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How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Month?

Weight Loss

The internet has its fair share of “lose weight quick” schemes. Every new supplement and weight loss program promises something unrealistic: pay us $25, and you’ll lose over 10 pounds in one month. 

The real question is, how realistic is it? How much weight can you actually lose in a month? Experts estimate 4 to 8 pounds, but this isn’t a one-size-fits-all number. 

Read on to learn more about factors contributing to weight loss and how to sustainably lose weight.

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month?

The CDC suggests aiming to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week. That means around 4 to 8 pounds a month. Still, your exact weight loss goals should be catered to your specific BMI, gender, and activity level. 

Losing more than that with the help of an unhealthy weight-loss method is simply not sustainable. Chances are, you’ll bounce back to your starting point very quickly. 

When it is possible to lose over 8 pounds a month with a stricter diet, it comes at a cost. The popular quick weight loss options include fad diets like the detox, ketogenic, and paleolithic diets. Their risks include:

  • Lack of nutrition from removing essential food groups
  • Weight cycling (losing and regaining weight)
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased appetite
  • Slower metabolism

Plus, most of these diets haven’t been properly researched yet. There is not enough science to back up their long-term weight loss results.

Losing weight slowly and steadily is much more likely to produce sustainable results in the long run. Once you’ve achieved your weight goals, you’ll be able to maintain them.

What Happens If You Lose Weight Too Fast?

Losing weight is hard, but it’s only half the battle. The real trouble is maintaining your ideal weight. 

When you lose weight too quickly, there’s a high chance that you’ll regain it in 3 to 5 years. That’s why experts suggest losing weight slowly and steadily. You’re a lot more likely to keep it off in the long-term this way.

Here are some risks associated with rapid, unhealthy weight loss.

Muscle Loss

Losing weight isn’t always the same thing as losing fat. A low-calorie diet may reduce the numbers on your scale, but most of it is muscle and water weight

In a 2016 study, 25 people adopted an extreme diet of only 500 calories daily for 5 weeks. Meanwhile, 22 people adopted a healthy deficit diet of 1,250 calories daily for 12 weeks. While both groups lost the same amount of weight, the first group lost six times more muscle.

Slow Metabolism

Rapid weight loss can also affect the speed of your metabolism. Having a slower metabolism means you’ll burn fewer calories every day. Research suggests that rapid weight loss results in burning 23% fewer calories every day.

That’s mainly because of muscle loss and thyroid hormone imbalance, which regulates metabolism. Even after you stop dieting, it takes quite a while for your metabolism to return to normal.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Low-calorie diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies. That’s because you won’t get enough essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and folate. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to:

  • Hair loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weak and brittle bones
  • Poor immune function

Rich diets with whole, unprocessed foods don’t just prevent nutritional deficiencies but also keep you full for longer.

Gallstones

Gallstones – built-up pieces of material inside your gallbladder – are a painful side effect of rapid weight loss.

A healthy gallbladder releases digestive juices to digest fatty food. If you don’t eat enough, your gallbladder will stop releasing digestive juices. When your gallbladder is inactive, these substances will eventually form into hardened pieces.

Gallstones can cause indigestion and severe pain.

Factors That Contribute to Weight Loss

Despite popular belief, getting on the right diet isn’t a surefire way to lose weight. There are various factors that affect how fast and how much weight you lose.

Gender

According to NIH data, 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women are overweight. A simple fact like that would tell you that men are more likely to gain weight, but it’s more nuanced than that.

While being overweight is more common in men, it’s not the same for obesity. Women are more likely to be obese, including morbidly obese. Around 11.5% of women and 6.9% of men are severely obese. 

Age

Research shows that our body fat increases at a steady rate once we reach 30. That’s also when fat begins moving towards the center of our bodies.

While men typically gain weight until they’re 55, women gain until 65. After that, most people experience weight loss and muscle loss. 

It’s also important to note that people who struggled with obesity as children are more likely to struggle with it in adulthood, too.

Diet

Of course, your diet is a major contributing factor to your weight. High-calorie foods lead to weight gain, but it’s not as simple as that. 

Most people believe that weight loss is a simple math: less calories in, more calories out (burned). Does that mean you can eat 1,000 calories of cake to replace 1,000 calories of vegetables? Will it result in the same weight loss?

Different foods and macronutrients affect our hormones, brains, and appetites in various ways. They’re also metabolized in different ways.

That’s why it’s more important to focus on the amount of nutrients in our diet instead of calories. 

Physical Activity

The CDC considers physical activity a crucial part of your weight loss and weight management journey. But its advantages go beyond just weight loss – a daily brisk walk or casual biking can reduce:

  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis pain
  • Risk for osteoporosis and falls
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Risk for type 2 diabetes

Bottomline

While losing more than 4 to 8 pounds a month is possible, we don’t recommend it. Not only is it unhealthy, but it’s also hard to sustain. Crash dieting doesn’t guarantee long-term weight loss and can slow your metabolism.

Instead, make small and steady changes, like eating mindfully and taking daily walks. Sticking to simple, healthy behaviors ensures weight loss in the long run.

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