Woman weighing herself on a digital scale

How Much Weight Should You Be Losing?

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to go overboard and lose as much weight in as little time as possible. You may even think that you’re doing your body good by cutting calories drastically and losing weight fast. The truth is you’re just crash dieting. That’s not healthy either. Crash diets and other fad diets can have significant effects on your overall health.

The Effects of Crash Diets and Yo-yo Dieting

Crash dieting is particularly harmful to your body because it can cause vascular issues and lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss.Additionally, you can easily regain the weight back.

A 2018 Oxford study of 21 obese patients given a low-calorie diet restricted to only 600 to 800 calories per day showed that while their total cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure improved, their heart fat levels rose by 44%! The authors of the study attribute this change with the “dysfunctions in the heart’s ability to pump blood”.

Yo-yo dieting or cyclical weight loss and weight gain can also have negative effects on your health in the long-term.

Researchers at Purdue University studied participants who were put on a Mediterranean diet or a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet for 5 to 6 weeks. The participants then reverted back to their standard eating habits for 4 weeks and restarted again on the DASH or Mediterranean diet. They were given cardiovascular assessments each time they ended and started a diet. The data showed that their cardiovascular markers improved when they were on the DASH or Mediterranean diet and reverted to their previous, less favorable levels, when they went back to their standard eating habits.

Furthermore, research has shown that many of the people who lose the weight through yo-yo dieting or crash dieting regain 30% to 50% of the weight in one year.

How Much Weight Is Safe to Lose in a Month?

According to the CDC, it’s better to lose weight gradually and steadily. The ideal weight you should be losing is about 1 or 2 pounds per week. That means consuming only 1200 to 1500 calories per day to lose one pound of weight per week.

It’s common to lose more than 2 pounds in the first week. Much of the weight you lose in this first week is water weight. That means that the weight lost isn’t fat or muscle but fluid. In our ‘Where Does Fat Go When You Lose Weight?’ article, we talked about how our bodies break down carbohydrates enzymatically and the excess are absorbed by the liver and converted to glycogen for short-term storage. When you limit your caloric intake, burn more calories than you’re taking in and start to lose weight, your body is forced to use up that glycogen storage. Glycogen is bound to water so when you burn up your glycogen storage; you also lose water in the form of water weight. Once you use up your glycogen storage, you will notice that your weight loss might slow down to 1 or 2 pounds a week and 4 to 8 pounds in a month. This is normal and the ideal weight loss rate.

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How much weight is safe to lose in a month? According to the CDC, it’s better to lose weight gradually and steadily. The ideal weight you should be losing is about 1 or 2 pounds per week. That means you should target a weight loss of 4 to 8 pounds in a month. In order to do this, you need to consume at most 1500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week. You may notice that you’ll lose more weight in the first week but then stabilize to 1 or 2 pounds per week in succeeding weeks.


"Losing Weight" - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month?" - Healthline, July 27, 2016
"Is It Bad to Lose Weight Too Quickly?" - Healthline, October 29, 2017
"How do crash diets affect your heart? Study investigates" - Medical News Today, February 2, 2018
"Is yo-yo dieting making you fat?" - Mayo Clinic
"How does yo-yo dieting affect our heart health?" - Medical News Today, January 2, 2019
"10 Solid Reasons Why Yo-Yo Dieting Is Bad for You" - Healthline, May 29, 2017