Maybe your prom or your wedding is in six weeks, or maybe just the summer and your body is not looking as you would have wanted it to look when this time came around. You are carrying around 20 more pounds than you would like to have and now you are all over the internet searching how to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks. Well, worry no more as we have compiled the best ways to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks.
Factors That Influence Weight Loss
Before we jump into how you can lose 20 pounds of fat in 6 weeks, we need to look at the factors that might hinder you from achieving those goals. It is important to note that although these factors might influence your weight loss journey, it does not mean they will make it impossible for you to reach your desired body weight. When it comes to weight loss, patience is key. Here are some of the factors:
Not Sleeping Enough
Enough sleep is recommended for effective weight management. An adult should sleep for 7 to 9 hours every day (2). This gives your body enough time to rest and prevents you from starting unhealthy eating habits like night snacking, leading you to take in more than your daily energy requirements leading to weight gain.
Genes also play a role in weight management. Being overweight and obese tends to run in the family. If your parents are overweight or obese, your chances of being overweight or obese are high compared to those whose parents are not overweight or obese (2).
Race And Ethnicity
This is unknown to many people, but people of certain races and ethnic groups tend to be more likely to be obese than other people (2). Taking America as an example, African American adults have the highest obesity rates, followed by Hispanics and Caucasians. This applies to both males and females. On the other hand, Asian American adults are less likely to suffer from obesity.
Stress will influence whether you gain or you lose weight. Stressed people tend to gain more weight than people who are less stressed (2). Stress is part and parcel of life as there are so many things to get stressed about: work, family, finances and school just to name a few. Stress might lead you to start unhealthy eating habits like stress-eating, which will hinder your weight loss journey. If you want to lose weight, you should avoid stress or look for ways to deal with stress like talking to someone, going out with friends, etc.
People who drink alcohol are more likely to have problems losing weight than people who don’t drink. Alcohol is energy dense, which adds to your daily calorie intake, leading you to take in more calories than your body burns, which could lead to weight gain. Alcohol can also cause an increase in one’s appetite which is not something you want especially if you want to lose weight. Reducing your alcohol intake could be beneficial when it comes to weight loss.
Women tend to gain more weight than men. This is from the fact that men tend to have more muscle mass compared to women. Muscles burn more calories at rest compared to fat mass (2).
Most people gain weight as they grow older (2). Hence older people are likely to be obese and overweight compared to young people.
Is It Safe To Lose 20 Pounds In 6 Weeks?
All over the internet, you will find different sites advertising how you can lose so much weight in such a short amount of time. The different sites will have you adopting very-low-calorie diets that can be dangerous for your health as they might lead to malnutrition; they might have you doing tough workouts and trying different supplements. If a weight loss weight program cannot be sustained for a long period of time, then you should not go for it because as soon as you stop following it, you’ll gain back all the weight you lost and even more weight in some cases. It is advisable to consult a dietitian as they are the most qualified nutrition experts to create an individualized weight loss program for you.
To answer the question, it is not safe to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks. A person is recommended to lose 1 to 2 pounds in a week and hence 6 to 12 pounds is the recommended weight you should lose in over 6 weeks (4).
How To Lose Weight At A Healthy Pace?
To lose 1 pound, you need to burn about 3500 calories and to lose 2 pounds requires you to lose 7000 calories in a week. Breaking it down to daily instalments, for you to lose 1 pound in a week, you need to burn 500 calories every day or consume 500 calories less than your daily energy requirements. To lose 2 pounds in a week, you need to burn 1000 calories every day or consume 1000 less than your daily energy requirements (1). While doing all this, you need to remember you should not consume less than 1200 calories in a day as that is the minimum recommended calorie intake for most adults. With that out of the way, let us see what losing 20 pounds in 6 weeks means.
To lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, it means you need to be losing somewhere around 3.3 pounds every week. Let’s break it down to daily instalments. 3.3 pounds is roughly 11550 calories, and that translates to 1650 calories every day. That is way above the recommended number of calories you should reduce from your daily diet to lose weight. People who can lose that much weight are usually obese of which most of it is usually water weight.
To achieve such a fast weight loss, they are usually out in a very low-calorie diet and are constantly monitored by a medical team (1). Professional athletes can also lose this much weight sometimes, and they are also usually under the close eye of medical experts. This is all to say that it is not realistic to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks and people should aim to lose the recommended weight, which is 6 to 12 pounds in a week. With that said, here are dangers associated with rapid weight loss of which 20 pounds in 6 weeks qualifies as.
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Dangers Of Rapid Weight Loss
Rapid weight loss can be dangerous and may have serious health effects on a person. Here are some of the health complications associated with rapid weight loss:
Rapid weight loss often leaves you with loose skin. You are likely to experience loose skin on your abdomen, your hands and your legs. This usually happens because the skin has lost some of its elasticity as it did not have time to shrink with the rest of the body (6). While this may not have long-term health consequences, it can cause mental distress, as well as uncomfortable chafing. If after two years your skin has not gone back to how it was, the only way to fix it would be through surgery.
What are gallstones? Gallstones are hard deposits of cholesterol that usually form in the gallbladder. The development of gallstones is one of the most common side effects of rapid weight loss. Gallstones are said to be harmless, but they cause most people who have them to experience nausea and serious abdominal pain to the extent that the gallbladder may need to be removed (6). When you are overweight or obese, you will likely develop gallstones, so losing weight is beneficial. However, doing it very quickly actually increases your risk of developing them.
Loss Of Lean Muscle
When you lose weight very quickly, it’s not necessarily just fat that goes away. Rapid weight loss can also significantly reduce fat-free mass; this is lean muscle tissue and bone. This reduction in muscle mass can lead to your metabolism slowing down, which can cause a rebound effect when you stop restricting calories or exercising.
While the fatty liver disease is commonly associated with obesity, rapid weight loss is a risk factor for developing liver damage. This may be due to the sudden changes in your fatty acid profile after your weight loss, or as a residual effect of being overweight (6).
Decline In Your Metabolism Rate
Losing a lot of weight quickly makes your body adapt in certain ways. One way your body adapts is by slowing down its energy use. When you lose a lot of weight quickly, you may experience a decline in your resting metabolic rate (RMR) (6). Your resting metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn while you are at rest or not doing anything. This decline in your metabolism can result in you regaining the weight you lost.
Maintaining the right balance of electrolytes is very important to your health. When you lose a lot of weight in a short period of time, most of the weight loss is usually water. The quick loss of fluids can disrupt the balance of minerals since the body excretes sodium to get rid of water. All your muscles, including your heart muscles, depend on proper electrolyte balance (6). Electrolytes carry an electric charge that plays a role in helping your muscles contract. Electrolytes also help your heart to beat properly.
Other effects of rapid weight loss include (5):
- Irritability and mood swing
- Menstrual irregularities
- Hair loss
Healthy Ways To Lose Weight
Choose A Low-Calorie Diet
To do this, you need to first know your daily calorie intake. From that number, you need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 – 1000 calories daily, depending on your goal (3). This should result in you losing 1- 2 pounds weekly, which is the recommended amount of weight a person should lose in a week.
This is an effective way to burn off those extra calories (3). You should go for different cardio exercises like mountain climbers, skipping rope, jogging, riding your bicycle and more. You should also go for different strength training exercises as they help you build muscles and muscles help burn calories even at rest.
Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption
As highlighted earlier, drinking alcohol increases your calorie intake and thus reducing your alcohol consumption would result in taking in less calories hence weight loss (3).
Get Enough Sleep
Find effective ways of managing your stress as this will help you prevent habits like stress-eating and hence help promote weight loss (3).
You should also avoid junk food, eat more protein and fiber, and drink a lot of water to promote healthy weight loss.
The Bottom Line
Is it realistic to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks? As we have discussed in the article, not only is it not realistic, it is also not healthy and not recommended. Aim to lose 1 – 2 pounds in a week as this is healthy and at the same time sustainable. Before you start any weight loss programs, make sure to consult an expert for guidance.
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. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Can You Lose 20-30 Pounds in 6 Weeks? (n.d., livestrong.com)
- Factors Affecting Weight & Health (2018, niddk.nih.gov)
- How to lose weight (2021, dietdoctor.com)
- How to Lose Weight in 6 Weeks: Your, Safe, Easy-to Follow Fat Loss Plan (2020, womenshealthmag.com)
- Rapid Weight Loss (2019, webmd.com)
- Risks of Losing Too Much Weight Too Quickly (n.d., livestrong.com)