If You're Trying to Lose Body Fat, Follow These 3 Experts' Advice

Woman steps on a scale for weight loss.
POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim
POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim

There's no one-size-fits-all method to losing weight or lowering your body fat percentage. The amount of body fat and weight you can lose in a given month will vary based on your current weight, diet, and activity level, to name a few variables that impact weight loss. As you can probably guess, the amount of weight you can lose in a month — or two months, or a year — changes from person to person.

Still, if weight loss is your goal, it's helpful to have an estimate of how many pounds you can expect to drop in a month. While the number depends on many unique variables, even having a rough estimate can help keep you motivated and on track. To find out how much weight and body fat you can safely and realistically expect to lose in a month, POPSUGAR reached out to the experts.

How Much Body Fat Can You Lose in a Month?

"Under the assumption that nutrition is 100 percent during this process, it depends on the weight and body fat" of each person, said Stephen Cheuk, certificate IV Australian Institute of Personal Trainers certified trainer and founder of S10 Training in New York City. He explained that a person who is already relatively lean (18 to 28 percent body fat) and strength trains can lose anywhere from 0.5 to 0.8 percent of their body fat in a single week. If you have a body fat percentage over 28 percent, Cheuk said, you could lose "a minimum of one percent body fat a week."

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month?

Pratik Patel, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, New York Giants director of performance nutrition and assistant strength and conditioning coach, told POPSUGAR, "If you can steadily lose anywhere from 1/2 pound to one to two pounds a week, you know you can control it." According to Patel, a realistic and healthy way to achieve this would be to implement a calorie deficit.

One pound comes from about 3,500 calories, so if you eat 500 fewer calories than you burn from working out and other physical activity every day for a week, you'll be down one pound. By increasing this deficit to 750 calories a day for one week, you'll have lost one and a half pounds. Eating 1,000 fewer calories than what you burn with exercise will put you at a two-pound loss in a single week. This means that in a month you could lose anywhere from four to eight pounds in a month.

Patel explained that losing no more than two pounds a week will ensure that you're burning fat instead of breaking down your muscle tissue, which you definitely don't want. Breaking down your muscle will slow your metabolism, which will ultimately make it harder to lose weight. (On the flip side, building muscle helps to boost your metabolism, which is why strength-building workouts are recommended if you're trying to lose weight.)

Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD, nutrition director at Trifecta, said, "Weight loss is strongly determined by one's age, starting body weight, their fitness levels, current body composition, and overall health." According to Satrazemis, people who have more weight to lose and who currently consume a high calorie diet may lose more weight and quicker because "it is easier to cut high amounts of calories from a diet that is high in calories to begin with."

For sustainable weight loss, she recommends decreasing one's caloric intake by 15 percent and absolutely no more than 20 percent a day. She explained that going from eating 2,000 calories to 1,700 calories a day will result in a little over half of a pound of weight loss per week. "For some, losing one to two pounds a week is not realistic, while others may lose even more than that," she said. Satrazemis explained that consistent exercise can help you lose more weight but it may also increase your appetite. Because of this, she advised adjusting your caloric intake to accommodate an increased appetite.

While losing four to eight pounds a month is possible, remember that every body is different and the way your body loses weight might not follow this exact pattern. It's best to consult a doctor before making drastic changes to your diet and exercise routine, and to talk to a weight loss doctor if you want an approach that personalized to you.