Blog Weight Loss How To Lose 3 Pounds a Week According To Experts

How To Lose 3 Pounds a Week According To Experts

Anyone who knows a thing or two about successful weight loss knows that a SMART goal is a must. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound – these are the key attributes that should define your weight loss journey. 

In this context, losing three pounds a week may be an aim for those who want to shed weight consistently without compromising their health. It’s specific, measurable, relevant, and time-bound. But how achievable is this goal? What does the science say?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the diet and exercise tips to help you lose three pounds a week, as recommended by wellness experts. 

Is it Safe to Lose 3 Pounds in a Week?

The safety of losing three pounds in a week is dependent on a variety of factors, such as your current weight, diet, exercise routine, and overall health status. 

The general rule of thumb for safe and sustainable weight loss is approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week (8). This rate of weight loss is more likely to promote long-term success and minimize risks such as muscle loss, nutritional deficiencies, and other health complications. 

If you’re considering losing weight at a faster pace, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional or a dietitian to ensure your plan is safe and suitable for your specific health needs and lifestyle. You may require medical monitoring when losing weight more quickly than is generally recommended, particularly if you have any medical conditions or are taking medication. You should talk to your healthcare provider about your individual situation.

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What Is the Best Way to Lose 3 Pounds?

The best way to lose three pounds is by creating a sustainable calorie deficit (i.e. reducing how much you eat and increasing how much you move your body in a way that’s safe and achievable). This can be achieved by combining a healthy, balanced diet with regular physical activity (15).

Generally, most people become frustrated when they start a restrictive diet and return to their old eating habits later. This is why it’s essential to choose a diet that suits your lifestyle and preferences, in addition to one that you can maintain long-term. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats is considered to be the most nutritious approach for losing weight (10).

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Is Walking 2 Miles A Day Enough For Weight Loss?

Another source of frustration for many (and that’s why you’ll often hear people say that routine x or exercise y doesn’t work) is that people often underestimate the amount of calories they consume and overestimate the number of calories they burn while exercising. To avoid this, make sure you track your food intake and physical activity using a tracker or app.

In terms of exercise, you should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or strength training, at least five days a week.

Ultimately, how consistent you are with your diet and exercise will determine the success of your weight loss journey.

how to lose 3 pounds a week  

What Should I Eat to Lose 3 Pounds?

You should eat foods that are nutrient-dense and calorie-lean to successfully lose three pounds in a week. This means you need to focus on whole, minimally processed foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals. It also means avoiding or limiting highly processed, high-calorie foods that are full of added sugars and unhealthy fats (2).

Foods that can help you lose weight include:

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  • Lean proteins (chicken breast, fish, tofu)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal)
  • Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts)
  • Fruits (berries, apples, citrus fruits)
  • Probiotic-rich foods (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut)

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How Long Will it Take Me to Lose 3 Pounds?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can take approximately 1 to 2 weeks to lose three pounds (8). However, how much you currently weigh, your age, your gender, and your overall health status all play a role in how long it will take you to reach your weight loss goal.

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Other factors that can affect the rate at which you lose weight include genetics, hormones, sleep quality, stress levels, and metabolic rate (12). These are all important considerations when setting a realistic timeline for your weight loss goal.

How Can You Lose 2 to 3 Pounds in a Week?

So, how can you lose three pounds in a week? Here are some tips to help get you started:

1. Create a Calorie Deficit

The most effective strategy is creating a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than the body burns. This can be achieved through a “lose 3 pounds a week diet plan” that is focused on portion control and limiting high-calorie foods. It has been suggested that to lose 1 pound a week, you require a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day (1). This means that to lose 2 to 3 pounds, you will need to double or treble this amount. However, it’s important to make sure that you still eat enough to meet your body’s minimum energy and nutrient needs. 

A “lose 3 pounds a week” meal plan is the best way to make sure you consume an adequate amount of nutrients while also creating a calorie deficit.

Let’s assume we are working with someone who requires 2,500 calories per day to maintain their current weight. In order to create a calorie deficit of 500-1,000 calories, they will need to consume 1,500-2,000 calories per day.

how to lose 3 pounds a week  

Here’s a general meal plan that may suit these requirements:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with a handful of mixed berries and a sprinkle of granola.
  • Snack: A small apple with a tablespoon of almond butter.
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken salad (spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, a small amount of feta cheese, and vinaigrette dressing).
  • Snack: A handful of unsalted almonds.
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with a side of roasted broccoli and quinoa.
  • Snack: A small banana.

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach and a slice of whole-grain toast.
  • Snack: Carrot and celery sticks with hummus.
  • Lunch: Turkey wrap (turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, whole grain wrap).
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with a handful of mixed berries.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken with a side of brown rice and steamed vegetables.
  • Snack: A small orange.

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal topped with a small banana and a sprinkle of chia seeds.
  • Snack: A handful of mixed nuts.
  • Lunch: Quinoa salad (quinoa, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, and lemon vinaigrette).
  • Snack: Baby carrots with hummus.
  • Dinner: Baked cod with a side of sweet potato and steamed green beans.
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with a handful of blueberries.
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Tips for Portion Control and Healthy Substitutions

  • Use smaller plates/bowls to help control portion sizes.
  • Drink a glass of water before and/or with meals.
  • Include lean protein in every meal to help keep you feeling full (11).
  • Swap refined grains (such as white bread and rice) for whole grains (such as whole wheat bread and brown rice).
  • Choose lean proteins (such as chicken, turkey, or fish) over fatty cuts of meat.
  • Opt for healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, or olive oil) instead of unhealthy fats (such as butter and other solid or animal fats).
  • Substitute sugary drinks with water, unsweetened tea, or infused water.

It’s important to remember that this meal plan is just a general guide and the actual food items and portion sizes should be adjusted based on individual needs and preferences. Always consult a healthcare professional before you start any new diet plan.

Read more: Lose 20 Pounds In 2 Months With This Expert-Approved Guide

2. Turn to Healthy Eating

A 3 pounds a week weight loss meal plan should emphasize whole, nutrient-dense foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are lower in calories and rich in essential nutrients.

Limiting highly processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats can also contribute to weight loss (2).

While the effect of adjusting your diet for weight loss may not be apparent as soon as in one week, it can still be beneficial in the long term.

3. Perform Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a calorie deficit without drastically reducing your food intake. 

A three-pounds-a-week weight loss exercise routine may involve moderate-intensity activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling for 150 to 300 minutes a week, or vigorous-intensity activities such as running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 75 to 150 minutes a week.

The best way to lose three pounds a week through exercise is by choosing the activity that burns the most calories and gradually adding more time or intensity. Research has found that compared to other types of exercise, HIIT burns more calories in a shorter time frame and is one of the most effective forms of exercise (5).

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Maximize Your Calories Burned: Skiing Is the Way to Go!


How Many Steps a Day to Lose 3 Pounds a Week?

Research suggests that 10,000 steps per day can be an effective goal to help increase physical activity and improve mental health (4). However, if you’re aiming to lose 3 pounds a week, 10,000 steps may not be enough. 

On average, walking 10,000 steps burns approximately 400 to 500 calories, and the variance is based on factors such as speed, terrain, and individual metabolism. It’s important to keep in mind that this is just an estimate.

In order to create the necessary calorie deficit to lose three pounds solely through walking will require a substantial increase in the number of steps. 

It’s also important to remember that diet plays a crucial role in weight loss. Even if you increase your physical activity, if you consume more calories than you burn, you won’t lose any weight. A combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise is generally the most effective weight-loss strategy (15).

4. Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. This method can effectively create a calorie deficit by reducing the amount a person eats overall and has been associated with weight loss (6). 

The most common way of losing three pounds a week by intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an eight-hour window. Beginners may find this approach to be challenging, so it’s important to experiment and find the fasting schedule that works best for you.

5. Long-Term Commitment

If you’re hoping to lose three pounds a week for two months, you need to remember that consistent, long-term changes to your diet and physical activity levels are necessary (13). 

Rapid weight loss can often be regained quickly, so it’s important to make sustainable lifestyle changes (7). Some sustainable changes that will help keep the weight off include:

  • Mindful eating: Eating mindfully and paying attention to your body’s fullness signals will help you eat only as much as you need (9).
  • Identifying food triggers: Keeping a food diary can help you identify and tackle any unhealthy eating habits such as emotional or stress eating.
  • Planning meals: Meal planning ahead in advance can save time and help you stay on track.
  • Boosting your fiber intake: Eating more dietary fiber can help you feel fuller for longer and increase satiety (3). 
  • Sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night: A lack of sleep has been associated with overeating and weight gain (12). 
  • Tracking your progress: Keeping track of your diet and exercise will help you stay focused on your goals and maintain motivation. 
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Is 3 Pounds Weight Loss Noticeable?

Whether or not a three-pound weight loss is noticeable is dependent on several factors, such as an individual’s body size, body composition, and where they tend to carry excess weight. 

Men and women need to gain or lose approximately 8 and 9 pounds, respectively, for others to notice it in their faces. 

This means that a three-pound weight loss may not be dramatically visible to others, particularly if you have a larger body size. However, it can still be a significant accomplishment and a step toward a healthier lifestyle. 

Even small amounts of weight loss can lead to improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars and a reduced risk of chronic diseases (8).

how to lose 3 pounds a week



  • How long does it normally take to lose 3 pounds?

The amount of time it takes to lose three pounds can vary significantly depending on your diet, physical activity level, and overall lifestyle. A common guideline is that a sustainable weight loss rate is 1 to 2 pounds per week (8). That being said, you can expect to lose three pounds in approximately 1.5 to 3 weeks if you maintain a consistent calorie deficit through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

  • How many pounds can you safely lose in a week?

For most people, a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is between 1 and 2 pounds per week. This theoretically involves creating a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day through diet and exercise. 

Losing weight at a faster rate can increase your risk of various health problems, such as gallstones, dehydration, and malnutrition (13).

  • How many calories can I have and lose 3 pounds a week?

To lose 3 pounds a week, you will generally need to create a calorie deficit of approximately 10,500 calories in a week (as one pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories). This means creating a daily calorie deficit of approximately 1,500 calories. 

However, this is a substantial deficit and may not be safe or sustainable for everyone. It’s important to make sure that you still consume a sufficient amount of calories to meet your body’s basic nutritional needs.

The Bottom Line

Losing three pounds a week may be achievable for some people, but it requires a significant commitment to diet and exercise. 

Experts recommend creating a substantial calorie deficit through a combination of a balanced diet that is rich in whole foods and regular physical activity. You should also remember that it’s important to approach such a goal with caution as rapid weight loss can lead to potential health risks. 

Always consult a healthcare professional before you start a weight loss journey.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Can following the caloric restriction recommendations  from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans help individuals lose weight? (2008,
  2. Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults (2018,
  3. Dietary fibre and satiety (2007,
  4. Effects of 10,000 steps a day on physical and mental health in overweight participants in a community setting: a preliminary study (2016,
  5. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss (2010,
  6. Intermittent fasting: the science of going without (2013,
  7. Is It Bad to Lose Weight Too Quickly? (2023,
  8. Losing Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity (2023,
  9. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat (2017,
  10. Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021,
  11. Protein, weight management, and satiety (2008,
  12. Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2022,
  13. Seven tricks not to gain weight again afta you don lose am (2023,
  14. The Potential Dangers of Using Rapid Weight Loss Techniques (2014, 
  15. Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2004,
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