How Many Pounds Can You Lose In A Year? Explained + Tips
One to two pounds per week is the recommended amount of weight loss. So if you crunch the numbers, this translates into losing about 50 pounds a year.
Ready to make lasting changes for your health? Great. First things first—throw out most of what you know about weight loss. Fad diets, starvation, and unending hours of exercise aren't the answer. In fact, they're often counterproductive, leading to yo-yo dieting, binging, and feeling guilty and ashamed.
Switching from thinking of losing weight as something that needs to happen overnight to a slow and steady change can take some mental gymnastics. It's completely normal to want instant gratification to keep us motivated, but the reality is that weight loss—especially weight loss that stays off—requires playing the long-game.
So how much weight can you lose in a year? One to two pounds per week is recommended. If you crunch the numbers, this translates into losing 50 pounds in a year at a minimum—a pretty significant number.
Since we are all different, how many pounds you can lose in a year can vary from person to person. For example, weight loss for women can look different than weight loss for men. Add genetics, lifestyle, age, health status, and more, and there really isn't a set amount for every person.
But across the board, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to focus on creating healthy habits that you can maintain all year.
9 Tips To Lose Weight In A Healthy Way (or 9 Tips for Lasting Weight Loss)
1. Set SMART goals
Ditch the all-or-nothing mindset and unrealistic goals, and set SMART goals instead. SMART stands for
For example, instead of making a vague goal to exercise more, spell out exactly how and when you will do it, "I will walk for 30 minutes five days a week during my lunch break." Make it a realistic and achievable goal that you can work towards without feeling overwhelmed. Then once it becomes a habit (something you do regularly without much thought), you can set another goal and keep moving forward.
2. Keep Portion Size in Mind
Calorie counting can be helpful for some people, but it can feel too restrictive or difficult to maintain for others. A more relaxed approach is to focus on portion sizes, staying mindful of how much you eat at each meal and snack while paying attention to how your body feels.¹
A simple way to loosely keep track of portion sizes is by using the plate method. Imagine your plate divided into four quarters. Fill two quarters with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or leafy greens, one quarter with lean protein like grilled chicken or fish, and the final quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables like potatoes, quinoa, or brown rice.
3. Pay Attention to Protein
Protein helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, which can naturally help with portion control.² It also keeps blood sugar more stable and mitigates cravings.³
Aim to include protein at every meal by including sources like eggs, chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, yogurt, nuts, and seeds.
4. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is an all-star nutrient, but most people don't get enough of it. It keeps you satisfied and slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels.⁴
The USDA recommends about 25 grams of fiber for women and up to 38 grams for men. To increase your fiber intake, focus on eating more whole plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are naturally high in fiber and offer so many incredible health benefits.
5. Reduce Refined Sugar
Playing the long-game with weight loss doesn't mean you can never enjoy your favorite treat again. Complete restriction usually backfires because it leads to feelings of deprivation, which can make you more likely to give up on your goals.
Instead of cutting out sugar completely, try to reduce your daily intake of refined sugar. This sugar is found in processed and packaged foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and some cereals but can also hide in dressings, sauces, and some kinds of nut butter.
When you do indulge, savor each bite and really enjoy it. And if you find yourself craving sweets and eating them more often, try to be mindful of how you feel afterward. If you tend to crash or feel irritable after eating sugary foods, it's worth slowing down on the sweets.
6. Be Smart About Carbs
Carbohydrates get a bad rap, but they are an essential nutrient the body uses for energy. The key is to focus on eating the right kinds of carbs. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes contain more fiber and can help keep blood sugar levels more stable compared to simple carbs like refined grains and sugars.
Complex carbs are also linked to healthy body weight and better metabolic health.⁵ One caveat—everyone can have a different response to these carbs, so using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can help you see what carbs work best with your body (more on this later).
When you do eat carbs, pair them with a source of protein or fat to help slow down the digestion process and satisfy your hunger.
7. Make Exercise a Priority
Exercise is a crucial part of any weight loss plan and it can be challenging to find the time and motivation to get started. If you're struggling to move regularly, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
First, find an activity you enjoy. If you hate running, don't force it. Maybe swimming, hiking, or rock climbing is more your thing.
Second, start small and gradually increase your activity level over time. If you're just starting out, try to find ways to fit in 10-15 minutes of activity each day. This can be as simple as walking around the block or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Once you've built up a basic fitness level, you can increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.
Finally, take exercise off the pedestal. It doesn't have to be this all-or-nothing activity you only do if you have the time and energy. Instead, try to integrate it into your everyday life. If you're walking to the store anyway, take the longer route. If you're watching TV, get up and move around during commercials. Small changes can add up over time and make exercise feel less like a chore.
8. Don't Skimp On Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for weight loss, but not everyone meets the recommended seven to nine hours per night. If you're struggling to get enough shut-eye, try to establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible.⁶ This can help to regulate your body's natural sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine and avoiding electronic devices in the hours leading up to sleep can also help wind down your mind and body. Keep your sleeping environment dark, quiet, and cool to promote optimal sleep through the night.
9. Enlist a Buddy
Partnering with a friend or family member to support you can help keep you motivated. If you have someone to hold you accountable, you're more likely to stick with your goals.
Social support goes a long way in weight loss. Studies show that people who feel supported can have better success meeting health goals.⁷
If you don't have anyone in your life who can serve as a weight loss buddy, there are other options. You can join a weight loss support group or look for online forums where you can connect with others who are trying to lose weight.
Track Your Weight Changes
Since moderate weight loss isn't always apparent day-to-day, it can be helpful to track your weight loss progress over time. This will give you a more objective way to see how well you're doing and how close you are to your goal.
Tracking pounds lost isn't the only way to measure your progress. You can also track how your clothes fit, how much energy you have, how well you're sleeping, and how your mood is throughout the day. Markers of metabolic health like blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides can also measure positive change.
Using CGM Data For Weight Loss
If you have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), you can use your data to help with weight loss. When paired with the Signos app to give you real-time feedback about your blood sugar, a CGM can help you make informed choices about food because you know your personal response.
You can also use your CGM data to help you better understand how your body responds to exercise and how in touch you are with hunger cues. All of this adds up to important data you can use to better reach your goals.
Consult A Specialist
Working with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or certified health coach can be extremely helpful when trying to lose weight. They can help you create a personalized plan that fits your unique needs and goals, plus provide support and accountability.
If you're interested in working with a specialist, you can ask your doctor for a referral or search for one on your own.
Weight loss is a process that takes time, effort, and dedication. But with the right approach, you can lose weight and keep it off.
- Rolls B. J. (2014). What is the role of portion control in weight management?. International journal of obesity (2005), 38 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S1–S8. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2014.82
- Leidy, H. J., Tang, M., Armstrong, C. L., Martin, C. B., & Campbell, W. W. (2011). The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 19(4), 818–824. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2010.203
- Dugardin C, Fleury L, Touche V, et al. An Exploratory Study of the Role of Dietary Proteins in the Regulation of Intestinal Glucose Absorption. Front Nutr. 2022;8:769773. Published 2022 Jan 19. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.769773
- Barber, T. M., Kabisch, S., Pfeiffer, A., & Weickert, M. O. (2020). The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients, 12(10), 3209. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103209
- Wu, W. C., Inui, A., & Chen, C. Y. (2020). Weight loss induced by whole grain-rich diet is through a gut microbiota-independent mechanism. World journal of diabetes, 11(2), 26–32. https://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v11.i2.26
- McMahon, W. R., Ftouni, S., Phillips, A., Beatty, C., Lockley, S. W., Rajaratnam, S., Maruff, P., Drummond, S., & Anderson, C. (2020). The impact of structured sleep schedules prior to an in-laboratory study: Individual differences in sleep and circadian timing. PloS one, 15(8), e0236566. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236566
- Simpson SA, Matthews L, Pugmire J, et al. An app-, web- and social support-based weight loss intervention for adults with obesity: the 'HelpMeDoIt!' feasibility randomised controlled trial. Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2020;6:133. Published 2020 Sep 19. doi:10.1186/s40814-020-00656-4