Happy Feet on Bathroom Scales

How to Set a Weight Loss Goal

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

How much weight do you need to lose?

First of all you need to decide on a reasonable target weight for you.

As a guideline, most slimming and weight loss professionals use Body Mass Index (BMI), which looks at a person’s weight in relation to their height.

A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered to be underweight, 18.5 - 25 indicates a healthy weight, 25 - 30 is overweight and 30 or more is obese.

Quite simply, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk of health problems. You can find out your BMI with the wlr BMI Calculator.

Ideally, you should aim for a target weight that gives you a BMI in the healthy weight range of 18.5 - 25.

If you're already in this range, any goal you set won't be too far away. You'll probably start to feel your clothes getting looser within a couple of weeks. Great for your motivation!

On the other hand, if you want to lose a lot of weight, you're probably better off breaking your overall target into smaller goals.

Think about it this way, for each stone you lose you'll drop 1-2 sizes. So each stone is well worth losing. (One of the pleasures of dropping clothes sizes is it's so much easier to find your size on shop rails.)

If health is a main concern for you, another way of setting a goal is by percentage of body weight you want to lose.

Research shows that losing just 10 percent of excess weight will improve health significantly.

You can set a goal by percentage, stones and pounds, or kilos in wlr, take a free trial to try a few goals out and see when you could reach them.

Make Your Goal SMART

There are several versions of this acronym, with subtle differences depending on the purpose of the goal.

This version works well for weight loss:

  • S - Significant (reaching this goal means a lot to you)
  • M - Motivational (you're excited about reaching the goal)
  • A - Achievable (you believe you can get to this goal)
  • R - Realistic (your goal is within the bounds of possibility and suitable for you)
  • T-Trackable (you can monitor your results to see if you're moving towards your goal)

Once you’ve decided on a realistic weight goal, you’ll be able to work out how long it will take you to reach this.

Find out more about how often to weigh yourself - the evidence says the more often the better.

How long will it take you to reach your target?

While it might be tempting to slash your calorie intake considerably in an effort to lose weight fast, you shouldn’t aim to shift more than 1-2lbs a week – although you may lose slightly more than this when you first start slimming as your body gets rid of water as well as fat.

In the long term though, a weight loss of more than 2lb a week means you’ll have to cut calories excessively – and ultimately, this will make it even harder to shift those pounds.

Very low calorie intakes over a long period can push the body into what's often referred to as ‘starvation mode’ so that it becomes super efficient at making the most of the calories it actually gets from food and drink.

It does this by protecting its fat stores and instead using lean tissue or muscle to provide it with some of the calories it needs to keep functioning.

This leads to a loss of muscle, which in turn lowers metabolism so that the body needs fewer calories to keep ticking over and weight loss slows down – not ideal if you want to shift unwanted pounds!

Weight Loss Calculator

Here’s how long you can expect it to take you to lose weight…

Weight to lose Number of weeks it will take you to lose weight at a rate of…
  1lb a week 2lb a week
Half a stone 5 3
1 stone 12 6
2 stone 26 13
3 stone 40 20
4 stone 54 27
5 stone 68 34
6 stone 82 41
7 stone 96 48
8 stone 110 55
9 stone 124 62

NB: This is based on losing an extra 2lb in the first few weeks of slimming and weight loss.

So now you’ve set yourself a realistic target weight and know roughly how long it will take to achieve this, you can start to devise a slimming plan that will work for you.

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