Search “how fast should I lose weight” online, and you’ll get the same answer pretty much everywhere: One pound per week. 

And while that’s a good rule of thumb for many people, if you have 25, 50, or 100+ pounds of fat to lose to reach a healthy body composition, that would require months or even years of dieting. I do not like this apple, Sam I Am.

Luckily, however, the more fat you have to lose, the faster you can lose it with few if any of the unwanted side effects associated with dieting. In fact, with the right diet and workout routine, some people can lose two, three, or more pounds of fat per week without sacrificing their muscle, scrambling their hormones, or scuttling their metabolism.

For instance, in a study conducted by West Virginia University scientists, untrained, obese people did three resistance training workouts per week and ate 800 calories per day for twelve weeks and lost 32 pounds of fat on average, while maintaining all of their muscle mass and increasing the speed of their metabolism.

I wouldn’t recommend that weight loss protocol, but it gives valuable context for the following targets. Assuming you want to get no leaner than 10-to-15 (men) or 20-to-25 (women) percent body fat (achieving lower levels eventually requires less than 1 pound of fat loss per week), here are practical guidelines:

How Fast Should You Lose Weight?