Losing any amount of weight is a tough feat and losing 20 lbs in one month is a lofty weight loss goal without using a diet pill.
Yet, it is certainly possible.
However, it’s important to understand that even though it’s possible, keeping the weight off long term is less likely.
For one, much of the weight loss will be water weight. Undeniably, reducing body fat and maintaining weight loss long term requires healthy habits that require time and practice- more than one month’s worth.
Nonetheless, if you have an upcoming high school reunion, vacation, or just want to impress a family member, follow these tips to lose up to 20 lbs in one month.
13 Dietitian Tips to Lose 20 Pounds In a Month
1. Cut Out Junk Food
Undoubtedly, consuming a healthy diet is the foundation of weight loss, especially if you’re seeking rapid weight loss like 20 lbs in a month.
Cutting out junk food, high-calorie snacks, and unhealthy food choices with refined fats and sugars is absolutely necessary to achieve this feat.
Junk food is highly processed and loaded with empty calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Thus, removing fast food and sugary beverages is an easy way to reduce your caloric intake and prevent excessive weight gain and obesity.
What’s more, replacing a high-calorie diet of junk food with mostly wholesome foods like veggies, fruits, and lean meat will aid weight loss even more.
Ultimately, cutting out unhealthy food choices will lead to rapid water weight loss because processed and refined foods cause the body to hold on to water. Cleaning out the entire digestive system and supplying your body with wholesome foods will prime your body for a 20-pound weight loss (2).
2. Focus on the Whole Foods
Eating a diet plan full of whole foods including all three macros is the quickest way to lose excess weight. Wholesome, healthy foods allow cells to function optimally. In turn, this boosts metabolism, which equals more calorie burn and fat loss.
Some of the healthiest wholesome foods include: Fruits like apples, oranges, and berries, veggies including spinach, kale, carrots, sweet potato, black beans and legumes, lean meats such as chicken breast, fish, and ground turkey, and healthy fats like peanut butter, olive oil, avocado, and walnuts.
Truly, whole, real foods are so nourishing, they are the equivalent of doing to the metabolism, what a diet pill does for initial body weight loss.
3. Eat Just Enough Calories
While calorie intake is not the only important aspect of losing weight, it is one of the top three factors when attempting to lose 20 pounds in one month.
Genetics will inevitably play a role as well, but restricting calories enough to starve fat cells like in intermittent fasting is key to losing a lot of weight.
Normally, putting the body into starvation mode for a long time is detrimental. However, for a short amount of time like a month, starving the cells through calorie restriction is essentially equivalent to taking a magic weight loss pill.
Just be aware that any form of calorie restriction can lead you to want to binge on “off-limit” foods. As long as you’re aware of this, know that it’s normal, and have a plan to handle these urges, your body and mind will be ok.
And your hips, stomach, and thighs may shrink!
4. Drink More Water
One of the most underrated weight loss mechanisms, drinking more water can only help you drop pounds off your current weight.
Drinking up to a gallon of water per day will help flush out your digestive system, give you extra energy, and speed up shedding body weight. Your gut, waist, thighs, and hips will all benefit!
It’s best to try and quench thirst with plain water. But if you have a hard time drinking that much plain water, adding a no or low-calorie, caffeine-free enhancement is another option. As water intake naturally increases, hitting that near a gallon of water a day goal will feel effortless.
5. Cut Back on Carbohydrates
Even though carbs aren’t inherently bad, cutting back on sources like white bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes can speed up dropping weight.
When you cut out carbohydrates, you are most likely also cutting out a slew of refined sugars, fats, and preservatives as well. As mentioned, this allows your cells to function optimally which naturally speeds up metabolism.
Not only this but glycogen- the stored form of glucose, aka carbohydrate- retains water within the body. This is precisely why marketed low carb diets lead to rapid weight loss. Their claim is true, but the loss of body weight is actually a loss of water weight initially.
Finally, some research shows that eating lower carb can reduce sweet and sugar cravings, which can naturally lead to a reduction in overall caloric intake.
When cutting out carbs, try to replace some of those less nutritious with healthy food choices like lean proteins and healthy fats. These help balance blood sugar, reduce cravings, and can help reduce body fat.
6. Eat More Fiber
Eating more fiber is one of the easiest ways to shed pounds and improve many other health markers such as improvement of blood pressure and reduction of heart disease, especially.
First, fiber helps you stay full longer, naturally reducing your appetite. No more feeling starved and deprived only eating processed low-calorie foods!
Generally, fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and legumes contain the most amount of fiber in grams.
And good news! Sandwiches made with sprouted or seeded bread and stuffed with hummus and veggies are an extra fibrous meal choice. The love of a sandwich can live on.
Two types of fiber exist, and while both soluble and insoluble fiber are beneficial, focus on soluble fiber to drop weight.
Soluble fiber is mostly found in beans and legumes like black beans, kidney beans and lima beans, in veggies like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and carrots, and fruits like apples, oranges, and figs, and nut and seed sources such as flax, chia, and sunflower (3).
7. Avoid Added Sugar
Hopefully, eating more fiber naturally leads to eating less processed sugar, but it’s worth mentioning to avoid added sugar.
Added sugar is commonly found in foods and beverages such as candy, pastries, fruit juice, and flavored milk, and nearly all packaged food, soups, and canned veggies included!
Furthermore, added sugar only contributes to unbalanced blood sugar and weight gain. It’s basically the last thing you want to be eating when trying to lose much weight fast!
The old way of eliminating sugar encouraged replacing it with a high-fat dietary approach. The new way includes eating as many real foods of as many different colors, increasing fiber, and prioritizing lean proteins.
This dietitian recommends aiming for 5-10 servings of veggies, a couple of fruit, and a few lean protein sources every day. Easy as pie- which is also fair game in moderation on occasion.
8. Start Strength Training
Engaging in any amount of workout will lead you closer to losing 20 pounds relatively fast.
However, to achieve more fat loss, it’s more advantageous to prioritize strength training. Weight training is the perfect exercise routine in this situation because it boosts metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass (1). It also prevents muscle loss which decreases metabolism.
Another good thing is strength training can help you find a healthy weight for your body. Lean muscle mass is a healthy tissue weight that appears more positively than fat among body composition.
The best strength training workout routine will include compound, full-body movements, achieve a working heart rate, and last about 30-60 minutes.
9. Don’t Forget Cardio Completely
While cardio workout receives a bad rap these days, doing some a few days a week for 15-45 min depending on intensity is smart.
Cardiovascular exercise doesn’t increase metabolism or lean muscle mass like strength training, but it still burns calories. And that equals more weight loss.
Moreover, this type of exercise contributes to overall health by reducing body fat and decreasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
10. Count Your Macros
Similar to cardio, counting macros has recently received negativity, highly from the intuitive eating community. However, counting macros can be a helpful teaching opportunity.
Counting macros refers to monitoring how many grams of the three macronutrients- carbohydrates, fat, and protein you eat per day. Various health apps can calculate different nutritional profiles from the macro inputs.
These profiles help highlight the positives and negatives of your current eating habits.
For example, macro apps have been shown to help dieters organically eater fewer calories and choose low-calorie foods more often.
While it’s important to ensure you’re eating enough calories to maintain a high quality of life, eating fewer calories will inevitably improve the speed of losing weight.
Counting macros is sometimes referred to as a fad diet, but it’s much more effective than another crash diet. It at least provides you valuable information and can easily help you make healthier food choices.
11. Up Your Activity Level
Rather than increasing your long run miles on a treadmill, create an active lifestyle.
In fact, too much exercise can be detrimental to weight loss. Yet, in the end, the ultimate goal is to burn more calories than you intake.
Best way to do this? Up your daily activity level!
Meaning, prioritize household chores, playing games with children, walking more, and taking every opportunity to naturally move more.
There is no single right way to adopt an active lifestyle. Take a look at your daily activities and find ways to keep you physically moving.
Consistently doing these simple daily tasks has even been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and improve heart health.
12. Get Enough Sleep
Another underrated weight-loss method, getting enough sleep is paramount for dropping pounds. The brain and body rely on sleep to replenish and repair and for hormone health.
A large (sarcastic) thanks to coronavirus, times are more stressful than ever. And this can disrupt sleep.
To obtain enough sleep, try sticking to a bedtime routine that quiets your mind, relaxes you, and doesn’t include much screen time.
Additionally, avoid eating foods and meals with high sodium content as these are known to disrupt sleep (4).
13. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a magical unicorn diet, rather it is one effective weight slimming trick that tends to work for people, at least short term.
Keeping in mind that losing 20 pounds in one month isn’t long term weight loss for most, it works well upon commencement.
Mostly because cells respond quickly to perceived starvation! Fasting for a long time such as periods longer than 12 hours (including sleeping hours) wreaks the most benefit. However, intermittent fasting for even just 8 to 10 hours elicits healthy consequences.
At first, refraining from eating might feel difficult. Reach for non-calorie beverages like black coffee and sparkling water when hunger strikes until your appetite naturally regulates.
If you are trying out intermittent fasting for the first time, you may also start with shorter fasting periods the first week. Read our intermittent fasting 101 guide for beginners.
Realistically and healthfully, it would take about 10-20 weeks to lose 20 lbs.
Yet, applying a few to all of the above suggestions can lead to losing 20 lbs in one month. This requires dedication, consistency, and determination.
Keep the following in mind as well-
There are some uncontrollable factors that affect weight loss efforts like genetics and available food supply.
Rather than focus on those variables, do the best you can with available, controllable factors like diet and stress levels.
The Bottom Line
Losing 20 lbs in one month is a lofty endeavor that is also possible. Believing this is the first step of the journey.
Following and implementing the aforementioned suggestions like cutting out junk food, eating more whole foods, and prioritizing an active lifestyle is the next important step!
- Clark, David, et al. “Resistance Training: Here’s Why It’s so Effective for Weight Loss.” The Conversation, 29 Sept. 2020, theconversation.com/resistance-training-heres-why-its-so-effective-for-weight-loss-146453.
- Link, Rachel. “How to Lose 20 Pounds as Fast as Possible.” Healthline, 13 Aug. 2013, www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-20-pounds.
- O’Brien, Sharon. “Top 20 Foods High in Soluble Fiber – Healthline.” Healthline, 16 Apr. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-soluble-fiber.
- Teng, Kathryn. “Too Much Salt Is Bad – For Your Heart and Your Sleep.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 4 Sept. 2020, health.clevelandclinic.org/salt-and-sleep/.