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Weight Loss
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I want to lose more than 1-2 pounds per week

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I am a 39 year-old man.  I am 6' 3" tall, and I reached the heaviest point of my life a month ago at 306 lbs.  Everyone always tells me I "carry it well," and when they guess my weight, they usually guess in the 250 lb. range.

My goal is to reach 210 lbs.  Any less than that (despite what the charts say) would be too thin for me.  I started a regular exercise program 3 1/2 weeks ago, and started watching what I eat.  I still eat plenty...I just changed from high calorie fast food and junk food to a diet high in fiber and lower in fat.

In 3 1/2 weeks, I've lost nearly 25 lbs, and I am feeling much more energetic.  But all I hear is that I'm losing it too fast. 

Here's my delemma:  I like seeing the weight come off fast.  I am not starving myself--I eat when I'm hungry, and I eat plenty.  I tried to use the CC Allowance tool to tell me how many calories to consume to reach my goal...and it always tells me my goal is too agressive.

Help me understand what is wrong with losing 5 lbs per week if I'm eating right and exercising? 
Edited Aug 07 2007 12:24 by hkellick
Reason: Moved to the Weight Loss forum
22 Replies (last)
How many calories are you actually eating at the moment and how much exercise are you doing?
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i think it's because with that kind of deficit, you are not getting enough nutrition to fuel your body in a healthy manner. you are actually using five pounds of fat for fuel, rather than a healthy ratio of fats, carbs and protein, and it will seriously screw up your metabolism to do that. i think it's okay to lose quickly for a week or two, but then you need to get your deficit down to 1000 calories or less per day. also, in the long run, it develops better eating habits, and when you reach goal, you will only have to make minor adjustments. congrats on finding calorie count, losing weight, and getting healthy!!
Hi Blueavocet,

When I first started losing weight, I was 6'4" and 306, so we were in pretty similair situation. I lost alot of weight fast as well (not 25 lbs. in a month, but 20, I think)

Guys lose weight faster. Really obese people lose weight faster too. So don't sweat it TOO much on the weight loss.

But before telling you it's all Ok, how much ARE you eating? And how much are you exercising? I was eating too little when I first started, maybe 2,000 calories a day which was not enough by half.

At even 280 lbs and 6'3", with exercise, you should probably be aiming to consume 3,000 calories a day. On one hand, that's great cause you can eat more and continue to lose weight. On the other, I won't pretend that it's by any means easy to eat that calorie allotment worth of good food.

Assuming you're aiming to eat something close to what the site says you should, and not something like 1500 calories.. if you're losing weight like that.. then mazel tov and I'm a little jealous. :)

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. I've been where you are, so I might be able to help :)
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I'm actually eating about 2500 calories per day right now.  I would hate to even know how many I was consuming before...I literally lived on fast food, oreos, donuts, etc.  I also drank at least 64 oz. of non-diet soda every day. 

I am working out for about an hour 4-5 times per week.  This hour is a combination of some aerobics (on an eliptical trainer), and weight lifting.

Is 2500 calories too few for me? 
What sort of activity are you doing?

What does this site suggest you eat?
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This site actually tells me to eat 3150 calories per day in order to reach my goal of 210 lbs.  However, it tells me that it should take me until July of 2008. 

If I can lose 5 lbs per week doing what I'm doing (I lost 7 lbs per week the first 3 1/2), I will reach my goal in 14 weeks, or just under 4 months. 

My birthday is Dec. 16.  Is it unhealthy to shoot for 210 lbs (70 more lbs) by that date?
I think REALISTICALLY you probably won't be able to hit your weight goal by then. The closer you get to goal, the slower your weight loss will happen. :/

In your shoes, I'd aim to eat about 3,000 calories or so. If weight continues to pour off and you're eating like that, than great and mazel tov! Enjoy it! :)

Eventually, however, your body hits a point where if you AREN'T eating enough, it'll get stuck and plateau out. This seems to happen relatively quickly, within a couple to a few months. Eating more generally seems to get you off the plateau.

As you lose weight, you should adjust what you eat anyways. You'll need less calories at 250 than you will at 275 and less calories at 275 than 300.

For now, I suggest you up your calories, keep exercising and just.. keep going :)

Good luck! :)
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Thanks hkellick...and others who have replied.  This makes a lot of sense.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of anyone else who might have opinions or experience that might be useful. 
My understanding (from Tom Venuto's BTFFTM) is that you really can't lose more than 2 pounds of FAT per week, except maybe under extremely special circumstances. 

Anything you lose above that will be water or muscle. 

Losing muscle will make it harder to keep the weight off because it will decrease your caloric need (since less calories will be needed to maintain your muscle mass).  When that happens, the only solution is to cut calories again...and again... NOT healthy.  This is one of the reasons that "crash diets" fail.
i hardly think 2500 cals a day for a large man is crash dieting and you'd be surprised how much water weight is retained when your diet is salty fast food, 10lbs may have been water but so what, good for you.

good work blueavocet and congrats on your weight loss :)
It's so not fair that men get to eat 2500-3000 calories while women have to stick to 1200-1400 cals.. :(   

Can you imagine the peanut butter we could eat!? LOL

Great job on the weight loss though blueavocet... sorry for the post hijacking. ;)
lol...I'm dreaming of all those slices of pizza I could enjoy if I had to eat 2500-3000 cals a day! Well, at least Lean Cuisine makes lower calorie versions :)
I'm in the same boat weighing 315. I lose 5 - 10 pounds per week. I eat 2,200 calories a day. When you are obese your BMR is so high it's almost impossible not to lose more than 2 pounds weeekly. My BMR is 3,900. There is no way I could eat 3,400 calories daily without eating a lot of fast food. As long as you are getting all your nutrients I wouldn't worry about it, at least I don't.

I'm 6'3 male also, started at 240, down to 222. I eat 1500-1700 calories on sedentary days, and up that number accordingly on days that I exercise. I don't think that 2500 is ludicrous, if 1500 is the base amount for a male, I would think that 2500 is going to be sufficient when you have a considerable amount to lose.

Just my thoughts, no expert by any means.
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There is a way to get a sane answer, but you're not going to like it ;-)  Get your body fat percentage measured regularly.  From that you can easily compute your total pounds of fat and non-fat ("lean") weight.  If you're losing signficant lean mass along with the fat, you're going to regret it eventually.  The faster the rate of weight loss, the more likely it is you're losing lean mass.

BTW, total weight is pretty much irrelevant to anything having to do with health or appearance.  It's the amount of fat weight that's far more important to both, and for men especially the amount of visceral fat ("invisible" fat surrounding organs under the abdominal muscles -- this is much more strongly correlated with serious health risks than fat you can pinch, and men are more likely than women to have dangerous levels of visceral fat -- you can thank testosterone for that).

About guessing at calories, the more excess fat you carry, the more calculations like the one supplied by this site ( overestimate your true calorie requirements.  That's because the only things they know about you are your age, gender, height and total weight.  But in reality it's only your lean weight that matters to your base metabolic rate -- fat requires very little energy to stay alive, no matter how much fat you carry.

Once you get BF% measured, you can compute your lean weight, and use the simple Katch-McArdle formula to get a much better estimate of your true base metabolic rate.

Even if you aren't losing lean mass, there are two other reasons it's generally better the slower you lose fat:

  • The faster fat is lost, the more likely you are to be left with large flaps of loose skin.  Sometimes that tightens up on its own over time (which can take years), sometimes not. 
  • Studies have shown that the slower fat is lost, the more likely a person is to keep the fat off over time.
Across the whole population, the long-term success rate for keeping fat off is truly dismal (the vast majority of "dieters" gain at least all of it back within 5 years), so as a matter of public health policy the government does all it can to try to scare you into losing fat slower (because across the people who follow that advice, the long-term success rate is significantly higher).
Losing any more that 1-2 lbs a week is unhealthy. 
Thanks tgpish...I think I will get my body fat % measured.  I am pretty muscular (underneath the fat...:), and I tend to burn a lot of calories.

I think this may be why people think I look 240-250 instead of over 300 lbs...because muscle weighs more than fat.

Let me ask this question:  If one 300 lb. man has 50 more pounds of muscle than another 300 lb. man...would the "safe" rate of weight loss be the same for both?  It seems to me that the 'one-size-fits-all' 1-2 lbs per week is flawed.  People's bodies are so different.  Surely there is room for wider varying degrees of safe weight loss.

But again...I'm not an expert...and I think getting my body fat measured would be a good move.

Thanks everyone!
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I think it's generally true that muscular men "carry fat better" with respect to how others judge their looks.  In particular, a muscular chest and/or broad back can make the waist look much smaller than it is.

You think 1-2 lbs a week is slow?  Ha!  Last I heard, the US government (which pushed that idea for years & years) was going to revise it downward, to 1/2 lb a week.

The rule of thumb I've found most useful is that, until BF% gets leaner than average, people who do everything mostly right ("eat clean" with small but frequent meals, do hard weight training, do cardio work, and so on) can lose close to 1% of their bodyweight in fat each week with minimal muscle loss.  When I was younger, I could meet the 1% rate pretty easily.  Now at age 55, I'm in what I intend to be ;-) my last major fat-loss phase, and find I have to be much more careful.  Even so I can't lose more than about 0.9% per week anymore without losing muscle too.

So it got harder with age for me.  It also depends on genetics, and I (luckily) don't have to fight mine on this point -- I've known plenty of people who simply cannot lose significant weight without losing some lean mass too, seemingly no matter how slow they do it.  At 55 I'm still able to (losing fat is straightforward, just tedious ;-)), but my max rate has declined.

BTW, losing some lean mass isn't necessarily bad.  "Lean mass" isn't just muscle, it includes everything that's not fat, including bone, skin, blood, water, hair, and organs as well as muscle.  Some lean mass is bound to go away with fat, such as skin, capillaries feeding blood to fat, and connective tissue striving to hold all the excess lard in place.  So if you're able to lose no "lean mass" at all, you're actually gaining some lean mass in other areas.

And if you don't have contradicting athletic or aesthetic goals, it's also fine to lose some of the "excess" muscle you carry to heft the excess blubber around.  "Fat people" generally have both more fat and muscle than lighter people of the same height and gender -- they need more muscle just to get around.

Losing any muscle will reduce your base metabolic rate, and that's important over time, but many people have crazy-high ideas about how much energy muscle burns at rest.  From the Katch-McArdle formula (see earlier reply), it's really no more than 21.6 kcal/kg/day, which is about 10 kcal/lb/day.  So losing a pound of muscle results in a BMR reduction of no more than about 10*365 = 3650 calories/year, equivalent to about a pound of fat per year.

That is significant:  it's seemingly tiny differences like those that lead to gaining 20 pounds of blubber in 20 years (on the flip side, if you ate one less potato chip per day, that would be enough to lose 20 pounds in 20 years!).  And it's also the case that less muscle means less calorie burn from exercise (BMR isn't the whole story, although over time it really does play the biggest role).

So there are tradeoffs to consider.
Wow...great information.  Can I ask how you have become so educated on this topic?  Are you trained in it...?  Or are have you learne all of this from your own reseach and experience as you've battled the bulge?

Thank you!
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blueavocet, I'm 55, that's how ;-)  No, I'm not a fitness pro of any kind.  Most of what I think I know about fat loss is very well known in bodybuilder circles, and that's where I picked most of it up to begin with (I've never been a serious bodybuilder, but have been lifting off and on for over 40 years now, and picked up a lot along the way).  Apart from that, I read a lot, and at various times have been in such visibly good shape that many friends, relatives, and coworkers have asked for help over the decades.

I often shill here for a particular book on fat loss written by a bodybuilder: 4.html

Why should you listen to a bodybuilder?  Because for decades they've been the leanest athletes on the planet -- losing fat while preserving muscle is a crucial part of their sport, so they've tried everything, and know far better than anyone else what does and doesn't actually work.  There aren't any real secrets, but it's hard to find all the best info in one place, and that book does the best job of it I've seen.  If you're willing to work hard, it's well worth the price.
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