How to lose weight in a month
Weight loss can be summed up by a short and simple equation: calories in – calories out. The first number represents the energy that you introduce into your body via the food that you eat. The second number represents the energy that you naturally burn throughout the day, and when you exercise.
The result of this equation will determine whether you lose, maintain or gain weight. If the result is a negative number, it means you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning and your body will be forced to use its fat stores as fuel. This is what you should aim for; remaining in a caloric deficit will lead to weight loss over time.
Calorie requirements are dependent on age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals. Because there are so many factors that come into play, the calorie requirements for two people can be quite different.
You can use the tool below to calculate a fairly accurate estimate of your calorie requirements.
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 30 year old lady who weighs 75 kg (165 lb), is 165 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week will need to consume approximately 2300 calories to maintain her weight, 1800 calories to lose weight and 1400 calories to lose weight fast.
Whilst cutting calories is necessary for weight loss, it is important not to consume too few calories. Doing so can have negative consequences on your health and may slow down your metabolism, thereby making it more difficult to lose weight. Aim to eat 1200 calories per day at minimum; if you want to eat fewer calories than this, consult with your doctor before doing so.
Make changes to what you eat
Once you know your calorie requirements, you should also get a rough idea of how many calories you consume per day on average. You can do this using an app like myfitnesspal (which automatically calculates calorie intake for you) or using a pen and paper.
If you choose the second option, you will need to write down everything that you eat on a typical day and then refer to a website like nutritiondata.self.com to obtain the nutritional information of various foods.
Below is an example of what this would look like.
Snack – 1 milk chocolate bar – 235 calories
Snack – 1 pack of potato chips – 150 calories
Total: 3108 calories
After you have done this, you can determine whether you are consuming too many calories.
If an individual is consuming 3000 calories on average per day, but needs to consume 1800 calories to start losing weight, he or she will need to make changes to the foods that he or she eats.
Reducing calorie intake does not have to be a difficult or complex process. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to achieve this.
Vegetables should be a large part of your diet
Most vegetables contain a lot of water and are therefore incredibly low in calories. Consider a cup of shredded cabbage and a medium sized carrot. The former has 17 calories and the latter has 25. For this reason, you can eat large amounts of vegetables and not have to worry too much about going overboard on calories.
Vegetables are also a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber cannot be digested by the body, so when you eat it, it forms a thick gel that adds bulk to your stomach. This helps to fill you up and also slows down the release of food from your stomach. As a result you feel satisfied faster and are less likely to overeat.
Another reason to eat vegetables is because they contain a lots of nutrients & antioxidants, some of which are vital for bodily processes. Vegetables reduce your risk of becoming deficient in a number of vitamins & minerals.
Aim to eat a variety of vegetables and get at least 3 servings a day. These should include leafy greens like Swiss chard, root vegetables like beets and fruit vegetables like tomatoes. You can use vegetables in soups, salads, smoothies and in many delicious recipes.
Fruits can satisfy a sweet tooth
Just like vegetables, most fruits are fairly low in calories but high in nutrients. Some are extremely sweet and can help to satisfy a sweet tooth if you have one. Instead of eating a bar of milk chocolate, which has 235 calories, you could have a cup of mango, which has 99 calories.
Dried fruits like dates, raisins and prunes have much more sugar and are higher in calories than fleshy fruit, but this does not mean they cannot be enjoyed. So long as you control your portion sizes and don’t overindulge, they are perfectly fine.
2 – 3 servings of fruit per day would be ideal. You can eat them on their own, add them to oatmeal or yogurt and also use them in smoothies.
Protein is very filling
Increasing protein intake is highly effective when it comes to losing weight. To begin with, protein has a strong influence on hunger hormones and has a high satiety. It also boosts metabolism and increases energy expenditure. This means that it has a beneficial effect on both sides of the calories in – calories out equation.
A large number of studies have investigated how protein consumption affects weight. Most have shown that it can greatly benefit weight loss efforts.
This study found that an increase in protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories resulted in a decrease of 441 calories being consumed per day. Another study showed that protein consumption can help to reduce obsessive thoughts about food.
Eating protein at breakfast time may help to regulate appetite hormones and allow you to reduce the amount of food you eat later on in the day.
There are many protein rich foods to choose from including eggs, fish, beans, lentils, meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, whey protein and even some vegetables. Having 25% – 30% of your calories come from protein seems to be the sweet spot, so try aim for this. Protein has 4 calories per gram; on an 1800 calorie diet, that would mean consuming 112 – 135 grams of protein per day.
Eat the right type of fat and carbs
It is a common misconception that eating fat is what makes you fat. This is not true. Eating more calories than you burn is what makes you fat, and these calories can come from fat, carbs or protein.
Not all types of fat are the same however. The fat rich foods that you should aim to eat are those that have undergone very little processing. These includes foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olives and fatty fish.
The fat that you want to avoid as much as possible is the kind found in highly processed foods like cookies, cakes and pastries. Also, instead of cooking with vegetable oil, cook with coconut oil; studies have shown that it can help you to burn fat.
Studies have also shown that low carb diets are very effective when trying to lose weight. Keep in mind that low carb does not mean no carb.
The same rules that apply to fat apply to carbs. You should aim to eat carbs found in foods that are also close to their natural state as possible. Examples include vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. These foods contain large amounts of fiber and are a source of complex carbs, which provide a slow and steady release of energy.
High fat junk foods like cookies and cakes tend to also be high in processed carbs and contain extremely large amounts of refined sugar, which is another reason to avoid them. When you eat these foods, they provide a large burst of energy, cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and then cause you to ‘crash’, leaving you hungry and irritable.
Carb requirements vary greatly from person to person and depend on age, activity levels and metabolism to name a few factors. As a general guideline, aim to eat 50 – 150 g of carbs per day.
Pay attention to your food
Eating mindfully means paying close attention to your food and taking notice of each bite.
When people eat these days, they are often distracted by their TV or mobile phone and they give very little attention to what is going into their mouth, which leads to overeating.
Start making it a habit of noticing what is going into your mouth. After each bite, put your fork down and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing it. Listen to your stomach and let it tell you whether you have eaten enough or not, before taking the next bite.
Doing this can help to drastically reduce the amount of food that you eat, without going hungry.
Drink plenty of water
Water does not have any calories, which makes it the perfect beverage for weight loss. Studies have shown that adequate water consumption can reduce appetite and boost metabolism slightly. This in turn helps you to lose weight.
In this study, participants were split into two groups, both of whom followed a calorie deficit diet. One group also drank 500 ml of water before each meal. After 12 weeks, the water drinking group lost an average of 2 kg more.
A lot of people are chronically dehydrated but mistake thirst for hunger and reach out for food instead of water. The next time you feel like eating, drink a glass of water and then decide whether you really need to eat or not.
The beverages that you should reduce your intake of are those that have been sweetened with sugar, because these have been strongly linked to weight gain. Soda is a huge culprit and is definitely a no-no, but unfortunately you may also have to drink fruit juice only occasionally.
When you eat solid food, the act of chewing and the bulk that the food adds to your stomach tells your brain that you have eaten and should therefore feel less hungry. Unfortunately this process doesn’t happen as efficiently when you drink sugary beverages and all of the calories they contain are not registered. As a result, you are likely to end up consuming more calories than you should later on.
Alcohol consumption should also be limited. Having an alcoholic beverage every now and then is fine, but regular heavy drinking brings no benefits to your overall health or your waistline.
Try and drink a glass of water 15 – 30 minutes before each meal and also drink plenty of water throughout the day. You can also drink sugar free coffee and tea occasionally.
Now that you have a better idea about the types of foods that you should be eating, here is a revised version of the meal plan that we saw above.
Snack – 1/2 an avocado – 161 calories
Total: 1726 calories
By eating whole natural foods, more protein and eliminating sugary beverages, we have reduced our intake by over 1300 calories! Do the same for your own meal plan, you will be surprised at just how many calories you can save.
Exercise more often if you don’t already
The more active you are, the more calories you burn. An individual who goes to the gym 5 times a week will burn far more calories than someone who leads a sedentary lifestyle.
If you don’t exercise already, start out slowly by taking a short walk at a comfortable pace a few times a week. You can then gradually begin to increase the intensity.
If you do already exercise and lead a fairly active lifestyle, consider high intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves doing short intense bursts of a certain activity followed by longer periods of the same activity at a more comfortable pace.
For example, you could sprint all out for 20 seconds and then jog for 40 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 15 – 20 minutes. Studies have found that HIIT is an effective method for burning body fat. You can practice HIIT with any activity that you enjoy, including swimming, cycling, rowing or jumping rope.
HIIT does put strain on your body, so ease into it slowly and check with your doctor that you are fit enough before doing so.
Together with cardiovascular exercise, weight training is important too because it allows you to retain muscle mass. This is crucial – you want to lose fat but not muscle. When you are in a calorie deficit, your body will burn some muscle tissue for energy; training with weights and eating sufficient amounts of protein will help to minimize this.
One final thing to keep in mind is to not just rely on a weighing scale when monitoring progress, especially if you train with weights. This is because ordinary weighing scales cannot distinguish between fat and muscle. But just like fat, muscle has mass. It is more compact however, so takes up less space in your body.
If you feel like you are losing inches but not weight, don’t worry. All this means is that you have burnt fat and built muscle. Together with a weighing scale, measure your body fat percentage at regular intervals – this will allow you to track fat and weight loss more accurately.
Lastly, make sure you get enough sleep because lack of it can negatively impact weight loss.
To lose weight in a month, you will need to remain in a calorie deficit. A combination of a healthy nutritious diet and exercise will help you to achieve this.