How to Lose 20 Pounds 2023? 9 Safely Ways To Lose 20 Pounds

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Reviewed by Sutton, D., MD

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how to lose 20 pounds

Usually, when weight loss is a goal, no one wants to wait around for a long time for the results. While there’s no safe way to get what you want overnight, or even in a week, significant weight loss can be achieved in a relatively quick time when you prioritize some essential strategies and stay consistent with your efforts.

Is It Safe To Lose 20 Pounds Fast?

Doing anything too fast can be problematic. There are many bodily systems in place that determine how our bodies store fat, weight and how the body burns off calories. So, trying to override them overnight is not safe. However, in about two months, you can expect to lose close to 20 pounds safely[1], if you make significant (but healthy) changes to your diet, exercise routine, sleep and if you stay consistent with your efforts. When acting in accordance with these new routines, you can expect to lose anywhere from 1-2 pounds a week (4-8 pounds a month) safely, which can add up to 24 pounds after only three months of working toward your goal.

how to lose 20 pounds

How To Lose 20 Pounds In Just A Few Months

Weight loss is a unique experience for everyone – certain medical conditions, age, sex, genetics, hormone imbalances, and other lifestyle factors can all play a role in how easily it is to shed pounds. However, there are proven methods that can help almost anyone lose weight in a healthy way. To lose 20 pounds in a relatively short amount of time, it requires a holistic approach (using multiple tools) and a consistency of using these tools in order to lose and then maintain your ideal weight. It won’t be enough to engage in rigorous exercise for one week or go on a crash diet for a few weeks. It’s a multi – tiered application, but one with a lot of rewards.

Reduce Calories

They say you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. This is because what you put in your body has an overwhelming influence over how you’ll look and feel. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to reduce calories. This does not mean avoiding all foods. On the contrary – focus on real, whole foods which have fewer calories and more nutrients. Often this comes down to swapping out processed foods for whole plant foods and lean meats.

Eat Filling Foods (I.E., Fiber And Protein)

Avoiding all foods is never the answer for weight loss. Rather, avoiding specific foods (such as refined, processed foods) and replacing them with nourishing and filling foods will help promote healthy weight loss. Foods high in fiber (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts) will satiate us. These fibrous foods are known as complex carbohydrates. Same is true for protein – we need it to feel full. The type of protein matters – rather than high – calorie fried meat, choose lean meat and fish, baked, steamed or broiled. An ideal meal and snack will contain both protein and complex carbohydrates, as well as healthy fat (such as avocado). It’s this mixture of macronutrients that creates fullness, which helps to curb unnecessary snacking.

Limit Sweets And Fried Foods

Sugar and fatty foods are notorious for putting on weight. The body cannot break down or properly utilize all the excess fat and sugar, so they get stored in fat cells. Any weight loss plan will involve revamping your diet, and the easiest place to start is to reduce the amount of fried and sugary foods you consume. The great news is, these foods do not provide any nutritional value, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them – you can simply cut them out.

Limit Refined Carbohydrates

All carbohydrates break down into sugar, but carbs alone are not the problem – refined carbs are. Complex carbs such as vegetables, oats and beans contain fiber, vitamins and minerals, and even protein. All these elements help to slow down how the body metabolizes sugar. Refined carbs, on the other hand, (such as white bread, white rice, cookies, cakes, etc…) have been stripped of most of their health benefits, leaving only fast-absorbing sugars. This will lead to spikes in blood sugar, inflammation, and hormone imbalance – all of which put the breaks on weight loss efforts.

Make The Base Of Your Meal A Low – Calorie Food

There are a variety of diets that can help with weight loss, including different low-carb and low-fat diets. However, one thing they all have in common is having a heavy plant base. This means loading up your plate with lots of vegetables. Vegetables have relatively few calories, even in large portions, which means you can eat a lot and still keep your calorie intake low.

Supplement

In addition to your weight loss diet, it can be helpful to supplement with add-on ingredients that can promote weight loss. You may want to consider adding green tea[2], for example because it contains EGCH, which is an antioxidant that helps the body burn fat (especially around the belly). MCT oil is a supplement that can be added to coffee or other drinks to help maintain satiety and encourage weight loss. Some spices, including chili peppers, are also beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. Many of these foods can be found in supplement form, but whenever possible, it’s always best to get it straight from the source.

Exercise

Diet and exercise go hand in hand – if you want to lose 20 pounds in a few months, you can’t leave it all to food. The body needs exercise to be healthy, however, it’s especially important if your goal is to lose weight. Exercise helps your body burn off the calories you put in and when factored into a lower calorie diet, the body is forced to reduce weight. Physical activity also helps the body maintain weight loss and it offsets the risks of developing heart problems that are associated with being overweight[3]. Regular exercise also has positive effects on sleep, which is an equally important element of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Get More Sleep

Sleep is the time when the body assimilates and processes all the information (food, exercise, thoughts) you put into it during the day. Without proper sleep, the body can’t orchestrate the necessary processes to utilize all your good efforts. Additionally, getting quality sleep helps moderate appetite (poor sleep leads to energy slumps which make us crave sugary carbs the next day). Sleep regulates cortisol, the stress hormone, which when it gets too high, can cause a build up of fat around the belly area. Sleep may also play a significant role in a healthy metabolism[4].

Eat Slowly

Eating slower has many functions beyond enjoying your food more. When we eat slower, we chew our food better, which has cascading benefits for digestion. When our food is digested properly, the nutrients go where they need to and we tend to stay fuller for longer. Additionally, the slow eating process helps us activate a peaceful and relaxed state known as “rest and digest”, which lowers cortisol and helps the body process everything better. Slow eating also helps us pick up on our subtle hunger and fullness cues, which are often missed when we scarf down food in a rush. We’re supposed to stop eating when we’re 80% full[5], not exploding. But we won’t know when we hit that level unless we’re slowing down during our meals.

How Long Will It Take To Lose 20 Pounds?

If you’re only focusing on one weight loss tactic (for example, just dieting), it will likely take much longer to lose weight than if you’re tackling all these areas at once (getting better sleep, reducing calories, exercising, swapping out processed foods for filling ones, managing stress, etc). If you’re serious about losing weight, specifically 20 pounds, you may see results in a little over two months – the CDC says that a healthy weight loss goal to aim for is 1-2 pounds per week, which comes out to 4-8 pounds per month[6]. This means you have the potential to lose 24 pounds by the end of the third month. 

This, of course, is highly individual and not every person will respond exactly the same to various weight loss strategies, so it’s important to discuss your weight loss goals with your doctor and figure out what is reasonable for you and your body. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself enough in a healthy way, and pushing your body past what’s safe and healthy. Remember, your individual hormone imbalances, sex, age and medical conditions may play a role in how your body responds to different foods, workouts and stress, and in turn, how weight loss is achieved.

Conclusion

Losing weight is a unique experience for everyone – some people want to lose weight to feel better in their bodies, some want to have more energy, and some want to improve their health conditions or reduce the risk of developing certain health conditions. Whatever your reason, if losing weight is a goal, rest assured you can lose more weight faster when you address many different areas that are causing you to keep weight on.

For example, if you exercise but you eat a high-calorie/processed food diet, your body will have a harder time losing weight because those two things are competing with each other. It’s very important to swap out fried and sugary foods for lower-calorie, filling foods, reduce all processed foods, exercise, chew food slowly, manage stress and get quality sleep – all these things must work together for the pounds to come off. Additionally, these efforts must be maintained continuously in order to see results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does eating slowly make a difference in weight loss?

It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat! When we eat too fast, we don’t give enough time for food to digest properly, which means the body has a harder time extracting nutrients and ridding the toxins. As a result, excess calories, stress, and fat can accumulate.

Do I have to do all 9 strategies every single day?

It’s important not to put pressure on yourself to be perfect all the time. Skipping a few days here and there should not make a difference if you’re mostly consistent and committed to all the strategies. Try to do them everyday, but you can expect that some days will be harder to stick to than others – it’s part of the process.

Will I definitely lose 8 pounds in a month?

Everyone is unique. With consistent efforts in dietary changes, regular exercise, and proper sleep, many people can expect to lose between 1-2 pounds a week (or 4-8 pounds a month). However, it’s always best to work with a qualified professional and factor in your unique body and conditions that may alter this timeline.

+ 6 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Fletcher, J. (2020). How much weight can you safely lose in 1 month? [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-much-weight-can-you-lose-in-a-month#how-much [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  2. Franziska Spritzler (2022). 11 Healthy Foods That Help You Burn Fat. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-fat-burning-foods#green-tea [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  3. CDC (2022). Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  4. Pullen, C. (2021). 6 Ways Sleep May Help You Lose Weight. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-and-weight-loss#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  5. Imatome-Yun, N. (2017). Hara Hachi Bu: Enjoy Food and Lose Weight With This Simple Japanese Phrase. [online] Blue Zones. Available at: https://www.bluezones.com/2017/12/hara-hachi-bu-enjoy-food-and-lose-weight-with-this-simple-phrase/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  6. Goldman, R. (2016). How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month? [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/weight-loss-in-a-month [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather, F., Health Coaching
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Writer
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Writer with a holistic and functional medicine/root cause mindset. My writing style is engaging, relatable, and educational, designed to help readers digest and relate to complex topics in nutrition, gut health, hormone health, mental health, and spiritual health, then inspire them to take action.

ABOUT MEDICAL REVIEWER

Sutton, D., MD
Medical Writer & Editor
Drew is a retired ENT doctor who now lives in the Southeastern US. He was a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology and an MD degree. He completed his internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and practiced for almost 30 years in all aspects of ENT, including a specialization in disorders of the ear and skull base. Drew is passionate about communicating his clinical experiences and making his knowledge more accessible to the general public by medical writing.
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