What's a Realistic Weight Loss Goal?

  • 2 Minutes Read

Congratulations! You have decided you need to lose weight and are ready to get started. Read this short post to help you set a realistic weight goal.

What's a Realistic Weight Loss Goal?

Happy New Year! You have decided to lose weight and are ready to get started. But what is a realistic weight loss goal? Do you enter your final goal weight or a series of goal weights? And do you actually need to lose weight? See the CDC's definition for overweight for adults and for children/teens.

Most people find stepwise weight loss goals more manageable than setting a large ultimate goal. Also, setting your first goal to emphasize health is a smart way to start the journey.

First Milestone

If you are overweight, then lose 5-7% of your starting body weight for your first milestone. This amount of weight loss will reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is a critical amount of weight to lose for health - don't discount it just because it doesn't seem like much.

Example: your starting body weight is 250 lbs.
5% of 250 = 0.05 x 250 = 12.5 lb (so your target weight would be 237.5 lb)
7% of 250 = 0.07 x 250 = 17.5 lb (so your target weight would be 232.5 lb)

Second Milestone

Aim for a total weight loss of 10% of your starting weight loss. This continues to improve health and risk related to being overweight.

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

Third Milestone & Beyond

If you have a lot of weight to lose, then consider using a target weight that is 10 lb lower than the last one. That is, every time you reach your target weight, update your plan by lowering the target weight by 10 lbs. This type of stepwise goal setting is manageable for most people.

Weight Loss per Week

An average rate of weight loss that is considered safe for most people is only 1-2 lb per week (or 0.45 - 0.9 kg per week). Some people will lose more than that at the very beginning of a weight loss program, especially if they are creating a large caloric deficit. That isn't necessarily bad, but a higher average rate of weight loss over weeks and months should be shared with your healthcare provider.

A slower rate of weight loss is a great idea for people who don't exercise much, who feel hungry on a lower caloric intake (despite high protein/fat), and for those who are still growing (yes, that means all children and teens). A slower rate of weight loss would be 1-2 lb per month. In your plan, set a weight loss goal of 1/4 lb or 1/2 lb per week. This modest weight loss goal takes patience but it can be a very effective way to stay on a weight loss program for a long period of time. The calories deficit needed to lose 1/2 lb per week (250 calories) is a lot less and is easier to manage than that needed to lose 2 lb per week (1000 calories).

Tip: If your weight loss plan causes MyNetDiary to estimate a target intake of less than 1200 calories, then make sure you understand how settings affect the target. Also, make sure you understand how the target gets adjusted upwards - this is found in "Analysis" or "Daily Analysis." That statement will account for multiple factors to help you reach your weight goal by the target date. You can learn more about this in Calories & Weight Goals: How It Works With MyNetDiary.

Helpful Resources

There are many helpful articles, blog posts, and Pinterest posts at MyNetDiary that will help you meet your goal. Read these first!

Calories & Weight Goals: How It Works With MyNetDiary

Tips for Losing Weight

And for those of you with diabetes: Diabetes Basics

Articles at MyNetDiary

Enjoy the flexibility and power that MyNetDiary provides as a diet and exercise tracker!

Weight Loss->Goals & Monitoring
Jan 5, 2016
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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