How much weight can you lose in a month?
A large number of factors come into play when determining how much weight an individual will lose over a given period of time, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact amount of weight that a person would lose in a month. This number can vary from a few pounds to 10+ pounds, because weight loss is influenced by diet, activity levels, age and starting weight.
However, the CDC recommends that on average, a healthy amount of weight to lose is between 1 and 2 pounds a week, which equates to 4 – 8 pounds in a month.
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than what you burn. This is known as a caloric deficit and forces your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy.
The number of calories that a certain food has depends on what it is made up of. Foods that are mainly made up of water, like most fruits and vegetables, tend to be very low in calories because water has 0 calories. On the other hand, foods that are made up of fat tend to be high in calories because fat has 9 calories per gram.
(It is important to note that just because fat rich foods are high in calories, they should not be avoided when trying to lose weight. Foods such as avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds can be very beneficial for weight loss, if eaten in moderate amounts.)
The number of calories that a person should consume in order to lose weight will depend on their age, gender, weight, height and how active they are. You can use the calculator below to estimate what your calorie intake should be, depending on your goals.
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 lbs, is 5 feet 6 inches tall and exercises 4 times a week would need to consume approximately 2400 calories to maintain her weight, 1900 calories to lose weight and 1400 calories to lose weight at a fast rate.
There are a number of things that you can do to maximize how much weight you lose in a month, listed below.
Monitor calorie intake
A lot of people wouldn’t be able to tell you how many calories they consume and would usually under estimate the number. But as seen above, calories are very important when it comes to weight loss, so it is beneficial to have a general idea of your calorie intake.
Counting calories is straightforward and can either be done manually on a piece of paper or using a calorie counting app such as myfitnesspal.
If you opt to calculate your calorie intake manually, you will need to write down everything that you eat on a given day and then refer to a website such as nutritiondata.self.com to get the calorie information of various foods. An example might be something like the following:
Snack – 1 cereal bar – 139 calories
Snack – 1 pack of tortilla chips – 144 calories
Total: 2312 calories
If you use the app, it will automatically calculate your calorie consumption. Do this for at least 7 days so that you can get an estimate of your daily average calorie intake.
Make healthy food substitutions
Once you know how many calories you are consuming, you can begin making food substitutions in order to reduce your overall calorie intake.
The first thing to do would be to replace processed & refined carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats & fiber. Refined carbohydrates are digested by the body very quickly, resulting in large spikes & dips in blood sugar, which can lead to overeating. They also tend to be more calorie dense than other types of food.
On the other hand, numerous studies have shown that increasing protein intake can be highly beneficial for weight loss because it reduces appetite and boosts metabolism.
For example, this study found that increasing protein intake to 30% of total calories resulted in 441 fewer calories being consumed per day! And another study found that increasing protein intake reduced obsessive thoughts of food and late night desire to eat.
There are many different protein rich foods to choose from, including eggs, fish, meat, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
The next thing to do would be to replace sugary beverages with plain water, coffee & tea. Studies have shown that sugar sweetened beverages are a significant contributor towards weight gain.
When you eat solid food, the act of chewing and the bulk that the food adds to your stomach tells your brain that you should feel full and need to eat less later on. Unfortunately the calories from sugar sweetened beverages are not registered as efficiently, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Fruit juices are OK once in a while because they do provide the body with vitamins & minerals. It would still be better to eat solid fruit instead. However sodas should be avoided completely if possible because they are a source of empty calories, which are those that provide the body with no nutritional value.
Water has 0 calories and can assist with weight loss in a number of ways. If you don’t like the taste of plain water all the time, you can infuse it with fruit to make it taste different. But do make it a point to increase water intake.
Now take a look at the revised meal plan below.
Snack – 1 protein bar – 190 calories
Total: 1820 calories
By making some simple food substitutions, we were able to save around 500 calories! Notice that we didn’t reduce the overall volume of food, we just swapped unhealthy foods for healthier ones.
Once you have your diet sorted, you can tweak your exercise program to create an even greater calorie deficit. In general, the more intensely and longer you workout, the more calories you burn. You should try and include both cardiovascular exercise and weight training in your workout routine.
An effective form of cardiovascular exercise is high intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves doing short intense bursts of a certain activity followed by a longer period of the same activity at a more comfortable pace. For example you could cycle “all out” for 15 seconds and then cycle at a more comfortable pace for 30 seconds. Repeat this process for 15 – 20 minutes. Studies such as this one have shown that HIIT can lead to far more fat loss than ordinary cardio.
Weight training is important too. Which brings about another point: when it comes to weight loss, you shouldn’t only be concerned by the number that you see when you step on the scale but should also pay attention to your overall body composition.
This is because weight training will lead to muscle gain, and just like fat, muscle has mass. However it is much more compact and takes up less room in your body than fat does. So whilst you may not see significant changes on the scale, you will begin to notice them when you look in the mirror. Your clothes will also start to fit looser as you burn fat and build muscle.
If possible, get your body fat percentage and muscle mass measured before you start on your weight loss journey so that you can track how it changes over time. An increase in lean muscle mass is definitely a good sign and shows you are moving in the right direction.
Finally, it is important to get enough high quality sleep because lack of it can negatively impact weight loss.
A healthy amount of weight to lose in a month would be between 4 and 8 pounds. The amount of weight that you actually lose will be influenced by your diet, how often you exercise and your metabolism in general. Keep in mind that weight loss is not a straightforward journey and there will be ups and downs. One week you might lose 2 pounds and the next week only half a pound. Despite this, it is important to be consistent and to persevere.