Updated: September 25, 2022
Nothing happens overnight. With most patients I’ve worked with, it typically takes at least 21 days to establish a habit and see meaningful change.
So, if you stick with a plan and follow through with it, you might be wondering: how many lbs can I lose in a month? And how many inches can you lose in a month?
Read on to understand what to expect going into a healthy weight loss plan and answers to frequently asked questions from my weight loss patients.
How many pounds and inches can you lose in a month?
If you asked different people about how to lose excess weight in a month and how many pounds should you lose a month, you’d get different answers.
About 50 to 70% of our bodies are made of water.1 This means that if you wanted to drop water weight in a short period, you could lose a lot of pounds. Take wrestlers and martial artists as an example – it’s not uncommon to see these extreme athletes lose a significant amount of weight before weigh-ins, only to gain that weight right back as soon as they rehydrate.
This is the same reason why “detox” and “cleanse” programs promise weight loss – they often contain diuretics to flush water out of your body, resulting in a lower number on the scale in the short term. But as soon as you drink water, you’ll regain that weight.
If we’re talking about a sustained weight loss journey (i.e., fat loss), it takes some time. With Jenny Craig’s Max Up program, you can lose up to 18 pounds and 5 inches off your waist in your first 4 weeks.‡ The powerful science of intermittent fasting helps accelerate weight loss in your first month, followed by 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week – and it’s backed by science. A randomized, controlled study showed that an intermittent fasting eating pattern helped individuals lose weight and improve blood sugar in 8 weeks.2
‡ First 4 weeks only. Average weight loss in a study was 15 pounds and average waist size reduction was 3 inches for those who completed the program.
How much weight is healthy to lose in a month? (How to lose weight safely)
General guidelines recommend a gradual weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.3 As I’ve mentioned, it’s easy to lose a lot of water weight, but true weight loss means establishing healthy habits over time.
But if you have a lot to lose, how many pounds should you lose a month? That may vary by individual. For example, if you weigh 300 pounds, a 10% weight loss equates to 30 pounds. Compare that to an individual who is shorter and weighs 150 pounds – 10% weight loss means 15 pounds.
Overall, the more you weigh, the safer it is to lose a little bit more in the first month – calculate what 5-10% of your current weight equals and work with your physician as you determine how to lose fat safely. After your first month, you can expect to safely lose about 1-2 pounds per week.
What does a monthly meal plan look like?
A monthly meal plan for weight loss is no different than what I’d recommend for a patient who’s not seeking to lose weight. Drink lots of water. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies since they’re rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Consume foods with lean protein with every meal to help you stay full and build muscle. Choosing whole grains over processed food whenever possible. And give your body a metabolic break so that it can perform at its best – i.e., intermittent fasting!
If you’re seeking convenience, Jenny Craig offers monthly intermittent fasting meal plans — Max Up — that leverages the powerful science of intermittent fasting. You’ll eat smart portions during the day and give your body a break at night to help accelerate weight loss, especially in the first month. Consider liquid calories too, and check out helpful drinks for weight loss.
A day on Max Up consists of three meals, a mid-day snack, a dessert, and an intermittent fasting snack (“Recharge Bar”) that helps you burn fat and start the day after a 14-hour fast.
Best of all, these meals and snacks are not “diet foods.” They consist of lean proteins, nutritious veggies that are rich in dietary fiber to help you stay full and even dessert to help curb your sweet cravings. That means you don’t have to sacrifice delicious foods to lose weight!
Do I need to exercise to lose weight?
Technically, no. The solution for how to lose weight in a month without exercise is by choosing smarter portions, eating nutrient-dense meals and hydrating properly, you can lose weight without having to exercise as long as your body remains in a calorie deficit.
Beyond weight loss, there are many benefits of physical activity:6
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Improves mental health
- Supports stronger bones
- Helps build and retain muscle
- Helps reduce the risk of falls by improving balance and coordination
Current guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.7 Getting started with physical activity is easy — just find a fun activity that works for your lifestyle and schedule! From taking brisk walks on your lunch breaks to signing up for water aerobics or a dance class, the options are limitless.
In addition to aerobic activity, make sure you also incorporate strength training whenever possible, which can help you build muscle. While gaining muscle can increase your overall weight it decreases your body fat percentage, lowering your body fat through resistance training can help boost your resting metabolism and help your clothes fit better! Don’t worry — gaining muscle won’t make you look or feel bulky — that’s a common myth.
What happens after the first month?
It’s natural to see a lot of weight loss in the first month, only to see a plateau after that. If this happens to you, don’t get discouraged! Losing weight is not a linear journey — meaning that you’ll see ups and downs on your scale along your weight loss journey.
Why? The number of calories you burn at rest is also in part determined by your weight. So, as you lose weight, your body is burning fewer calories than you did when you were 20 pounds heavier. It seems unfair, but that means that your weight loss will either slow down a little or you have to do more (i.e., review food choices and portion sizes or change up your exercise routine to ensure you’re doing the recommended type and amount) to keep up at the rate at which you’ve been losing weight!
The process of weighing in can also be a factor. Here are some of my tips around weighing in:
- Your weight will naturally fluctuate throughout the day and throughout the month. Most people will weigh more in the evenings given the food and water they’ve consumed during the day. Try to weigh yourself on a consistent day of the week in the morning without clothes on and before taking in any food or water.
- If checking your weight daily causes stress then don’t weigh yourself more than once a week. Changes won’t happen overnight and weighing more frequently only contributes to the pressure! Consider using a different weight loss tracker if checking your weight daily causes stress.
- Be mindful of your hormones and any food you’ve eaten the night before — many women will retain water around their “time of the month.” Eating any foods that are higher in salt may also cause you to retain more water when you weigh in the next day.
Trust the process and stick with it, even if you have months during which you see no weight loss or even perhaps some weight gain. Focus on establishing healthy habits that can help you sustain your weight loss over time rather than the short-term results!
The bottom line
With effective programs like Jenny Craig’s Max Up, you can lose up to 18 pounds in a month depending on your starting weight.‡ General guidelines recommend losing about 1-2 pounds per week after that. A meal plan that follows an intermittent fasting schedule with plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and water can help you achieve your goals. While you don’t have to exercise to lose weight since the quality of your diet matters the most, doing so can help boost your results. After the first month, your rate of weight loss may slow down, but don’t panic and keep going — losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint!
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.