How Much Weight Can You Safely Lose in a Month?
Rachel MacPherson is a freelance writer and content creator, as well as a certified personal trainer.
Byrdie's Editorial Guidelines
Updated on Oct 20, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN
Medically reviewed by Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN
Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. is a nationally recognized nutrition expert, holistic cannabis practitioner, and best-selling author.
ABOUT BYRDIE'S BEAUTY & WELLNESS BOARD
Fact checked by
Fact checked by Karli Bendlin
Karli is a senior editor at Byrdie. Before joining the brand, she held roles on the editorial teams of PeopleStyle, Allure, and Furthermore, Equinoxs digital magazine, writing about beauty, wellness, and pop culture.
LEARN ABOUT BYRDIE'S EDITORIAL GUIDELINES
Stocksy / Unsplash
Weight loss is a goal for many people, but there is a right way to go about it. Weight loss that is too fast or extreme can do more harm than good, both physically and mentally. Safe and sustainable weight loss goes hand-in-hand with an overall healthy lifestyle that focuses on good nutrition and plenty of activity.
The amount of weight you can safely lose in a month is unique to you. "Like most things when it comes to weight loss, the answer here is contextual and depends on the individual person. However, there are some good rules and rough guidelines we can tell people," says Brad Dieter, Ph.D., a NASM-certified nutrition coach.
To learn more about how much weight you can safely and healthily lose in a month, we asked Dieter and New York City-based dietitian Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, to weigh in. Read on for what they had to say.
Meet the Expert
Why You Should Avoid Dieting
The first thought that typically comes to mind when weight loss is the goal is dieting. However, dieting, as it's usually done, should be avoided. Why? They aren't sustainable, and they set you up for the wrong mindset around food and weight.
"Diets tend to be quick fixes that people go on when they want to see weight loss quickly. However, they tend to be extreme and restrictive. Although results are often accomplished, they rarely last because the practices aren't sustainable," explains Amy Shapiro, registered dietician behind Real Nutrition in New York City.
If you base all of your hopes on a diet that isn't sustainable, you are setting yourself up for unhealthy thought patterns around food and your abilities. "Not being able to accomplish your goals or maintain them leads to self-doubt and negative self-talk. When you stop following the diet, you tend to gain the weight back and start looking for another diet to follow. The cycle repeats itself and can last for years or even a lifetime," says Shapiro.
How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way
Ideally, you want to create and practice a lifestyle that benefits your whole health, not just as a weight-loss tactic. "The idea is to implement strategies that you can maintain long-term, where you eat really well most of the time and leave room for the occasional indulgence. The end goal is weight loss and overall better health. While you might not get there quickly, you will get there steadily," says Shapiro. Here are some of her tips for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
How Much Weight Can You Healthily Lose in a Month?
The amount of weight you can lose in a month differs for everyone, based on age, current diet and lifestyle, hormones, metabolism, and more."However, oftentimes when making a dietary change, the first few weeks have quicker results, and I have seen anything from seven to 12 pounds and following weeks continue at a slower but consistent clip of about one to two pounds per week," says Shapiro.
Where Are You Starting From?
Another factor is where you are starting from. "Generally speaking, the more weight someone has to lose, the more they can lose in a given month. So, for example, if someone has 200 pounds to lose, they can healthily lose more weight in a given month than someone who has 20 pounds to lose," explains Dieter.
Most guidelines recommend a weight loss of between 0.5 to 2.0 pounds or 1 to 2 percent of total bodyweight per week. "As such, individuals with higher body weight or with higher body fat can lose closer to 2 percent of their body weight, whereas people with less body fat can lose closer to 1 percent of their total body weight," says Dieter.
The longer your time frame in which youre looking to lose weight can affect how much weight you should lose in a given month. "Generally speaking, the longer the time frame, the less you should aim to lose per month," recommends Dieter.
If you plan on losing weight over a long period, it's wise to go slowly. Dieter explains: "Individuals who plan on dieting or engaging in weight loss, for an extended period of time, say six months, should aim for more conservative numbers. Ideal targets for people with a longer-term dieting need should aim for approximately 0.5 to 1 percent per pound of body weight per week. Shorter dieting cycles can average closer to 1 to 1.5 percent per pound of body weight per week."
If you have a lot of weight to lose or are unsure how to tackle your weight loss, speak to a health care provider who can help. You may be referred to a dietician or nutrition expert who can provide you with guidelines that suit your current needs and lifestyle.
Beyond the Scale
And it's vital to keep in mind that weight loss is not linear, meaning plateaus are an expected and normal part of the process. "Some weeks you'll remain the same; however, many of my clients feel like they continue to lose weight even if the scale doesn't move weekly since they are not bloated, seem to "de-puff," and feel energetic.After a few months, their skin even starts to glow!" says Shapiro.
If you have a lot of weight to lose and are transitioning from a diet rich in processed and fast foods, you'll likely see a huge drop in weight from the beginning."However, over time, your body will get used to your new diet, and your weight loss will slow down.This is where you need to continue on your nutrition journey and not get discouraged."
Although the weight loss will slow, you'll still be moving towards a healthier lifestyle."Additionally, this is where continued healthy habits come in, including increasing sleep, meditation, reducing stress, drinking adequate water, and moving your body in ways that you love," adds Shapiro.
A Word From Byrdie
Weight loss is very personal, and it isn't an appropriate goal for everyone. However, if you want to lose weight, remember that the process should be intricately tied to improving your overall health. Never sacrifice your health for weight loss, as this can lead to unhealthy relationships with food, exercise, and your body. Instead, slow and steady weight loss is more attainable and sustainable. Remember that weight loss is not a race and that stops and starts are a normal part of the process. Being kind, gentle, and patient with yourself is vital to healthy weight loss.
You Can't Choose Where on Your Body You Want to Lose WeightBut Here's What You Can Do Instead
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.