I’m 5′ 8.5″ and 160 lbs., and want to lose 10 lbs. over the next 3 weeks. How many calories do I need to burn per day to accomplish that, assuming I spend 6-8 hrs. per week at gym with moderate walk and weights?

– Robin B.


You will need to amp up your calorie burn to reach a large enough deficit to effectively lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks, even if you were to follow a bare minimum 1200 calorie plan! Below that amount, low calorie diets may only change the scale, not your physique, and rarely provide adequate nutrients. Medically supervised very low calorie diets (800 cals/day) are effective for those significantly overweight, which you are not.

Rapid weight loss from a short-term intervention usually means water loss (not fat) plus regain later. Why not identify areas of your current diet that need tightening and find ways to move more during the day outside the gym?  You can read our biggest weight loss tips by clicking here.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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