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Why Is it Harder to Lose Weight the Second Week of a Diet?

author image Beth Greenwood
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.
Why Is it Harder to Lose Weight the Second Week of a Diet?
A woman is training with dumbbells. Photo Credit: darkbird77/iStock/Getty Images

The second week of a weight loss diet may be discouraging if you expect to lose as much weight as you did in the first week. It’s not that your diet has stopped working, it’s because you drop excess fluid in the first week or so, which can lead to unrealistic expectations for the rest of your diet. The good part is that after that initial drop, what you’re losing is body fat -- and that’s your goal.

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It's Water, Not Fat

When you first start a diet and reduce your calories, your body reacts by using up the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. Under normal circumstances, glycogen is your protection against a dramatic drop in blood sugar if you have to go hungry for a while. Glycogen retains water, however. When you burn up the glycogen, the water must be excreted, leading to a dramatic but temporary change in the scale. Set realistic weight loss goals, such as one to two pounds a week, to prevent yourself from getting discouraged after that first week when the pounds seemed to melt away.

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