We’ve become accustomed to instant gratification in many aspects of life. Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, instant results are highly unlikely if not downright impossible. Diet and exercise programs that promise “quick or immediate results” are generally ineffective and risky. So, how much weight is safe to lose in a month? When should you expect to reach your goals?
The Problem with “Fast”
You should approach diet and exercise programs marketed using words like fast, quick, instant, or immediate with caution. You need to understand that diet and exercise aren’t temporary solutions. They should be lifelong habits, and adopting a lifestyle is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. You can’t diet for a month, lose ten pounds, and then go back to what you were doing beforehand. It just doesn’t work that way; you’ll gain the weight back.
The majority of these types of programs will drastically cut carbohydrates, calories, or both in an attempt to get you to lose “weight” fast. The issue with extreme low-carb, low-calorie diets is that the weight you lose is mostly water (and even some muscle). This is why many people fall under the impression that it works; however, you’re not losing fat at all.
Decreasing caloric intake can also put your metabolism at risk if you go to far. When your body believes you are “starving,” it will slow down your metabolism in an attempt to maintain body weight. Furthermore, starvation leads to the breakdown of muscle mass, which in turn reduces your metabolism even more.
Participating in a “quick” program may seem like a good idea, however we strongly recommend against it. Not only is it unhealthy, but it’s also ineffective and unsustainable long term. This means that you’ll be back to where you started relatively soon, and no one wants that!
How Much Weight is Safe to Lose in a Month?
According to the Center for Disease Control, you can safely lose one to two pounds per week, or four to eight pounds per month. While that may not sound like a lot, you must understand that slow and steady weight loss allows your body time to adapt and keep the weight off long-term.
Drastically slashing calories or performing long-duration, high-intensity exercise day-in and day-out will lead to exhaustion and, ultimately, failure.
Determining Factors for Rate of Weight Loss
There are several factors that are responsible for determining how much weight that you can lose in a month. Some of these factors include:
- Your current weight and body fat percentage;
- Exercise frequency, duration, and intensity;
- Average caloric deficit; and
- The amount of sleep you get each night.
Current Weight and Body Fat Percentage
If you’re only ten pounds overweight, the likelihood of losing 8 pounds in a month is extremely low. On the other hand, if you’re 100 pounds overweight, it’s possible you’ll be able to lose even more. That’s because an obese person requires more calories to sustain their weight.
You need to reduce your intake by 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight. If a person eats 4,000 calories a day, reducing this caloric intake by half will allow weight loss of approximately one pound every two days. A safe deficit for a person who usually eats 2,000 daily calories is around 500 calories each day, which means it could take up to one week to reach that 3,500 caloric deficit and lose one pound.
Be realistic with where you’re at. Don’t beat yourself up if you only lose a pound or two; that’s exactly what you want!
Exercise Frequency, Duration and Intensity
The number of days, the length of each workout, and the intensity of your workouts will play a key role in how much weight you can lose in a month. Being able to increase caloric deficit through exercise will help you lose weight faster.
It’s recommended to workout three to five times each week. If you choose high-intensity training, the AHA recommends a minimum of 75 minutes weekly. For low-intensity exercise, you’ll need at least 150 minutes weekly. We also encourage performing total-body strength training a minimum of twice per week.
You may want to consider trying one of these exercise programs:
- 28-Day HIIT Bodyweight Workout Challenge
- 30-Day Walk Off the Pounds Challenge
- 7-Day Intro to Weight Training Fitness Plan
It’s important to note that the same advice applies for “extreme routines” as it does for extreme diets. Going too hard, too fast, will cause you to burn out and may even result in injury. Slow and steady wins the race!
Average Caloric Deficit
While the “right” caloric deficit varies from person to person, we advise that you never eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day (unless under the supervision of a medical professional.) Decreasing caloric intake by too much can negatively affect weight loss, energy levels, and metabolism.
Reduce the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight by just 300 to 500 calories each day, and you will lose weight slowly but steadily. Your chances of keeping the weight off are much greater this way, too!
Use this Calorie Calculator to figure how much you should be eating to lose weight based on your age, height, weight, and activity level.
Check out these healthy & delicious weight loss meal plans:
- The Under 2000 Calorie Meal Plan and Shopping List
- The 30-Day High-Protein Low-Carb Meal Plan with Shopping List
- Lose Weight with Our 1400 Calorie Meal Plan
Amount of Sleep
While this factor doesn’t play as large of a role as the others, it is still worth mentioning. Failing to get sufficient amounts of sleep not only raises cortisol levels (stress hormone) but also leads to unhealthy choices throughout the day. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to eat something you wouldn’t normally eat, or even skip a workout. On the flip side, getting adequate amounts of sleep regularly (seven or more hours) will help you lose more weight!
Some of you may be wondering, “How on earth am I supposed to get seven hours of sleep every night?” Well, ask yourself these questions: How much time do I spend on my phone, laptop, and social media each night? How many hours of TV do I watch daily? Can I give up anything that doesn’t benefit me to get more sleep each night?
Chances are, most of us can at least find a little bit of time to add to our beauty rest!
Slow and Steady Weight Loss is BEST
We’ve become ingrained to believe that immediate results are possible. It’d be awesome if we were capable of shedding ten pounds of fat a month but, for most of us, that’s just not realistic.
Reality isn’t too far off, though. If you work hard and remain consistent, you can shed eight pounds in one month, 16 pounds in two months, 24 pounds in three months, and so on! It might not be immediate, but losing just 8 pounds of fat will cause noticeable changes in your body. Better yet, slow and steady weight loss will greatly increase your chances of lifelong success!