A rule of thumb for weight loss is to not try to lose more than two pounds per week. I personally think that the low calorie diets designed to give you a two pound per week weight loss can too easily end up making you fatter in the long run - - happens all the time. The faster you lose, the greater you risk lowering your metabolic rate. Healthy eating combined with weight training, ab work, cardio, and flexibility work will go a long way toward teaching your body to burn fat rather than store it. I gained muscle, dropped fat, and had a total weight loss of 5 pounds while doing heavy weight training plus interval cardio work 2 days per week, moderate cardio 3 days per week, and easy cardio (walking) 2 days per week. I ate from 1800 to 2200 calories per day (a lot of calories for a 5' 3" tall middle-aged female); higher calories were on weight training days. Today, I need more than 2200 calories for maintenance but I haven't yet figured out what the needed calorie count is for me. This morning, I pumped gas in 30 degree (F) weather without my coat on since I am so hot all the time now.