By: Tayler Glenn
A goal without a plan is a great way to get exactly nowhere. So if you’re committed to shedding a few excess pounds then it only makes sense to have a few measurable goals, right? With so many variables to consider, it can be hard to know what a realistic milestone looks like! So, to help you out, we did some digging to find out how much weight and body fat you can expect to lose in a month.
Some people rely on fad diets (looking at you, keto) to lose extra inches while others simply switch from processed to whole foods and get their bodies moving, but even those following the exact same program can have entirely different results! The amount of body fat and weight you can realistically lose in a four-week timeframe is based on numerous factors such as:
- current weight
- activity level
…and lifestyle habits, just to name a few! The easiest answer is simply: adopt a healthy, active lifestyle and you’ll see changes over time. But it always helps to have a few metrics, right?
How Much Weight You Can Lose in a Month
If metrics are crucial to your motivation, The Centers for Disease Control suggests that the average person should strive for a little over a pound a week which equates to four to five pounds per month. This equation assumes you’re at a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day which, for most of us, is pretty manageable and sustainable! Swap that weekend pint party for a TLS Shake and you’re halfway there! As helpful as knowing how much weight you can lose is, it still doesn’t mean that the losses you’re seeing on the scale are from body fat.
Often, when losing weight, the first weight to go is water weight that we’ve been holding on to. This could be due to a diet high in processed foods, sodium, carbs, or sugar, but it could also just be from poor hydration to begin with. The important fact here is understanding that “weight loss” doesn’t always mean “fat loss”. Now, those crazy “I lose 20 pounds in a week” weight loss claims you’ve been seeing make a little more sense!
How Much Body Fat You Can Lose in a Month
As nice and convenient as the 1/2-1 pound loss per week is or bodyweight overall, no such guidelines exist for how much body fat you can lose in a month. If you need an educated guess, The American Council on Exercise claims that you can safely plan on losing around 1% of your body fat per month.
It’s important to note that this is under the assumption that nutrition is completely perfect during this time, and even then it still depends on the weight, gender, and body fat of each person. For example, a woman who sits around 18-28% body fat and strength trains can lose anywhere from 0.5-0.8 body fat in one week. However, if she has over 28% body fat, she could actually lose 1% of her body fat in a week at a minimum!
A key aspect of losing body fat is retaining your lean muscle mass, and this means that exercise is an absolute must! It’s important that you’re getting at least 150 minutes of cardio per week at a moderate intensity, but strength training needs a spot on your gym schedule as well if you want to see any significant changes. Aim for at least two full-body sessions per week and use weights heavy enough to be a real challenge by the last rep in a set of 8-12.
Eat an adequate amount of protein, too, even if you’re reducing calories. This helps your body to recover and develop the lean muscle mass that gets your metabolism going, so make sure you have an easy protein-packed snack on-hand for pre or post-workout fuel!
Why Measure Body Fat Anyways?
Your body is composed of multiple types of tissue including bone, organ, fat, and muscle. When you step on the scale, however, you aren’t seeing an accurate breakdown of what tissue is essential and what isn’t (i.e. excess body fat) which can lead to a lot of frustration after working so hard to trim down!
Measuring your body fat percentages gives an indication of whether or not you have a healthy amount of fat, if you’re carrying around too much for your health, or if the weight loss you are seeing is coming from fat rather than water or muscle! But, body fat percentage also affects your appearance. Being in a healthy, lean range with sufficient lean muscle mass helps you to look toned and fit.
How Do I Know if I Have a Healthy Body Fat Percentage?
Fit and healthy women are usually sitting around a body fat percentage of 21-24%, while men in good shape tend to sit between 14-17%. Most who are happily maintaining an active lifestyle with a healthy diet tend to fall within those ranges, but it’s okay if you sit a little higher as well. It all depends on your build and the many factors we mentioned above!
On the even leaner end, women athletes can fall between 14-20% while male athletes lie between 6-13%. Don’t worry – this is really for the most committed who are usually in competitions of some sort, whether that be physique or endurance sports.
Again, every body is different! If you have any concerns regarding your health and body fat, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider to ensure you’re on the right track.