How long does it take to lose 30 pounds?

In order to lose weight, you need to stay in a calorie deficit. This means you need to consume fewer calories than what you burn on a daily basis. By doing this, your body will be forced to use its fat stores as a source of energy and fat from all over the body will be utilized as fuel.

The larger a deficit you create, the faster you would lose weight. It is important to note however that creating too large a deficit is not recommended and you need to consume a minimum number of calories to remain healthy.

It is generally advised that a safe amount of weight to lose per week is between 1 and 2 pounds. Therefore to lose 30 pounds, it should take roughly 15 – 30 weeks. That being said, weight loss is not a straightforward process and results can vary greatly from person to person.

The number of calories that you should aim to consume when trying to lose weight will depend on your age, gender, weight, height and how active you are. You can use the calculator below to get an estimate.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 35 year old lady who weighs 180 pounds, is 5 feet 6 inches tall and exercises twice a week will need to consume around 2100 calories a day to maintain her weight, 1700 calories to lose weight (around 1 pound a week) and 1250 calories to lose weight fast (around 2 pounds a week).

Experts advise that you should not consume fewer than 1200 calories daily without medical supervision, as doing so can bring about its own health problems. You should speak to your doctor so that he or she can advise you on what your minimum calorie intake should be.

Losing weight does take time and there are a number of factors that can affect the rate at which you lose weight:

  • How heavy you are to begin with – the heavier you are, the faster you will start to lose weight. As you begin to do so, the rate at which you lose weight might gradually slow down.
  • Medical conditions – certain medical conditions and medications can influence the rate at which you lose weight. If you have been following a calorie restricted diet and are exercising regularly but are not losing weight, you should inform your doctor.
  • Genetic makeup – you may be predisposed to losing weight at a faster or slower rate. Studies have found that certain genes can influence obesity.
  • Hormones – cortisol, ghrelin and leptin can influence weight loss and their imbalance can sometimes hinder weight loss efforts.

With that being said, there are also a number of factors that are within your control. With some planning and determination, you can speed up the rate at which you lose 30 pounds.

Drinking more water and minimizing or eliminating sugary beverages

Plain water has 0 calories, which makes it the ideal beverage for weight loss. In fact, numerous studies have shown that it helps with weight loss because it can boost metabolism and reduce hunger.

In one study, 48 adults between 55 and 75 years of age were split into two groups. The first group followed a calorie deficit diet and drank 500 ml of water prior to each meal that they consumed. The second group only followed a calorie deficit diet. After 12 weeks, the group that drank water lost 2 kg (4.4 pounds) more.

Also, studies such as this and this found that drinking 500 ml of water increased energy expenditure and metabolic rate.

On the other hand, the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is linked to weight gain. Firstly, they are a source of “empty” calories, i.e. calories that provide no nutritional value. For example a can of cola has around 140 calories and 33 g of sugar, but it provides hardly any of the vitamins and minerals that a fruit or vegetable that has the same number of calories would provide.

Additionally, the brain doesn’t register calories that you get from liquids as well as it does the ones you get from solid food. This means that liquid calories are uncompensated for and you therefore end up consuming more calories than you should. Indeed, this study showed just that.

Another reason for overeating is because of the large spikes and dips in blood sugar caused by these beverages, which leaves you feeling hungry.

Fructose appears to be the most harmful type of sugar and is found in large amounts in soda.  This study showed that the consumption of fructose causes an increase in visceral fat, which can be seen physically as a protruding belly.

By simply replacing sugar sweetened beverages with water, you can dramatically speed up the time that it would take you to lose 30 pounds. Lets say you drink a can of cola with lunch and dinner everyday. That is 1960 extra calories per week, which equates to a lot of excess fat.

Eating more protein and fiber rich foods

Both protein and fiber have a high satiety, which means they leave you feeling full for longer. You therefore end up eating less over the long run.

Protein consumption boosts metabolism and increases energy expenditure as shown in this study, when compared to carbohydrates.

Another study found that increasing protein intake to 30% of total calories lead to 441 fewer calories being consumed per day. This reduction is significant and could greatly speed up the rate at which you lose weight.

Combining weight training with a high protein intake is a good idea as doing so will help you to retain muscle mass, so that you are left with a lean and toned body, rather than a “skinny-fat” one.

Fiber intake is also beneficial as shown in this study, which suggests that making a simple change and increasing fiber intake can greatly benefit weight loss.

There are plenty of protein and fiber rich foods that you can choose from, including nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, eggs, fish and certain vegetables. These are much healthier food choices than processed carbohydrates such as pizza and doughnuts.

Exercising more

By increasing the duration and intensity at which you exercise, you can burn more calories, thereby creating a larger net deficit. It may not always be possible to create a large enough calorie deficit via your diet alone, and this is where exercise comes in handy.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a particularly effective method of exercise when you are trying to lose weight. It involves doing short bursts of intense exercise, followed by longer periods at a comfortable pace. For example you could sprint all out for 20 seconds and then jog at a relaxed pace for a minute. Repeat this cycle for 15 minutes.

As mentioned above, weight training is important as it helps you to retain muscle. Compound exercises such as squats and dead-lifts are great because they work large muscle groups.

Finally, it is important to not get discouraged by the number that you see on the scale. You may have set a goal of losing 30 pounds, but keep in mind that when you exercise you will build muscle, and just like fat, muscle has mass. So whilst the scale might suggest that you aren’t losing weight, you will essentially be burning fat and building muscle, and the results will show when you look in the mirror.


It should take you 15 – 30 weeks to lose 30 pounds, provided you remain in a calorie deficit. You can achieve this by increasing your protein intake, eating nutrient dense foods, cutting out processed foods & sugary drinks and exercising more often.

Why are you losing inches but not weight?
Do protein shakes make you fat?