Losing 10 pounds is a solid feat: whether you have 15 or 50 pounds to lose, getting started on your weight-loss journey and shedding that first 10 can be the hardest. And while many people would like to lose those 10 pounds as quickly as possible, crash diets and deprivation aren't effective or healthy long-term strategies.
In order to lose weight and keep it off, it's best to do it in a slow and steady manner. Still, you can lose 10 pounds in a matter of weeks and be well on your way to achieving your weight-loss goals. We spoke to registered dietitian and ACSM-certified personal trainer Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, who explained what you can realistically expect if you're trying to lose 10 pounds.
How Long Does It Take to Lose 10 Pounds?
Jim said a healthy weight loss is considered safe at a rate of one to two pounds a week. More realistically, people can expect to lose about half a pound to two pounds a week. If you have more weight to lose (such as 100 pounds or more), you may lose the initial weight at a quicker rate. But the general population can expect to lose about half a pound to two pounds a week. Any more than that and you are at risk of losing lean muscle mass as well as fat, which can wreak havoc on your metabolism.
With that in mind, a weight loss of 10 pounds could take as little as five weeks or as much as 20 weeks (about five months). One factor could be your metabolism, or the number of calories your body burns in a unit of time. Everybody is different; some may lose 10 pounds in five weeks, no problem, while others may ebb and flow their way to a 10-pound weight loss over the course of a few months. It's important to remember that other lifestyle factors also play a role, like sleep and stress.
How to Lose 10 Pounds
OK, so you know how long it will take you to lose the 10 pounds, but how exactly do you achieve it? Ultimately, Jim said losing weight is about burning more calories than you take in. You can do this by eating in a healthy calorie deficit, burning calories, or a combination of both (which is the method he recommends). As for how many calories to eat in a day, that all depends.
"Calorie needs are highly individualized and vary from person to person based on factors such as current weight, height, and activity level," Jim said. "It would be impossible to suggest one calorie goal that would meet everyone's needs." If you can, meet with a registered dietitian who can help create a healthy meal plan for you and assess your goals. If not, you can use this formula to figure out about how many calories you need to eat in a day to lose weight.
A calorie deficit of 500 calories a day will lead to a weight loss of about a pound a week. Just make sure you are still hitting your nutritional needs and don't go below 1,200 calories a day for women; doing so will start to slow down your metabolism, not to mention deprive you of essential vitamins and nutrients. And before you embark on any weight-loss or fitness journey, consult with your doctor.