Weigh yourself one time each week to track your progress.
Slow and steady is generally best for safe and effective weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. However, if you're obese and at high risk for health problems, a more rapid weight loss may be appropriate.
To achieve a 1- to 2- pound per week weight loss, a low-calorie diet is often effective. If your activity level remains constant, reducing your intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day should help you achieve this ideal weight loss. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports 1,000- to 1,600-calorie diets are often safe and effective for weight loss. More specifically, 1,000- to 1,200-calorie plans are appropriate for inactive women weighing less than 165 pounds, and 1,200- to 1,600-calorie diets are useful for most men, active women and women weighing 165 pounds or more.
Very Low-Calorie Diets
A typical weight loss using a very low-calorie diet is 3 to 5 pounds per week, according to Weight-control Information Network. Very low-calorie diets, often referred to as VLCDs, contain 800, or fewer, calories daily and may be appropriate for obese patients with immediate health risks. Very low-calorie diets are meant to be used short term, generally about 12 weeks, and only under medical supervision.
Choosing a Goal Weight
Your goal weight is highly individualized and varies based on your height, weight history and preferences. It may be a weight you look and feel your best at, the lowest weight you've achieved as an adult or or the ideal body weight for your height. According to the University of Washington, an ideal weight for a woman is 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height plus 5 pounds for each additional inch, which is 115 pounds for a 5-foot 3-inch woman. An ideal body weight for a man is 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height plus 6 pounds for each additional inch. Allow a variation of 10 percent for differences in frame sizes.
Aim to lose up to 10 percent of your initial body weight and maintain that weight for at least six months, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. After the period of weight maintenance, you may attempt to lose more weight if desired. This type of weight loss program is designed to help you keep lost weight off long term.
Keeping the Weight Off
In addition to losing weight at an appropriate pace and maintaining a healthy diet long term, regular exercise will help you keep lost weight off for good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting 60 to 90 minutes of exercise most days of the week to prevent weight regain. Choose from a variety of aerobic exercises, such as jogging, walking or biking, and resistance exercises, such as weightlifting.