How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Month, Safely? The Evidence-Based Answer
Whether you want to slim down to fit into those trusty pair of jeans, or feel good for a big event on the horizon, the desire for rapid weight loss is understandable. After all, dragging your fat loss out longer than necessary doesn't sound like fun for anyone. So it begs the question, 'how much weight can you lose in a month?'.
But that's only part of the dilemma. Because even if you could lose 10kg in a month, like the fad diets promise, it doesn't mean you should. At some point there needs to be a consideration, for when faster and faster weight loss, starts to negatively affect your physical and mental health.
So, in this article, you'll discover how much weight you can lose in a month, without damaging your health. And it might be faster than you think.
And if you want to listen to the audio version, click the play button below:
How Much Of A Deficit Can You Create?
"The amount of weight you can lose is both mathematical and practical"
The popular narrative is that slow and steady wins the race. Gradual and sustainable weight loss is the antidote to the yo-yo dieting hell you've been in for so many years. But, in reality, an aggressive approach is not always a bad thing. In fact, it may lead to greater weight loss, which you can sustain, just as well, than if you'd done it at a snail's pace.
This 2010 study showed greater overall reductions in weight and no significant differences in regain, with a rapid weight loss protocol, compared to slower methods.
But, just like Keto, rapid weight loss isn't for everyone. And it's an approach that might only be applicable to a minority of people. Despite that, it's important to know it's an option for you. And if it works, why not use it?
When it comes to working out how much weight you can lose in a month, you can work it out with basic maths. Because fat loss, is equal parts maths and mental torture. The skill is in finding the balance between in the two.
First, let's look at the deficit.
Eating fewer calories than your body burns is the ONLY way to initiate weight and fat loss. Yes, there are other important things to consider, but if you haven't got off the starting blocks with this most basic of principles, then you can forget the rest. It's like trying to take down the Death Star, when you can't even bullseye a Womp Rat.
How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Month? A Quick Calculation
It takes roughly 7,700 calories to burn 1kg of body fat. So to lose that amount of body fat over 2 weeks, you'd need to maintain a daily calorie deficit of 550 calories. Do that, and it would be fairly logical to assume you'd lose a total of 2kg each month.
And if you wanted to increase your rate of weight loss, you simply need to increase the deficit. Theoretically, if you were able to create a daily deficit of 1100 calories, you'd double your monthly rate of fat loss, achieving 4kg of fat loss in the month.
You see, it's simple maths.
And that simple maths allows you to pick holes in the claims of fad diets. For example, let's assume you see an advert for a new miracle diet claiming you can lose 10kg of body fat in a month. For that to be true, this is what would need to happen.
You would need to create a calorie deficit of 77,000 calories over 4 weeks. That's 19,250 calories a week and 2,750 calories per day. And, for most people, that's literally impossible. Maybe The Mountain from Game Of Thrones could do it, but for the average person, eating nothing for 4 weeks STILL wouldn't create that level of deficit.
So beware of BS, unsubstantiated claims that mean nothing in the real world.
Essentially, your rate of weight loss comes down to the level of calorie deficit you can create, and sustain.
What A 1,000 Calorie Deficit Looks Like After 4 Weeks
Truth is, the bigger you are, the more likely a larger calorie deficit becomes a viable option. After all, if you're a 5'2" woman, working an office job, you'll find it almost impossible to create a big deficit. Sadly, that's just one reason why it's sometimes harder for women to lose weight.
Conversely, an active guy might be able to create a large deficit and utilise a rapid weight loss approach. For example, I achieved 5.5kg weight loss in just 4 weeks with a rapid weight loss experiment, which incorporated a 1,000 calorie deficit per day. Essentially, I was aiming to test how much weight I could lose in a month, without losing muscle or experiencing health implications.
But despite the aggressive calorie deficit, I was still eating around 2,000 calories per day, which is more than a lot of people maintain on. So, once passed the initial hunger issues, the process became straightforward. And by no means impossible.
If you're wondering what a typical day of eating looked like, here's a video covering it all.
However, this approach to dieting is certainly not for everyone and it may very well be completely unhealthy for you.
Can You Meet You Meet Requirements For Health?
"Weight loss becomes unhealthy at the point your nutrition fails to meet minimum requirements"
You can lose weight fast, that's undeniable. But maintaining adequate nutrition is equally, if not more, important.
Protein and fat are essential macronutrients. Without them, you risk multiple health issues, disease, and even death (if you take things far enough). So, if pushing calories very low, impacts your ability to get enough of these calories in your daily diet, then you've just ticked the box of an unhealthy diet. And you need to go back to the drawing board.
In terms of protein, the minimum requirements aren't, "all the proteins", as the jacked dude in the gym might suggest. In actual fact, the minimum requirements are quite low, 0.8g/kg. For a 60kg woman, that's a mere 48g of protein. And for an 80kg guy, it's just 64g per day. You won't build any muscle with that amount, and you're pretty much guaranteed of losing some, but you'll maintain the minimum amount needed for health.
When it comes to fat, the exact amount needed for health isn't as clear cut. But, for the average person, aiming for c.20-25% of total calories is likely to be optimal for health and hormone production. Dip significantly lower on a consistent basis, and you'll risk adverse health complications.
Follow those guidelines and you'll have the basic foundations in place for the maximum amount of weight you can lose in a month to be sustainable.
What About The Micros?
But it's not all about Protein and Fat.
Your primary focus might be to look as lean as possible in your bikini or budgie smugglers, but you need to consider the impact on your health at the same time.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to health. And reducing calories drastically, could cause deficiencies ranging from fatigue to reduced bone density. So it's important to set your calorie target at a level where you can consume adequate nutrients.
Additionally, severe, chronic calorie restriction can cause health implications ranging from amenorrhea and low hormone production.
So ask yourself if these issues worth trading for a little less body fat?
Don't Forget The Mental Struggle Of Dieting
Very low calorie diets aren't easy to stick to. It's the fundamental reason why fad diets are called fads.
In reality, hunger and cravings are an absolute mind-fuck on a diet. With every head turn you're reminded of food. Adverts on your phone, images on the TV, or the whiff of Sandra's homemade lasagne in the office, which she's chosen to combine with a frosted donut for dessert. It feels like the world is conspiring against you.
As you reduce calories your hormones regulating hunger, start to increase. Essentially, your body doesn't want to lose body fat, so it's trying to get you to eat. What a bastard, right?
But this happens regardless of the rate of weight loss. So you need to find that level of deficit, where hunger and cravings aren't the crippling daily issue they could be.
Just because you can lose weight quickly, doesn't mean you should. It might not be appropriate for you physical and mental health.
Are You Lean Already? Consider Muscle Loss
"Racing to Shredsville if you're already lean is a BAD idea"
If you're already lean, then an aggressive calorie deficit is not for you. How much weight you can lose in a month is very different to Joe Public for whom a trip to Shredsville is fantasy talk right now.
Research has shown that energy deficits of up to 40% are perfectly safe, healthy, and don't cause increased muscle loss (provided you are resistance training and consuming adequate protein). You can even push calories below BMR without negative consequences, provided a few factors are considered (which we'll get to in the next section).
However, contemplating a 40% calorie deficit when you're already sub-10% body fat is simply going to result in an increased amount of muscle loss. And I'll hazard a guess, you don't really want that. So a 10-25% calorie deficit is typically a good place to start, so you safely retain muscle.
But once you've decided on where to set your calories, you can use the simple maths calculations from earlier to determine how much weight you can lose in a month.
If you are already very lean, how much weight you can lose in a month is reduced as you should be aiming to maintain the muscle you worked so hard for.
How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Month? Might Not be The Right Question
"Is losing a shit load of weight in a month really what you need?"
While you might want to know the upper limit of how much weight you can lose in a month, this might simply be the last thing you need.
If you've been down the fad diet, yo-yo dieting route before, then more sustainable lifestyle changes should be the order of the day. Focusing on your relationship with food, detaching your self-worth from the number of the scale, and building lifelong habits will serve you far better.
You might have even been down the road of an eating disorder. In which case, seeing how much weight you can lose in a month, is the wrong approach.
While fat loss is maths, it's never as simple as that. You are a human being with thoughts, feelings, and emotions that need to be considered. If it was as easy as, 'move more and eat less', then weight loss would be a breeze. But, in reality, it's less a breeze and more a fucking hurricane.
So understand that your current situation and dieting history may override what's technically possible. Just because someone you has lost 1kg a week, it doesn't mean you have to. And it certainly doesn't mean you're a failure if you don't.
Even though, the holiday, wedding, or other big event is looming large, think about what sets you up for long-term success, not short-term gratification. Otherwise, you'll be back to square one in no time at all.
How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Month? The Bottom Line
How much weight can you lose in a month, without damaging your health? Ultimately, it depends on the energy deficit you can create and sustain, while maintaining adequate nutrition to meet all minimum health requirements, while retaining your sanity.
Losing up to 0.5kg a week is a common weight loss target to expect each week. So, 2kg a month would represent very good progress.
But you could go faster, if your circumstances allow. As my N=1 example showed, 5.5kg in 4 weeks is entirely possible. However, these a few key considerations to be aware of.
Firstly, your weight loss, especially in the initial stages, won't all be fat. Glycogen and water depletion will account for a large percentage of the weight you lose. So don't expect weight loss to continue at this rate.
Also, weight loss isn't simply a mathematical equation. Understand that you need to maintain adequate nutrition for health. And NEVER ignore the psychological impact of dieting, and how you are personally affected by it.
How much weight can you lose in a month? Answer... It depends. But hey, any progress is good progress, right?
Your Next Step To Mastering Nutrition And Shaping A Leaner, Healthier, Stronger Body
Here’s what to do next to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body. Simply click the link below and I’ll send you my Lean Life Kickstarter Pack. In it you’ll find a free 4 week beginner’s training programme (complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker), a guide on calculating your calories, plus so much more.
So if you want it, grab it here.
But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.