How to lose 20 pounds in 2 months
By following a relatively strict diet and exercise plan, it is possible to lose 20 pounds in 2 months. A healthy amount of weight to lose per week would be 1 to 2 pounds, but with a little bit more effort, you should be able to increase this to an average of 2.5 pounds per week (i.e. 20 pounds in 2 months). It is very important to note however that weight loss does not happen in a linear fashion. You might lose 2.5 pounds one week and then only 1 pound the next. This should not discourage you from your goal.
In order to maintain your current weight, you need to consume a certain amount of calories. The number that you need depends on your weight, height, age, gender and how active you are. You can use the calculator below to estimate how many calories you should be consuming.
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 200 pounds, is 5 and a half feet tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week will need to consume approximately 2,500 calories per day to maintain her weight. If she weighed 140 pounds, she would need to consume 2,100 calories.
In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. Doing so forces your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy. Weight loss can be summed up into a simple mathematical equation: calories in – calories out. You introduce calories into your body via the food that you eat and you use them up naturally during the day, and when you exercise.
Different foods contain different amounts of calories. In general, the more water a food has, the fewer calories it contains. The more fat a food has, the more calories it contains. This is why 100 g of kale contains only 49 calories but 100 g of almonds contains 576 calories.
The larger the calorie deficit you create, the more weight you lose.
However it is generally recommended that you do not consume less than 1,200 calories per day without supervision from a qualified medical professional. Before starting out on a new diet plan, speak to your doctor so that he or she can advise you on the minimum number of calories you should be consuming.
Cutting calories might sound intimidating, but with some planning beforehand, it is achievable. It is important to keep a food diary so you can monitor how many calories you are consuming everyday.
A convenient way of doing this is by using myfitnesspal. They have website and also a handy app available for Android and iOS. Their database contains a large list of foods and the amount of calories that they contain. So after every meal, you can simply enter the food(s) that you have eaten and it will add it to your daily log. At the end of the day you can see how many calories you have consumed.
After a while you will automatically be able to tell how much of certain food you should be eating and which foods to avoid completely. Below are some general tips to help you to easily reduce your calorie intake.
Cut our sugary beverages, and drink more water
Beverages such as milkshakes & sodas contain a lot of sugar & calories, but very few nutrients. For example, a can of cola has 138 calories and 33 g of sugar; a milkshake can have more than 400 calories and 30 g of sugar! Pure water on the other hand has 0 calories and 0 g of sugar.
Sugary drinks are one of the leading causes of weight gain. This is because unlike solid food, they do not make you feel as full. The calories that they contain are not compensated for and so you end up consuming many more calories than you should.
This study found that consuming liquid carbohydrates (e.g. soda) leads to more overall calories being consumed compared to solid carbohydrates.
The most harmful type of sugar appears to be fructose, which is found in large amounts in soda. Studies have shown that fructose consumption causes an increase in visceral fat, the most dangerous type.
The large amount of sugar found in these drinks also causes dramatic spikes and dips in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling hungry and cause you to overeat. Additionally, sodas are usually consumed with burgers, fries and pizza, none of which do your belly any favours.
Let’s say you drink a can of soda with lunch and dinner everyday; over 2 months that would equate to almost 17,000 calories. By switching to water you could easily eliminate this large number of excess calories.
You should also be wary of fruit juices. Whilst many of them are not “empty” calories like soda because they do provide vitamins & minerals, they still tend to contain a large amount of sugar; a cup of orange juice has more than 100 calories and 20+ g of sugar. You would be better off eating solid fruits instead because they contain fiber and your stomach takes longer to process them.
If you need to drink something sweet, consider coconut water. It is lower in both calories and sugar than traditional fruit juice. However the primary beverage you should be drinking is plain water. Drinking more water helps boost your metabolism and makes you feel full.
Tea and coffee are also fine as they are both very low in calories (provided you don’t add sugar and cream). Additionally, caffeine consumption has been shown to boost metabolism and help with weight loss slightly.
Eat more protein and fiber
Increasing your protein and fiber intake can help you lose weight. Protein has a higher satiety than carbohydrate and fat, meaning it makes you feel full faster. Numerous studies have been carried out that show how protein benefits weight management.
Firstly, a high protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism and increase calorie expenditure by up to 100 extra calories per day, when compared to a high carbohydrate intake.
This study found that by increasing protein intake to 30% of total calories, 441 fewer calories were consumed per day. This is a large amount and could drastically affect the amount of weight that you lose in 2 months.
Another study showed that a high protein intake significantly reduced obsessive thoughts about food and late night snacking in overweight men. And it also helps reduce the chances of weight gain once weight has been lost.
When you begin to lose weight, you might also lose muscle mass, which is not what you want as it will give you a “skinny-fat” body rather than a lean looking one. Your goal should be to burn off as much fat as possible, whilst retaining muscle. Protein consumption together with weight training can help reduce muscle loss.
Fiber also helps with weight management. Studies such as this one have shown that by making a simple change and increasing fiber intake to more than 30 g per day, you can start to lose weight (provided you remain in a calorie deficit of course). This is easier to follow than much more complex weight loss diets.
There are lots of different foods that are rich in protein and fiber. You should increase your intake of vegetables, lean meat, fish and legumes whilst cutting back on processed carbohydrates like pizza and potato chips.
Below is an example meal plan that is rich in protein and fiber:
Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs and half an avocado – 317 calories
Snack: 5 tablespoons of hummus and carrot sticks – 155 calories
Lunch: chicken breast with one cup of steamed vegetables – 384 calories
Snack: nonfat Greek yogurt with strawberries – 130 calories
Dinner: grilled tilapia with one cup of steamed vegetables – 212 calories
Total – 1,198 calories
(Fun fact: a 14 inch regular crust pizza contains almost double the amount of calories that all of the above foods have, combined!)
Become more active
It may not be possible for everyone to create an adequate calorie deficit by just restricting food intake.
An easier way to create a sufficient net calorie deficit would be to become more active. Exercise requires energy and the more strenuously you exercise, the more calories you burn. Jumping rope burns more calories than running does, which in turn burns more calories than walking. You can use a gadget such as a Fitbit to estimate the number of calories that you burn.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly great. It involves doing short intense bursts of a certain exercise, followed by a longer recovery period. For example you could sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then jog at a relaxing pace for a minute. Repeat this cycle for 15 – 20 minutes. This study found that HIIT helped overweight women burn more fat than regular cardio.
As mentioned above, weight training is also important when it comes to fat loss because it helps retain muscle. Compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts are very effective as they work more than one muscle group at once.
An important thing to note when monitoring progress is to not only rely on a weighing scale. This is because just like fat, muscle contains mass; however it is much more compact. So if you have been working out a lot, it may not seem like you have lost a lot of weight, because you have essentially burnt fat and built muscle. However you will definitely notice the changes when you look in the mirror because you will look much leaner. So keep that in mind!
To successfully lose 20 pounds in 2 months, you will need to stay in a calorie deficit. You can achieve this by eating more nutrient dense foods, cutting out sugary drinks & processed carbohydrates and exercising more.