How long will it take to lose a stone in a healthy way?

Wondering how long will it take to lose a stone in a healthy way? Here a nutritionist reveals all you need to know, plus tips for sustainable weight loss

Woman sipping green smoothie and eating bowl of nuts, looking at phone to find out how long will it take to lose a stone in a healthy way
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How long will it take to lose a stone in a healthy way? If you're making changes to your lifestyle to try and lose weight and you have a specific goal in mind, then you've probably asked this question before. 

The good news is that sustainable weight loss, where you change small elements of your daily lifestyle - such as eating habits, exercise routine, and sleep schedule - over time is definitely the way forward. Not only will you have a better time doing it and perhaps even barely notice the difference, but you'll find that the changes stand the test of time. The somewhat disappointing news is that there's no one set answer to this question. Much like everything else when it comes to our health, weight loss is entirely personal. 

However, here at woman&home we've reviewed guidelines from major health bodies such as the NHS and spoken to a certified nutritionist to find an answer. Whether you're wondering if you can lose a stone in a month or just want to know how to start losing weight healthily, we've got you covered.

How long will it take to lose a stone in a healthy way?

Our weight and why we weigh a certain amount is a complex combination of personal elements - such as our gender, age, current weight, and lifestyle factors - and genetic factors. If you are looking to lose weight then you should consult your general practitioner to determine a healthy level of weight loss for you and your body. 

In general, however, various health bodies like the NHS suggest that a gradual weight loss of one to two pounds (about 0.5 to 1kg) per week is safe for those actively looking to lose weight. A stone is equivalent to 14 pounds or approximately 6.35 kilograms so at most you could aim to lose one stone in just over one month and two weeks, or if you took it at a slower, more sustainable pace of 0.5kg per week, then you could see a stone of weight loss in just over three months

While that may seem like a long time if you've previously been told you can dramatically lose weight in a week, it's truly the best way forward for staying healthy during the weight loss process and still seeing results months - if not years - later, says Gabi Zaromskyte, a nutritionist and the founder of Honestly Nutrition.

"This steady pace allows the body to adapt to changes and minimises the risk of negative side effects and gradual weight loss provides numerous benefits in itself, including the preservation of muscle mass, a higher likelihood of long-term sustainability, and a lower risk of regaining the lost weight," she says. 

Crash dieting and rapid weight loss both also have some serious negative side effects. "It can lead to muscle loss, nutritional deficiencies, gallstone formation, and a potential loss of lean body mass, which is a critical component of quality of life in older age, so maintaining it should be the goal," says Zaromskyte.

Trying to stick to crash diets to lose weight in a short space of time could cause problems in the long term, impacting more than just your physical health. "It often promotes a cycle of yo-yo dieting, where individuals regain the lost weight once they return to their regular eating habits. This encourages dieting again, and this never-ending cycle of dieting and gaining the weight back can spin off into eating disorders and many health complications as a result," says the nutritionist. 

"Weight loss done wrong can be critical to health and should not be done without the supervision of a qualified health professional."

Gabi Zaromskyte
Gabi Zaromskyte

Gabi is a certified nutritionist, passionate about helping you be at your best health physically and mentally. Having worked in the NHS and now privately, Gabi focuses on gut health and blood sugar balance in particular, because she believes that these are the two most important factors that open the doors to a very wide spectrum of health, with powerful effects on every aspect of physical and mental health. 

Can you lose 1 stone in 3 months?

As noted, weight loss is entirely personal. What works for one person may not work for another person so it'll always be best to consult your doctor or a certified dietitian or nutritionist for advice on this. 

However, per the advice given by the NHS and Zaromskyte, it would be considered possible to lose one stone in three months. Specifically, this would be a weekly weight loss of 0.52kg, which is in line with the recommendations. 

Tips for losing weight healthily

1. Choose a balanced diet

Cutting certain food groups out of your diet may be how some people choose to lose weight but as the saying goes, the more you can't have something, the more you want it. In the end, this can lead to a binge and restriction cycle that prevents you from forming healthy eating habits and ultimately, prevents you from losing weight.

"Focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups," says the nutritionist. "Yes, this means not skipping carbs and not going low-fat. Avoid extreme diets that eliminate entire food groups or severely restrict calories and instead, aim for lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, as well as vegetables and fruit that are lower in glycaemic load."

If you're looking for tips on balancing out your eating habits, check out the Mediterranean diet approach or the 80/20 method.

Bowl of salad with ingredients around it to represent a balanced diet of vegetables, protein, carbohydrates

Having a balanced diet high in protein will be essential for staying full while losing weight.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Portion control

At the end of the day, you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. While some people opt for using calorie-counting apps and measuring out their food, this certainly has its downsides, so learning about portion control and monitoring how much food there is on your plate could be an alternative. 

"Overeating, even healthy foods, can contribute to excess calorie intake. Instead of tracking every gram of food consumed, which can trigger obsessive behaviours, use the Eat Well Guide to understand how much space each food group should take up on your plate," says Zaromskyte. 

3. Move more

When it comes to getting into a calorie deficit, many people just focus on the food side of things - i.e. reducing their calorie intake - and while it is possible to learn how to lose weight without exercise, adding in some more movement will undoubtedly make the whole process a lot easier.

As research from multiple institutions, like East Carolina University and the Behavioural Weight Management Review Group in the UK reveals, when people combine dietary changes and move more, they tend to see higher weight loss and more sustainable results. 

However, don't think you need to spend hours on the treadmill or start doing yoga every day to make a difference. The experts suggest that just increasing your step count to between 7,500 and 10,000 steps a day can make a great difference.

Two women laughing and smiling, walking together for exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Cultivate a mindful eating approach

"Cultivate a mindful eating approach," she suggests. Much like mindful drinking, this way of eating involves being fully present in the moment, savouring each mouthful, and recognising cues that suggest you're finished.

"Research [from the University of London] suggests that mindful eating can help make healthier food choices, eat slower and have a better sense of portion control."

5. Make a long-term plan

While losing a stone in weight may be the initial goal, it's essential to shift the focus from mere numbers on the scale to long-term health and a positive relationship with food, says the nutritionist. "Sustainable weight loss is about adopting healthier habits and attitudes towards food that can be maintained for life, rather than following a crash diet after which you return to your previous habits and even more weight than before you started." 

Weight loss isn't the be-all and end-all of anything for most people, so no one should feel pressured to lose weight if they don't want to. But if you do, then it's essential to prioritise long-term health and a healthy relationship with food. "This ensures that the benefits of weight loss extend far beyond a numerical goal and promotes overall well-being, increased energy levels, and a sense of empowerment over one's health."

Grace Walsh
Health Channel Editor

Grace Walsh is woman&home's Health Channel Editor, working across the areas of fitness, nutrition, sleep, mental health, relationships, and sex. She is also a qualified fitness instructor. In 2024, she will be taking on her second marathon in Rome, cycling from Manchester to London (350km) for charity, and qualifying as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. 

A digital journalist with over six years experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace has covered (almost) everything in the world of health and wellbeing with bylines in Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more.