.
This will help get the body moving, blood pumping, and aid in recovery.
The final day, Sunday, is to rest to reset before tackling the next week’s sessions.
Upper Body (Duration 60-70 mins)
|Dumbbell Chest Press||3||12-15||45-60 secs|
|Cable Flys||3||12-15||30-45 secs|
|Wide Grip Lat Pulldown||3||12-15||30-45 secs|
|Supported Row||3||12-15||30-45 secs|
|Machine Shoulder Press||3||10-12||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Bicep Curls||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Cable Tricep Extension||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Ab Crunches||3||15||30-45 secs|
|Cardio: 20 Minutes|
Lower Body (Duration 60-70 mins)
|Dumbbell Hip Thrusts||2||10-15||30-45 secs|
|Goblet Squat||3||12-15||45-60 secs|
|Dumbbell Walking Lunges||3||12-15||30-45 secs|
|Dumbbell Deadlifts||3||12-15||30-45 secs|
|Leg Press||3||12-15||30-45 secs|
|Hamstring Curl||3||10-12||30-45 secs|
|Machine Calf Raises||3||12||30-45 secs|
|Plank||3||30 secs||30-45 secs|
|Cardio: 20 Minutes|
Cardio (Duration 55 mins)
Your mid-week cardio session will be based on a warm-up, interval session, and steady-state cardio session.
The interval session can be based on the piece of cardio equipment you prefer.
The format is a 30-second sprint and a 30-second rest for 15 minutes, with a one to two minute rest after the interval session.
|Warm Up: Treadmill 10||1||10 mins||30 secs|
|Interval: Treadmill/Rower/Cross Trainer||30s on/ 30s off||15 mins||90-120 secs|
|Steady-State Cardio Session||1||30 mins|
The Best Diet Plan To Lose a Pound a Day
Nutrition plays an important role if you want to lose one pound a day.
But, you might wonder how you can reduce your caloric intake. Here, you’ll find a menu of 1,200 calories for different diets (traditional, keto, and vegetarian).
Before you follow this diet plan, consult a doctor or registered dietitian. They can determine your individual needs based on your health status.
|Traditional||2 slices of whole wheat toast1 cup of fruit Omelete: 4 egg whites + 1 whole egg + ½ cup vegetables 1 teaspoon of oil for cooking||2 cups of green salad½ cup of cooked mushrooms 3 oz of cooked chicken breast 1 cup of quinoa 1 teaspoon of oil for cooking||1 cup of cooked broccoli, zucchini, and carrots. 3 oz of cooked steak ¼ avocado||1 whole grain smart bagel 1 apple 1 oz of low-fat cheese|
|Keto||Scrambled eggs with vegetables: 3 eggs + mushrooms + broccoli1 teaspoon of olive oil for cooking ½ an avocado||2 cups of green salad½ cup of cauliflower rice 3 oz of cooked salmon 1 teaspoon of sesame seed oil||1 cup of cooked vegetables ½ cup of cauliflower mash 1 teaspoon butter3 oz of cooked chicken breast 1 teaspoon of olive oil for cooking||1 cup of berries 1 scoop of protein ½ oz of almonds|
|Vegetarian||½ cup of quinoa with sauteed vegetables1 teaspoon of olive oil for cooking 2 fried eggs1 cup of fruit||2 cups of green salad½ cup of chickpeas1 teaspoon of dressing 3 oz of tofu||1 cup of cooked vegetables1 cup of green salad½ cup of lentils½ cup of cottage cheese1 teaspoon of dressing||1 scoop of pea protein powder1 cup of berries1 cup of almond milk|
Foods To Eat When Losing a Pound a Day
The foods you include can support your goal of losing one pound a day. So, what foods can you include to aid in weight loss?
Foods high in protein can help promote weight loss. Protein can help slightly increase the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories without doing additional work.
Also, protein can help support muscle mass, which can help keep your metabolism running high. Finally, protein can help increase fullness levels, preventing you from going hungry whenever you reduce your caloric intake.
Make sure you choose high-protein and low-fat foods to prevent consuming too many calories.
Some options to include are:
- Egg whites
- Chicken breast
- Lean-ground beef
- Low-fat cheese
- Protein shakes
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
High-fiber foods can also help control sugar levels, prevent insulin from spiking, and increase fullness levels.
Foods you can include that are high in fiber with very few calories are non-starchy vegetables. Here are some you can add to help you lose weight.
- Leafy greens
- Spaghetti squash
- Bamboo shoots
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
Foods To Avoid When Losing a Pound a Day
Foods that are high in calories and low in protein are best to avoid whenever you are trying to lose weight.
Here are some foods that are best to avoid when trying to lose a pound a day.
- Fried food
- Sugary drinks
- Candy bars
- Fruit juices
- Alcoholic beverages
- White bread
- Ice cream
What are the pros and cons of losing a pound a day?
When it comes to losing a pound a day, there are more cons than pros. Here’s a breakdown:
- Reduced weight.
- Improved self-esteem.
- Clothes might fit better.
- It is an unsustainable approach.
- Might lead to more weight gain.
- Can lead to eating disorders.
- May increase the risk of nutrient deficiency.
- Can slow down the metabolism.
- Might result in muscle loss.
Pro Tips To Lose a Pound a Day Safely and Effectively
We are almost at the end of the article. But before you go, here are some tips I share with my hundreds of clients to help them achieve weight loss.
- Search for your motivation
- Set realistic expectations
- Substitute high-calorie with low-calorie foods
- Have other indicators of progress
- Have an accountability partner
Search for Your Motivation
Before you begin any weight loss journey, make sure you are ready for it. Sustainable weight loss takes time and effort.
Answer the following questions to determine if you are ready to change for yourself and not for someone else.
- Are you ready to lose weight?
- Are there any obstacles in the way of losing weight?
- Why do you want to lose weight?
- What is your main motivation to lose weight?
- Do you have the will to change your eating habits and exercise?
- Do you have time to make the necessary changes?
Once you determine that you are ready for weight loss, write down your main motivation.
Physical and broad aspects are not strong enough.
For example, it is not powerful enough when you say, “I want to be thinner.”
You need to dig deep into how you want to feel, what you want to look like, and what other non-physical things you want to accomplish. For example, you may want more energy to play with your kids.
Set Realistic Expectations
While losing one pound a week is possible, it is not a realistic goal. Losing 5% of your body weight is a more realistic goal, with a one to two-pound weight loss per week.
When you set your goals, make sure you set big goals and smaller goals. This can help you stay encouraged throughout the process instead of a goal that is very far away.
Substituting High-Calorie Foods With Low-Calorie Foods
Another thing you can do is substitute high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods. This can help reduce your caloric intake without relying on counting calories or portion control.
For example, instead of having regular pasta, switch to zucchini noodles. They are high in fiber, low in carbs, and low in calories.
Another example is switching from mashed potatoes or rice to cauliflower mash or cauliflower rice.
You can switch half of the foods if you are not keen on replacing them.
Have Other Indicators of Progress
Make sure you don’t focus solely on the scale to determine if you are on the right path with weight loss.
As we’ve seen, weight loss is different for everyone. It might change based on your hormonal processes, the foods you eat, and the amount of water you drink.
Take pictures to have a visual representation of your progress. You can also take your waist circumference to check if you are losing inches.
Finally, check any non-scale victories such as:
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Less stress
- Skin is looking better
- Clothes fit better
- Your mind is sharper
Have an Accountability Partner
Finally, a practice that can help you lose weight and create sustainable results is to have an accountability partner.
An accountability partner, whether it is a friend or a professional, can help you stay on the right path and keep you motivated through the process.
Texting them daily with your struggles, concerns, and victories can make the process easier.
That wraps up this guide on how to lose a pound a day.
The bottom line is that losing one pound a day is a dangerous practice.
While it’s possible, it doesn’t promote long-term, sustainable results. Since you don’t dedicate time to replacing your habits, after you reach the desired goal, you snap back to your old weight.
It can also be rough on your body. It can slow the metabolism, erase your muscle tone, and generally leave you feeling depleted.
For that reason, I only recommend harsh weight loss strategies in an emergency. Otherwise, it’s best to engage in slow and steady weight loss for amazing and sustainable results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I lose a pound a day?
Yes, you can lose a pound a day, but it is not a safe or recommended practice. Losing one pound a day relies on a severe caloric restriction which is not sustainable and might lead to nutrient deficiencies.
What should I eat to lose a pound a day?
To lose a pound a day, you should follow a low-calorie diet, meaning you consume fewer calories than the body needs.
To avoid going hungry throughout the day, include foods high in fiber, such as non-starchy vegetables. Also, protein takes longer to digest, which can increase fullness levels.
How do I lose a pound overnight?
For you to lose one pound overnight, most of it would need to be of water weight. To lose water weight, avoid consuming high-sodium foods, reduce carb consumption, follow a low-calorie diet for the day, and exercise.
How many calories should I eat to lose 1 pound a day?
The amount of calories you need to lose a pound depends on your initial weight, height, age, and activity levels.
To burn one pound a day, you need to reduce 3,500 calories daily. On average, a very low-calorie diet (between 800 to 1,200 calories) can help you lose weight.
However, make sure you do it under professional supervision.
What is the fastest way to lose 1 pound?
The fastest way to lose one pound daily is to reduce caloric intake, increase fiber and protein, prioritize sleep, reduce stress, and focus on exercise.
However, remember that everyone might have individual results and they are not usually sustainable results.
Will I lose weight if I drink lots of water?
You might lose weight with adequate hydration since it can increase your fullness levels, allowing you to eat smaller portions.
However, the more water you drink, the more it might accumulate, which might cause the number on the scale to go up.
How much do I need to exercise to lose a pound a day?
On average, you might burn 300 to 500 calories per 30 minutes of running. So, to lose one pound a day, you would need to run six to seven hours to burn those 3,500 calories.
Or, you would need to walk 35 miles a day to burn those 3,500 calories.
How many pounds can you lose in 24 hours?
You might lose 0.5 to one pound a day. However, this is a very restrictive practice.
Research shows that losing one to two pounds a week is healthier. So, losing one or two ounces per day might be a more viable option.
How can I lose water weight in 24 hours?
Yes, you can lose four to five pounds of water weight in a day. However, be careful with taking it too far since it might cause dehydration.
How to lose a pound a day without exercise?
To lose a pound a day without exercise, you need to be in a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than the body needs), increasing your fiber, protein, and water intake.
To lose one pound of pure fat mass, you would need to reduce 3,500 calories per day.
Why am I losing a pound a day?
If you lose one pound a day, you probably eat fewer calories than the body needs. However, if you’re experiencing sudden drastic weight loss, schedule a check-up with your doctor.
Is it healthy to lose a pound a day?
No, losing one pound a day is not a healthy or sustainable practice. Long-term weight loss results are better than fast results.