Planning to lose 15 pounds in a month? While it may be possible, rapid weight loss like that isn't typically safe or sustainable. In other words, just because can you lose 15 pounds in a month doesn't mean you should.
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Instead, it's best to develop long-term, beneficial habits that support your weight-loss goals. Here's what you need to know about losing 15 pounds in a month, including why you should avoid it and tips to help you shed pounds safely.
While it's possible to lose 15 pounds in one month, it doesn't mean it's safe or healthy. Focus on eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly to help you lose weight at a more sustainable pace, per the Mayo Clinic.
The Science Behind Weight Loss
Contrary to what you may have heard, weight loss isn't all about calories in versus calories out. While it's important to reduce your calorie intake and exercise regularly, food quality matters too. For example, 500 calories worth of skinless chicken breast and sweet potatoes are not the same as 500 calories worth of chocolate or fries.
Chicken and sweet potatoes supply protein, slow-digesting carbs and beneficial dietary fat — all macronutrients that are key to keeping your body fueled, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
For instance, protein facilitates weight loss in several ways. First of all, it suppresses appetite and keeps you full longer, according to an August 2012 review in the British Journal of Nutrition. This nutrient also helps preserve lean mass, keeping your metabolism up.
Your diet should also include plenty of fiber and healthy fats, as both nutrients increase satiety and aid in weight loss.
Is Losing 15 Pounds in a Month Healthy?
Do a quick online search for "how to lose 15 pounds in a month" or "meal plan to lose 15 pounds," and you'll get thousands of results pointing to fad diets, slimming pills and magic workouts that claim to melt away fat overnight. Unfortunately, weight loss is not that simple — in fact, it's dangerous to lose weight that rapidly, per the Mayo Clinic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss. This amounts to losing 4 to 8 pounds per month — not 15 pounds in a month.
Dropping weight any faster than that should only be done under medical supervision. For instance, a February 2017 study in the Journals of Gerontology found that very-low-calorie diets may help treat obesity in older people.
But in general, these weight-loss plans are prescribed in extreme cases, as they can lead to side effects like high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream (hyperuricemia), gallstones or bone loss, per an April 2013 review in Nutricion Hospitalaria.
Similarly, fad diets may aid in weight loss but carry serious health risks like malnutrition and starvation, according to the Mayo Clinic — all of which can happen if you take such drastic measures to lose 15 pounds in a month. That's because some of these weight-loss plans, like the cabbage soup diet, eliminate most foods, which may deprive your body of essential nutrients.
While you shouldn't aim to lose 15 pounds in a month, there are still a few things you can do to get results at the CDC-recommended pace of 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week. Eating a nutritious diet (more on that in a moment) and exercising regularly can all help, according to the Mayo Clinic.
To stay safe, talk to your doctor before starting any weight-loss program, per the Mayo Clinic, especially if you have an existing condition like diabetes, gallstones or heart disease.
Diets to Consider for Weight Loss
Certain eating styles may help support your weight-loss goals. Here are some diets worth considering:
1. Mediterranean Diet
If you're trying to lose 15 pounds in a month, eat foods that are rich in fiber. Dietary fiber increases satiety and delays gastric emptying, keeping you full longer, according to January 2019 research in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. As a result, you'll end up eating less without feeling hungry or deprived.
- Whole grains like brown rice and whole-wheat bread
- Vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale
- Legumes like beans, peas and lentils
Ready to get started? Try this 7-day Mediterranean diet meal plan.
2. Keto Diet
Here's how it may encourage weight loss: When you cut back on carbs, your body breaks down fat to produce ketones as an alternative source of fuel, a metabolic state called ketosis, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Furthermore, this diet plan may also decrease hormones that trigger your appetite.
In fact, low-carb, high-fat eating styles like the ketogenic diet are clinically proven to reduce body weight and improve glycemic control, according to a January 2017 review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They seem to be particularly beneficial for people with insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and elevated triglyceride levels.
That's why ketogenic diets may help in diabetes management, according to a July 2016 review in the Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders. What's more, this eating pattern may also improve blood lipids and supports cardiovascular health.
The keto diet is not right for everyone. Talk to your doctor before trying this diet to make sure it's safe based on your medical history and current nutrient needs.
WW — formerly Weight Watchers — promotes lifestyle habits like nutritious eating and activity by assigning users a personalized daily point allocation that helps steer them towards beneficial choices.
Because the program focuses on developing long-term habits to support weight loss or management, it may be a good option for sustainable weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Another eating style that may support weight loss is intermittent fasting (IF). Depending on your preferences, you can have a designated timeframe during which you fast each day, fast every other day or fast once or twice a week.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, this eating pattern may promote weight loss — in clinical trials, dieters lost 7 to 11 pounds in as few as 10 weeks. Some studies, though, haven't found any significant changes in body weight or cardiovascular health markers in people who incorporated intermittent fasting into their diet.
A February 2018 analysis in the JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports assessed the effects of intermittent fasting in people with overweight and obesity and found that IF is equally effective as continuous energy restriction for short-term weight loss.
More recently, an April 2022 study in The New England Journal of Medicine found no difference between IF and overall calorie restriction for weight loss in a small group of people with obesity over 12 months.
Beware that fasting might not be safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, teenagers, people with diabetes and people who have or have had an eating disorder, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Exercises to Help Lose Weight
Diet isn't the only piece of the weight-loss puzzle. Exercising regularly is important, too.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity). You could break this down into 30 minutes of cardio, five days a week, for instance.
Examples of cardio workouts include:
It's also important to balance aerobic activity with strength training, including weight lifting and bodyweight exercises. This will help keep your muscles strong and mobile, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
- USDA: "Chicken breast, baked, coated, skin / coating not eaten"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Dietary Protein – Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "What Is Healthy Weight Loss?"
- The Journals of Gerontology: "Very Low Calorie Diets for Weight Loss in Obese Older Adults—A Randomized Trial"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss"
- Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders: "Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for Management of Type Two Diabetes: A Review"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "Evidence That Supports the Prescription of Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diets: A Narrative Review"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss"
- JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports: "Intermittent Fasting Interventions for Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "The Role of Fiber in Energy Balance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mediterranean diet for heart health"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Why do doctors recommend a slow rate of weight loss? What's wrong with fast weight loss?"
- Nutricion Hospitalaria: "Very low calorie diets in clinical management of morbid obesity"
- Mayo Clinic: "Don't fall for fad diets"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight loss: Choosing a diet that's right for you"
- The New England Journal of Medicine: "Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss"