Anyone who knows a thing or two about successful weight loss knows 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 3 pounds a week might 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 science say?
Is It Safe To Lose 3 Pounds In a Week?
The safety of losing 3 pounds in a week can depend on various factors, including 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 (7). 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 with a healthcare professional or a dietitian to ensure your plan is safe and suitable for your specific health needs and lifestyle. You may need to be medically monitored when losing weight more quickly than is generally recommended, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking medications. Talk to your healthcare provider about your individual situation.
How To Lose 2 to 3 Pounds In a Week?
So, how can you lose 3 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 focuses on portion control and limiting high-calorie foods. It’s suggested that to lose 1 pound a week a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is required (1). That means, to lose 2 to 3 pounds, you would need to double or triple that amount. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re still eating enough to meet your body’s minimum energy and nutrient needs.
Having a lose 3 pounds a week meal plan is the best way to be sure that you are consuming an adequate amount of nutrients while still creating a calorie deficit.
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Let’s assume we are working with an individual who requires 2,500 calories per day to maintain their current weight. To create a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories, they would need to consume between 1,500-2,000 calories per day.
Here’s a general meal plan that might fit those requirements:
- 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, with a vinaigrette dressing).
- Snack: A handful of unsalted almonds.
- Dinner: Baked salmon with a side of roasted broccoli and quinoa.
- Snack: A small banana.
- 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.
- 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, with a 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.
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 at each meal to help keep you feeling full (9).
- Swap refined grains (like white bread and rice) for whole grains (like whole wheat bread and brown rice).
- Choose lean proteins (like chicken, turkey, fish) over fatty cuts of meat.
- Opt for healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, olive oil) instead of unhealthy fats (like butter, and other solid or animal fats).
- Substitute sugary drinks with water, unsweetened tea, or infused water.
Remember, 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 with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet plan.
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 yet rich in essential nutrients.
While the effect of adjusting your diet for weight loss might not be apparent in as little as one week, it can still be beneficial in the long run.
3. Perform Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining a calorie deficit without drastically reducing your food intake.
A 3 pounds a week weight loss exercise routine might involve moderate-intensity activities like walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling for 150 to 300 minutes a week, or vigorous-intensity activities like running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 75 to 150 minutes a week.
The best way to lose 3 pounds a week through exercise is by choosing the activity that burns the most calories and then gradually adding more time or intensity. Research points to the fact that HIIT, compared to other types of exercise, can burn more calories in a shorter time frame and is one of the most effective forms of exercise (5).
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). But when you’re aiming to lose 3 pounds a week, 10,000 steps may not be enough.
On average, walking 10,000 steps could burn about 400 to 500 calories, the variance based on factors like speed, terrain, and individual metabolism. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate.
To create the necessary calorie deficit to lose 3 pounds solely through walking would require a substantial increase in steps.
In addition, it’s important to remember that diet also plays a crucial role in weight loss. Even if you’re increasing your physical activity, if you’re consuming more calories than you burn, you won’t lose weight. A combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise is usually the most effective weight loss strategy (12).
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 to lose 3 pounds a week by intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an 8-hour window. Beginners may find this approach challenging, so it’s important to experiment and find the right fasting schedule that works for you.
5. Long-Term Commitment
If you’re hoping to lose 3 pounds a week for 2 months, remember that consistent, long-term changes to your diet and physical activity levels are necessary.
Rapid weight loss can often be regained quickly, so it’s important to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Some sustainable changes that will help you keep the weight off are:
- Mindful eating: Eating mindfully and paying attention to your body’s fullness signals can help you eat only as much as you need to (8).
- 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 of time 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 (10).
- Tracking your progress: Keeping track of your diet and exercise helps you stay focused on your goals and maintain motivation.
Is 3 Pounds Weight Loss Noticeable?
Whether or not a 3-pound weight loss is noticeable can depend on several factors, including the person’s body size, body composition, and where they tend to carry excess weight.
Both men and women need to gain or lose about 8 and 9 pounds, respectively, for others to notice it in their face.
That means, a 3-pound weight loss might not be dramatically visible to others, especially if you have a larger body size. However, it can still be a significant accomplishment and a step towards a healthier lifestyle.
Even small amounts of weight loss can lead to improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugars, and reduced risk of chronic diseases (7).
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Normally Take To Lose 3 Pounds?
The duration it takes to lose 3 pounds can vary greatly 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 (7). That said, you could expect to lose 3 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 Lose A Week Safely?
For most people, a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is between 1 to 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, including gallstones, dehydration, and malnutrition (11).
How Many Calories Can I Have To Lose 3 Pounds a Week?
To lose 3 pounds a week you would generally need to create a calorie deficit of around 10,500 calories in a week (since one pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories). This means creating a daily calorie deficit of about 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’re still consuming enough calories to meet your body’s basic nutritional needs.
The Bottom Line
Losing 3 pounds a week may be achievable for some people but requires a significant commitment to diet and exercise.
Experts recommend creating a substantial calorie deficit through a balanced diet rich in whole foods and regular physical activity. Please remember that it’s important to approach such a goal with caution as rapid weight loss can lead to potential health risks.
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!
- Can following trecommendationshe caloric restriction from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans help individuals lose weight? (2008, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults (2018, mdpi.com)
- Dietary fibre and satiety (2007, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Effects of 10,000 steps a day on physical and mental health in overweight participants in a community setting: a preliminary study (2016, ncbi.nih.nlm.gov)
- High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss (2010, hindawi.com)
- Intermittent fasting: the science of going without (2013, ncbi.nih.nlm.gov)
- Losing Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity (2023, cdc.gov)
- Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Protein, weight management, and satiety (2008, sciencedirect.com)
- Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2022, mdpi.com)
- The Potential Dangers of Using Rapid Weight Loss Techniques (2014, journals.lww.com)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)