How much weight can you lose in 6 months?
6 months is enough time for you to be able to see significant changes in your weight. Over this period you can expect to healthily lose anywhere from 15 to 60 pounds (7 to 27 kg). It is impossible to pinpoint the exact amount of weight you will lose because there are a lot of different factors that come into play.
The most important factor is your diet. The type and quantity of food that you eat can be the difference between massive success and failure. The easiest way to think weight loss is as a basic mathematical equation: calories in – calories out.
You introduce calories into your body via food and use them up naturally during the day and when you exercise.
The number of calories in different foods varies. For example, 100 g of spinach, which is made up of more than 90% water has only 23 calories. This is because water has 0 calories. On the other hand, 100 g of almonds has 570 calories. This is because almonds contain a lot of fat, which has 9 calories per gram.
In order to lose weight, you need to stay in a calorie deficit. Doing so forces your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy.
The average adult requires around 2,000 calories in order to maintain their current weight. You can use the calculator below to determine roughly how many calories you should be eating to lose weight:
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 40 year old lady who weighs 170 pounds, is 5.5 feet tall and exercises 4 times a week will need to consume approximately 2300 calories to maintain her current weight, 1800 calories to lose weight, and 1350 calories to lose weight fast.
It is not recommended that consume less than 1000 – 1200 calories, depending on your body type and gender. If you wish to do so, make sure you speak to a qualified medical professional beforehand.
Controlling the number of calories that you consume can be difficult when starting out, so it is highly recommended that you keep a food log to monitor everything that you eat. This will help you decide if you are staying in a calorie deficit or not.
You can use an app like myfitnesspal to determine how many calories you are consuming daily, by entering all of the foods that you eat into it and then adding up all the calories. Most store bought foods also have nutritional labels on them indicating the number of calories in a given food.
Reducing the number of calories that you consume is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are some ways to make it easier:
Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks
Drinks such as sodas and fruit juices are packed full of calories & sugar, and are one of the primary causes of weight gain. A can of cola contains around 140 calories and 30 g of sugar whereas a cup of orange juice contains 110 calories and 20 g of sugar. Water has 0 calories and 0 g of sugar.
Unlike solid food, sugary drinks don’t make you feel full and this leads to over consumption of calories. This study found that the consumption of liquid carbohydrate (soda) leads to an increase in total calories consumed, when compared to solid carbohydrate.
Sugary drinks also cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, which affects insulin release. When your blood sugar falls you are left feeling hungry, causing you to overeat.
Minimizing or completely eliminating sugary drinks and switching to plain water will help you lose more weight. For example, if you have a can of soda with lunch and dinner everyday, over a 6 month period that would equate to more than 50,000 “empty” calories being consumed. That is equal to a lot of excess fat storage!
Drinking plain water means you don’t consume those extra empty calories. In fact, numerous studies have shown that drinking plain water can help you lose weight.
Homemade fruit juice does provide you with vitamins and minerals, but you are better off eating solid fruit instead. Doing so involves chewing and this combined with the fiber that solid fruit contains will help your stomach tell your brain when it is full. It is recommended that you have 1.5 – 2 cups of fruit per day.
It is fine to drink tea and coffee as these contain almost no calories (provided they don’t have a lot of added sugar or cream). Caffeine consumption has been shown to help boost metabolism and could assist with weight loss.
Eat more protein and fiber
Upping your intake of both protein and fiber can help you lose weight.
Protein increases satiety and reduces the total number of calories that you ingest. For example, this study found that increasing protein intake to 30% of total calories lead to 441 fewer calories being consumed per day. Over 6 months that would add up to a lot fewer calories being consumed.
This study found that overweight / obese people on a high protein diet had a lower late-night desire to eat and fewer obsessive thoughts about food. Eating a high protein breakfast is a good option – this study also found that it significantly reduced food cravings.
And this study found that higher protein consumption can help prevent weight gain after weight has been lost.
Fiber also increases satiety and can assist with weight management. Studies such as this one have found that increasing fiber intake makes it easier for people to lose weight.
Over the next six months you should increase your intake of vegetables, fish, lean meat, nuts, seeds and legumes whilst cutting back or eliminating processed carbohydrate rich foods such as pizza and potato chips.
The more active you are, the more calories you burn. A person who exercises strenuously 5 times a week will burn far more calories than a person who does no exercise at all.
The type of activity that you engage in also determines how many calories you use up. Running requires more energy than walking does. And jumping rope requires even more.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a particularly effective way of boosting your metabolism and increasing calorie expenditure. It involves short bursts of intense activity followed a longer recovery period. For example, you could sprint for 30 seconds as fast as you can and then jog at a comfortable pace for a minute. Repeat this cycle for 15 – 20 minutes.
If you don’t exercise already, start off slowly and as your stamina and endurance go up, begin to increase the intensity at which you workout. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise that makes you sweat, at least 4 times a week.
Getting adequate rest after intense exercise is also very important, as this is when your body heals itself. Chronic tiredness can negatively impact how much weight you lose.
One thing to finally note is that exercise, especially weight training, builds muscle. And just like fat, muscle has mass. So you may feel discouraged when you look at the weighing scale, thinking that you have not lost as much weight as you had hoped to lose.
But what has essentially happened is you have burnt off excess fat and built muscle. The same weight of muscle is much more compact than fat, so whilst you may not see the changes on the scale, you will definitely see them in the mirror.
Body type, age and gender
Your current weight, height, age and gender also affect how many calories you use up.
People who are obese generally start off losing weight at a faster rate than those who are only slightly overweight. This is because if both follow the same diet plan, the obese person will have a larger calorie deficit. Over time, the rate at which you lose weight might slow down and you will need to reassess how many calories you should be consuming.
Your age is also a deterministic factor. The older you get, the more muscle you lose and the slower your metabolism becomes. This means you use up fewer calories on a daily basis. Also, men tend to be more muscular than women, so they burn slightly more calories.
Over 6 months, you can expect to healthily lose anywhere from 15 to 60 pounds. What you eat and how active you are will determine how much weight you end up losing.