This week's Expert Answer is from Nancy Schive, dietitian for McFarland Clinic in Marshalltown, IA.
What’s a safe amount of weight to lose on a weekly basis?
I prefer to set weight loss goals such that a person can achieve a healthy weight rather than an ideal weight based on a chart. Weight loss goals must be realistic and reasonable as well. There is a great deal of scientific evidence now pointing to the health benefits of even modest weight loss (5-10% loss in body weight). High blood pressure, diabetes, elevated lipids, sleep disturbances and other medical problems have shown improvement with these modest changes. This healthier weight can make a person feel better, have more energy and reduce their risk of health complications.
This all being said, I generally recommend no more than one to two pounds weight loss per week. Losing weight too quickly will not necessarily yield the long-term health benefits. Nutritional adequacy of the diet is usually compromised in quick weight loss diet plans. Additionally, it is more difficult to maintain rapid weight loss, as many times, a person's eating and exercise habits have not been addressed and/or changed. That means when the "diet" is done, old habits usually reappear, and weight increases over time.