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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow How Long Does It Take to Lose 20 Pounds?

How Long Does It Take to Lose 20 Pounds?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: August 4, 2023
8 min read 1166 Views 0 Comments
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Losing weight can take time, and knowing how long it will take can help you plan. Find out how long it will take you to lose 20 pounds and more tips on healthy weight loss in this article.

how long does it take to lose 20 pounds

When you begin your weight loss journey, you are likely to set an amount of weight you want to lose by its end. Whether it be 5 pounds or 20 pounds, there is a healthy and sustainable way to go about it.

Healthy weight loss refers to losing weight in a way that does not harm your health. If you lose weight faster than is necessary, you risk weight gain and dangerous health risks.

But, what does healthy weight loss look like in practice?

In this article, we will be looking at the healthiest way you can lose 20 pounds, how fast you will be able to drop this amount of weight, and some weight loss tips. Take a look now to learn more.

How Long Does It Take to Lose 20 Pounds?

A healthy amount of weight to lose is 1–2 pounds per week. This means that losing 20 pounds would take you at least 10 weeks if you were to lose 2 pounds every week.

Though it is possible, the vast majority of people will not lose 2 pounds every single week, so allowing yourself 20+ weeks to drop 20 pounds is more realistic.

Everyone loses weight in different ways, and the amount of weight you lose per week is dependent on everything from your genetics and body fat percentage to your exercise routine and calorie intake.

There will be weeks when you manage no weight loss at all, and then there will be others when you lose the full 2 pounds. This fluctuation is a very normal part of human nature, though there are some ways you can increase your chances of losing 2 pounds in a week.

Plateauing on your diet can be disheartening, but it isn’t the end of the world. The longer weight takes to shed, the more likely it is to stay off. This is thought to be the case because body fat takes longer to be shed than water weight.

Though 20 pounds seems like a round number, setting a high goal initially could actually deter any progress.  If you’re struggling to lose a set amount of weight, it may be time to change your weight loss goal.

A good way to set a weight loss goal is to aim to shed 5% of your body weight. This means calculating what 5% of your body weight is in pounds.

Is It Possible to Lose 20 Pounds in a Month?

It is not possible to lose 20 pounds in one month in a way that is good for your health. If healthy weight loss is 1–2 pounds per week, then 20 pounds is far too much weight to lose in one month.

Rapid weight loss can have dangerous consequences for your health. These include weight gain after a drastic diet, nutrient deficiencies, a slowing of your metabolism, losing muscle mass instead of fat, and dehydration, among others.

How long does it take for a woman to lose 20 pounds?

The safe weight loss ratio is 1–2 pounds a week. Therefore, if you want to shed a few pounds without risking your health, it can take you 10–20 weeks or even more.

It’s not about the number on the scale but about your health. With rapid weight loss, women are putting themselves at risk of nutrient deficiencies, gallstones, hair loss, and muscle loss.

How long does it take for a man to lose 20 pounds?

There isn’t a big difference between men and women in terms of the amount of time it takes to lose 20 pounds. This is because the rate of weight loss is dependent on many factors.

To drop 20 pounds, it is suggested that men budget 20–26 weeks with the goal of losing between 0.5–1 pound every week.

How Many Miles Should I Walk to Lose 20 Pounds?

Walking is a great way to stay active, and you could burn up to 250–500 extra calories per day just by walking.

If you are new to walking, start by walking between 15–30 minutes every few days. You can then gradually increase it to 30–60 minutes almost every day.

Though walking is a great way to promote weight loss, you will not lose weight just by walking and making no other changes. 

Walking can improve your overall health and be part of a balanced lifestyle, but for weight loss, it needs to be coupled with a calorie deficit, which means eating fewer calories than you burn.

How Long Does It Take to Lose a Pound?

At a calorie deficit of a minimum of 500 calories, you can lose one pound per week, though this may not be the case all the time.

A range of biological and lifestyle factors affects weight loss, including hormone levels, stress level, genetics, and nutrition, which means that you will not always lose 1 pound per week.

What Is the Quickest Way of Losing Weight?

You will need to start by reducing your calorie intake to ensure you’re eating at a calorie deficit. 

A calorie deficit is achieved when you eat fewer calories than your body burns through bodily functions as well as exercise and is the main goal of any diet plan.

You should also drink more water, especially before eating meals. Drinking a glass of water before you eat can help you feel fuller, reducing the amount you eat.

You should also be eating foods that are good for weight loss. This means upping your fiber intake to boost satiety and improve the health of your digestive system, and eating more protein to help build muscle mass.

Finally, to reduce your body weight, it is essential you get more active. While it is possible to reduce body weight without tons of exercise, getting more active is a great way to ensure you don’t gain weight once you return to eating normally and boost your overall health.

6 Easy Ways to Lose 20 Lbs and Keep It Off

Along with knowing how long it will take to lose 20 pounds, it is also worth understanding how this weight loss can be achieved. Below, we have summarized a few of our top tips for losing weight.

#1 Reduce carbs

Reducing your carb intake is a really easy way of losing weight. Though carbs are a huge part of many popular recipes, there are ways to make reducing your intake simpler.

One fantastic way of getting a helping hand in reducing your carb intake is to use the Keto Cycle app. The Keto Cycle app can offer you 10,000+ recipes and a plan to fit your exact dietary needs, including plans for reducing blood pressure and improving sleep.

The app creates grocery lists for you to make shopping easier, recommends ingredient swaps in recipes, provides 15–20 minute meals, and uses easy-to-find ingredients in the recipes it offers.

#2 Set realistic weight loss goals

The best way to stay on track with your diet is to set small and achievable goals. Setting goals that are too far in the future or too hard to reach makes you more likely to quit.

Using the SMART acronym to set goals is a good way to ensure that your goals are achievable. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

This means setting goals you can measure to prove you have reached them, setting short amounts of time to achieve them so that you can see the end, and making them specific to you.

If you know you will not be able to get to the gym five days out of seven, don’t set it as a goal. Set goals that you can physically do!

#3 Weigh yourself only once a week

Contrary to popular belief, weighing yourself every day isn’t a good way to track your weight loss. In fact, it can be disheartening and make you lose faith in your diet plan.

Your weight fluctuates so much across one week that each day may throw up a completely different weight, making you unsure that you’re making progress at all.

Instead of weighing yourself every day, try weighing yourself just once. Ensure it is at the same time and on the same day so that you have a constant measure.

By doing this, you won’t notice the fluctuations, and you can just see your weekly progress instead.

#4 Be on a calorie deficit

This rule is the number one way to reduce body weight. By burning more calories than you take in, you are actively ensuring that you are losing weight. A calorie deficit is the goal of every diet.

Tracking your calories and knowing how many calories you have eaten is the only way to ensure you’re definitely eating at a deficit, so it is worth investing in a way to do this.

The bigger your deficit, the more weight will be lost, so using an online calculator to work out the deficit you will need, based on your body weight and activity level, is advisable.

#5 Drink water before meals

Drinking water before your meals is a really good way of boosting weight loss. A glass of water before a meal can help you feel fuller, making you eat less at your meal.

This tip can help you slowly change your eating habits and ensure you eat smaller portions, helping you to remain in a calorie deficit even further.

#6 Try intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a very popular method of weight loss. It involves restricting your eating time to just a few hours each day and has been shown to have great weight loss success in overweight adults.

There are lots of different intermittent fasting methods, including the 12-hour fast, the Warrior Diet, and the 24-hour fast. The general idea is that you restrict eating times which forces you to consume fewer calories and pushes your body into the metabolic state of ketosis.

Upon fasting for more than 12 hours, your body enters the state of ketosis. This means that it uses fat for fuel instead of blood sugar.

Ketosis is good for weight loss because it forces sustained fat loss rather than just weight loss (which can include water weight and muscle mass). 

Losing body fat is good for your overall health and disease control, helping to prevent conditions like heart disease and the development of type 2 diabetes.

When trying an intermittent fasting diet plan, it is best to start out with a less challenging form to ease your body into this new state of fasting.

To find out more about fasting as a weight loss plan, check out our articles on intermittent fasting.

A Word From RD

You may be trying to reduce weight for a range of reasons, but whatever reason you have, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do it.

A healthy amount of weight to lose per week is 1–2 pounds, meaning you can, in theory, drop 20 pounds in 10 weeks. Though it is possible to do it in 10 weeks, most people will need to set aside at least 20 weeks to lose 20 pounds.

When starting your weight loss journey, it is important that you build up healthy habits so that when you have lost your twenty pounds, you can keep them off.

Avoid any form of a crash diet, as the weight you will shed will likely be water weight. Crash diets encourage rapid weight loss, which can be unhealthy for a huge number of reasons.

To stay healthy while losing twenty pounds, eat less junk food and more whole foods like grains, fruits, and vegetables and eat at a calorie deficit each day.

Along with reducing your daily consumption of food, you should also get more active by trying exercises like resistance training, running, or yoga. Always go at your own pace with exercise so as to avoid injury.


So, how long does it take to lose 20 pounds? It can take anywhere from 10–20 weeks to shed 20 pounds, but this isn’t set in stone. Make sure you go at your own pace and don’t push yourself into unhealthy weight loss.

Weight loss can be great for your overall health and disease control. It helps protect against the development of cardiovascular conditions, like heart disease, and other chronic illnesses, like diabetes.

To drop 20 pounds, you must change your daily habits, ensuring you eat fewer calories than you burn each day and upping the amount of exercise you do.

Remember to set realistic goals and change your goal if you feel like you’ve stagnated in your diet. Stagnation in weight loss is a part of human nature and doesn’t mean you should give up!

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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