If you’re trying to lose weight, it may sometimes seem like a time-consuming process.

In fact, it often takes weeks, months, or even years to achieve your long-term weight loss goals.

For this reason, you may wonder whether there are ways you can lose weight more rapidly.

This article takes a closer look at the research to determine whether it’s possible to lose a pound (0.5 kg) per day.

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Losing weight requires you to consume fewer calories than you use throughout the day.

This can involve reducing your food intake or adding more exercise to your routine via activities like running, walking, or biking (1).

To lose 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body fat, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit (2, 3, 4).

Most men and women generally require 2,000–2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight. Your daily calorie needs depend on factors like your age, size, and activity level (1).

Meanwhile, scientists estimate that a 160-pound (72.5-kg) person burns an average of 15.1 calories per minute running, or approximately 906 calories per hour (5).

Using these figures, a 160-pound (72.5-kg) woman consuming 1,500 calories per day would likely have to run for over 3 hours to burn enough calories to lose a pound (0.5 kg) in 1 day.

Keep in mind that rapid weight loss may be more attainable for people with a very high body weight because a higher body weight can increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day (1).

Still, while it may be possible to lose a pound (0.5 kg) of body fat per day, it would require you to drastically limit your food intake and increase your physical activity.

Extreme calorie restriction and overexercising are not safe or recommended by health professionals. Although these methods may result in quick, short-term weight loss, they’re not sustainable and may harm your health.

Summary

You need achieve a calorie deficit to lose 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body weight. Although it may be possible to lose 1 pound (0.5 kg) per day, it would require you to limit your food intake quite a bit and significantly increase your activity levels.

Although losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body weight may be difficult, losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) of water weight per day is much more realistic.

The term “water weight” refers to water that your body stores in its tissues.

Several factors can cause water retention, including changes in hormone levels, increased salt intake, and certain medical conditions (6, 7, 8).

Additionally, glycogen, the storage form of carbs found in your liver and muscles, binds with water. Each gram of glycogen in your body is stored with at least 3 grams of water (9, 10).

Because your body can use glycogen as a quick energy source, cutting back on your intake of carbs or adding more physical activity to your routine can deplete your glycogen stores (11).

For this reason, when you lose weight very quickly after starting a new diet or exercise regimen, it’s typically water weight that you’re losing rather than body fat.

Summary

While losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body fat per day may be challenging, starting a new diet or exercise regimen can cause you to lose water weight very quickly.

Generally, experts recommend losing around 1–2 pounds (0.5–0.9 kg) per week, which may involve reducing your calorie intake by around 500–1,000 calories per day (12).

However, losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) per day would likely require you to limit your intake even more.

Decreasing your food intake too much can not only make it much more difficult to meet your nutritional needs but also be associated with several adverse health effects.

In fact, very low calorie diets have been associated with several serious side effects, including nausea, dizziness, and fatigue (13).

Furthermore, severely restricting your food intake may make it more difficult to maintain weight loss over the long term.

This is because rapid weight loss can reduce your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn during the day (14).

Calorie restriction can also alter the levels of several key hormones that regulate hunger and appetite, including leptin and ghrelin (15).

Additionally, although moderate exercise can be beneficial, engaging in excessive exercise in an effort to burn enough calories to lose 1 pound (0.5 kg) per day may be harmful.

According to some studies, excessive exercise could negatively affect heart health, reduce immune function, and increase your risk of injury (16, 17, 18, 19).

Therefore, aiming to lose 1 pound (0.5 kg) per day may be unsustainable, unrealistic, and potentially dangerous.

Summary

Losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) per day involves drastically reducing your calorie intake and increasing your physical activity. Very low calorie diets and excessive exercise may both be unhealthy and unsustainable.

Although it may not be healthy or safe for most people to lose 1 pound (0.5 kg) per day, several strategies can help you achieve safe and effective long-term weight loss.

Here are a few simple tips for sustainable weight loss:

  • Drink more water. Drinking plenty of water can not only help keep you hydrated to promote a healthy fluid balance but also enhance feelings of fullness and increase weight loss (20, 21, 22).
  • Reduce your intake of processed foods. Studies show that regularly eating processed foods could be linked to a higher risk of weight gain and obesity (23, 24).
  • Consume more protein. According to some research, eating more protein-rich foods could help support appetite control, decrease food cravings, and increase feelings of fullness (25).
  • Add cardio to your routine. Most healthy adults should aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75–150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week to promote weight loss and good overall health (26).
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are high in fiber, which can slow stomach emptying, thus helping curb cravings and boosting weight loss (27, 28).
Summary

There are several strategies you can use to achieve long-term weight loss, including drinking more water, modifying your diet, and adding more cardio to your routine.

Although it may be theoretically possible, losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body fat per day would require you to significantly increase your physical activity and limit your food intake.

Excessive exercise and very low calorie diets are associated with several serious side effects and may make it more difficult to lose weight in the long run.

Therefore, aiming for around 1–2 pounds (0.5–0.9 kg) of weight loss per week by making changes to your diet and lifestyle may be more realistic, sustainable, and healthy over the long term.