Let's say you have a wedding in three months and you want to fit into a lovely dress that is currently too small for you. Can you pull it off? How much weight can you lose in three months?
Many experts, including the UK's National Health Service (NHS), believe that losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a safe rate of weight loss. This means you can lose up to 24 lbs (11 kg) in three months while remaining healthy. Perhaps a little more if you're retaining a lot of water weight.
You can lose more if you want, but doing so may increase your risk of gallstones, malnutrition, and muscle mass loss. Such is the aftereffect of rapid weight loss.
Furthermore, it is completely unsustainable. In fact, research indicates that rapid weight loss can be followed by rapid weight regain if you abandon your diet.
This leads us to the next section…
What are the best ways to lose weight in three months?
The same study that I mentioned earlier discusses long-term weight loss. According to their findings, switching to a healthier lifestyle improves the long-term success of any weight loss program.
This includes learning more about proper nutrition and eating patterns, incorporating aerobic and anaerobic exercise to burn more calories, and developing good habits that you can carry with you for the long haul.
Now I realize that 3 months isn't exactly a long time. However, I strongly believe that these same concepts apply regardless of the time frame you're working with. After all, you want to come out of those three months stronger and healthier, don't you?
Having said that, here are some of the most effective ways to lose weight in three months:
It all comes down to being on a caloric deficit.
It all comes down to the number of calories you put into your body when you want to lose weight. To lose weight, you should consume fewer calories than your body burns each day (i.e. caloric deficit). This forces your body to use stored fat as fuel, resulting in a lower weight over time.
You may now be wondering:
“How many calories should I eat a day to lose 2 pounds a week?”
Whatever the amount of food you’re eating right now, the MayoClinic says to cut 500-1000 calories a day. You might think that’s a lot but if you’re currently eating around 2500 calories, dropping that to 2000, maybe even 1500 calories, probably isn’t as hard as you think it is especially if you’re eating the right kind of food.
The MayoClinic also has an easy to use calorie calculator that tells you how much you need to eat per day to maintain your weight. Just deduct calories from that and you’re all set.
Another option would be to use MyFitnessPal which is actually what I use. It’s a free app with a similar calorie calculator and a diary of sorts that doubles as a calorie tracker, making it easier to keep an eye on the amount of food you’re eating.
This brings us to the next point you should be aware of.
Not all calories are created equal.
You've probably heard this before, but it's still sound advice.
The gist of it all is that wholefoods are better than processed foods, junk food, and a lot of restaurant food. It is more nutritious and can make you feel fuller with fewer calories.
1 large apple, for example, has roughly the same number of calories as a serving of Doritos, but the fruit is better for your weight because it contains a lot of fiber and water, both of which aid in satiety.
Furthermore, the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are simply incomparable to those found in chips.
Aside from fruits and vegetables, you'll want to include other foods on your plate. According to Harvard, you should also include whole grains, lean protein sources, water, and healthy oils in your meals. Specifically:
- Fruits and vegetables should make up half of your plate.
- A quarter of the calories come from whole grains like rolled oats, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Another quarter should be protein, either plant-based or animal-based.
Choose healthy oils such as olive and canola oil for your cooking. Maintain moderation, however, because fat contains more than twice as many calories as carbs and protein, regardless of whether it is “good” or “bad” fat.
Water, on the other hand, is an important — and often overlooked — component of weight loss nutrition. Let us discuss it separately.
Consume plenty of water.
I believe that drinking 8 glasses of water is sound advice because it is simple to remember. Men and women, on the other hand, require varying amounts. So, according to the Mayo Clinic, here's a more specific amount you should drink:
- For men – 15.5 cups (3.7 liters)
- For women – 11.5 cups (2.7 liters)
If that is difficult to remember, Harvard recommends drinking 2-3 cups of water per hour.
Having said that, getting enough water is critical to losing weight. According to research, drinking 500 mL of water before meals, along with a caloric deficit, leads to better weight loss results.
In fact, their findings indicate that doing so can help you lose 44 percent more weight in three months.
Furthermore, another study shows that simply drinking water increases your metabolism by about 30% in 30-40 minutes.
On the contrary, if we reverse that logic, I believe it is reasonable to assume that not drinking enough water slows your metabolism, resulting in slower weight loss.
Workout, workout, and then some.
Of course, you can lose weight without exercising (more on that later), but if you truly want to maximize your weight loss, you need to stay active.
As you can see, the concept is straightforward. The more you move, the more calories you burn, and the faster you lose weight, the more calories you burn. But how about we go a little deeper?
How to Lose Weight in Three Months Through Exercise
You have a lot of options here, but they can all be classified as one of two things:
- Aerobic exercise (also known as “cardio”) or
- Anaerobic exercise (or strength and resistance training)
Aerobic exercises challenge your cardiovascular system and thus improve it. This means that you will be breathing harder and your heart will be beating faster as a result of these exercises.
Distance walking, jogging, and cycling are good examples, as are swimming laps, dance, skip rope, and other activities.
Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, are typically performed in short bursts and are designed to test your strength and power more than your conditioning.
You've got your basic weight lifting, powerlifting, and calisthenics, for example.
There are also routines that fall right in the middle of aerobic and anaerobic exercises, such as crossfit, some types of yoga, and circuit training. Whatever exercise you choose, they're all fantastic in my opinion.
I recommend beginning with cardio for beginners.
Some trainers may disagree with me, and it is certainly not the same for everyone, but cardio is generally better for overall weight loss.
And, if you're overweight, losing weight, whether it's fat or muscle, has the power to lift your spirits. As a result, you may be able to stick to a healthier routine for longer than your three-month goal.
I also find it easier to begin and progress with cardio. Walking, in particular, is one of the simplest ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine. There is also no need for specialized equipment.
In a separate article, we discuss how to lose weight by walking, but in a nutshell, you start with whatever number of steps you can tolerate right now, add about 1000 steps every couple of weeks, and gradually ramp up the intensity until you're fit enough to engage in more challenging types of workouts.
A fitbit, or any other device with a pedometer, will help you keep track of your steps and the number of calories you burn. I strongly advise you to purchase one of these.
Don't underestimate the value of anaerobic training.
When you've built up enough conditioning to take on more laborious workouts, I strongly advise you to start doing some anaerobic training.
If you don't feel comfortable working out in a gym, you can always do calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) at home. You could also purchase resistance bands and possibly a few pairs of dumbbells for at-home workouts.
The biggest advantage of resistance training over cardio, in my opinion, is that it builds lean muscle mass while burning fat.
According to a University of New Mexico article, muscle accounts for approximately 20% of your body's resting metabolism. That may not seem like much, but when compared to fat's 5%, I believe it is significant.
Connecting the dots, replacing fat with muscle can help you burn more calories even when you're not working out. The increase may not completely astound you, but with only three months to go, any assistance should be appreciated, right? Right.
That being said, your nutrition will change slightly if you're trying to build/maintain muscle and lose weight at the same time because you'll need to eat more protein to feed those muscles while still maintaining a caloric deficit.
According to one study, you should consume 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. The remainder of your calories will, of course, be split between fat and carbohydrates.
As a starting point, consider the following numbers from a bodybuilding study:
- 55-60% of your calories come from carbs
- 25-30% from protein (or 1.2-2.0 grams per kilo of weight), and
- 15-20% goes to fat
If you're having trouble deciding what to eat to fill those portions, we've got a list of breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes with their respective macronutrient profiles to help.
“How frequently should I exercise?”
…is probably what you're thinking right now.
According to the CDC, you should aim for the following each week:
A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio
At least two days of resistance training involving all of your major muscle groups
150 minutes may seem like a long time, but think of it as 30 minutes of brisk walking (or any equivalent activity) every day for five days. Doesn't sound too difficult now, does it?
Moving on, you can choose not to exercise while still losing weight.
How to Lose 3 Pounds in 3 Months Without Exercising
It all comes down to food in this case.
While it is certainly doable, the disadvantage is that you will be unable to eat as much because you will be burning fewer calories.
For example, a 30-year-old woman standing 5'4″ and weighing 200 pounds would require 1700 calories to maintain her weight and approximately 1200 calories to slim down. However, if the same woman led an active lifestyle, she would be able to eat 1500 calories and still lose weight.
Furthermore, if you're not eating the right foods, the lower calorie threshold may make you feel hungrier than you wanted. As a result, you are more likely to abandon your diet and lose less weight in those three months.
Here's how you can make things a little easier for yourself:
The key is to use natural appetite suppressants.
I've already mentioned apples and their effect on satiety, but there are numerous other foods that contain nutrients and compounds that promote fullness and satiety.
Protein is one such nutrient. According to the USDA, one large egg contains more than 6 grams of protein, and egg breakfasts are superior to cereal in terms of promoting satiety, owing to their high protein content.
As a result, less food was consumed at the next meal. Of course, other protein-rich foods, such as chicken, tuna, chickpeas, and edamame, to name a few, provide similar benefits.
Fiber is another important nutrient to consider. There is evidence that eating more soluble fiber slows digestion, which helps you feel fuller for longer and keeps your appetite in check.
Insoluble fiber, which is found in whole grains such as rolled oats, cannot be digested, so it has no effect on your calories but still takes up space in your stomach. Both types aid in appetite control.
Fat is also beneficial, but choose your fat wisely. MCTs (or medium-chain triacylglycerols) are better than LCTs (or long-chain triacylglycerols) for satiety, which can help you eat fewer calories later on, according to research.
MCTs are found in coconut and palm oil, but they can also be found in dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, as previously stated, these should be consumed in moderation because fats are the most calorie dense macronutrient.
Foods with a high water content can also help you lose weight. In fact, research shows that eating more of these types of foods can be more effective at controlling your appetite than simply drinking more water.
Fortunately for you, many of these foods are also high in fiber, making them some of the lowest calorie foods on the planet. The majority of these consist of fruits and vegetables such as grapefruit, watermelon, berries, and spinach.
Check out our list of Healthy Foods to Eat Everyday to Lose Weight for more examples of foods that can help you lose weight without exercising.
Herbs and spices that boost metabolism
Aside from appetite suppressants, there are a variety of herbs and spices that can help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism. Some of them are likely to be in your pantry right now.
We've discussed these spices in depth in another article, but here are a few good ones you can use right now:
- Cayenne and other capsaicin-containing chili peppers
- Turmeric as a result of circumin (the active compound found in turmeric)
- The antioxidants found in black cardamom
- Ginger because it aids in detoxification and fat loss.
- Garlic appears to be effective for reducing waist circumference.
- Because of its diuretic properties, parsley aids in the reduction of bloating.
- In addition to herbs and spices, coffee and green tea are options.
Both of these drinks contain caffeine, which has been shown in studies to have a two-pronged effect on weight loss:
- It helps you eat fewer calories and burn more calories.
- Coffee and green tea both have almost no calories, which makes them even better.
Furthermore, green tea contains a compound known as EGCG, which not only boosts your metabolism but also specifically helps you burn more fat. Not bad for a common beverage, is it?
So, to summarize:
You can safely lose 12-24 lbs in three months. However, I believe your approach to losing weight during that time period should be the same as when you're attempting to maintain a healthier weight over time.
This way, there will be little doubt about its safety, effectiveness, and long-term viability. This entails cleaning up your diet, eating the right foods, and, if possible, working out on a regular basis.
I'm going to leave now. Will you please share this with your friends who may need assistance with their weight management? Thanks!