How much weight can you lose in three months?

last updated: Sep 01, 2023

3 min read

Sometimes we all might wish we could just flip a switch to shed those excess pounds, especially before a family gathering or a big event, but rapid weight loss isn’t typically that easy. Also, when you lose weight quickly through extreme “fad diets,” you may be more prone to gain it all back again (sometimes landing at a higher weight than you started at). How much weight you can lose in three months depends on a range of factors, including your starting weight, your current lifestyle habits (like how active you are and what you eat on a daily basis), and what changes you make to lose weight. Read on to learn more about how much weight you can lose in three months and safe and effective ways to lose the weight and keep it off. 

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How much weight can you lose in three months?

In general, when people try a new weight loss intervention, they may see rapid results initially that can taper off or plateau, but overall, with a strict diet and adherence to an exercise regimen, people can lose around 20 pounds over the course of three months.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends aiming for 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week or 4-8 pounds per month for a slow and steady sustainable pace. 

Lifestyle changes for weight loss

While scientists and doctors have traditionally touted the simple math of weight loss (i.e. how many calories you eat minus how many calories you spend), the real-life effects are far more complex. In theory, if you eat 2000 calories a day and spend 3000, your body will take that energy from existing energy stores (such as fat and muscle). Over time, if you sustain that pattern, the experts claimed, you would lose weight. 

But these equations fail to consider that as you consume fewer calories, your body burns them at a slower rate. Also, innate mechanisms in our body tend to be activated by weight loss in a way that tells the body to store more energy and spend less since resources seem more scarce. This is known as starvation mode.

“Long-term weight management means committing to whatever strategy works for you,” says Dr. Beverly Tchang, an endocrinologist who specializes in obesity medicine, and an advisor to Ro. “If you lose weight with a ketogenic diet, for example, you can expect to regain that weight when you stop the ketogenic diet.”

Proven weight loss techniques

“While the first few days can be tough, breaking some of your higher calorie habits can greatly impact your weight. I recommend finding a support system that works for you. Some people find that group programs like Weight Watchers can help. Other people prefer apps for staying on track,” says Dr. Tchang. 

While diet is the dominant factor in weight loss, exercise is also crucial for maintaining fitness, muscle mass, and metabolism while you lose weight. If your activity level is minimal right now, start small: 

  • Keep your sneakers near the entrance to remind you to go for a walk

  • Change into workout clothes before you leave the office so you’re ready to go to the gym

  • Park farther away from the entrance (to the office, grocery store, etc.) 

Are there any FDA-approved weight loss medications?

If you’re looking for help on your weight loss journey, many different FDA-approved options are available. Your best bet is to speak with your healthcare provider about your personal medical history, what medications (if any) you are taking, and what you’ve tried in the past to help with your weight. They may consider prescribing medications like Wegovy or Saxenda, which in combination with diet and exercise are safe and effective for helping people manage their weight.

Wegovy Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Saxenda Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

DISCLAIMER

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

September 01, 2023

Written by

Yael Cooperman, MD

Fact checked by

Felix Gussone, MD


About the medical reviewer

Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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