Many people begin diet and exercise programs with the desire of losing 10 pounds or some other amount of weight. Ten pounds is a considerable amount of weight to lose and will allow you to see considerable changes in the mirror. The perception of your own physique may be hard to quantify; however, a numerical analysis of what a 10 pound change means will help you see that your work has paid off.
Gross Body-Weight Change
Weight loss through diet and exercise will predominately cause fat loss and a small amount of muscle loss. You can calculate your percentage change in gross body weight by dividing the weight you lost by your previous weight. For instance, a 195-pound man weighing 185 pounds after losing 10 pounds would calculate the percentage by dividing 10 by 195 to find a 5 percent difference. A 166-pound woman who loses 10 pounds would find a 6 percent difference. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that changes of as low as 5 percent are associated with positive health and physical changes, which include a reduction in abdominal fat.
Fat Change Calculations
You can calculate your body fat change if you had your body fat calculated prior to the weight loss. For instance, a 195-pound man with 30 percent body fat would have previously had 58.5 pounds of fat. A 10 pound fat loss means the 195-pound man is now 185 pounds with 48.5 pounds of fat. Determine your overall change in fat weight by dividing your change in fat weight by your previous amount of fat -- in this case, 10 pounds divided by 58.5, or a 17 percent change in fat. Similarly, a 166-pound woman with 30 percent body fat would have 20 percent less fat after losing 10 pounds. A 17 to 20 percent change in overall body fat results in losing inches over your entire body.
Losing weight by using a diet and exercise program will cause you to use more energy than you are putting into your body. Fat is the energy stored in your body and those fat stores must be utilized to cover the difference between input and output. Because 1 pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories of stored energy, you must reduce your calorie intake and increase your activity levels to form a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose a sensible 1 to 2 pounds per week. As you create the calorie deficit, the fatty acids in your fat cells are released for energy use. You don't lose fat cells. Instead, as your fat cells lose fatty acids, they shrink and become smaller in size.
A Reasonable Rate of Weight Loss
Weight loss cannot be targeted to any specific region of the body. Your body fat shrinks in size over your entire body, with genetics playing a key role in determining which areas change the most. The American Council on Exercise recommends that no more than 1 to 2 pounds. of weight loss occur in a given week. A 10 pound weight loss should take five to 10 weeks. While fad diets tout quick weight loss, most of that loss is water, which returns when you begin eating a normal amount of calories again. In addition, trying to lose weight too quickly results in a loss of lean muscle tissue, which makes maintaining the lower weight more difficult. Instead, follow a regular routine of 30 to 60 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous physical activities to tone and build muscles, which reshapes your physique.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not a Diet, It's A Lifestyle!
- Muscle and Strength: What Happens When Fat Is Burned?
- American Council on Exercise: Weight Loss Myths, Presumptions and Facts Exposed
- American Council on Exercise; What Are The Guidelines for Percentage of Body Fat Loss?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: FastStats -- Body Measurements