How to Lose 2 Pounds a Week on a Meal Plan

Following a well-rounded meal plan and adopting an exercise program that includes activities you enjoy sets you up for weight loss success. Losing 2 pounds a week is a realistic goal that you can consistently achieve over the long term.

It is important to measure your food when looking to lose weight. (Image: BRETT STEVENS/Cultura/GettyImages)

Tip

If you have special dietary needs or have a chronic health condition, ask your physician for guidance on choosing a healthy eating plan. A registered dietitian can also provide helpful recommendations.

Lose 2 Pounds Every Week

Ideally, your body runs like an efficient machine. Each day, you consume calories from your food, and your body converts those calories to energy. Along the way, your body extracts nutrients from the proteins, carbohydrates and fats you eat.

Every day, your body satisfies its energy needs by drawing out (or "burning up") the calories you've consumed. If a calorie surplus occurs, your body simply stores those extra calories as fat until they're needed. If you decrease your daily calorie intake, your body robs the calorie bank to meet its energy needs. Or, you can ramp up your physical activity to increase your calorie burn.

So, you'll gain weight if you consume more calories than your body needs. If your calorie intake goes down, and you expend more calories because you're more active, you'll shed some pounds.

The Mayo Clinic notes that you'll need to burn roughly 3,500 calories to drop 1 pound. So, by cutting about 500 to 1,000 calories from your daily diet, you should see a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week.

To accomplish that goal, choose a healthy eating plan that provides you with regular servings of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients. To balance the equation in your favor, reduce your portion sizes.

Exchange high-calorie menu items for lower-calorie choices. Finally, keep your eye on the prize, and use that determination to help you say "no" to low-nutrition foods that are loaded with empty calories.

Count Calories to Meet Goal

Establishing a 2-pound weekly weight loss goal is a smart move. This realistic figure aligns perfectly with recognized healthy weight loss guidelines, notes Harvard Health Publishing. To get started, pinpoint the number of calories you should consume daily to reach that target.

As a baseline, determine how many daily calories will enable you to stay at your existing weight. So, note your current weight, and multiply that number by 15. The resulting figure estimates the number of calories per pound of body weight that you'll require to keep that weight.

This calculation assumes that you're a moderately active adult who gets 30 minutes (or more) of daily physical activity (preferably exercise).

To reach your 2-pound weekly weight loss goal, you must consume 500 to 1,000 fewer daily calories than you'd eat to maintain your weight. With that said, ensure that you eat at least 1,200 calories daily (for women) and 1,500 calories daily (for men).

If you're a confirmed couch potato, you must also ramp up your activity level. By adopting 30 minutes of physical activity on most days, you'll give your "lose 2 pounds a week workout" a great kick start.

Track Steps for Weight Loss

If you're ready to track your daily steps toward a weight loss goal, consider an easy-to-use pedometer. In addition to counting steps, some pedometers also track calories burned, miles trekked and even your heart rate. If you'd prefer a higher-tech digital device, consider a smart phone walking app or a wearable fitness band.

Next, target the number of steps you'll need to achieve a 2-pound weekly weight loss goal. The Cleveland Clinic notes that walking 10,000 steps daily is equivalent to trekking about 5 miles, and burns about 500 calories.

So, if you expend 500 more calories than you take in every day, you'll lose about one pound each week. Using that logic, a 1,000-calorie deficit should set you up for a 2-pound weekly weight loss.

Naturally, it might take some time to hit that aggressive daily steps target. Begin by establishing a realistic baseline that takes your fitness level into account. Then, work at your own pace to increase your daily step count.

When you can easily rack up 10,000 steps each day, you'll be within reach of your weekly weight loss goal. And, you'll have ramped up your "lose 2 pounds a week workout" to the next level.

Lose 5 Pounds Quickly

Sometimes, 5 extra pounds of weight can appear out of nowhere. Maybe your clothes fit more tightly, or the scale just delivered the unwelcome news. Either way, you want that excess weight gone right now, and you'll do everything necessary to make that happen.

You might be a candidate for a rapid weight loss program, states the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In contrast to a balanced weight loss plan, designed to help you drop 2 pounds per week, this accelerated program sets you up for a greater weight loss for just a few weeks.

These very restrictive low-calorie plans drastically limit your daily calories. If you're a woman, your low-calorie eating plan allows around 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. Men are allocated about 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily. Some of these plans include both regular food and meal replacements, and you might not have much flexibility in your food choices.

On a quick weight loss plan, you stand a higher chance of gaining the weight back compared to a dieter who follows a more conservative plan. Your physician probably won't endorse a rapid weight loss program, but you should make her (or him) aware of your efforts. Finally, your doctor may recommend that you put your exercise program on hold until you have settled into a more balanced diet.

Exercise Needs for Weight Loss

Let's be honest: the prospect of losing 2 pounds weekly without exercise has lots of appeal. From your perspective, this weight loss method eliminates the need for workout clothes, and you won't have to squeeze some exercise time into your packed daily schedule.

However, take off the rose-colored glasses, and realize that losing weight without exercise (and keeping it off) isn't a realistic goal. In a nutshell, you're focused on achieving weight loss success without putting the proper building blocks in place.

Instead, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests that you ask your physician for a referral to a dietitian or reputable weight-loss program.

A well-rounded regimen should include a healthy meal plan that enables a consistent 2-pound weekly weight loss. Look for a program that also includes lifestyle support, exercise guidelines and consistent, professional feedback.

Steer clear of weight loss programs that promise great results while making claims that sound too good to be true. For example, avoid a program that says you'll lose weight without altering your diet or engaging in exercise.

Stay away from plans that claim you'll keep dropping weight while you gorging on your favorite foods. These programs won't meet your nutritional needs, and they're simply not realistic for the long term.

Engage in Exercise You Love

To get the best results from your exercise program, focus on activities you enjoy, recommends the University of Rochester Medical Center. Maybe working out at the gym isn't your cup of tea, but you love hiking in the woods. So, schedule an energetic weekly hike with a friend, and soak up the scenery while you track your steps.

If you're new to exercise, begin with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily. Start your session with gentle stretches and light warmup exercises, and repeat with a similar cool-down when you're finished. Adding a few extra minutes to each exercise session helps to minimize your injury risks.

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