sustainable weight loss

How Much Weight Should You Lose in One Month?

Whether you want to slim down for spring break or a wedding, want to fit into your old clothes, or think you would be happier and healthier at a lower weight, the desire to lose weight, and fast, is both understandable and common. Though enticing, fad diets guaranteeing immediate results are often only temporary fixes and can prove harmful to your health, especially your metabolism. Plus, studies show those who follow strict diets rebound and regain. (But before you dive into weight loss, there a few things you should think about before you set weight loss goals.)

On the other hand, safe and sustainable weight loss takes lifestyle changes and time. But if you still want to know exactly how much weight is safe to lose in one month, keep reading. 

How much can I lose in one month?

celebrating after weight loss

Weight loss depends on a multitude of factors, such as physical activity level, genetic factors, metabolism, hormones, the foods you eat, your body type, and medications, so everyone loses weight at their own pace. However, a good criterion is aiming to lose one to two pounds per week or four to eight pounds per month. Typically, about five to 10 percent of your body weight. 

Let’s say you want to lose one pound a week, you will need to create a calorie deficit, either through exercise, nutrition, or both, of about 3,500 calories, or 500 calories per day. 

However, week one of your weight-loss may be a bit misleading. Losing a lot of weight in the first week is common. This is because as you lower your caloric intake and begin eating healthier, your glycogen stores drop, and because they are attached to water molecules, you lose water weight with them. Try not to feel discouraged if you initially drop a lot of pounds and then slow down significantly. (If you do get discouraged, read 15 Ways to Stay Motivated in Weight Loss.)

Unless you have just undergone bariatric surgery or are enrolled in a medically-supervised weight-loss program, it is difficult to healthily lose more than 10 pounds per month. If you lose weight too fast your body will resist by slowing your metabolism down, your hormones will shift to increase your cravings and appetite, and you will burn even less fat. These changes could even lead to disordered eating habits. 

Plus, you will probably be losing a certain amount of lean muscle mass in the process of losing weight, especially if you are not working out. Losing too much of this muscle could damage your metabolism. A diet too low in calories could lead to nutritional deficiencies and rapid weight has the potential to lead to gallstones from improper gallbladder functioning. 

Obviously, no drop in a clothing size is worth an avoidable medical condition. As frustrating as it may be, be patient with long-term, sustainable weight loss. (And if you cannot seem to be losing at all, read How to Jump Start Your Weight Loss Efforts.)

Tips to lose weight safely

set yourself up for weight los success

Set yourself up for success

Having realistic goals and expectations is essential to staying motivated in weight loss. On top of having realistic goals, make sure to track them with apps that specialize in fitness and nutrition, like MyFitnessPal. Success will also be more attainable if you schedule time each week to plan your meals and workouts. Also, start with smaller goals, like running on the treadmill for two minutes straight, before training for your first 5K. 

Expect and prepare for setbacks

Progress is not a straight line, there will be moments when you hit a weight-loss plateau or even gain a few pounds, despite all of the hard work you are putting in. However, knowing and accepting that these things happen will help keep you on track. Do not rely simply on the scale to let you know the extent of your progress, notice how your clothes are fitting better or how much heavier you are lifting.

Do not waste your time searching for the magic key

Eating nutrient-dense whole foods, getting quality sleep, exercising regularly, and making time to take care of yourself are all important for weight loss. Do not spend your time searching for fad weight loss tips and tricks because they are likely not sustainable. If you find yourself not losing weight, take a look at your exercise, eating, and lifestyle habits and reach out to a fitness and nutrition expert. (Related: What is Probably Standing Between You and Weight Loss.)

Listen to your body

When you are changing your eating and lifestyle habits, there will be a normal amount of hunger, but you should never feel obsessively hungry. Recognize your hunger cues and honor them with healthier choices, and if you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not really hungry.