Losing weight takes time, consistency, and patience! Losing it too quickly can actually be a health risk! Learning to have healthy weight loss expectations can shape your weight loss journey in a positive way.
When you’re trying to lose weight, progress can feel slow or even non-existent. Wanting to drop 10-20 pounds in a month WOULD be great, but unfortunately, it’s not ideal. And losing weight too fast is neither good for your body, nor sustainable in the long run! To keep the weight off long-term while still staying healthy, steady, consistent progress should be maintained. But how to do this?
This blog will teach you how to determine what safe amount of weight to lose in a month is, and how you can stay on track with your weight loss journey.
How Much Weight Can You Ideally Lose in a Month?
While the amount of weight you can lose will really depend on the person, commonly, you should expect to lose from 1 to 2 pounds a week, or about 4-8 pounds a month.
Someone with a higher body weight might expect to lose more weight than someone with a higher body weight, but this may not always be the case. Genetics, diet, health conditions, hormones, biological sex, and level of physical activity play into weight loss.
Men Vs. Women
Men typically lose weight faster than women because they have a higher metabolic rate and more lean muscle mass than body fat. This contributes to how many calories they burn, and how much fat they burn per day.
Lean muscle mass and a fast metabolism will burn more calories, so when they start a weight loss diet, they usually drop weight faster because their body is getting less calories than it is used to getting. Men also tend to accumulate visceral fat (in the stomach), which is easier to lose.
Meanwhile, women tend to have high body fat percentages, most of which is subcutaneous fat (in the butt, thighs, and hips), which is harder to burn off.
Hormones & Weight Loss
Because hormones play a large role in weight loss, you can expect your weight to fluctuate when your hormones do. This is why it’s also no surprise a menstrual cycle can cause fluctuations in weight, as can menopause.
Some kinds of estrogen can play a role in your weight, which is why menopausal women tend to gain weight during that time of their life. Having a higher level of testosterone, meanwhile, can help with weight loss.
Weight Fluctuations From Day-to-Day
Weight gain can also be affected by the amount of water and salt in your body. Drinking too much water, not enough water, or loading up on salty foods can cause the scale to tip as much as 4lbs a day.
Eating other foods that don’t agree with you like gluten, processed snacks, fried food, or sugary treats can also cause bloating and weight gain, if even for a short amount of time.
Losing more than 2 pounds a week is not ideal. How much you lose can vary from person to person depending on muscle mass, fat percentage, metabolism, hormones, genetics, and biological sex.
How To Lose Weight in a Healthy Way
Burning more calories than you consume is the best and most straightforward way to lose weight. One pound is equal to about 3,500 calories, which means you would have to eat 500-1,000 calories less per day than that to lose about a pound each week.
As a general rule, you can expect to lose more weight in a month the more you cut back on calories:
- 500 daily calorie deficits: 1 pound per week
- 1,000 daily calorie deficits: 2 pounds per week
- 1,500 daily calorie deficits: 3 pounds per week
- 2,000 daily calorie deficits: 4 pounds per week
But it’s not just about eating less calories (though that’s a big part of it!). Healthy weight loss involves a balanced diet, exercise, and making a few lifestyle choices. Making measurable and obtainable goals for your weight loss will guarantee your success.
Fad diets are not the way to go. When we say you need a healthy diet to lose weight, we mean balanced eating that gives your body what it needs by replacing less-than-good-for-you food with GREAT-for-you-food. Undereating usually leads to a slower metabolism, which does not help with weight loss.
That means getting the right amount of carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, calories, sodium, and other nutrients the body needs. Depriving yourself of food is definitely not a safe way to lose weight.
Having meals prepped and ready will help you cut back on convenience food and can help with proportions. A meal delivery plan will even help you save time with cooking, so you don’t have to worry about portioning or hitting macros.
Eating more whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts, and seeds and less processed foods is the best way to stay healthy while getting the nutrition your body needs.
Replacing refined carbs with complex carbs in general, will help you manage your hunger better while still staying within a healthy calorie thresh hold. Complex carbs keep you fuller for longer, and take longer to digest, which means the body can use them for energy and improve your metabolism.
Here’s a great list of foods high in complex carbs:
· Whole wheat bread
· Whole grain pasta
· Brown rice
· Whole grain oats
Moderate cardio activity includes:
- Water aerobics
- A brisk walk
- Riding a bike
- Doing yard work
Vigorous activity can include:
- Swimming laps in a pool
- Riding a bike on hills
- Playing basketball
Getting more sleep can help with weight loss and in turn, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. When you’re tired, your body generates high levels of a hormone called ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”), and suppresses the hormone leptin which usually causes overeating.
Similarly, stress releases cortisol in the body, which controls how your body uses fat, protein, and carbs for energy. Higher levels of cortisol can give you an appetite and cause you to crave sweets and fatty foods.
Making sure you get enough sleep and finding ways to reduce stress will have a positive impact on your weight loss every month.
The key to healthy weight loss is getting enough exercise and sleep, eating a nutritious diet that keeps you satisfied, reducing stress, and burning more calories than you eat.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Trying To Lose Weight
Weight loss can be challenging, if only because you are your biggest enemy. Focusing only on the scale, or the way your pants fit can make you feel like you’re not moving forward.
Don’t get discouraged! Noticeable weight loss can take a couple of weeks or months (and remember, your weight can fluctuate from day to day!), but as long as you stay on track, you will get results. If the number on the scale isn’t moving, move on to measuring your waist with a tape measure to see more accurate results.
Other ways you can sabotage yourself are:
· Exercising too much or too little
· Choosing packaged food labelled “diet” or “low fat”
· Overestimating how many calories you burn while exercising
· Underestimating how many calories you’re eating every day
· NOT counting your calories or keeping track of what you eat
· Not eating enough protein or fiber
· Snacking when bored
· Eating “empty calories”
· Drinking sugary beverages
· Not reading food labels
If you find yourself hitting a weight loss plateau, you may be underestimating the amount of calories you’re eating, overestimating how many you are burning, or not watching what you eat. Keeping track of these things will help you move forward.
The tried-and-true way to lose weight is to watch what you eat, eat less fast food, work out frequently, do cardio, and choose fresh, whole foods. But most importantly, setting goals you know you can reach will do you good in the long run.
Weight loss is different for everybody and finding a plan that works for you will keep you moving forward.