You should be able to lose several pounds in one month -- but to keep it off, don't fall victim to a strict, fad diet that promises fast results. Those types of plans leave you hungry and unsatisfied, which might make sticking to the diet difficult. To win the weight loss game, you need to go slow and steady. The best way to lose the weight in a month is a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Before you start, consult your doctor for the go-ahead and tips that fit your specific health needs.
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Lose Up to 8 Pounds in One Month
Eight pounds may not sound like a lot, but if you're trying to lose fat and not muscle, it's better to take it off slowly. Losing more than 2 pounds in a week probably means you've lost some muscle, not just fat. As a contributor to your metabolism, muscle loss means a decrease in your calorie-burning capabilities, making it harder to lose weight in the long run.
A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so you need to create a daily calorie deficit ranging from 250 to 1,000 calories to lose 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. A combination of diet and exercise works best. To lose 2 pounds a week over your month-long diet, you'd need to cut 500 calories from your estimated daily calorie needs, and work out to burn 500 calories. For a slower, but more manageable loss, cut just 250 calories from your daily diet to lose 1/2 a pound each week, or 2 pounds in a month.
Managing Your Diet to Lose Weight
What and how much you eat are the keys to your month-long diet plan. Start by using an online calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need to maintain your weight, and then subtract 500 calories from that number.
For example, a sedentary 30-year-old woman who weighs 150 pounds at 5 feet, 6 inches tall needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight, so eating 500 fewer calories -- 1,500 a day -- will help her lose a pound a week. While you might be tempted to restrict more, women should not fall below 1,200 calories a day, and men 1,800 calories. Eating too little may lead to loss of muscle, a slowdown in your metabolism and possible nutrient deficiencies.
Fill your diet with low-calorie, nutrient-rich options by eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans. These foods are low in calories and high in fiber. Fiber adds bulk so you fill up fast, and it helps control appetite by slowing digestion so you feel full longer.
Lean protein, such as poultry, fish, lean red meat, eggs and soy, also makes a healthy addition to your weight-loss plan. Getting 25 percent of calories from protein, which is 375 calories or 94 grams on a 1,500-calorie diet, may help keep appetite in check. Meet this goal by eating protein-rich foods at each meal and snack.
While you need to watch your portion sizes when limiting calories, healthy fats are an important source of vitamins and nutrients. Good options include olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
Eat three meals and one or two snacks evenly spaced throughout the day to keep hunger in check and energy levels up. For balance, eat about the same number of calories at each meal, and enjoy a variety of healthy foods. If you need help planning your weight-loss diet, consult a dietitian for an individualized plan.
High-Intensity Interval Training for Maximum Calorie Burning
Compute calories burned through exercise using several variables, including your weight, body composition, activity and length of workout. For example, a 155-pound person burns 260 calories in a 30-minute high-impact aerobics class, while a 285-pound person burns 310 calories. The harder you push and the longer you go, the more calories you burn.
To maximize calorie burning, consider trying high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. This type of intense workout alternates between periods of maximum effort and periods of recovery for a defined amount of time, such as sprinting for a minute followed by a 4-minute slow jog and alternating the two for a 30-minute workout. HIIT helps you burn calories during and after the workout, making it a good choice when you're trying to boost weight loss.
Tone Up While You Trim Down
Aerobic activity isn't the only way to burn calories. Lifting weights uses a few calories while you're doing it, and the extra muscle you build keeps your metabolism going strong, even at rest. Over your month-long weight-loss plan, work your muscles using free weights, weight machines or resistance bands at least twice a week for 30 minutes. To get the most out of your workout, lift the heaviest weight you can without compromising form for eight to 12 reps; rest, and repeat. As you get stronger, you may want to increase to three sets of eight to 12 reps. Work each of your major muscle areas -- arms, legs, shoulders, abs and back -- at least once during your 30-minute routine. While you won't build a lot of muscle in only a month, you'll start to tone your muscles, so you'll look more fit as you shed pounds.
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign McKinley Health Center: Breaking Down Your Metabolism
- Baylor College of Medicine: Adult Energy Needs and BMI Calculator
- Helpguide.org: High-Fiber Foods
- Obesity: The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes in People of Three Different Weights
- American College of Sports Medicine: High-Intensity Interval Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?