Losing 10 pounds in a month can be achieved in a number of ways. High-protein diets, low-carbohydrate diets, high-carbohydrate diets and calorie reduction can all help you achieve your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way.
Calorie Restriction and Exercise
A standard, healthy diet typically involves consuming around 2,000 calories per day. However, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy calorie consumption can range from 1,600 to 3,200 calories per day. The exact amount of calories you need are determined by factors like your age, sex and activity levels.
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According to Harvard Health Publishing, reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 calories allows you to lose around a pound each week. Up to 1,000 calories less than usual can even be part of a healthy diet. However, there are limits to how low your calories can go. You shouldn't consume less than 1,200 calories per day if you're female or 1,500 calories per day if you're male.
Restricting your calorie consumption means you can consume fewer calories, but still eat all of the same types of foods that you would normally. There's no need to eliminate carbohydrates or fats from your diet, though it would be a good idea to eat less added sugars, saturated and trans fats, and junk foods.
However, healthy calorie restriction means that your weight loss will be capped at around 8 pounds per month (2 pounds per week). If you want to lose 10 pounds in a month, you'd likely need to increase your activity levels a bit too.
Harvard Health Publishing states that every 3,500 calories you burn will result in 1 pound of weight loss. If you were to do about 25 hours of moderate exercise (like walking, dancing, hiking and even gardening) or 15 hours of vigorous exercise (such as running, jogging, swimming or weightlifting) in a month, you could potentially lose 10 pounds in a month without issue.
Losing this much weight in a month is likely only healthy if you're planning on maintaining this level of activity over the long-term. Otherwise, you might easily gain some of this weight back again. It's best to stick with a slower weight loss plan unless your doctor recommends a specific alternative. Gradual weight loss is considered to be around 4-to-8 pounds per month.
Low-Carb Diets and Weight Loss
According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are four types of carbohydrates you can commonly find in the foods you eat: sugars, sugar alcohols, starches and dietary fiber. Low-carb diets, like the ketogenic diet or Atkins diet, involve the elimination of most sugars and starches. You can technically consume as much fiber as you want — however, since sugars and starches are restricted, you can really only consume moderate amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Because the majority of calories typically come from carbohydrates, you need to consume more of another macronutrient to meet your minimum calorie requirements. In the case of low-carb diets, you're mainly consuming more fat.
Increasing fat intake to support weight loss might seem counterintuitive, but low-carb diets are even beneficial over the long-term. According to a September 2018 study in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, people following low-carb diets are likely to lose more weight in the first three to six months compared to people who consume a more standard diet.
High-Carb Diets and Weight Loss
If reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing your fat intake sounds unappealing, you can do the exact opposite, instead. This is known as a high-carb diet.
A standard diet contains 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, 12 to 20 percent protein and 30 percent fat. Altering your macronutrient intake even slightly — for example, a ratio like 64 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 18 percent fat — can also help support weight loss.
You can even adjust your macronutrients more dramatically and follow a stricter high-carb diet, like the Okinawa diet. This is a plant-based diet that involves the consumption of around 85 percent carbohydrates.
However, you should be aware that most high-carb diets are lower in calories than average. A February 2017 study in the European Journal of Nutrition that used a 64 percent carbohydrate intake reduced calories by 33 percent (a daily intake of 1,881 calories) to produce about 10 pounds of weight loss over a six-week period. This means you may need to follow a stricter or lower-calorie high-carb diet in order to lose 10 pounds in a month.
High-Protein Diets and Weight Loss
High-protein diets can also help with weight loss. Most people consume around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. That's about 51 grams of protein for someone who weighs 140 pounds (64 kilograms).
According to a June 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, diets that contain between 1.2 and 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight can help support weight loss and reduce fat. Essentially, you can safely double your protein intake to help you lose weight. This means someone weighing 140 pounds would be consuming up to 102 grams of protein per day.
However, there's also a maximum amount of protein you can safely consume. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you shouldn't consume more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is about 125 grams of protein per day if you weigh 140 pounds.
Too much protein is harmful because it can increase your risk of high cholesterol, cancer, cardiovascular disease and kidney problems. It can even cause you to gain weight, rather than lose it.
If you are concerned about these side effects but still want to increase your protein intake, you can try to consume more plant-based protein and seafood products instead of products like red meat and dairy. Excessive consumption of animal products is thought to be unhealthy because they are rich in saturated fats.
In contrast, plant-based proteins like tofu and legumes are high in dietary fiber, antioxidants and other essential nutrients. Unlike saturated fat-rich meat and dairy, seafood products are a good source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "When It Comes to Protein, How Much Is Too Much?"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "A Low-Fat High-Carbohydrate Diet Reduces Plasma Total Adiponectin Concentrations Compared to a Moderate-Fat Diet With No Impact on Biomarkers of Systemic Inflammation in a Randomized Controlled Feeding Study"
- Age and Ageing: "New Horizons: Dietary Protein, Ageing and the Okinawan Ratio"
- Kaiser Permanente: "Balancing Carbs, Protein, and Fat"
- Indian Journal of Medical Research: "Ketogenic Diets: Boon or Bane?"
- FDA: "Total Carbohydrates"
- FDA: "Protein"
- FDA: "Total Fat"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Tips to Help You Reach Your Exercise and Weight Loss Goals"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: "How Many Calories Does Physical Activity Use (Burn)?"