December 11, 2021
Are you looking to lose 20 pounds in a month? And is there a specific reason you want to lose weight that fast? Losing this much weight in 30 days can be a major challenge, but it IS possible!
You can lose 20 pounds in a month, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s not the healthiest timeline to lose weight (for most people). Moreover, it may not be the best bet in the long run in terms of keeping the weight off.
If you do a strict diet and workout plan that allows you to lose 20lbs in a month, you may end up feeling way too hungry and exhausted. In that case, it's better that you lose the weight a little slower and work on building a strong metabolism.
Ideally, you want to lose fat without losing (much) muscle. That way your body becomes a calorie burning machine. Simply doing some fad diet, like no carbs for a whole month (and not working out), won't work for the long haul. You might lose weight initially, but it’s not sustainable and it's easy to gain back once you start eating normally again.
On the flip side, you may be able to lose 20lbs in a month, and feel perfectly fine or even great, and then even lose another 20lbs the following month.
Everyone is different.
So, to answer the question, is it possible to lose 20lbs in a month? Yes, for some people it is. Moreover, it can be done without a fad diet. It really just comes down to some simple math, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
In this post, we are going to teach you how to lose 20 pounds in a month, as well as how to keep it off.
Losing weight is science, calories in vs calories out. The same is true for building muscle.
If you want to lose 20lbs in a month, that's 5 pounds per week.
To lose 5 pounds per week, you need to be at a deficit of around 17,500 calories per week.
For reference, a pound of body fat is around 3,500 calories.
So, to break this down further...
A 17,500 calorie deficit per week is a deficit of 2,500 calories per day.
That's A LOT. Most people simply can't manage this. Maybe you can for several weeks with some serious determination. But if you feel really tired and weak doing it, it's not worth it. Try to find what is manageable for you. It may be a 500 calorie deficit per day (which would be 1 pound per week) or 1,000 calorie deficit per day (which would be 2 pounds per week) and so on. That said, if you can handle it, by all means.
The point is, it is possible to lose 20lbs a week, while still eating and exercising, and many people have done it.
But here's the thing, you'd need to be an overweight individual for this to make sense.
For example, if you are already a pretty healthy weight, and your maintenance level is 2,500 calories per day, that means you'd need to eat next to nothing every day. Not going to happen for a month, let alone a week.
Now, let's say you are overweight or obese, and your maintenance level is much higher, i.e. around 3,500, then you could manage a 2,500 calorie deficit. Would you feel good? Probably not, but it's possible and you surely will not die (pending you have no health conditions such as diabetes).
Note: Your maintenance level will become less as you weigh less, so to continue this deficit of 2,500 per day would become increasingly more difficult.
The good thing about working out is, your maintenance level increases because you are burning more calories. Thus, you'll be able to eat more, which is nice, mentally speaking. Plus, it's going to benefit you physically as well (i.e. maintaining muscle mass).
All in all, it's going to depend on the individual. It is possible, but it may not be possible for you. If you feel healthy enough to try it, then go ahead, and if you feel bad doing it, just take things slower.
Of course, if you have any concern, we highly recommend consulting a doctor.
This is a far better question to ask. While losing 20 pounds in a month is possible, losing weight too quickly often comes with a metabolism that slows down, increased cravings, and risks that include muscle loss, gallstones, increased (or decreased) hormones, and nutritional deficiencies.
It’s much healthier to lose weight at a sustainable, slow rate. This can vary depending on various factors such as weight, age, gender, and physical activity. But on average losing 1 to 2 pounds per week (500-1,000 calorie deficit) is a good rule of thumb. This gradual weight loss allows you to eliminate health issues and to keep it off for the long haul. It’s more about changing your lifestyle than it is about dieting.
Some things to note before we start:
If you are happy with your weight after the 20lb decrease, and you want to maintain that weight, you have to slowly increase your calorie intake to your maintenance level (which means eating as many calories as you burn each day) and then maintain that caloric intake to keep the weight off. For example, you'd want to take about a week or so to work back up to your maintenance level. i.e., day 1 to 2 -300 calories, day 2 to 4 -200 calories, day 4 to 6 -100 calories, day 7 finally at maintenance.
If you want to continue to lose weight, after this initial 20lbs, we recommend that you take things slower moving forward, but if you feel good, you can keep on going with your current calorie deficit.
If you are happy with the 20lb weight loss and now want to start packing on muscle, slowly work your way up to maintenance, then stay at maintenance for a week or so to let your body adjust further, then slowly increase the calories above your maintenance each week, incrementally, eventually aiming for a stable 200-500 calorie surplus per day to build muscle without (much) fat. Do this slowly so you don't negatively shock your body and gain the fat right back.
So, slow and steady wins the race. Think about your metabolism like a fire, you need to stoke the fire lightly to get it going. And even when it's going, if you throw too much on at once, it'll go out, and if you don't put anything on it, it will also go out!
Now, we are going to get into the exercising, dieting and overall tips for losing weight, whether its 20lbs, 15lbs, 10lbs or 5lbs per month.
1. Reduce Calories
We've already went over this. It's the most basic principle of losing weight - Eat at a calorie deficit.
To understand calories a little better, our bodies need a certain amount of them to function properly. They help with cell production, pumping blood through your body, maintaining body temperature, breathing, and more. Eating too many calories will cause you to gain weight. And everyone is different based on our metabolism, age, and activity level.
You’ll need to determine how many calories that your body needs so that you can figure out how many calories you need and burn. We will teach you how to calculate this shortly.
While counting calories isn’t fun, it is, however, one of the most effective ways to lose weight fast. And if you took time to count your current daily calories, you’d be shocked at just how many calories you are taking in on a daily basis.
Again, the goal is to use more calories than you take in. This can be achieved in two different ways - reducing your intake or by increasing physical activity...or both, which will actually allow you to eat a little more.
2. Eliminate Foods
Eliminating foods that are high in carbs, sugar, and overly processed will help you to quickly lose weight. You’ll find that within just a few days of eliminating these types of foods that you’re not as bloated as you were, have fewer cravings, and feel fuller. This not only helps you to feel better, but it also reduces the amount of calories your eating.
Refined carbs offer no nutritional value and lack much-needed fiber content. They serve no value to your health and actually make you feel hungry. This is due to the high glycemic index. High glycemic foods are digested and absorbed quickly which is why you feel hungry shortly after eating.
You can begin by swapping out refined grains such as pasta, white breads, cereals, and pre-packaged products for healthier alternatives. You can choose alternatives such as couscous, quinoa, brown rice, or barley.
We will provide you with some of the most nutrient dense foods later so you can get the nutrition you need without all the calories.
3. Increase Water Intake
Water is essential, and often forgotten about. Many people struggle with their energy, performance, and fat loss because they are not drinking enough water.
Drinking water does many things for our overall health and weight loss efforts - including helping to keep you feeling full and curving your appetite. Drinking an adequate amount of water will actually help you to burn more calories. This is called resting energy expenditure, and its a simple way to increase your weight loss efforts.
For maximum results, you should drink at least 34–68 fluid ounces of water.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an effective way to not only lose weight but also visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat that we cannot see, because it’s deep inside your body wrapping around the abdominal organs.
By fasting a specific amount of time, and eating within the allocated time frame you’ll consume fewer calories and it will even boost your metabolism. This aides in eliminating the need to count calories. However, fasting alone isn’t going to provide you with the results you’re hoping for.
The most common intermittent fasting window is 16:8. This simply means that you’ll fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour time frame. In your eating window, you should focus on eating whole foods, foods high in fiber, and staying hydrated throughout the day for it to be more effective.
Protein is an important nutrient that significantly helps to improve body composition and weight loss progress, making it an excellent way to break your fast. You can choose a high-protein meal or a protein shake.
5. Increase Protein Intake
Protein-rich food is an essential part of any diet and a great way to lose weight. It is known to decrease belly fat, preserve your metabolism and maintain muscle mass.
But that’s not all it can do.
Protein reduces your appetite, which decreases the amount of calories you take in.
You should aim to eat around .8-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight, if you calorie deficit can allow for it. A high protein diet on a fat loss journey is best.
6. Eat More Fiber
Fiber serves many purposes when trying to lose weight - it keeps you feeling full, reduces calorie intake by moving undigested food slowly through your gastrointestinal tract and improves your overall health.
Some high fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. And by simply increasing your daily intake of fiber to a minimum of 14 grams per day, you can you will boost your weight loss.
Note: Fiber is not used for energy or stored in the body, so the calories of fiber don't count to your total daily calorie intake.
No matter how much weight you want to lose, adding some type of exercise routine is a must - whether it’s cardio, weight lifting, HIIT, CrossFit or any other exercise. Physical activity increases your heart rate, burns more calories, effectively amp up your weight loss efforts, and helps you to feel more satisfied and full after a meal.
With just 20 - 40 minutes of cardio a day five times a week, you can dramatically boost your weight loss. This can be as simple as walking or running. Jumping rope, rowing and boxing are very rewarding cardio workouts that can amp up weight loss as well.
Resistance training and HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises are excellent ways to increase fat burning and metabolism to aid in burning more calories when exercising and at rest. The ability to burn calories throughout the day while at rest is what makes these workouts even better.
The best part is, you can eat a little more because of your workouts. For example, if you want to eat at a deficit of 1,000 calories per day, and your workout burns 500 calories, you can tact on an additional 500 calories of eating than what you would without the workout. This is great for your metabolism and sanity!
Losing weight takes planning, forgiveness and dedication. And with all of the different fad diets, and dieting advice it’s hard to know what is true, what works and what is safe. It’s definitely overwhelming searching for solid advice on the internet when it comes to losing weight and being healthy. But there are three things that will always remain the same when it comes to maintaining a healthy life and obtaining your weight loss goals - diet, exercise, and sleep. It has been proven again and again that each of these serves an important role together to improving both your physical and mental health.
When eating the right combination of foods it will help combat fatigue, improve all functions including digesting foods, maintain a healthy immune system and repair the body naturally. And believe it or not food is essential for losing weight, so you can stop starving yourself and start eating the right foods that fill you up, keep your metabolism working and curve cravings.
Eating a healthy diet will drastically change your life, your dieting efforts and your weight.
Choosing to eat whole, nutritious foods will keep your metabolism running throughout the day, which helps your body to burn fat. And you’ll find that you're hungry less often when eating clean, healthy foods.
In the diet section below, we will go over how to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) so you know how many calories you should eat based on your weight loss goal, as well as a sample diet plan and the most nutritious foods to eat.
Exercise, whether it’s walking, swimming, riding a bike or yoga, multiples your results when it comes to losing weight and getting healthy. With just 20 to 40 minutes of moving your body a day, you can reduce anxiety, improve weight management, strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, and help you get a better nights sleep. There are a ton of benefits for both your physical health and mental health.
On a calorie deficit, you won't be able to train as hard, but you can train smart, efficiently, and effectively. Below we will provide you a sample workout plan and resources to explore.
Lack of sleep leads us to overeat, make unhealthy food choices, lack energy, consume more calories and puts you at an increased risk of many health conditions.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night of 7 to 9 hours allows your body to recover and regulate hormones that affect your metabolism - leptin and ghelin. Leptin is a hormone that tells you to stop eating, and ghelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat. Now you know the reasons why we overeat and can’t stop eating when we are tired. It’s not just about feeling lazy, it’s about hormone regulation.
There's not much more to say about sleep. Just make sure you get plenty of it to keep your brain, mood and metabolism functioning.
The first thing we need to discuss is TDEE, because without it, you won't know how much food you can eat. If you just guesstimate, you can lose weight, but you may be surprised how many calories you are actually consuming. If your goal is to lose 20lbs in a month, you will certainly need to count calories to ensure you are eating just the right amount, and to also keep track moving forward as your weight adjusts.
So what is TDEE? TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, is how many calories you are burning each day. So, if your TDEE is 3,000, then that's your maintenance level, meaning if you eat that many calories, you won't gain or lose weight.
Knowing your TDEE will give you the upper hand when determining how many calories you should be eating to obtain your weight loss goals.
The amount of calories you eat is determined by the amount of calories that are going out. In order to lose weight you want to burn more calories than you are putting into your body. The reason is because once your body uses what it needs for energy it will store the left over calories as fat. A caloric deficient diet is the only real way to lose weight faster.
TDEE is calculated by first determining your Basal Metabolic Rate and multiplying that by your activity level. Sounds complex right?
Don’t worry there are plenty of apps and websites that you can use to measure both your BMR and TDEE. This isn’t a step that you want to leave out.
Here is a good TDEE calculator. It's going to tell you a pretty close estimate of what your TDEE is, then you can determine how many calories you want to cut per day from there. Remember, 3,500 calories is a pound.
Note: It's going to be best to slowly ramp up to the calorie deficit you want. For example, if you want to reach a deficit of 1,000 calories, don't just start at -1,000 per day, do 200-300 for a couple days, then 300-500, and so on. The same for when you are increasing your calories to your new maintenance level after your weight loss goal has been achieved. Also, be sure to adjust your TDEE weekly to account for the weight loss you've made. This is particularly true if you are doing rapid weight loss. If it's only 1 pound per week, you won't have to do as often.
Now when it comes to eating, the type of calories that you put into your body matters for a variety of reasons. Different foods can affect your hormone levels, your metabolism, increase cravings, and leave you feeling unsatisfied. We’ve heard the term empty calories before. These are calories that have no nutritional value. These are the foods that you want to avoid.
Eating nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, meat, fish and poultry will provide your body with the necessary vitamins, minerals, give you the necessary fuel needed for it to function properly and reduce the amount of calories that you eat to feel full.
Below are the best sources for protein, carbs and fats, which if you stick to in proper portions and stay under your TDEE then you will certainly lose weight.
Good sources of protein:
Good sources of whole grains:
Good sources of healthy fats:
The best macronutrient (macros) ratio for losing weight is 10-30% carbs, 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat.
SAMPLE DAILY DIET FOR QUICK YET SAFE & HEALTH WEIGHT LOSS:
You’ll need to choose a diet that fits into your calories. Here is a sample meal plan that shows you can eat food to lose weight. There’s no reason to starve yourself even if you want to lose weight quickly.
Note: This may not work for losing 20lbs in a month, but you get the idea (which is you can still eat a variety of foods!). You'll just have to adjust the serving sizes accordingly.
Sample 7 Day Meal Plan:
Obviously, you could do an even simpler diet. You could eat the same things for every meal if you find it easier. The above is just to show you that you can eat pretty normal and well-rounded and still lose weight.
Changing the way that you eat isn’t going to be enough to help you lose 20lbs in a month, unless you want to starve yourself.
And while replacing processed foods with whole foods, eliminating sugars, and drinking more water will allow you to lose a great amount of weight initially, you’ll need to incorporate some form of exercise routine to amplify your results, get your metabolism amped up, and overall just feel great. Moreover, it's going to help you achieve the right body composition.
There are three types of training that you should be doing:
Since you are aiming to lose weight, your focus is not to build muscle, although for some beginners it is possible to lose weight and build muscle at the same time. It's called body recomposition, but this isn't going to happen on a big calorie deficit.
So, since you are not looking to build muscle, your workout split will take that into account.
Your a good weight loss training routine can look like this:
Day 1: Resistance Training
Day 2: Cardio
Day 3: HIIT
Day 4-5: Rest
Day 1: Resistance Training + Light Cardio
Day 2: HIIT
Day 3: Rest
Resistance training, or strength training, can be done with bodyweight only exercises, weightlifting, or a mix of the two. It really depends on what you have access to and what your fitness level is. As a complete beginner, doing bodyweight only workouts for the first month will be challenging enough.
If you prefer another type of workout split, these are the best workout splits.
And if you still aren't sure whether a full body routine or workout split is right for you, here's an article we wrote that weighs up the pros and cons of full body vs split training.
Whatever you choose, we recommend focusing the majority of your workout on compound exercises & lifts. This is because they provide the biggest bang for your buck.
Assuming you are going to go with the recommended full body routine, here are two sample routines that you can alternate between:
Prefer bodyweight training? Here are some great bodyweight exercise resources:
Low-intensity cardio workouts include power walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, and aerobics. These are perfect options for beginners or those with physical limitations. Since you are doing resistance training and HIIT as well, 2-4 session of 30-60 minutes per week is good.
If you were not doing HIIT, you could up that to 3-5 per week.
When doing cardio, try to stay in the cardio heart rate range, which is about 50-85% max capacity.
HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)
Doing 1 or 2 HIIT sessions per week is a great way to burn a lot of calories fast and to keep burning them long after the workout is over (it's called the EPOC effect, aka after burn effect).
The best HIIT workouts are sprints or bodyweight workouts with explosive exercises.
Sample HIIT bodyweight routine:
30 seconds work, 15 seconds rest x 10 rounds:
Sample HIIT workouts on a treadmill:
That's not easy, and neither is this one:
But, here's an easier option:
In the end, with HIIT, you want to keep your heart rate up at above 85% for 20+ seconds, then rest just long enough so it doesn't drop below 60-65% then repeat for 5-15 minutes.
This is going to help your cardio respiratory health and VO2 max, muscle maintenance, fat loss, and more.
Here are some resources for HIIT workouts:
All in all, working out is essential, but don't go all out the first week. Push yourself but leave some gas in the tank and slowly (and progressively) make your workouts harder overtime. The last thing you want is to push yourself so hard the first day and then you are sore and discouraged to workout more. It's better to start easy and ramp up from there.
If you feel low on energy, black coffee is great as it is pretty much 0 calories. You can also make your own preworkout as to control exactly what you are putting into your body in terms of calories and ingredients. That said, most preworkouts are very low calorie.
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