Whether you want to lose weight for a special occasion or simply want to improve your health, weight loss is a common goal. To set realistic expectations, you may want to know what a healthy weight loss rate is. This article explains the most influential factors for weight loss.
How Weight Loss Happens
Weight loss occurs when you consistently consume fewer calories than you expend each day. Conversely, weight gain occurs when you consistently consume more calories than you expend. Any food or drink that contains calories counts towards your overall calorie intake. That said, the number of calories you burn each day, known as energy or calorie expenditure, is a bit more complicated.
Calorie expenditure is made up of the following three main components:
– The resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the number of calories your body needs to maintain normal bodily functions, such as breathing and pumping blood.
– The thermal effect of food (TEF). These are the calories used to digest, absorb and metabolize food.
– Thermic effect of activity (TEA). These are the calories you use during exercise. TEA can also include non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which accounts for calories used for activities such as gardening and fidgeting. If the number of calories you consume equals the number of calories you burn, you are maintaining your body weight. If you want to lose weight, you must create a negative calorie balance by consuming fewer calories than you burn or by burning more calories through increased activity.
Factors Influencing Weight Loss
Several factors influence the rate at which you lose weight. Many of them are beyond your control.
Your fat to muscle ratio greatly affects your ability to lose weight. Since women generally have a higher fat to muscle ratio than men, their RMR is 5-10% lower than men of the same height. This means that women typically burn 5-10% fewer calories than men at rest. Thus, men tend to lose weight faster than women when eating an equal calorie diet.
For example, an 8-week study including more than 2,000 participants on an 800-calorie diet showed that men lost 16% more weight than women, with a relative weight loss of 11.8% in men. and 10.3% among women. However, while men tend to lose weight faster than women, the study did not analyze gender differences in the ability to maintain weight loss.
One of the many bodily changes that occur with aging is changes in body composition. Or, fat mass increases and muscle mass decreases.
This change, along with other factors such as the decrease in caloric needs of your major organs, contributes to lowering your RMR. In fact, adults over 70 can have RMRs 20-25% lower than younger adults. This decrease in RMR can make weight loss increasingly difficult as you age.
– Starting point
Your initial body mass and composition can also affect how quickly you can expect to lose weight. It is important to understand that different absolute weight loss (in pounds) may correspond to the same relative weight loss (%) in different individuals. Ultimately, weight loss is a complex process. For example, a person weighing 136 kg can lose 4.5 kg after reducing their daily intake by 1,000 calories and increasing their physical activity for 2 weeks.
– Calorie deficit
You must create a negative calorie balance to lose weight. The magnitude of this calorie deficit affects how quickly you lose weight. For example, consuming 500 fewer calories per day for 8 weeks is likely to result in greater weight loss than consuming 200 fewer calories per day.
However, be careful not to make too large a calorie deficit. This would not only be unsustainable, but you would also risk suffering from nutrient deficiencies. In addition, you may lose weight as muscle mass rather than fat mass.
– The sleep
Sleep tends to be an overlooked yet crucial part of weight loss. Chronic sleep loss can significantly hamper weight loss and the rate at which you shed pounds. A single night of sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the desire for calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods, such as cookies, cakes, sugary drinks, and crisps.
In a two-week study, participants on a low-calorie diet were asked to sleep 5.5 or 8.5 hours per night. Those who slept 5.5 hours lost 55% less body fat and 60% more lean mass than those who slept 8.5 hours per night. Therefore, chronic lack of sleep is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and certain cancers.
Several other factors can affect your rate of weight loss, including:
Many medications, such as antidepressants and other antipsychotics, can promote weight gain or interfere with weight loss.
– Medical conditions
Illnesses, including depression and hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too few metabolism-regulating hormones, can slow weight loss and encourage weight gain.
– Family history and genes
There is a well-established genetic component associated with people who are overweight or obese, and it can affect weight loss.
– Yo-yo diet
This tendency to lose and regain weight can make it harder to lose weight with each attempt, due to a decrease in RMR (18Trusted Source).
The best diet to lose weight
With the countless weight loss diets available, all of which promise impressive and fast results, it can be difficult to know which one is the best. Yet, although the creators and promoters of these diets deem their programs superior to others, there is no single best diet for weight loss.
For example, low-carb diets like the keto diet may help you lose more weight initially, but studies show no significant difference in long-term weight loss. What matters most is your ability to stick to a healthy, low-calorie diet.
However, following a very low calorie diet for long periods of time is difficult for many people and is the reason most diets fail. To increase your chances of success, reduce your calorie intake only moderately, individualize your diet based on your preferences and health status, or work with a dietitian. Combine diet and exercise, including aerobics and resistance training, to maximize fat loss and prevent or minimize muscle loss. By eliminating highly processed foods and incorporating more healthy, whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins, you can further support weight loss and your overall health.