What’s The Most Amount Of Fat You Can Lose In A Week?

When it comes to fat loss and even achieving a 6 pack, most of us want results as fast as possible.  In our eyes the faster we can burn off our excess fat the better, right.  Well not really because what most people don’t realize is that there is actually an upper limit as to how much fat you can lose every week and if you don’t try to push past this weekly limit by doing more cardio or eating even less for example then you’ll now start to lose substantially more muscle instead of fat.  Do this for months on end which many people do and you will eventually end up with a skinny fat physique with too little muscle and still too much fat. So, now the real question becomes what is the most amount of fat you can lose per week while minimizing muscle loss in the process as this is going to better enable you to attain the lean muscular physique, you’re after instead of just winding up skinny fat. 

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what is the most amount of fat you can lose per week while minimizing muscle loss?

To answer this question, we’ll use the findings of a 2005 paper by researcher Dr Alpert who analyzed several different fat loss studies in an attempt to quantify the maximum amount of fat one can lose per day without excessive muscle loss.  What he found is that the body is capable of burning body fat to use for energy at a maximum rate of 31 calories per pound of body fat per day.  Once you exceed this rate the body then must tap into your muscle mass in order to make up for its energy needs and although the study is theoretical and does have its limitations.  When you crunch out the numbers, they actually align well with both past research on the topic and with my own personal experience as well.  To put this theory into perspective for you. 


Let’s use an example, Dave weighs 200pounds and is that 20% body fat.  Multiply these two numbers and we can determine that Dave has 40 pounds of body fat, multiply this by the maximum rate stated earlier of 31 calories per pound of body fat and we can get 1240 calories.  This represents the maximum daily calorie deficit that Dave should employ every to maximize fat loss while minimizing muscle loss and to find out what this would equate to in terms of pounds of fat loss per week.  We can multiply this number by seven to represent a week and then divide that by 3500 since we know that this is roughly what one pound of fat is equivalent to and as you can see, we end up with two point five pounds.  This represents the theoretical amount of fat that Dave could lose per week while minimizing the amount of muscle loss.  Whereas on the contrary if you’re a leaner individual like John who weighs 170 pounds and is at 15 percent body fat, then in this case he’d only be carrying around 26 pounds of fat and therefore his theoretical maximum weekly rate of fat loss would be just one point six pounds per week.  So, as you can see that as you et leaner the maximum of fat your body is able to lose per week reduces.  This is something that other papers have found to be true as well. 

How to do it

Now that we have covered what the maximum rate of fat loss is per week, how can you now go put this information into practice.  Well, if you are truly seeking to lose fat as fast as humanly possible then here is what you do.  Firstly, find out what the maximum daily calorie deficit and weekly fat loss number would be for you using the formula laid out earlier in this post and then to achieve this daily deficit you would use a combination of eating below your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) or maintenance calories.  Performing regular resistance training and throwing in an additional cardio workout and then you simply, monitor your body weight throughout the weeks and try to hit your target maximum weekly fat loss number.  Then as you progress, and your body fat continues to decrease you’d want to slow down your rate of fat loss to minimize muscle loss by again recalculating what your maximum weekly fat loss number would be at your new weight and your new body fat percentage.  So, over time the rate in which you lose weight should slow down and basically that is all there is to it.


With all that being said, I do want to provide you with some precautions.  First of all, keep in mind that this type of protocol is a very aggressive approach, and it does employ a fairly large calorie deficit, high activity, and a fast rate of weight loss for some, for more experienced people this may be completely doable.  But, for most people especially those just starting out with their fat lose journey it’s unrealistic and very difficult to adhere to and you would be much better taking a longer and less aggressive approach.  This would make you more likely to stick with it.  Second of all, as researcher Dr Alpert points out, even if you’re under these 31 calories per pound limit outlined in this post, doesn’t mean that you won’t lose muscle mass.  It simply represents a threshold value to pass, which the rate of muscle loss starts to become exponentially large.


So, if you truly seek to maintain as much muscle mass as possible or even to build muscle while losing fat.  Then again a less aggressive deficit will be best but, all in all if you get motivated by seeing results fast and can adhere to a tough protocol, then by all means go for it.  Otherwise taking a slow and steady approach and making positive long-lasting changes to your lifestyle is what I personally recommend.  That’s more often than not what’s going to deliver you the best results in the long term.  Please remember that fat loss if often quite a long journey and the last thing that you want to do is rush into it and sacrifice all your hard-earned muscle as a result.  I hope you have enjoyed reading this post.  Please feel free to ask questions or leave a comment.

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