Is Losing 20 Pounds in A Month Healthy?

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Christina Ross
Christina Ross
I'm a human being on planet earth. I've lived hundreds of lifetimes. In this incarnation I'm here to advance medicine.

Weight is a controversial topic at best, especially in this era of body positivity and self-love. However, from time to time, for some people losing weight might not be a matter of choice but a necessity. 

The reason is that an overinflated weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) is usually associated with chronic diseases. Whether it’s a choice or necessity, you’re probably looking to lose weight fast; however, you’re unsure how much you should lose. 

You’re probably wondering, “Hmm, is losing 20 pounds in a month healthy?”. “Should I try and lose more or less than that?”. 

We are here to give you a detailed breakdown of the impact of losing 20 pounds on your body. So, keep on reading!

You may also like: How to Lose 60 Pounds in 3 months

Is Losing 20 Pounds in a Month Healthy? – How much can you lose?

Is Losing 20 Pounds in a Month Healthy

Losing up to 1 or 2 pounds per week is considered healthy by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hence, dieticians typically recommend reducing 4 to 8 pounds per month. Find out how to lose 10 pounds in a month here! 

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose more. You probably can, but it’s not recommended for a reason, which is explained below: 

Let’s Talk about Numbers and Calories

You gained a bit of weight over Thanksgiving and Christmas, or maybe amidst the pandemic when everyone was home-bound. Now that things are gradually settling down, you want to get back into shape and stop lazing around finally. 

However, rushing to shed some pounds can be a bit problematic. A pound equates to 3,500 calories; hence to lose around 2 pounds per week, you would need to lose about 7,000 calories, which is acceptable. 

Whenever you think about losing 20 pounds per month, that would mean burning 17,500 calories per week to lose around 5 pounds! That number is enormous and may need some serious dedication to achieve your goal. 

Do you know what the sad part is? It is pretty easy to regain the pounds lost within a brief time. Even if you succeed in achieving your goal, chances are this number might not sustain in the long run. 

Furthermore, losing those 20 pounds may pose some dire and adverse effects on your body as well. A proper meal-based plan and appropriate exercise regime will assist in losing weight and being healthy in the long run. 

Consequences of Losing 20 Pounds Per Month

lost 20 pounds in a month

Let’s start with the physical issues you will face when losing too much weight too fast. Shedding pounds too quickly, especially by using starvation techniques, can have a counter effect and may gain more than what was initially lost. 

Stress on the Body:

Apart from this, you will most certainly miss out on essential nutrients your body needs. Nutritional deficiencies such as a vitamin or mineral deficiency are likely to lead to the development of brittle hair and nails as long as hair loss. 

In addition to that, taking in too few calories per day can lead to decreased energy leading to extreme fatigue. Moreover, the lack of nutritional deficiency will compromise your immune system, eventually leading to weakened bones and Osteoporosis. 

Slowed Metabolism:

Furthermore, if that wasn’t bad enough, you will be slowing down your metabolism as your body goes into starvation mode. This is a defense mechanism when you cut down your calories rapidly. 

When a limited supply of food is consumed, your body slows down the metabolism to help reserve energy and, as a result, hold onto fat more. 

It Can Lead to More Eating! 

I think we have established an understanding regarding the trade-off between consuming fewer calories than what is recommended. It’s going to mess up your immune system!

However, it may also become obsessed with food due to your insatiable hunger. Yes, you heard that right. Usually, quick fixes such as losing 20 pounds in a month mess up your leptin hormones responsible for hunger control.

Unbalanced leptin increases the chances of binge eating. Eventually, it leads to a perpetual cycle of an unhealthy obsession with food. 

Impact on Your Mental Health:

Such quick fixes and rapid weight loss measures are likely to lead to an unhealthy obsession with eating. Considering how this global fixation regarding shedding pounds is overtaking the mind of youth, it’s no wonder eating disorders are at large. 

Furthermore, this fixation might start small but may eventually develop detrimental eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphia, etc.

What’s Your Actual Goal?

20 lb weight loss in 1 month

If you are looking to lose weight, it must be a way of increasing your self-confidence and doing better in life overall by being productive. In such cases, you should focus on the long-term gains. 

Instead of jumping to the latest fad diets that promise you a loss of 20 pounds within a month, you should think of the consequences that such rapid weight loss brings. Not to mention such tactics are usually ineffective and not recommended by professionals. 

You might opt for fast fixes and weight loss supplements in exchange for taking the long route. Still, you will be doing yourself a favor in the future with a more sustainable approach. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long should it take to lose 20 pounds?

To lose 20 pounds sustainably and healthily, it should take at least ten weeks, considering you lose 2 pounds each week. Anything less than that is likely to be unhealthy according to standards. 

Is losing 20 pounds in a month too much?

It is possible to lose 20 pounds in a month. Still, it is likely to lead to health risks stemming from nutritional deficiencies, imbalance of hormones, muscle loss, etc.

Furthermore, it will also lower your metabolism and increase your cravings, harming your body. 

What is considered rapid weight loss?

Losing more than 2 pounds or 1 Kg per week is considered rapid weight loss. This might lead to minor hair loss, dryness of skin, and feeling cold more frequently initially but may lead to dire consequences if it persists. 

Can lack of sleep cause weight loss?

No, a lack of sleep will have the opposite effect. This is because not getting enough sleep increases the resistance to weight loss and the ability to store fat. Both these factors will deter you from losing weight. 


If you ask if losing 20 pounds in a month is healthy, a logical answer would be it is not healthy, and for a good reason. 

Just like the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race” focus on taking small steps and adopting simple habits which are likely to provide accumulated change. It will also help to jump-start your weight loss journey more healthily. 

Focus on sustainability in the long run. Short-term gains are for immediate gratification but will only get you so far. 

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