Turn on the TV and you'll see at least one commercial featuring diet pills that guarantee overnight results. If you're hoping to lose 60 pounds in a month, it's easy to fall for the hype. Realistically speaking, you can't lose that much weight in such a short time without starving yourself or cutting off a limb. However, it is possible to drop 60 pounds or more over several months through sustainable lifestyle changes.
The recommended rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you follow this guideline, you can lose 60 pounds in seven and a half months to 15 months. A diet high in protein and low in carbs combined with high-intensity exercise can speed up your progress and ignite your metabolism.
Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
According to Harvard Medical School, 1 pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories. However, these numbers are not set in stone. How much weight you'll lose depends on several factors, including your age, metabolic rate, activity level, body composition and more.
In fact, an article published in the International Journal of Obesity in June 2013 states that the 3,500-calorie rule is all wrong because it fails to address the dynamic changes in energy balance. The human body adapts to weight loss and weight gain, altering its metabolism and energy expenditure.
Read more: The 7 Principles of Fat Loss
Additionally, women lose weight at a slower rate than men — at least in the beginning. Men have more lean mass, so they burn more calories throughout the day.
For example, most people tend to lose weight faster when they start a new diet or exercise program. As their body adapts to these changes, they either hit a plateau or experience slower progress. That's why it's important to monitor your results and adjust your diet accordingly.
The general recommendation is to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week. This means that it would take you seven and a half to 15 months to drop 60 pounds. It may seem like a lot of time, but it's worth the effort. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, slow and steady weight loss makes it easier to keep the pounds off.
Absolute weight loss, not weight loss rate, is what matters most in terms of metabolic health, as reported in a January 2019 review published in the Journal of Obesity.
Lose 60 Pounds Through Diet
From slimming pills and shakes to gym machines, there are thousands of products that claim to help you lose 60 pounds in a month. If they worked, obesity wouldn't be a global concern.
Set realistic goals and then come up with a plan to accomplish them. Weight loss requires a calorie deficit, meaning that you need to burn more calories than you take in. To do so, it's necessary to reduce your calorie intake, raise your energy expenditure or both.
Read more: 20 Fat-Loss Secrets
One way to reduce your calorie intake is to cut down on sugar and simple carbs, trans fats and alcohol. Each gram of carbs delivers 4 calories. The same goes for protein. Dietary fat, on the other hand, provides 9 calories per gram, while pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram.
High-protein diets seem to be particularly effective. According to a November 2014 review published in Nutrition & Metabolism, protein suppresses appetite and reduces fat mass. This macronutrient balances the hormones that regulate your appetite, increases energy expenditure and helps preserve lean mass. Compared to carbs and fats, it has a higher thermic effect, as it requires more energy to digest.
Make sure your diet includes poultry, lean meat, fish, legumes, low-fat dairy and other protein-rich foods. At the same time, limit or eliminate refined carbs, such as those found in cookies, pastries, soda, ice cream and energy bars. Beware of hidden sugars like dextrose, maltose, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.
Be Smart About Exercise
Nutrition and physical activity are equally important. Some exercises are more effective than others, though. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), for example, yields better results in less time.
A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in April 2019 found that HIIT caused a 28.5 percent greater reduction in total fat mass than moderate-intensity continuous training. This training method may also improve insulin response, decrease blood pressure and increase metabolic rate. With HIIT, you'll continue to burn calories long after leaving the gym.
Read more: The 'Choose Your Own Adventure' HIIT Workout
While it's possible to lose 60 pounds in two months without exercise, it doesn't mean you should do so. Regular exercise, especially strength training, helps preserve lean mass and improves muscle tone. The more lean mass you have, the higher your energy expenditure.
Use a combination of HIIT, strength training and cardio to ignite fat burning and maintain a healthy weight. Keep your workouts varied by adding new exercises to the mix. Plyometrics, full-body circuits and sprints all torch fat and improve overall conditioning. You won't lose 60 pounds in a month, but you'll be leaner, stronger and fitter within weeks.
- Harvard.edu: "Simple Math Equals Easy Weight Loss"
- NCBI: "Why Is the 3500 Kcal per Pound Weight Loss Rule Wrong?"
- NCBI: "Quantification of the Effect of Energy Imbalance on Bodyweight"
- Women's Health: "Weight Loss and Women"
- CDC.gov: "Losing Weight"
- Hindawi: "Absolute Weight Loss, and Not Weight Loss Rate, Is Associated With Better Improvements in Metabolic Health"
- USDA.gov: "How Many Calories Are in One Gram of Fat, Carbohydrate, or Protein?"
- NHS: "Calories in Alcohol"
- Nutrition & Metabolism: "A High-Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats"
- International Journal of Bioscience, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics: "Comparison of Thermogenic Effect Between Meals Containing Protein Predominantly From Animal and Plant Sources"
- University of California San Francisco: "Hidden in Plain Sight"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "Is Interval Training the Magic Bullet for Fat Loss? a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Comparing Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training With High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)"
- Medline Plus: "Can You Boost Your Metabolism?"
- NCBI: "Effects of Plyometric Training on Physical Fitness in Team Sport Athletes: A Systematic Review"