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Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, one time each week.
Sometimes it's necessary to lose weight in a hurry, whether for medical reasons or to feel that you look your best at a social event. While this can be accomplished fairly quickly, don't fall for fad diets that promise significant weight loss in a very short time. Dropping your calorie count too low may result in rapid weight loss, but robbing your body of necessary nutrients can have serious health effects.
How Low You Should Go
According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, the best way to figure out how many calories you can take in and still lose weight is to multiply your current weight by 15. That number is how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. So to lose weight, you will need to drop that number by 500 to 1,000 calories. Subtracting 500 calories from your diet will help you drop 1 pound per week, because each pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. Dropping your calorie count by 1,000 calories per day is fairly drastic, and may result in your metabolism slowing to compensate, so you will need to add at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you can incorporate both aerobic and weight-bearing workouts into your week, you will have a better chance of dropping pounds quickly.
Any diet of fewer than 1,000 calories per day should be done under a doctor's supervision, because if you are not getting enough vital nutrients your body may burn muscle tissue, including from your organs, in order to fuel itself.
Changes on the Scale
You may see an initial drop of 5 pounds or more the first week of your diet. As family-medicine physician Gabe Neal, M.D., of Texas A&M University Health Science Center explains, when you first restrict your caloric intake, your body burns glycogen for fuel when it runs out of calories. Water is what binds glycogen to your body, so when the glycogen is burned, water is released. People whose bodies consist of high amounts fat actually have less water in their bodies than leaner people, so after this initial loss of water, the numbers on the scale will not fall quite as quickly.
Measuring Your Progress in Inches
If you exercise as well as diet, you may find that the numbers on the scale stop falling while you can still see and feel a noticeable difference in your size. Changes in your size will be especially obvious if your workout routine includes weights. This is because muscle tissue is more dense and compact than fat. One cubic inch of muscle weighs more than one cubic inch of fat, so before you cut calories from your diet to keep the numbers on the scale moving, check your measurements and use those numbers to keep track of your progress. It may take more than a week to see your measurements change, but stick with it.
Planning for Long Term Weight Loss
The safest and most healthy way to lose weight is to take it slow and steady. Aim for 1,200 to 1,500 calories of nutrient-dense foods for women and 1,500 to 2,000 calories for men. Stay hydrated and combine aerobic exercise with weight workouts, and you should be able to maintain a loss of between 1 and 2.5 pounds per week after the initial water weight drops off. That means about 10 pounds per month, which is fast enough to be satisfying and slow enough to let your skin adapt without sagging.