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Weight Loss Basics: What You Need to Know

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
February 10, 2024
February 10, 2024

Weight change is a very sensitive, yet important topic. When done right, losing weight can have protective effects for your whole body. For many of us trying to lose weight, we may feel pressured, or desperate, or frustrated. This makes our efforts to lose weight sometimes more extreme, experimental, and even unsafe. It's tempting to look for help anywhere you can. Don’t fall for the expensive gimmicks.

Things to help you lose weight

For most of us, the tried-and-true weight loss methods work, but oftentimes need a Dietitian, Health Coach, or Doctor to help you do it safely and healthfully. There are a few common ways we can lose weight healthfully:

Most of us are at a point in our lives where we need to make changes.  However, chances are we have already learned which healthy habits we are willing to take on, and those we are less willing to change. Any lasting behavioral change from this point forward is going to take work, and a lot of repetitions.

Remember that if you start a healthy habit like eating right, or exercise, it typically takes the body an average of 66 days of doing something every single day before doing that thing becomes a habit. For some people that love the predictability of habits, they can fall into a new habit in as little as 21 days. But for others, it may take up to 265 days…that’s about 9 months! By that time, many of us will try to resort to shortcuts, like supplements. However, what you don’t know about weight loss supplements could harm you.

What to know about supplements for weight loss

If your thoughts turn to supplements or herbal remedies, keep in mind that there isn't a lot of science to back up the claims, could actually cause you harm. Talk with your doctor first before you try any.

Also, you should know that the FDA has cracked down on some weight loss supplements that had prescription drugs in them that weren't noted on the label. You can't always tell what you're getting.

What is a safe amount of weight loss?

Depending on your starting weight, the types of exercise you are engaging, and the strictness of your diet, you can safely lose any amount of weight. For those that are moderately overweight or obese, weight loss generally should not exceed 1 lbs per week. Losing more than this per week may be a red flag for your provider that you may not be giving your body enough nutrients for basic functioning.

Be cautious to avoid those supplements and diet systems that promise a weight loss of over 6 lbs per month. These weight loss methods are likely not FDA approved and may, in fact, cause more harm to the body or create something called rebound weight gain.

How much weight can I expect to lose?

For people with a BMI above 40, they may be able to lose weight a little faster, around 1-2 lb per week, initially. For some prediction, here is an estimation of approximately how much weight you may lose doing each of the following activities, based on a Dietitian’s typical recommendations and guidance:

30 minutes daily exercise

1 hour daily exercise

30 minutes exercise + Dietitian-prescribed healthful diet

1 hour daily exercise+ Dietitian-prescribed healthful diet

1/3 lb per week

2/3 lb per week

2/3 lb per week

1 lb per week


~2-3 lb per month

~2-3 lb per month

~4 lb per month


Most importantly, remember that when you lose weight safely and slowly, without taking shortcuts, you are more likely to maintain the good habits and health knowledge that you’ve gained. You are also less likely to gain the weight back in the future. Your dietitian can help to keep you on track, and can coach you through some stubborn weight plateaus, so chat with us regularly for ideas!


If you are looking to lose weight, it is important to do it in a safe and healthful way. With a balanced diet and a variety of physical activities, you can lose weight, and you can keep it off. Be wary of the supplements and shortcuts to weight loss and the false claims that weight loss companies will make, as they may cause more harm or rebound weight gain. If you are looking to lose weight, talk to your doctor about your options, and as always, keep in touch with your Dietitian! You’ll always have Unified Care in your corner!

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