Health Hub

How much weight can you lose in a month? Here's what's possible

While you might want a magic number, truth is, it depends.

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month? | Juniper

When embarking on a weight loss program, most of us would be lying if we said we didn’t want to see those unwanted pounds fall off immediately. But while the amount of weight a person can lose in a month depends on several factors like genetics, overall health, starting weight, and exercise routine, to see lasting results you want to approach losing weight safely.  

The fact is, weight loss isn’t a race. Though you might feel a need to shoot out of the gates and lose weight quickly, this is no guarantee when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Add to that the fact that rapid weight loss can result in the loss of muscle mass and other negative health effects, and you begin to see the value in a carefully considered weight loss programme with attainable weight loss goals. 

Very low-calorie diets may promise instant weight loss, but most of these will leave you hungry or see you develop unhealthy eating habits. To achieve lasting change in your eating habits and weight management, it’s best to take a holistic approach that focuses on lifestyle and behavioural changes.

So, how much weight loss is safe to achieve in a month? Reas as we answer this question and explain why you should avoid crash diets and focus instead on physical activity and healthy eating, along with the best tips to lose weight safely.

How much weight can you lose in a month?

While you might want a magic number, the amount of weight someone can lose in a month actually depends on a range of factors. Age, sex, starting weight, caloric intake, and caloric deficit are all important factors to consider.

For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests people who lose weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week — equating to 4-8 pounds a month — are more successful at keeping it off [1]. However, if you’re looking to lose 100 pounds or more, you may be able to lose 20 pounds in 1 month, though some of that may be water weight

Generally, it’s expected that those with a higher starting body weight can lose more weight in a month because they have more weight to begin with. However, it’s important to note that rapid weight loss doesn’t necessarily guarantee results, particularly in the early months of a diet. As you’ll come to find, you can damage your metabolism by losing too much weight too quickly. 

Can you lose 20 pounds in a month?

Though you can certainly look to a weight loss goal of 20 pounds, losing this amount of weight in 1 month is unsafe and unsustainable. Not only that but taking such an aggressive approach to weight loss can be dangerous for your overall health. 

It’s advised that when embarking on a weight loss journey, you aim for 1-2 pounds per week. Trying to lose 20 pounds in a month can put significant strain on the body. Not only would it require a severe diet and calorie restriction that can lead to nutrient deficiencies, but it can also increase the risk of muscle loss.

Why losing weight too quickly can damage your metabolism

Ultimately, to achieve weight loss, you need to consume less calories than you burn. As a result, aggressive forms of weight loss that promise instant results will typically put your body under strain as it looks to find energy from a source that’s not food. 

When you have a large calorie deficit, your body breaks down muscle for energy. Aside from affecting our strength and athletic performance, this process can also damage our metabolism as the more muscle lost, the fewer calories burned. As a result, our metabolism slows considerably. 

Whether you’re restricting your calories or overexercising to achieve fast weight loss results, a slower metabolism will train your body to eat more and store fat. This is because it’s essentially sending a red flag to your brain, telling it to protect itself from entering starvation mode. This is a typical response when turning to fad diets that require you to cut calories significantly. They might promise instant weight loss but often lead to weight gain once the diet is over. 

What does healthy, sustainable weight loss look like?

Managing your weight isn’t a quick fix or something you achieve overnight. Rather, it’s a lifetime commitment to optimal health and one that takes time to develop healthy habits.

Despite a plethora of fad diets on the market that promise instant results, dieting can be harmful to your health. Rapid weight loss can lead to loss of muscle mass, nutrient deficiencies, increased appetite, and gallstones. 

But what does healthy, sustainable weight loss look like? If you’re looking to lose 1-2 pounds per week, it’s important to look at it from a holistic perspective. Start gradually and implement healthy foods into your diet, ensure you're eating adequate protein, start with a small daily calorie deficit that is achievable, and ensure you stay active with exercise

How does fitness play into the weight-loss equation?

If you’re setting yourself the goal of safely losing 4-8 pounds of weight per week, this will require you to burn 3,500 calories more than your current metabolic rate, or the amount of calories your body burns each day. While diet is certainly important in helping create a calorie deficit, burning calories with exercise is also just as effective. 

5 tips for a sustainable weight loss journey

If you want to lose weight and see lasting results, these 5 tips will ensure your weight loss journey is a sustainable one. Regardless of your starting weight or age, these holistic tips prioritise overall health to make your weight loss journey one of behavioural and lifestyle changes. 

1. Choose water for hydration

It’s not just food that goes into making up a healthy diet, but beverages, too. Sugary beverages like soda and diet soda have been linked to weight gain as they contribute additional calories to your daily intake. A review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who drank 1 litre of full-sugar soda daily gained 22 pounds over 6 months. Those who drank diet soda gained 3 pounds [7]. 

Instead, opt for water or sparkling water with no added sugar or flavours. A 2014 review discovered several links between water consumption and weight loss [2]. As the body struggles to determine thirst from hunger, those perceived hunger cues you feel might actually be your body reminding you to stay hydrated. By consuming more water, you’ll feel more satiated and be less likely to overeat or snack throughout the day. 

2. Up your fibre intake and choose whole foods

When it comes to eating nutrient-dense foods, you want to make fibre a priority in your diet. Important for overall weight loss, fibre-rich foods help keep you feeling fuller for longer which can help combat snacking and overeating.

According to a 2019 study of 345 participants, increasing the dietary intake of fibre helped to promote weight loss amongst overweight and obese adults when supported with a calorie-restricted diet [3].

By increasing the fibre in your diet, you can cut down on how much food you’re eating, leading to greater overall weight loss. Similarly, research has shown a correlation between diets high in ultra-processed foods and increased risks of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. 

A 2019 study that placed a group of people eating a whole-food diet against a group eating processed food like refined grains, found that despite the diets being equal in terms of nutrients, it was the processed group who ate more calories and gained more weight [4]. You want to aim for foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and brown rice, however, these should be increased gradually to avoid any uncomfortable digestive issues. 

3. Practise mindful eating

When you embark on a weight loss journey, it’s normal to take a discerning eye to your diet and want to create a complete overhaul. But as important as it is to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, if you restrict yourself too severely, it can have the opposite effect on your weight. Extreme or crash diets can be mentally and emotionally draining, leading to feelings of frustration, guilt, and failure. Often, in placing a ban on certain foods, you also come to crave them more. 

So, rather than deprive yourself, focus on mindful eating. Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues and ensure that when eating, you take the time to sit down and savour your food. This can help prevent overeating and foster a healthy relationship with food. 

Ultimately, you don’t want to just be counting calories all day. Instead, try to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods and essential nutrients that can help you feel fuller for longer. In making these sustainable changes to your eating, you can achieve long-term success. 

4. Get enough sleep

Too frequently overlooked when it comes to weight loss, getting enough sleep is essential for optimal health. Sleep deprivation not only slows your metabolic rate, but a 2017 study also found a direct correlation between late-night snacking and weight gain [5].

Lack of sleep also disrupts your hormones, including ghrelin, which regulates your hunger cues. That’s why you tend to reach for sugary sweets or highly processed foods when sleep-deprived. According to the CDC, you should aim to get 7 hours or more of sleep a night. 

5. Make exercise a part of your daily routine

Any weight loss journey requires an exercise plan to see lasting results. Not only does exercise increase heart rate, but this in turn burns more calories. According to a 2013 study of overweight adults, burning 400 or 600 calories per aerobic exercise session 5 days per week for 10 months resulted in clinically significant weight loss [6].

For adults, it’s recommended to complete 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 70-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. 

Consider aerobic exercises like jogging, walking, boxing, biking, and swimming, all of which help to strengthen your heart and lungs while also supporting sustainable weight loss. Resistance training is also beneficial, particularly as it ensures you maintain muscle mass which is essential since the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. 

While these tips can certainly help with sustainable weight loss, what proves most effective is having expert guidance. Thanks to Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme — and if eligible — you can get access to groundbreaking medication in an expertly designed weight loss programme. And because it’s led by seasoned medical professionals, dietitians and health coaches, you’ll feel supported from the get-go. 

With their guidance and a community of like-minded women sharing their own weight loss journey, you’ll have the confidence to tackle your weight loss holistically.

Image credit: Alexander Suhorucov / Pexels