Every day our social media feeds are bombarded with ads from weight-loss companies promising that if you follow their plan, you can lose 10, 15, and even 20 pounds in one month. When that first date, reunion, wedding, or other major event is looming in the distance, it can be tempting to believe those claims. But on a healthy weight-loss plan—one with lasting results—how much can you really expect to lose in 30 days?
Get out your calculators and follow along because the answer to this question is all about numbers.
In one month you can reasonably anticipate losing eight to 10 pounds if you follow a pretty strict plan. Losing one pound of body fat is equivalent to 3, 500 calories. To lose two pounds per week, you must drop 1, 000 calories per day. Elimination can be done by cutting the calories consumed in a day or increasing the amount of calories burned during your workout.
Of course, this can't be an approximation. You must really make sure that your calories in/calories out numbers are a full 1, 000 calories less than what they were before. That's why the most successful dieters keep a daily food journal. This can be as simple as a piece of paper or a phone app like My Fitness Pal.
Logging every morsel that goes in your mouth might seem tedious, but it's a proven way for dieters to see patterns like mindless snacking and overeating during stressful times, both of which can lead to additional calories consumed. Dropping 1, 000 calories per day may seem daunting, but if you think about it in terms of second helpings, pieces of bread, pats of butter, raids of the cookie jar, etc., it's easy to see where you can make small changes to pare down that number.
Remember, banishing those calories can be done from the kitchen and by going to the gym. To work toward that 1, 000 calorie reduction, you should be aiming for a moderate workout five to six days per week. The number of actual calories burned will be determined by your sex, weight, how fast you did the exercise, and how long you did it. Here are just a few general examples based on a person who weighs 150 pounds.
- Running on the treadmill for 20 minutes at 6 mph: 229 calories
- Working out on the elliptical for 30 minutes: 179 calories
- Swimming breast stroke for 30 minutes: 189 calories
- Kickboxing for 30 minutes: 357 calories
The mantra, "eat less, move more, " can sound like a trite piece of advice, but it's the best mindset. Diet plans that promise more than a 20-pound loss per month will probably ask you to push yourself further than you should on a workout regimen, or eat less than the required daily calorie limit. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women never eat less than 1, 200 calories and men never eat less than 1, 800 calories per day.