Is Losing 1-2lbs A Week Correct For Your Body?

June 10, 2024

As dietitians, we get so many questions about commonly held beliefs from people who are wanting to lose weight, from people who have metabolic dysfunctions, and by folks who have a lot of food carvings. “Why am I not losing weight?” Today, we’ll discuss common beliefs about weight loss, what it actually looks like for most people, and give you some practical ideas for a slow, steady, sustainable weight loss that supports your whole body.

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MELANIE: Welcome to our weekly Dishing Up Nutrition podcast. I'm cohost, Melanie Beasley, and I have been a Registered and Licensed Dietitian for over 30 years. I've had the pleasure of working with a variety of clients in many different areas. Let's see, I've been a dietitian working for the Department of Corrections in a prison, a naval dietitian.

I've worked in multiple hospitals as a hospital dietitian, including the VA. And for the past several years, it's been my joy to work at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I work individually with many, many clients. I also teach nutrition classes along with some strategies to change behavior. So one of my favorite classes is the Menopause Solution Seminar.

Sign Up for Menopause Solutions - Online

It is a six hour prerecorded series. I teach with Kara Carper, who's a Certified Nutrition Specialist, and we have a lot of fun with that class. Because of Kara's age, she represents the perimenopause stage of life, and I represent the menopause stage of life. So, working with clients is one of my favorite things to do, the one on one with clients.

One of my passions is to improve the bone health with my clients who have osteoporosis or osteopenia, or even like today I worked with someone and we're trying to prevent bone loss because she is going through a cancer journey and she's on some medication that can thin her bones. So those are some of my passions that I love to do. Britni, what about you?

BRITNI: Hello everybody. Well, one of my passions is hormones, working with women to balance out their hormones and because of my own history with hormonal imbalances, I have a special interest in it. So, and it's just lovely to have a follow up appointment and hear your how much better they're feeling, and that their symptoms went away. So rewarding.

MELANIE: That's the best part of our job.

BRITNI: It really is.


BRITNI: It's, it is so great. Because we are dietitians and nutritionists, we get so many questions about commonly held beliefs by people who are wanting to lose weight, and we get this I think both in our personal lives. And of course we get this every day at our job. And we have questions from people who have, we have questions from people who have metabolic dysfunctions or from people that have a lot of food cravings, or a common question is what should I eat to lower my cholesterol or why am I not losing weight?

And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today is common beliefs about weight loss, and we’re going to debunk a few of them and give you some practical ideas about weight loss and how it might look for people.

Common beliefs people may have about weight loss 

MELANIE: You know, that's something that my clients will ask me. So let's explore some common beliefs that people have today about weight loss. We often hear that losing one to two pounds a week is the ideal, that's the ideal, that's how much weight you want to lose. I certainly know when I was going through dietetics, that was what we were told was the appropriate amount to expect for weight reduction when someone needed to lose weight would be one to two pounds.

I feel it should be half a pound to a pound personally; doesn't always make my clients happy with that. But you know, weight loss is not this slide trajectory. It's not you start eating a certain way and we're losing a half a pound consistently per week or one pound. Sometimes you drop two, then you'll have a week with none. Sometimes you go up a half a pound, then you go down a pound and a half. So it can be very frustrating if you are sort of a slave to the scale.

BRITNI: Yep. Absolutely. And I think it is so important to set up those realistic expectations and it is completely normal to plateau for a period or like you said, gain or maybe go up a half a pound or lose more some weeks than others, even though you might be doing the exact same thing.

MELANIE: And really that consistency is the key; not to give up and think, well, this isn't working because it's been two weeks and I haven't dropped anything.

BRITNI: Because consistency, and then also realizing if you do lose more than two pounds a week, chances are you're losing a lot of muscle with that weight.

MELANIE: And water.

BRITNI: Yeah. And water. Yeah. And rapid weight loss, we know that the chances of regaining the weight are much higher versus having that slow, steady weight loss, finding a way of eating that, that is sustainable for you.

MELANIE: And it supports the whole body, not just that, you know, the eye on the scale and it's, it's really important that we focus on health and we set people up on a plan and yes, weight loss, if that's their goal, that's what we will focus on. However, many people, if they come in with a lot of inflammation, they come in with a lot of illness and they've got a lot of disease processes, maybe some autoimmune, they might drop 10 pounds in a month, but they've lost a lot of inflammation fluid that's been held. And so the, did they lose some body fat? Sure. But did they lose a lot of water? Yes. Not because we put them on a deprivation, low calorie diet.

BRITNI: That is a very good point to make. And then that 10 pound weight loss each month, it's, it's not going to continue.

MELANIE: No. No. And we don't want it to continue.

BRITNI: Definitely not.

How to eat to maintain or gain muscle

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. Because we're going to be losing a lot more. So what if you consider the health of your body and you ask the question, what do I have to eat if I want to maintain or even gain muscle mass on my body? What should I eat to put on muscle? Because we want to focus on not losing that muscle because muscle is directly related to how fast or slow your metabolism is.

And of course, muscle just has all these other functions that are vitally important, but we don't want to lower the metabolism by the body breaking down muscle tissue for calories because it will get those calories when it needs it if it feels like it's being starved from somewhere, and muscle is a place it draws from.

So biochemically we know that muscle is key to having that active metabolism. So doesn't it make sense to have a nutrition goal that basically says you're going to preserve your health? So the reality is that two people can be the same weight and height, but look very different based on muscle mass.

Focusing on gaining muscle instead of weight loss may be a healthier approach for some. We know that by increasing muscle, you increase your metabolism. And to increase muscle, two things are necessary. Specifically, resistant weight bearing training. So I have many clients coming in and saying that they are less worried about the number on the scale.

They just want to feel strong and look fit. And I love that approach because I don't have to convince them that that's the approach we should have. So by gaining muscle and reducing body fat, you are becoming really healthy overall. We know that body fat, especially visceral fat promotes the inflammation and visceral fat is the fat in your belly that surrounds your organs.

Visceral fat is metabolically active and it produces inflammatory compounds and causes systemic inflammation, contributing to things like insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, so many more disease. So you can actually be very thin looking on the outside, but actually have a very obese visceral fat situation on the inside.

BRITNI: Yes. And a lot of people don't think of it that way. And I have had many, many clients who don't necessarily see the scale move that much, but they're losing inches. They're dropping pant sizes, but they're still frustrated because they're not seeing the scale move. So I'd have to talk them through like what you just mentioned, Melanie, that their body is overall healthier.

And then I just ask the question, if your clothes are fitting better, if that was a goal for them, they're feeling better, does the number on the scale even matter at that point?

MELANIE: No. One of the little tricks I love so that they're not obsessing about the number on the scale is to take a long string, tie it around the thickest part of their middle and mark it with a Sharpie and tuck it away in the drawer. So, after about a month, I'll have them pull that string out and put it around their belly and mark it again and see as that string gets thinner and thinner. I mean, men love to say how many belt loops, you know, on their pants, but a lot of women, we're not wearing those belts or the same belt. So this is an easy way to see how are you actually losing body fat?

BRITNI: Yeah. It's a great recommendation.


BRITNI: And I would challenge you if weight loss is a goal of yours to use that, that approach that Melanie just mentioned or taking measurements because chances are you are going to notice those measurements move faster than the weight on the scale. And especially if you're focusing on building muscle.

MELANIE: Yes. And I've had clients say they have more energy, they feel, they use the words, I just feel lighter.

BRITNI: I hear that all the time as well.

MELANIE: They don't feel like they're hauling around a weight that's just dragging them through the day. So that's kind of the goal. So circling back to where, you know, the weight loss and some of the, some of the history I think is kind of quirkily interesting. So the goal to lose weight has really been around for a long time. In fact, in 1863, over 150 years ago, an English writer who was not in the health profession, he was not a doctor, and he wrote a letter on corpulence, because of his own struggles with his weight.

William Banting weighed 202 pounds, standing tall at 5 feet 5 inches. To lose weight, he cut back on carbohydrates, such as beer, bread, potatoes, also milk and sugar. And he lost 35 pounds and he wrote a book, which became a bestseller.

And then also Lulu Hunt Peters, an American physician, popularized the concept of calorie counting for weight loss. In her book, Diet and Health, and that was written in 1918. So people, this has been a struggle for a long time for people. And the book included a guide to calorie counting and the approach or theory then was to reduce the number of calories eaten, to increase activity to burn more calories and that results in weight loss. Big surprise here, right?

Well, it turns out that there is somewhat, you know, that developed somewhat of an obsession in our culture to be thin, to lose weight. We certainly saw it in the seventies, the eighties and the nineties, right? Weight loss techniques date back over 150 years and we have to ask the question, most of these techniques, are they serving us well? Are we a thinner, healthier nation? And what has happened to our overall health? Some of these just don't work because we're not really asking the right question. The question should be, am I healthy?

Focus on overall health, not weight loss alone


MELANIE: Do I feel healthy? Is my, are the numbers I'm getting from the physician indicating that I'm headed in disease and autoimmune issues? Do I feel robust, strong, healthy? That really should be the question and the takeaway of what we've learned cumulatively over the years.

BRITNI: So focusing more on overall health, wellness, your wellbeing.

MELANIE: What we're putting in, is it serving ourselves? Is it serving our cardiovascular system? Because the weight is a secondary effect of getting healthy.

BRITNI: Yes. So true. I hear it all the time. “My doctor told me, or I read if I lose, you know, X amount of pounds, then my blood sugar is going to improve.” When really, or whatever the example is, it's often the opposite effect. The weight loss is happening because you're changing your diet, your lifestyle. If your blood sugars are lowering, that's helping you lose weight. So the focus should be shifted a little bit.


BRITNI: And the idea of the calories in, calories out, of course, that idea is still around.


BRITNI: You hear it all the time.

MELANIE: Well, there's a zillion apps that you can count your calories.

BRITNI: Yes. Yes. Yes. And the reality is calories are not created equal. You know, I like to throw this question out to people. Do you think you'd gain weight from eating a hundred extra calories of broccoli? No, right? Broccoli is just lots of fiber, lots of great nutrients. But do you think you'd gain weight from eating a hundred extra calories of bread?

Yeah. Chances are you probably will because you're increasing your carbohydrates. The bread is probably increasing your blood sugar. So focusing on quality of food should be the priority. And what I've seen over the years is that people who have yo-yo dieted need to start to focus on nourishing their body to be able to stimulate their metabolism again. So getting that adequate protein in, you know, getting enough vegetables, focusing more on quality over quantity.

MELANIE: And getting the healthy fat in because that is, that's our satiety food. That's the food that makes us feel like we've had, I have enough, I am satisfied. And so I think we were just starving individuals in the low fat eras of the 70s, 80s. We were just hungry because we did not have that fat to settle us down.

BRITNI: Yeah. People were just eating carbs.


BRITNI: Well, it is time for our break. And I want to mention an upcoming cooking class with our culinary educator, Marianne, and she is going to be doing a cooking class on Wednesday, July 17th about healthy burgers and tacos: sounds delicious.

MELANIE: Yes. Who doesn't want to have, you can always have these foods. It is just how you prepare them.

BRITNI: Yeah. And she provides, she's just a wealth of knowledge about food and…

MELANIE: Cooking.

BRITNI: Yeah. Everything. And I always learn so much from listening to her classes. And then if you are not able to make the, the live cooking class, which is from 6 to 7:15 PM Central Time. You do get the recording for five days, or if you are able to make it live, you can rewatch it another day while you're actually cooking.

MELANIE: Yeah. I love it. Cause you can pause it, do the thing that Marianne's doing. Start it again.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's wonderful. So if you are interested, you can visit our website, for more information. We'll be right back.

Sign Up for a Cooking Class


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Before we went to break, Britni was telling us about the great cooking classes that Marianne has put together for us. And if you're interested in any of those cooking classes, you can go to or call 651-699-3438.

I also mentioned earlier the Menopause Solutions six week series. So if you're interested in that class as well, it's a wealth of information for anything that affects you when you are going through menopause. It's a great class and again, 651-699-3438.

BRITNI: We have been talking about the different approaches to weight loss historically. And many of the approaches have really been centered around restriction. And I think that the diet culture has taught us that following a diet is all or nothing. And so many of us, myself included, admittedly, have fallen into that cycle of guilt. You eat something that wasn't part of your current diet, then you feel guilty, feel shamed. And then you find yourself saying, screw it, I already messed up. I'm just going to keep eating whatever I want. And that could go on a day, it could go on a week, it could go on a month. And…

MELANIE: Well, I think it's also, you don't want to go back to if you were on a deprivation diet. Yeah, man, you don't want to go back. So you're like, I may as well eat all the things before I have to go back to that darn diet.

BRITNI: That is such a good point because if I go back to that diet, I'm not going to feel satisfied

MELANIE: And I can never eat these things again.



BRITNI: Yeah. And you know, that whole guilt and shame, it doesn't serve us at all. And you know, that makes for, it makes it really difficult to be successful if you, you just go back into that cycle. And, and I think the truth is eating, it's not all or nothing. It can't be; right? It's gray. We have to make that choice of, of what we're choosing to eat and you need to think of your nutrition as a lifestyle or just a way of life.

MELANIE: And I, you know, to think when you are “dieting”, I'm on the program or I'm off the program, which really means I'm succeeding or I'm failing. So listeners ask yourself, how many decades have you lived In a state of shame, condemnation, feeling a failure because you think, am I on the program or off the program? So really we're like pendulums, right? We're swinging towards some weight reduction and a healthier lifestyle. Or are we swinging towards weight gain and inflammation and disease?

We're pendulums and the more we are swinging in one direction, the healthier we're going to be. But give yourself some grace. You are not going to be perfect. I'm not perfect. Britni’s not perfect. Certainly, I know all of us are, we're swinging, you know, but mostly we swing towards health, wellness, because we know too much.

BRITNI: Absolutely. And then the more you do it, it really does just become a way of life and what you do and it's just how I cook and I feed my family and I don't think about it anymore. It just becomes automatic. And I promise you will get there too, over time of doing that and in switching that verbiage in your head, you're choosing to eat this way to build muscle.

We've been talking about that, or maybe you have digestive symptoms or migraines, you know, whatever the reason is for choosing to eat a real food diet, focusing on that instead of telling yourself, “I can't eat this. I can't eat that.” Because that's going to send your brain into that restrictive thinking and naturally most people rebel.

MELANIE: Yes. It's how you frame it.

BRITNI: It really is. And in going back to that why, why are you choosing to eat this way? I think it's so important to, to keep that motivation going. And like you said, we're not aiming for perfection. That's not possible.

MELANIE: You know, I just did an exercise with a client and she said she'd “fallen off the plan”. She was just busy traveling and then fun events in the summer. And so we, one of the things that she'll grab is frozen pizzas. So I had her sit down and we worked on a pros list and a cons list. What's the pros of the pizza, right? She's went through: it was fast, it was easy. It tastes delicious.

It reminds her of a free and easy time in high school and college when everybody would just eat pizza and she wanted to be a part of that. And so then we went through the cons. And she said, within 30 minutes, I feel icky, bloated. I'm beating myself up. Why did I do that? It raises my blood sugar, which raises my insulin. It puts on weight. I don't feel well and my eczema flares.

So when she wrote it down, she was able to then frame it differently. And then we came up with an alternative, which we have on our website of pizza. You know, that is on our website, a sheet pan pizza or a meat or something that we came up with. So she could still have the, the flavor memory without all of the cons.

And then I had to take a picture of the cons with her phone and make it her screensaver. Because once we fold the paper and we put it away, or we were done with the app and we close our phones down, we forget.

What is wrong/stressful to the body when restricting calories?

BRITNI: So true. Out of sight, out of mind. Let's talk about what is wrong or stressful to your body when you restrict calories in some way. If you restrict by eating fewer calories or overexercising or any sort of method that's going to cause you that rapid weight loss, like we’ve talked about, rapid weight loss is going to lead to losing muscle mass.


BRITNI: That's a big, important factor. And then in regard to that, when you restrict, what happens is your metabolism, your body has to adapt to run on fewer calories. So your metabolism is going to slow down. And then if you regain weight, you're going to end up with more body fat than when you originally, before you lost weight because you've lost that muscle mass from that rapid weight loss.

MELANIE: And when, let's say you, you dropped the weight rapidly. And like you said, Britni, you, you've lost muscle mass and body fat. And then, so now when you start eating to gain the weight and you start gaining the weight back, chances are it's not a bunch of protein and broccoli and berries. So now you're gaining body fat.

So now you're down that much more of your metabolism by losing muscle and you're that much more body fat. So the transformation in your body is not what we're looking for. And you're gaining visceral fat, that fat around the organs. But the other thing is when you drop weight rapidly and you drop a bunch of body fat rapidly on a deprivation diet, body fat stores toxins.

And so that rapid weight loss means you have a rapid dumping into your system of toxins. So this is another reason we want a slow, methodical, healthy way of eating, preserving that muscle, taking care of bones and systems by nourishing properly and not overburdening the body with too much body fat toxin at once.

BRITNI: Yeah, that is, that's scary to think about.

MELANIE: You know, people sometimes get really sick.

BRITNI: They do, yeah.

MELANIE: After one of these fast, fast drop diets.

BRITNI: Yeah, it's true. And chances are your, I mean, your body's not able to keep up with efficiently detoxifying all that. Yeah. And you may not remember, but the original question that we talked about is losing one to two pounds safe and effective.

And I think what the conclusion we came to is yes, losing one to two pounds could be safe and effective, but I think the reality is it might be less than that. Like you said, it might be a half a pound a week and chances are it's going to vary from week to week and you just need to look at that overall trend.

Is it going down? Is it trending down? Or like we've been talking about, maybe you focus less on the number on the scale. Maybe you focus more on building muscle or…

MELANIE: Lab changes.

BRITNI: Yeah. Whatever other health goals that you might have. And I think that sometimes people can, in my experience, be more successful if their, if their goal is something other than that number on the scale.

MELANIE: Yes. And you know, when people are asking, “How much longer before I lose this much weight or how long do you think it's going to take me?” Oh, I always cringe at that question because it sounds to me like there's an end point to this way of eating.

BRITNI: That is, I love that point. Yeah.

Real food & body movement tips for health & weight loss

MELANIE: So there really is no end point; sit back, relax. Let the magic happen as you start eating real food, nourishing the body, not overeating too many carbohydrates and movement, exercise. Motion is lotion. The more we move, the better we will feel, the better our systems can work. Motion is lotion. So we've got to keep moving.

BRITNI: And focusing on that quality of food really is so important. I want to share this new study that just came out literally in May 2024, and the title is “The Effects of Dietary Macronutrient Composition on Resting Energy Expenditure”. And this was a systematic review, and I want to set the stage in this. Metabolic rate is the energy that we need just for our body to function.

And when you lose weight because your body is getting smaller, your metabolic rate can drop because of that. And what this study showed is that if you eat a high carb diet and lower fat, the metabolic rate dropped a lot during weight loss. Whereas those individuals that ate more fat and lower carbohydrates, their metabolic rate maintained during weight loss.

So then it makes it way easier to actually maintain that weight loss because their metabolism is staying the same. It's not lowering. And this goes back to the negative effects of eating too many carbohydrates.

MELANIE: And when we’re saying carbohydrates, we're not talking about no carbohydrate.

BRITNI: No, not at all.

MELANIE: Because we start demonizing things like berries and apples and melons. And I've not known that tribe of obese berry eaters, you know, it's just not a thing. You know, it's not the real food that's getting us here. It's the lack of, it's a lack of protein and it's the processed foods.

BRITNI: Yeah. When we are saying lower carbohydrate, we're talking about really eliminating or limiting those processed carbohydrates. That's what we're talking about; getting your carbohydrates from real food instead.

MELANIE: So if you have been on every weight loss plan out there, you haven't had success, you don't feel happy with results, you feel like you're in that deprivation brain and mindset from constantly restricting or eliminating certain foods; I'm going to give a shout out to our class Nutrition for Weight Loss. It's been around a long time because it's very successful and people are amazed at how much they can eat and achieve their goals.

It's the most refreshing way of eating. If you are someone that you're like, I'm on the shame game, I've been in the deprivation brain. I just can't face another “diet”, I would look into Nutrition for Weight Loss. It’s real food, you get to eat. You're not overly restricted. Many of our clients say, “I just can't eat that much food”.

BRITNI: Yeah, you, you feel satiated. And then more importantly, you feel really good. Your energy goes up.

MELANIE: Your skin is amazing. The hair gets thicker.

BRITNI: Your digestive symptoms might go away. I mean, the list goes on and on of all the benefits.

MELANIE: The hot flashing. All of it. And again, it's what we circle back to and say that when you start addressing what the body needs and you start nourishing the body, it all falls into place. It's not just the weight reduction. It's all of it. And it's a, it's a beautiful thing to stand in front of a class and watch them transform over the 12 weeks. So that Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundations is fantastic.

Sign Up for Nutrition for Weight Loss

And then there's a follow up class, which is more supportive, and that is the, the Ongoing Support and Education. So we don't just drop you.

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MELANIE: And that support continues on and on and on.

BRITNI: And there's always the option to set up an individual appointment with, with one of the dietitians if the classes don't work in your schedule.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling

MELANIE: So here's a little challenge. So for the next three weeks, stop thinking weight loss and start thinking health. And here's a way to measure success. Try on a tight fitting outfit, reflect, put it away for three weeks. Try it  on again after you've been eating real food in balance: protein, vegetables, some berries and healthy fat and ask yourself, how do I look? How do I feel? Do I have that lighter feeling that we always hear? Do I feel happier? Do I feel energized? Is this something I can live with the rest of my life instead of thinking when is the end point?


So you know you're doing well when you can look in the mirror and feel proud and you can feel healthy and you can feel like this is sustainable instead of feeling shame and discouragement and don't even want to look in a mirror. So that's what we're encouraging here is health. We're called Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I've always thought we need to be Nutritional Wellness & Weight, but that's what we're about and that's what we encourage. And I think that's the sustainable way to live your life and be the body weight that you want to be and have the mental mindset that's healthy.


MELANIE: And have a longevity of life in a healthy way. We want to preserve muscle. We want to support bone health as we age. And that's the way to do it.  Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health with eating real food. It’s a simple message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today.

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