How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Year?

With proper diet and regular exercise, you can lose a lot of weight in a year.
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Trying to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time is a bad idea. It's not a healthy approach to weight loss. Worse, if you lose weight fast, the odds are very high that you will simply gain back the pounds you lost.

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So if you are thinking of weight loss in terms of a year, you are on the right track. Slow weight loss can be achieved in a healthy manner, and you'll build habits that will help you keep the weight off permanently.

Always talk to your doctor before starting a weight-loss plan to make sure it's the right decision for you and to discuss any health issues you should keep in mind during your journey.

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If you stick closely to your diet and exercise plan and lose 1 to 2 pounds a week — which is considered a healthy rate of weight loss — you can expect to lose somewhere between 50 to 100 pounds in a year.

1. Cut Calories

Proper nutrition combined with exercise can help you lose weight.
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To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, meaning you're burning more calories than you're taking in.

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You must run a deficit of about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests aiming to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week, which means you'll need to create a weekly deficit of 3,500 to 7,000 calories. If you divide that by seven days, that means your daily deficit will need to be between 500 and 1,000 calories. Many people can achieve this through a combination of healthy eating and moderate exercise.

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Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn't dip below a minimum amount of calories. People assigned male at birth shouldn't eat fewer than about 1,500 calories a day, while people assigned female at birth generally should eat at least 1,200 calories a day. A low-calorie diet that delivers less than that isn't safe because it could slow your metabolism and lead to muscle loss and nutritional deficiencies, among other concerns.

Did you know that keeping a food diary is one of the most effective ways to manage your weight? Download the MyPlate app to easily track calories, stay focused and achieve your goals!

2. Tweak Your Diet

Losing 50 to 100 pounds in a year in a healthy way is not only possible, but the slow, steady rate of weight loss is actually the best approach. To be successful, you'll need to make a commitment to long-term changes in your eating and exercise lifestyle.

First up: How to choose healthier foods for weight loss.

Prioritize Protein

Protein helps with weight loss because it helps you feel full and helps you build and maintain muscle, which supports a healthy metabolism.

Choose lean, protein-rich foods like:

  • Chicken breast
  • Ground turkey
  • Salmon
  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Eggs

Eat Plenty of Fiber

Fiber is the MVP of weight loss because it helps you feel full and supports your metabolic and gut health. Indeed, one February 2015 study in the ​Annals of Internal Medicine​ found that simply aiming to eat 30 grams of fiber per day can help you lose weight as effectively as a more complicated diet (on average, adults aren't getting nearly that much).

Foods high in fiber include:

  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Avocado
  • Chia and flaxseeds
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Edamame
  • Berries
  • Firm tofu
  • Kale
  • Oatmeal

Nix Processed Foods

Research has found a link between processed foods and weight gain. In a November 2019 review in ​Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology​, researchers found that the following processed foods most contribute to weight gain:

  • Potato chips
  • Sugary drinks (think: soda, flavored coffees and teas)
  • Refined grains
  • Sweets and desserts
  • Red and processed meats

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3. Add Exercise

Swimming is a good cardio exercise for weight loss.
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To lose a lot of weight in a year without over-restricting your diet, add more exercise to your days and weeks.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity like walking, biking or jogging, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity like running. If you break that down, it's about 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

The guidelines also recommend doing strength training at least two days a week, including moves that work all your major muscle groups (think: your arms, legs, back and chest). If you're not keen on weight-training, consider this: Muscle burns more calories than fat, so adding muscle to your frame will help you burn through more calories on a daily basis.

There's no "best" exercise for weight loss. Rather, the key is to find movement that you enjoy and can incorporate into your life long-term. You'll need to stick to a regular exercise routine for the entire year in order to continue losing weight.

4. Manage Stress

Stress is linked to higher levels of belly fat because of the way it affects hormones, and it can also lead to emotional eating for some people. While it may not be possible to eliminate stress from your life altogether, aim to find healthy ways to manage it and lessen its effects.

Exercise helps with stress management for many people, as does yoga and meditation. Incorporating these stress-relieving practices into your life can help you on your quest to lose 50 pounds or more in a year and help you maintain a healthy weight beyond that.

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