Are you unsure about how to lose 20 pounds? Are you looking for dietary and exercise tips to help you navigate this new journey you are on? Read on to find out what you can do to help you achieve your goals.
How Long Does It Take To Lose 20 Pounds Safely?
Depending on your diet, workout plan, and body composition, it might take anywhere between 2.5 to 5 months to safely lose 20 pounds. This calculation is in accordance with the Center for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines for healthy weight loss.
According to the CDC, healthy weight loss involves a slow and gradual process of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week through a healthy diet and exercise (16).
If you consistently lose 1 pound every week for a month, it means you could potentially lose 4 pounds in 1 month. For a 20-pound weight loss you will need:
(20*1)/4 = 5 months
On the other hand, consistently losing 2 pounds a week = (2*4) = 8 pounds lost in a month. For a 20 pounds weight loss:
(20*2)/8 = 2.5 months
Please note that while losing 1 pound a week is relatively doable, consistently losing 2 pounds every week is definitely more challenging (5). Give yourself anywhere from 3 to 5 months to reach your objective. This makes the goal more achievable as it allows space and time for any unseen changes with weight fluctuations, plateaus, etc.
How To Lose 20 Pounds Fast?
Now that you understand how long it may take for you to lose 20 pounds, here are some changes that you can incorporate in your day-to-day to ensure that you consistently lose weight every week and achieve your goal:
Count Your Calories
It might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but effective weight loss is directly related to how much food you consume in a day. In other words, if you eat more calories than your body expend/burn in a day, you could gain weight.
Eating at a calorie deficit (less calories than your body requires) means you burn more calories which leads to weight loss. It is advisable to cut your weekly energy intake by 3500 to 7000 calories (or 500 to 1000 calories a day). This deficit should help you lose 1 to 2 pounds a week (10).
In 2014, one study review looking at the most effective weight loss and management programs revealed that all the studies that used calorie counting as part of the program recorded a 3.3 kg more weight loss than those that didn’t (14).
While you can choose to manually count your calories daily, we advise using the BetterMe Calorie Counter App to make the process easy.
Add More Protein To Your Diet
If you are wondering how to lose 20 pounds fast, then adding more protein to your diet is a simple way to help you achieve this goal. In 2005, the results from one clinical trial revealed that after consuming a high protein diet, the participants reported feeling fuller and they ate less calories on these days (6).
Increased satiety, automatically means eating less, which leads to decreased calorie intake per day. Protein consumption could also increase your metabolism which helps your body to burn more calories in a day. A 2004 study showed that when digesting protein, the body uses about 30% more energy, burning an average of 100 calories a day (11).
Whether it is through consuming more lean protein sources such as oily fish and other seafood, lean meats, poultry, or eggs or via plant-based protein sources like beans, legumes, hemp seeds, nuts etc., always try to have some of this macronutrient in all your meals.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Like protein, increased fiber is also very important for weight loss. Diets higher in fiber have been shown to increase satiety and decrease calorie intake throughout the day, which could directly reduce the risk of suffering from obesity (13).
These findings were further supported by a 2007 study that showed that eating 33 g of insoluble fiber reduced appetite and increased fullness which led to the study subjects eating less during meal times (15).
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Drink More Water
Not only is it a natural appetite suppressant, but like protein, water has been shown to potentially help boost your metabolism after consumption. In a 2004 study, participants who drank 500 ml of cold and room temperature water experienced 2% to 3% more calorie burning in the following 90 minutes (9).
Whether at the gym or through home workouts in your bedroom or living room, working out is a fantastic way to help increase your metabolism, burn fat, and add muscle, all factors that will help you lose 20 pounds fast.
What Are The Best Diets To Lose Weight Fast?
Today, you can hardly go through a day or a meal with friends/colleagues without the topic of dieting coming up and everyone has their own option on which diet works best according to their experience or an article/video seen online.
A Balanced Diet
This is the simplest and most straightforward of all diets available today. The only things discouraged by a balanced diet are easy to remember – things like alcohol, added sugars, and extra salt. A balanced diet encourages you to consume whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy or dairy-free milk alternatives (19).
This is another eating plan that has been named among the best diets for weight loss and may help you figure out how to lose 20 pounds and more. This meal plan encourages the consumption of beans, fruit, leafy greens and a variety of vegetables, whole grains, as well as healthy fats. It calls for moderation in the consumption of wine, dairy and dairy products and limits the intake of red meat.
The Vegan Diet
This plant-based diet fully restricts the consumption of meat and animal-related products. Those who follow the vegan diet are encouraged to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and get their proteins and fats from plant-based sources such as nuts and seeds, avocados, legumes, soy and soy-related products, etc.
The DASH Diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a low-sodium eating plan that aims to help people control their high blood pressure related to hypertension. The diet relies heavily on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy and limits saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
The Weight Watcher Diet
This is a paid membership weight loss program that is curated to match an individual’s needs. While it may have the disadvantage of requiring payment for the services, it has been shown to be quite effective for weight loss. One 2013 study revealed that those who followed this eating plan were more than eight times more likely to lose 10 percent of their body weight over 6 months than those trying to diet on their own (7).
What Are The Best Workouts To Help You Lose 20 Pounds?
If this is your first time venturing into the world of fitness, you might be confused by all the types of exercises out there and the task of choosing workouts to lose weight seems quite intimidating. Before coming up with a weight loss workout plan to help you lose 20 pounds, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the four main types of workouts and how they can help you in your journey.
They are as follows (20):
While these workouts can also be done by younger people, they are usually recommended for older people. As the name suggests, they improve their balance keeping them steady on their feet which prevents them from falling over, something that is quite common in the elderly.
These types of exercise often involve stretching and can be done by anyone irrespective of age. Flexibility exercises are quite important, especially before and after a workout session.
Failure to stretch before exercising leads to inflexible muscle which can tire quickly leading to muscular and joint injuries. If you work out but don’t stretch afterwards you are likely to experience muscle cramps and pain, muscle damage, strains, and falling, all factors that can interfere with your day-to-day activities.
If you have previously considered making a weight loss plan to lose 20 pounds, these types of workouts were probably first on your list and for good reason. Of all known types of exercises, cardio/aerobic workouts are the most popular.
These exercises make a great addition to any workouts to lose weight routine as not only do they improve your stamina, strength, fitness level, but they also help burn calories among many other fantastic health benefits.
Strength Training/Weightlifting/Resistance Training
These exercises are usually done using your bodyweight, gym machines, free weights, or resistance bands. While they are often associated with building muscle mass, strength, and endurance, they are also fantastic for weight loss. The muscle built through these types of exercises helps increase your metabolism, making your body burn excess calories even while at rest.
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Weight Loss Exercises
Some exercise you should consider adding to your weight loss workout plan include:
It is a cardio workout for many people as it is mindless and quite effective, plus you do not need any fancy equipment for it. With a great playlist and fantastic running shoes you can run every day as part of your ‘how to lose 20 pounds plan’. Depending on how much you weigh and how fast you run, you can burn anywhere from 230 to 733 calories in 30 minutes (8).
Another great cardio workout, it can help you make great headway in your weight loss journey. Depending on how fast you skip a minute, you could end up burning up to 900 calories an hour (18).
A calisthenic exercise, it works out multiple muscles at the same time and could help you burn anywhere from 500 to 865 calories in an hour.
For the older people or anyone with joint pain in their ankles or knees, some great low impact workouts that will help you lose 20 pounds in time include, walking, swimming, rowing, Pilates, and yoga.
Some strength training exercise that can also be beneficial to you include:
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Push your butt back as you bend your knees, grasping the barbell with your hands just outside the hips, with the shoulders slightly in front of the bar and both palms facing you.
- Remember to keep your core engaged with your back straight, not curved or arched. Your chest should be parallel with the floor.
- Stand up, raising the hips and shoulders at the same time, lifting the barbell off the floor so the bar moves over the middle of both feet.
- Keep the heels down and make sure to fully extend the hips and knees to straighten the legs.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times for 1 set.
- Start by standing up tall holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Keep your core engaged and take one step forward. From here, lower yourself straight down in a way that you kneel to the ground with the back leg while the front leg folds at the knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly stand up and return the front leg back to stand with the back leg.
- Switch legs and repeat the same process.
- Do a set of 8 to 10 reps on each leg.
- Place a large resistance band securely around a pull-up bar. As a beginner, the band provides you with momentum to pull yourself up.
- Stand on a stable object (a bench will work) and grip the pull-up bar. With one hand, place the band around the arch of your shoe. Fully extend the banded leg.
- With a neutral spine and your abs engaged, pull yourself up. The band will provide you with momentum to lift your body up.
- Lower back down to the starting position to complete the rep.
- Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down with your back straight and your hands on the floor between your feet.
- With your weight on your hands, kick your feet back so you’re on your hands and toes, and in a pushup position.
- Do one push-up before jumping your feet back to their starting position.
- Push strongly from this position and jump, reaching your arms over your head.
Medicine Ball Slams
- To start, stand tall with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, your knees and hips slightly bent, holding a medicine ball in both hands at your torso.
- Engage your core and keep your back straight.
- Reach both arms overhead, fully extending your body. Slam the ball forward and down toward the ground.
- Extend your arms toward the ground as you slam and don’t be afraid to bend your knees as you hinge over. Squat to pick the ball up and then stand back up.
- Do this up to 8 to 12 times for one set.
Is It Possible To Lose 20 Pounds In A Month?
Yes, it is. However, before you celebrate and start researching on how to lose 20 pounds in a month, you should know that this extreme weight loss in such a short time largely depends on how much you currently weigh. Losing 20 pounds in a month is mostly possible in overweight and obese people under medical supervision.
An important distinction to keep in mind is that this group of people will most probably only be losing water and not fat as most of us desire. The accumulation of water weight occurs when instead of peeing out any excess water we may have, our bodies hold on to it and store it in our tissues, organs, and skin (3).
The reason that we lose water weight so fast is because through exercise and low carb diets we burn through our bodies glycogen stores and not replenishing them. Each gram of glycogen stored in your body is bound to 3 or 4 grams of water and the less glycogen stores you have the less water you have trapped in your body (21).
According to Men’s Health bigger people may find it to lose 20 pounds of water weight in a month or less. As for smaller or average people, they can only expect to lose one to three pounds in about two days (22). Therefore, trying to lose so much weight in a short period of time could harm your overall health.
How To Lose 20 Pounds In 2 Weeks
As we stated above, losing up to 20 pounds in 2 weeks is possible but you will end up losing water weight instead of fat. In light of this, for you to lose 20 pounds in two weeks you would have to go through some dangerous weight loss practices that could lead to undesirable and severe health issues.
Some of these practices include:
Popular diets such as the cabbage diet, the grapefruit diet, cotton ball diet, and the celery juice diet, among others are such examples of extreme diets (4) that could be used to promote the fantasy of how to lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks, 2 weeks, or a month.
Such meal plans are considered as very-low-calorie diets and can lead to side effects such as extreme hunger, constipation or diarrhea, headaches and dizziness, hair loss and more.
Taking Diet Pills
Diet pills work by either suppressing your appetite or reducing your body’s ability to absorb fats from food. While some diet supplements are sometimes approved by the FDA, most of them are not and using them can harm your overall health (12).
Even those approved by the FDA have been known to have undesirable side effects such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, dry mouth, insomnia, blurred vision, restlessness, etc (17).
You risk dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance (1).
Purging And Smoking
Purging often to life-threatening eating disorders while smoking to suppress your appetite leads to cancer.
The Bottom Line
The secret on how to lose 20 pounds lies in the right calorie deficit, a proper workout plan and patience. You have to be consistent and give your exercise regimen and diet time to work. Do not look for shortcuts to help you lose 20 pounds fast in two, three weeks or a month as this will only lead you to potentially dangerous and life-threatening solutions. Remember to consult your doctor or dietitian before attempting a new diet or exercise regimen.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Things Never to Do to Lose Weight (2014, webmd.com)
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- 8 Things That Can Make You Gain Water Weight (2021, health.com)
- 10 of the most extreme and dangerous weight-loss methods (2018, news24.com)
- 10 Ways to Lose 2 Pounds a Week (2020, verywellfit.com)
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- A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Community-based Behavioral Counseling Program (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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- Side Effects of Weight Loss Drugs (Diet Pills) (2019, drugs.com)
- The 10 Best Weight Loss Exercises, Ranked By Calorie-Burn (2020, womenshealthmag.com)
- The Fundamentals Of A Balanced Diet: Foods, Benefits, Weight Loss (2021, betterme.world)
- Types Of Workouts For Weight Loss: Understanding The Difference For Better Results (2021, betterme.world)
- WATER WEIGHT: WHAT IS IT AND WHY DOES IT MATTER (2017, puregym.com)
- What Is Water Weight and How Do You Lose it? (2020, menshealth.com)