How To Lose 20 Pounds In 30 Days: The Epic Weight Loss Challenge

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You are not alone if you have a lot of weight to lose.

Given the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States and much of the “Western world,“ it’s becoming increasingly common for people to want to lose a significant amount of weight quickly.

But, can you lose 20 pounds in 30 days? Is it possible to lose 20 pounds in a month? What are the best tips for how to lose 20 pounds fast?

In this guide, we will discuss whether you can lose 20 pounds in 30 days and the best tips for how to lose 20 pounds in a month or as fast as safely possible.

We will cover: 

  • Can You Lose 20 Pounds In a Month?
  • 8 Tips for How to Lose 20 Pounds In 30 Days (Or As Fast As Possible)

Let’s dive in!

A person who has lost weight pulling her big jeans out to the side.

Can You Lose 20 Pounds In a Month?

Before we discuss how to lose 20 pounds in 30 days, we have to lay out an important disclaimer:

To lose 20 pounds in a month is generally not possible and certainly not safe or recommended for most people except under the guidance of medical professionals.

Losing 20 pounds in a month is extremely rapid weight loss, which is generally unsafe and not sustainable if you are losing 20 pounds of fat (not just overall weight (including water weight)).

Therefore, we want to present the disclaimer that we are NOT recommending trying to lose 20 pounds in a month or doing a 30-day 20 pound weight loss challenge.

To lose 20 pounds in 30 days, you have to lose 5 pounds a week.

Losing one pound of body fat requires generating a caloric deficit of 3500 calories, so losing 20 pounds in 30 days requires burning 2,333 calories more per day than you are eating, every day, for 30 days.

A person stepping on a scale.

This is unreasonable and significantly higher than even the daily caloric needs for most men and women, according to the USDA, which means that you would have to burn upwards of two or more times what would be expected for the average adult.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a healthy amount of weight to lose in a month is 4-8 pounds.

Therefore, while we are presenting this article as a “30 day 20 pound weight loss challenge,” we are not suggesting that this is a safe or realistic goal for most people, and we are using this guide as more of a framework for how to lose 20 pounds quickly yet healthily.

There is one exception in which you might be able to lose 20 pounds in 30 days in a healthy manner.

If you have a significant amount of extra body fat and are clinically diagnosed as morbidly obese according to your BMI (body mass index over 35 kg/m2), you may be holding onto a lot of extra water weight.

In this case, to lose 20 pounds in a month is much more viable because a large portion of the 20 pound weight loss results will be water weight that you will shed within the first 7 to 10 days as you are body releases water retention, your hormonal levels balance out, and inflammation starts to drop in your body.

You may lose upwards of 10 pounds or more of water weight, depending on the severity of your current water retention and body composition, overall diet, health status, etc.

Then, on top of your water weight loss, you will start losing fat at a safe rate through the appropriate, healthy daily caloric deficit for weight loss.

A scale and a tape measure.

All of this is to say that losing 20 pounds in a month is ill-advised, if not impossible for most people.

However, as you start to make healthy changes and follow one of the best 20 pound weight loss plans, you may drop a lot of weight quickly if you have a lot of excess body fat and water weight to lose.

Then, you can settle into a slower monthly weight loss rate of closer to 5-10 pounds. 

Losing 5-10 pounds a month requires a daily caloric deficit of 580-1160 calories, which can be generated by cutting calories in your diet, increasing your physical activity, or a combination of both.

The more weight you have to lose, the easier it will be to generate this caloric deficit.

However, if you are looking into how to lose 20 pounds in a month but don’t have a lot of extra weight to lose and have been following a generally healthy diet, it might take you closer to 3 months of consistent hard work to lose 20 pounds.

This may sound like a lot, but you will be amazed at how fast the time goes when you commit to a healthy 20 pound weight loss challenge and stick to it.

Taking shortcuts and looking for rapid 20 pound weight loss results will likely be unsustainable and can seriously compromise your metabolism, which can compromise your ability to retain your weight loss results and continue losing weight over time.

A person with a tape measure around their waist.

8 Tips for How to Lose 20 Pounds In 30 Days (Or As Fast As Possible)

While most people should not try to lose 20 pounds in a month, here are some tips for how to lose 20 pounds quickly and in a healthy manner:

#1: Track Everything 

You need to achieve a caloric deficit of about 1000 calories a day if you want to lose the recommended 2 pounds per week.

This means that you need to track everything you eat and all the calories you are expending.

Use a good weight loss app or online calculator, and be honest and thorough with measuring and documenting your food.

#2: Give Up Sugar

Cutting out all forms of sugar, particularly added sugar, is one of the best weight loss tips.

Not only is sugar essentially empty calories, but it also increases the risk of numerous health problems, can increase food cravings, and be addictive in nature.

A calorie tracking app.

#3: Cut Carbs

Although certain carbs can be part of a very healthy weight loss diet, following a low-carb diet will be the fastest way to shed excess water weight because every gram of glycogen that your body stores requires an additional 3 to 4 g of water retention.

#4: Eliminate Processed Foods and Alcohol

The best tip for how to lose 20 pounds as fast as possible is to cut out all processed food and alcohol.

These foods contribute to inflammation, water weight, and food cravings.

#5: Change Your Portions

Aim to eat as much fiber and protein as possible, as these nutrients contribute to satiety.

Try to make at least 2/3 of your plate non-starchy vegetables and then focus on lean protein and healthy fats. 

Reduce portion sizes overall with all foods by looking at actual serving sizes, weighing or measuring your food, and using a smaller plate.

An exercise class.

#6: Exercise At Least 30 Minutes Per Day

If you want to lose 20 pounds in a month, or as quickly as possible, combining diet and exercise in your 20 pound weight loss plan will likely be the most effective strategy for healthy, sustainable, effective weight loss.

The more active you are, both with physical activity throughout your day as well as deliberate exercise sessions every day, the more calories you will burn and the better you will feel physically and mentally.

This will give you the energy and confidence to stick with your goal of trying to lose 20 pounds in 30 days (or as fast as you can).

Use a pedometer or fitness watch and get at least 10,000 steps daily.

Additionally, try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily with two weekly strength training workouts to build muscle and boost your metabolic rate.

#7: Get More Sleep

Getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, which is the recommended amount for adults, is a good way to increase weight loss because studies suggest that insufficient or excessive sleep can contribute to weight gain. 

Drinking water.

#8: Drink More Water

According to research, staying well hydrated helps support a faster metabolism, burn more calories, and control appetite.

We also sometimes conflate thirst with hunger.

Moreover, drinking water will improve your overall health, which can decrease chronic inflammation and help your body shed excess water weight.

Consider trying our 14 day weight loss challenge by drinking more water here.

A person taking a step.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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