Losing 5 pounds in a week is an ambitious goal that requires commitment and consistency. While it’s possible for some people to lose this amount of weight in a week, it’s not recommended as a long-term weight loss strategy. However, with focus and determination, you may be able to safely lose 5 pounds in a week through a combination of dietary changes, increased physical activity, and lifestyle adjustments.
Is it realistic to lose 5 pounds in a week?
Losing 5 pounds in a week equates to a deficit of about 17,500 calories over 7 days, or a daily deficit of around 2,500 calories. Since one pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, creating this large of a calorie deficit could theoretically lead to 5 pounds of weight loss in just one week.
However, losing weight this quickly is not typical or recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a safe, sustainable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Losing weight faster than that, especially consistently over long periods, increases your risk of nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, and regain of the weight later.
That said, it is possible for some people, in specific circumstances, to safely lose 5 pounds in a week. Factors like your starting weight, genetics, and lifestyle habits all play a role in how quickly you’re able to lose weight.
How to lose 5 pounds in a week
If you want to lose 5 pounds within one week, you’ll need to be strategic with your diet, exercise regimen, and lifestyle habits. Here are some tips that may help:
Reduce your calorie intake
To lose 5 pounds in a week through diet alone, you’ll need to maintain a daily calorie deficit of around 2,500 calories. This is very difficult to achieve through diet alone:
- If your maintenance calories are 2,000 per day, reducing intake to 500 calories daily would create the deficit needed. However, consuming only 500 calories daily can be dangerous.
- Burning an additional 2,500 calories per day through exercise is equally challenging for most people.
A more realistic approach is to moderately reduce your calorie intake while increasing calorie burn through exercise. Aim for a daily deficit of about 1,000 calories to lose 2 pounds per week, or 1,500 daily to lose around 3-4 pounds per week.
Eat plenty of protein
Prioritize protein in your diet to help preserve lean muscle mass as you lose weight:
- Aim for 0.5–1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 150+ grams per day for most adults.
- Include protein sources like eggs, lean meats, fish, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Getting adequate protein will help increase satiety, curb cravings, and retain muscle while in a calorie deficit.
Limiting refined carbs and added sugars is another effective way to cut calories. Some options include:
- Cutting out sugary drinks, desserts, fruit juices, and alcohol.
- Choosing non-starchy vegetables instead of grains, bread, pasta, and other refined carbs.
- Moderating your intake of starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, and oats.
Lower carb diets promote the loss of excess water weight during the first week. However, carbs should not be eliminated completely, as they provide important nutrients.
Increase physical activity
Incorporating more activity into your daily routine can help burn extra calories and promote quicker weight loss. Aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate activity per week:
- Go for brisk walks, jogs, bike rides, or swims.
- Lift weights 2–3 times per week to build muscle.
- Take active breaks during the day to walk, stretch, or do bodyweight exercises.
Being more active throughout the day can increase your daily calorie burn and help you achieve a larger deficit.
Drink plenty of water
Staying well hydrated can temporarily increase weight loss by:
- Reducing water retention and bloating.
- Increasing satiety before meals.
- Boosting metabolism slightly.
- Enabling the body to efficiently burn fat.
Aim for at least 72 ounces (around 2 liters) of water per day minimum to stay properly hydrated.
Create a calorie deficit
At the end of the day, losing 5 pounds in a week requires being in a large daily calorie deficit through some combination of diet and exercise. Here’s what that might look like:
Sample daily meal plan
|Breakfast||2 eggs, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 grapefruit||350|
|Lunch||4 oz chicken breast, veggies, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp nuts||450|
|Dinner||4 oz salmon, 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup rice||450|
|Snacks||1 protein shake, 1 oz cheese, 1 apple||400|
This sample menu provides around 1,650 calories with balanced nutrition. It would create an estimated calorie deficit of 850 calories per day for someone with a total daily expenditure of 2,500 calories.
Sample exercise plan
|HIIT workout||30 minutes||240|
|Walking||60 minutes total||180|
*For a 155 lb (70 kg) person. Calories burned will vary based on weight and intensity.
Adding about an hour of moderate to high-intensity cardio and walking per day can burn 700–800 extra calories for most people. Combined with a reduced calorie diet, this creates the large deficit needed to lose 5 pounds.
Other tips and precautions
Here are some other tips to maximize safe weight loss:
It’s unlikely you’ll lose exactly 5 pound every week. Your weight will fluctuate day to day based on factors like digestion and hydration. Focus on consistency with your diet and exercise efforts to keep your weekly average on track.
Get 7-9 hours of sleep
Lack of sleep can increase hunger and decrease satiety hormones. Aim for at least 7 hours per night for appetite control and metabolic health.
Chronic stress prompts the release of cortisol, which can drive cravings and fat accumulation around the midsection. Use stress relief techniques like yoga, meditation, or listening to music.
Watch sodium intake
If your diet is very high in processed foods or salt, you may initially lose water weight and then regain it. Limit high-sodium foods to see sustained weight loss.
It may take more than one week to lose 5 pounds healthfully. Adhere to your eating and exercise plan and make adjustments as needed until you reach your goal weight.
Precautions with rapid weight loss
While fast initial weight loss is possible, losing too much weight too quickly comes with health risks that should be considered:
- Nutrient deficiencies: Severely restricting calories, carbs, or fats can lead to inadequate intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Muscle loss: Attempting to lose 5+ pounds weekly encourages breakdown of muscle alongside fat, slowing your metabolism.
- Dehydration: Extreme calorie deficits and rapid water weight loss leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
- Gallstones: Losing more than 3 pounds per week may increase your risk of developing gallstones.
- Regain: Very low calorie diets often backfire due to difficulty sticking to them long-term.
Losing 1-2 pounds per week on a balanced, sustainable diet, combined with more activity, is a safer, healthier approach.
Losing 5 pounds in one week is possible, but requires diligence. You’ll need to maintain a large daily calorie deficit through dietary changes and increased exercise. However, losing more than 2 pounds per week consistently is not recommended.
For safe, sustainable weight loss aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week, or about 8-10 pounds per month. Use a combination of a balanced, reduced calorie diet, proteins, strength training, cardio activity, and lifestyle adjustments. Losing weight at a moderate pace allows for meaningful lifestyle changes that can help you maintain your lower weight.