How Much Weight Is Healthy To Lose in a Month? 

If you are trying to manage your weight, the chances are that patience is not a factor high on your priority list to help you achieve your goal. 

It is perfectly normal to wish for immediate results and to hope for the most weight loss in the shortest amount of time. 

However, did you know that rapid weight loss not only takes an incredible amount of diet and physical activity efforts but is also unhealthier and less sustainable for you in the long run? 

Is there a threshold number for the amount of weight that is safe to lose without your goals becoming too rapid or ambitious? What are the risks associated with rapid weight loss, and how much weight is a healthy target amount to lose in a month? 

Able is here to answer these questions and more, to help you feel good about yourself and lead a well-balanced lifestyle while you venture on your weight loss journey. 

What Are the Risks of Rapid Weight Loss?

If you lose weight too fast, you end up putting yourself at risk for health complications and setting yourself up for major frustration in the future. 

The truth is that even if you see favorable results immediately, the faster you lose weight in the short term, the more likely you are to end up regaining this weight in the future — even more quickly. 

Additionally, rapid weight loss often indicates that you are losing more water weight or, worse, muscle tissue, than you are fat. During rapid weight loss, your body recognizes that you are at risk for calorie deprivation and thus protects its fat stores as if in survival mode. 

Your body stores your fat and begins to break down your muscle tissue for energy instead. 

The calorie cuts that contribute to rapid loss of weight result in many associated health risks, including malnourishment, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, a lower metabolic rate at rest, and even dehydration. 

Rapid weight loss does have a caloric threshold that you should be careful not to drop below. If you identify as a female, you should not eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, and if you identify as a male, you should not eat fewer than 1,800 calories each day. 

What If My Doctor Recommends I Lose Weight To Prevent Disease?

There is a special circumstance where rapid weight loss is okay for a short period of time. This is if your weight puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Likely, your doctor will recommend rapid weight loss to you to mitigate conditions such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes, all of which put you at high risk for cardiovascular disease. 

In this case, rapid weight loss may be safe to work towards in order to avoid developing other serious health problems. 

You should not start a rapid weight loss plan without checking with your doctor first, however, and your doctor should supervise your progress throughout your entire journey. 

Note that most rapid weight loss plans only involve goals to quickly lose weight for the initial part of the plan, and then transition into a more gradual weight loss plan once you become closer to your target weight goal. 

What Should My Monthly Weight Loss Goal Be?

A safe monthly weight loss goal should not exceed a total of eight pounds of targeted weight loss, because an average of one or two pounds lost every week is the safest goal for weight loss. 

With this goal, you should aim to burn around 500 to 1,000 calories more than you eat every day. You can do so by making lifestyle changes, such as cutting calories and getting enough movement.

This can be a reasonable and feasible goal. Because this plan implements a gradual, not rapid, weight loss strategy, it is easier to achieve while also maintaining a positive attitude throughout. 

This gradual goal also allows you to maintain your weight loss well into the future. Compare this goal to one that asks you to lose 20 - 25 pounds in a couple of weeks: this type of rapid weight loss is not sustainable, meaning it sets you up for future frustrations.

Aiming to lose 4 to 8 pounds is a general weight loss goal, but everyone is different! No two bodies work the same way, and even if someone you know was able to lose more weight more quickly, you should not get discouraged. Any progress is still progress. 

What If I Want To Lose More Than Two Pounds a Week?

If you want to lose more than two pounds a week, you should keep in mind that while you may be very pleased with the short-term results that your scale readings give you, you will likely not be pleased with the long-term results. 

Trying to lose more than two pounds a week is not only unrealistic and discouraging but also unsustainable. 

Likely, your body will store your fat and instead get rid of water weight or muscle to help quickly match your urgent goal. All that you will lose in the long run is energy and hope because you will quickly gain back the unhealthy amount of weight you lost in the first place. 

What Does Long-Term Maintenance Look Like?

Even if you do choose a gradual weight-loss method, it is still common to end up regaining some of the weight several years down the line if your weight loss was significant. 

Often, people can lose weight over a six-month period when they set their weight loss goal as eliminating 7-10% of their initial body weight. These people are also generally able to maintain that weight loss for the first year, but begin to show weight regaining tendencies at around years two and three. 

This weight regain may be due to a lower calorie-burning rate, but scientists are still unsure. When you restrict your calorie intake, the rate at which your body burns those calories might also decrease. 

This hypothesis goes hand in hand with an explanation for why long-term weight maintenance or loss can be hard to sustain, especially after you return to a normal diet once your goal is met. However, many studies show results in which participants successfully sustain long-term weight loss. 

A common factor in these studies is that the participants maintain the lifestyle changes they started at the beginning of their weight loss process, even after achieving their weight loss goal. 

These lifestyle changes include staying active, switching to a lower-calorie and lower-fat diet, always eating breakfast, self-weighing, and consistent eating habits. 

Ongoing Lifestyle

As you choose a healthy target for a monthly weight loss goal, remember that weight is a multi-faceted concept, and weight loss journeys incorporate many different wellness habits. You should not define your weight loss journey solely with numbers or strict diets. 

Rather, you should think of weight loss and weight maintenance as an ongoing goal and a long-term lifestyle change that you continue to engage with well after you reach your target weight. 

As such, you should continue to eat healthily and stay active when you reach your target weight; if you do so, you will receive many additional health benefits, including boosted energy levels, improved mood, and high self-confidence. You are more than a number, and your body is more than your weight! 

Become Your Best Self With Able 

There is no industry standard for weight loss, because everyone is different and everyone’s weight loss journey is unique. 

 

Whether you are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight, improve your activity levels, or enhance your self-care, Able is here to help you set achievable goals and get visible results. Wherever you are on your wellness journey, we can meet you halfway. 

 

Join now for access to live chats with a dietician, nutrient tracking, and fitness and self-care challenges that help you achieve a happier, healthier you. 

Sources

Fast weight loss: What's wrong with it? | Mayo Clinic

Losing Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC

What It Takes to Lose Weight | American Family Physician 

Maintaining Weight Loss | Johns Hopkins Medicine 

Long-term weight loss maintenance | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition |Oxford Academic

Weight loss: 6 strategies for success | Mayo Clinic

Rapid Weight Loss vs. Slow Weight Loss: Which is More Effective on Body Composition and Metabolic Risk Factors? | NIH 

The Potential Dangers of Using Rapid Weight Loss Techniques | Strength & Conditioning Journal