An easy guide on how to set a healthy target weight goal

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Learning how to set a goal weight the wisest way means getting in those perfect jeans will be only one of many satisfying things about reaching your target. Getting healthy on the inside means living longer, doing more, and becoming happier. Find out what a healthy weight loss looks like for you.

How to set a goal weight

How to set a goal weight

So, how do you determine a healthy target weight? Some people rely on how they felt at a specific weight, whereas others simply want to fit into a particular clothing or belt size. Besides knowing at what weight you feel best, certain tools will help you set weight goals also associated with improved health.


Body mass index or BMI is a measure of your weight relative to your height. A BMI calculator determines your current BMI. For the general population, a BMI of 18.5-24.9 correlates with the lowest health risk. Overweight is defined as a 25.0-29.9 BMI, obesity is 30 or higher BMI, and underweight is one < 18.5 on the index. A BMI outside the lowest risk range typically means higher health risk. For an online reverse BMI calculator, check out this link. You can enter your height and desired BMI to get a healthy target weight.

Steps to get to a healthy target weight

Stepwise weight-loss goals are more manageable than setting a sizable ultimate goal. Also, setting your first goal to emphasize health is a smart way to start the journey.

If you are overweight, aim to lose 10% of your starting body weight for your first milestone. Dropping just 10% of your initial body weight is enough to help you improve your risk for chronic disease, as well as manage existing chronic disease (e.g., high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes). A critical amount of weight loss for better health, 10% off shouldn't be disregarded just because it doesn't sound like much.

To calculate your target weight, multiply your current weight by 0.90.

Example: Your original starting body weight is 250 lbs.
Your next body weight goal would be 250 lb x 0.90 = 225 lb.

What is a healthy weight loss?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a realistic, achievable, and sustainable weight loss of 10% within six months, with an average weight loss of one to two pounds per week (or 0.45-.90 kg per week). When setting the weight goal in MyNetDiary, you could achieve a 25-pound weight loss in a 25-50-week time period, for the example above.

Some people will lose more than that early in a weight-loss program, especially if they create a large caloric deficit. Not necessarily a bad thing, but share a higher rate of weight loss that continues beyond a few weeks with your healthcare provider.

Next step

After you checked off that 10% loss, consider using a target weight that is 10 pounds lower than the last one. That is, every time you reach your target weight, update your plan by lowering the target weight by 10 pounds. Such a stepwise goal setting is manageable for most people.

What is a healthy weight loss per week?

Gradual weight loss is better than quick weight loss. If you lose weight quickly, you might not lose as much fat as when losing gradually. Instead, water weight and even lean tissue tend to go before fat calories disappear. Slower weight loss involves lifestyle changes and maintaining a quality of life. It also relies on changes that can last and fit with the whole family. Rapid weight loss often leaves us feeling deprived, irritable, and physically hungry. Most people find that difficult to sustain.

In order to lose one pound per week, you need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week. This averages to dropping 500 calories per day. You can eat 500 calories less per day, exercise to burn 500 calories, or combine both. Combining a diet and exercise strategy is easier for most people. A two-pound weight loss means a 1000 calorie deficit per day! That's pretty extreme for most people, and yet another reason many people do best with a slower rate of weight loss.

Gradual weight loss is a great idea for people who don't exercise much, who feel hungry on a lower caloric intake, and who are still growing (yes, that means all children and teens). Instead of one to two pounds per month, set a weight-loss goal of 1/4 to 1/2 pound per week. Such a modest weight-loss goal can effectively help you stay on a weight-loss program longer. The calorie deficit needed to lose 1/2 pound per week (250 calories per day) is a lot easier to manage than the 1000-calorie drop needed to lose two pounds per week.

Read this article for more detailed information on how to set your calorie budget using the MyNetDiary app.

Adapted from original content by Kathy Isacks MPS, RDN, CDCES and Ryan Newhouse, Health education writer

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Weight Loss->Goals & Monitoring
Mar 12, 2021
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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