How to lose a stone in a month - an effective plan for healthy, sustainable weight loss
If you want to learn how to lose a stone in a month, our expert-led guide will help you achieve long-lasting results...
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Before we dive into how to lose a stone in a month, it's important to remember that weight loss should always take place in a healthy, sustainable way. You can lose weight very quickly but if you set your goals too high and restrict yourself too much, you'll likely gain it back even faster.
There's no denying that losing a stone in just four weeks is a big goal, that's 14 pounds overall, working out to three and a half pounds of weight loss every week. This is a much higher goal than the one to two pounds many health organisations, including the CDC (opens in new tab), would suggest is healthy to lose in this time frame due to the possible side effects. Try to lengthen out your goals, if possible, and always visit your doctor first if you're going to dramatically change your eating plan.
If you want faster weight loss results without making big weight loss mistakes, a calorie deficit will be essential, alongside a steady intake of protein-rich foods and regular exercise. Whether you want to lose weight in a month or learn how to lose weight in a week, we've got advice from several personal trainers and nutritionists to see you through the process.
Here's why healthy weight loss is so important
Quick-fix, fad diets may sound tempting but they simply don't work in the long term. "The weight might be going down on the scales rapidly but you'll be losing muscle and water weight, rather than fat," explains Karine Patel, registered dietician and nutritionist at Dietician Fit (opens in new tab). "This isn't healthy and it could harm your metabolism permanently, making it harder for you to lose weight in the future too."
They'll also put you at risk of developing a nutrient deficiency, explains Warrior (opens in new tab)'s nutritionist Jess Hillard. "You are likely not going to be getting enough vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, magnesium and iron," she says.
Then there's the fact that these highly restrictive eating regimes are almost impossible to follow, meaning you're likely to over-restrict yourself and then binge later on. "You will not be able to sustain your normal way of living on these diets," notes Hillard. "Your body craves the things you've cut out, you give in, eat more and then the weight will go back on again."
Instead, it's worth approaching weight loss with a healthier goal and a longer, sustainable weight loss plan, like maintaining a deficit with a plan to learn how to lose weight without dieting. According to the NHS (opens in new tab), while requirements will depend on varying factors like age, size and levels of physical activity, the average woman needs around 2000 calories to maintain weight and a deficit of about 500 to start losing weight.
If you're looking to lose weight in a month, dietician and nutritionist Patel says a "realistic amount is roughly four pounds [2kg] per month, working out to just over one pound a week [0.5kg], until you reach your healthiest, individual weight."
She adds, "Healthy weight loss should allow you to keep the weight off for life as you are making changes in your eating habits and lifestyle as opposed to following a diet plan."
How to lose a stone in a month - 10 things to know
1. Have a protein-rich breakfast
Having a protein-rich breakfast will keep you fuller for longer as it's the most filling macronutrient, research from Perdue University (opens in new tab) explains. And doing so, nutritionist Kim Pearson (opens in new tab) says, "will in turn help prevent mid-morning snacking."
"The research shows that a high-protein breakfast promotes weight loss by regulating our appetite hormones like ghrelin and leptin. If you want to know how to eat less, swapping your cereal or toast for a protein-rich breakfast is the way forward," she says.
Trying to maintain a calorie deficit through exercise alone is very difficult since you must be burning more calories than you consume every day. When we exercise, we put strain on the muscles so eating enough protein is essential for this too. If you're short on time, this could be in the form of one of the best protein powders or even the best protein shake for losing weight specifically. Otherwise, including high-protein foods in your diet will do the trick.
"Protein is key to help rebuild muscle fibers. Lean meats like chicken, dairy sources including eggs and milk, alongside powders and supplements are a great way to include the nutrient in your diet," Hillard says.
2. Fill your plate with vegetables
The same research from Purdue University says that alongside protein, fiber is another satiating macronutrient. Present in high-fiber foods including vegetables like leafy greens, incorporating more of these into your diet will help you stay in your deficit.
"Carbohydrates are converted to sugar in the body and if these sugars aren't used for energy, they're likely to get stored as fat," says Pearson, "Avoid foods like white rice, pasta, noodles, and bread. Cauliflower rice and courgette spaghetti make great alternatives to your standard rice and pasta."
At dinnertime, Pearson advises making sure at least half of your plate includes mostly green vegetables and other low-carb vegetable options, such as mushrooms or tomatoes. In total, a quarter should include high-fiber foods like ancient grains and wholewheat alternatives to refined carbs.
3. Add good fats to all your meals
Pearson insists it's imperative you eat fat, contrary to what you might have previously been told. "You might think that it could lead to gaining weight, but actually the opposite is true," she explains. "Fat is not only essential for health, but numerous studies have shown that a diet lower in carbs but higher in healthy fats is the best, and quickest, way to lose weight."
So while you'll likely see more side effects than results if you only stick to the ketogenic diet for a month, it's a popular form of this type of eating. It's not a longer-term option though, Hillard says, since "side effects of this and similar plans include the aptly-named keto headache, fatigue, mental fogginess and irritability."
Low-carbohydrate, high-fat plans don't rest on saturated fats like red meat though. While these are fine in moderation, providing they don't push you out of your deficit, Pearson is referring to only those full of unsaturated fats.
What does that include? "Good fats can be found in oily fish, nuts such as walnuts, and seeds like flaxseeds and chia seeds," adds Pearson. "Aim to include a moderate portion of healthy fats, along with some of the other best foods for weight loss, at every meal."
4. Keep an eye on portions
"My favorite way of checking meal-size is by using your hands," recommends Hillard. "Is there one thumb of healthy fats? One fist of carbohydrates? One palm of protein? Two fists of vegetables? This not only ensures the plate is a balanced meal, but it will help to keep you satisfied with each meal, ensuring you are not snacking on unhealthy options throughout the day."
If you're struggling with portion control, and have the means to do so, utilizing one o the best weight loss meal delivery services or best recipe boxes can be a good plan. Many subscription services offer lower-calorie alternatives to go-to dishes, and they can save time and money by delivering all required ingredients to your front door.
5. Try to avoid grazing
"It's better to eat substantial main meals and then allow time in between," Pearson explains. "This allows your body the opportunity to use up some of your stored fat reserves, rather than purely focussing on easy energy from the food you've just consumed."
But that doesn't mean you can't snack and you don't need to learn how to stop eating chocolate for good. In fact, if you're following an intensive exercise regime, snacking will become pretty essential. Opt for high-protein snacks and shakes to feel the full benefits of protein powder for satiety, and opt for carbohydrates like oats and bananas.
If you're not, then three meals per day should suffice. "While this does depend on the individual, for the average person who isn't following an intensive exercise program, eating three meals per day, five hours apart, is ideal," she says. "For example, you might have breakfast at 9am, lunch at 2 pm and dinner at 7pm. It's always a good idea to avoid eating late in the evening."
6. Make time for regular exercise
As discussed, exercise is crucial when it comes to how to lose a stone in a month - or any amount of weight. "Food of course makes a massive difference, but exercise is also vital," says Hillard. "Increasing muscle mass will enable the body to burn more calories on a daily basis by increasing the metabolic rate, and raising your heart rate slightly will help reduce the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
Doing strength training and high-intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, can be helpful if you're after a good burn. For those looking for something a little more low-impact, walking and light jogging or running for weight loss are good alternatives.
"Working out in the morning is the perfect way to kick start your metabolism, so you may even burn more calories during the day," notes David Wiener, training specialist at Freeletics (opens in new tab). "Furthermore, studies also show that people who trained in the morning tend to make healthier food choices for the rest of the day."
Don't enjoy exercise or find it boring? "Joining gym classes or exercise groups can be a great way to meet people," adds Hillard. "One of the many benefits of swimming is that it's also sociable and creates minimal impact on the limbs."
If you're training at home and are short on space, you don't always need dumbbells in order to push yourself, try out the best bodyweight exercises or resistance band workouts instead.
7. Move whenever you can
If you're new to working out, then a little goes a long way. "A brief walk every morning or a few minutes of yoga, are great ways to start implementing exercise into your routine if you are not yet ready for more intense workouts," suggests Hillard.
Also, use your daily routine as a way to sneak in more movement. "If you're deciding between jumping in the lift or taking the stairs, then the latter is always the smarter choice," says Wiener. "Keeping your body moving, no matter how, will have a massive impact on your weight loss journey and general health. Walking for weight loss is a form of cardio and cardio burns calories. Even when you are at home, walking up and down the stairs a couple of times throughout the day will definitely play a part."
7. Reconsider your alcohol order
Whether you live in the US or the UK, we unfortunately live in a very alcohol-focused society and when it comes to weight loss, 'drinking calories' is many people's biggest downfall. "Alcohol can contain high amounts of sugar, and so mindful drinking is important for weight loss," says Pearson. "It can also increase your appetite and compromise your willpower when it comes to food choices, so it's generally better to limit or avoid it."
What's more, it is recommended by the government (opens in new tab) that women stick to one alcoholic drink or fewer per day. "It is best to eat food first to reduce the negative effects," advises Pearson. "Also, opt for lower sugar, dry wines such as merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, chardonnay or sauvignon blanc."
In the summer, opting for low calorie alcoholic drinks in a can is a good idea for those looking to cut their calories while also enjoying gin and tonics, beers, and wine spritzers.
8. Don't deny yourself treats
Rather than heading straight to the advice on how to stop eating chocolate and other sweet treats for good, enjoy them in moderation. It's important to indulge yourself every now and again, even when you're sticking to a tight calorie deficit.
"Cutting out everything you love is likely to end up making you miserable," says Pearson, and we couldn't agree more. Moderation is key when it comes to weight loss because for an eating regime to be effective it needs to be something you can stick to.
"Allow yourself one treat meal per week where you can eat whatever you fancy, suggests Pearson. Or, spread them out over the week. "Having a piece of chocolate each evening is a really balanced way of enjoying it," adds Hillard. "There's no such thing as healthy chocolate but try and choose dark chocolate which contains less sugar and has the additional health benefits of flavonoids."
9. Beware of hidden sugars
"Consuming too much sugar is one of the main ways weight loss is stalled," says Pearson. "If it's not used immediately for energy, like exercise, the body will convert it to fat to store for future use."
While we all know that biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sweets are high in sugar, there are some foods with hidden sugars that you need to watch out for. "You might be surprised, but you'll find them in cereal bars, stir fry sauces, salad dressings and smoothies," says Pearson. "Check the nutritional information to find out how much sugar is really in your food, and if in doubt, consume real fruits or make your own sauces and salad dressings."
There are some other additives to note, especially if a product is labeled as low fat or low sugar. "In order to make these ‘low’ they add in additional ingredients," warns Hillard. "These can include artificial ingredients such as xylitol, which can have health consequences. Often full-fat versions are actually best."
10. Keep track of energy expenditure
Whether you use one of the best FitBits to monitor your exercise, or an app to track your diet, keeping an eye on energy and out can help motivate some people on their fitness journey. However, others may find practicing intuitive eating is more beneficial.
"I recommend using MyFitnessPal (opens in new tab) to record what you are eating," says Pearson. "This is so useful in identifying unhelpful behaviors, as well as foods you might think are healthy but discover actually aren't." It can also help you avoid nutrient deficiency, since you're given a breakdown of your intake of the likes of B vitamins as well as minerals like magnesium.
A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.
She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.
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