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How To Lose Weight In 3 Months – Simple 3-Month Weight Loss Plan In 2024


Reviewed by Victor Nguyen, PharmD
how to lose weight in 3 months
Weight loss improves quality of life and increases self-confidence. Photo: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

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When you think of goals, what comes to your mind? Many people think about goals that help improve their health through adopting healthy habits. This is especially true if you want to shed excess pounds.

Losing weight has many health benefits, but the overarching goals are improved quality of life and increased self-confidence. If you want to know how to lose weight in 3 months, you’ve come to the right place. This article shares the best tips for sustainable weight loss to help you achieve your goals.

How To Lose Weight In 3 Months

Here are five steps to help lose weight in 3 months:

  • Step 1: Calorie deficit. 
  • Step 2: Do cardio at least five times weekly.
  • Step 3: Incorporate strength training.
  • Step 4: Focus on whole foods.
  • Step 5: Implement other healthy habits. 

Five Steps To Lose Weight In 3 Months

Losing weight can feel exciting and nerve-racking. On one side, you’re excited to make positive changes to live a healthier, more fulfilled life. But on the other side, you might be worried or overwhelmed about how exactly you will do this.

Weight loss over a 3-month period can be a realistic goal for many adults. But how much weight you lose in a 3-month period will depend on multiple factors. A few of these factors include diet, exercise, starting weight, and weight loss goals.

When it comes to your health, consistency is vital. Everyone starts somewhere. You can implement these five steps to lose weight effectively regardless of your body weight.

Calorie Deficit

how to lose weight in 3 months
Track your calories for weight loss. Photo: Kamil Zajaczkowski/Shutterstock

A key component to achieving weight loss is a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is when your energy intake is less than your energy output. To put it simply, you are moving more and eating less. But how many calories do you need to cut for weight loss?

Experts recommend a deficit of 500-750[1] calories for weight loss. This can be done in various ways, such as through a calorie-controlled diet. This is when you count calories to have a better understanding of whether or not you’re consuming more than you’re spending.

It can also be beneficial to see if you’re getting enough calories. Your daily calorie intake requirements will vary based on your exercise routine and other lifestyle factors. For example, your body may require more calories if you frequently engage in vigorous physical activity.

Do Cardio At Least Five Times Weekly

how to lose weight in 3 months
Home exercises are convenient and helpful for weight loss. Photo: Inside Creative House/Shutterstock

Cardio is incredible for your health. Not only does it help you burn calories, cardio workouts can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease,[2] including heart attack and stroke.

The World Health Organization recommends adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise[3] weekly. This number may seem like a lot, but when divided across five days each week, it’s around 30 minutes each day with two days to rest and recover. Performing cardio[4] has been demonstrated to help people lose fat, even without implementing a diet.

Incorporate Strength Training 

Weight training isn’t only for bodybuilders and extreme athletes. Anyone can benefit from incorporating resistance training into their exercise routine. Lifting weights helps increase lean muscle mass and increase bone density,[5] which helps prevent injury.

Regarding weight loss, strength training can also boost your metabolism,[5] which helps your body burn more calories to lose fat. Research recommends that adults engage in strength training at least twice a week. If you need help getting started, you may consider working with a personal trainer to learn the basics of how different machines work and how to build a workout routine.

Some gyms offer special discounts when you join, such as a few free private sessions with one of their trainers. This can be an excellent way to build confidence and prevent injury when lifting weights.

Focus On Whole Foods

A healthy diet is an important part of weight loss. While enjoying a treat is okay occasionally, most of your diet should come from healthy foods. Nevertheless, what is a balanced and healthy diet?

While there are multiple definitions of a healthy diet, in general a balanced diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. This diet also typically contains less highly processed foods, such as things that are fried, heavily salted, or coated in sugar.

A diet high in protein has been associated with favorable weight loss results for several reasons. Many studies show a high-protein diet[6] promotes weight loss. This is because protein has been shown to suppress appetite by keeping you satiated for longer after a meal and help you eat fewer calories.

Whole foods usually do not have as many calories as most processed foods.  Many processed foods contain trans fat. Commercial baked goods like cakes and cookies, frozen pizza, and fried foods fall under this category.

Processed foods also often contain high sodium content, which may contribute to excess water weight. The general consensus is that excess salt intake can cause our bodies to retain[7] water. This can result in excess water weight.

However, It’s also important to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.[8] Studies have found drinking more water to be effective for weight loss[8] when combined with a healthy diet and physical activity.

Implement Other Healthy Habits

Exercise and nutrition are healthy habits you can implement to support weight loss. But, it’s also important to consider other factors influencing your weight, such as getting enough sleep and managing stress.

Have you ever skipped a workout session because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before? Or maybe you opted for fast food because you felt too tired to cook at home. Both of these can impact your weight loss efforts, especially if you consistently get inadequate sleep.

Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of obesity, especially if you’re consistently getting less than five hours[9] a night. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night to function properly. Waking up feeling fatigued can negatively impact your exercise habits and make losing weight harder. 

Secondly, stress can affect our behavior, making us more tempted to overeat and indulge[10] in foods containing higher amounts of fat and sugar. This can also make weight loss more challenging as the goal of weight loss is to consume fewer calories. Implementing stress-reduction techniques into your daily life can positively impact weight-loss efforts.

How Much Weight Can You Lose In 3 Months?

The amount of weight that you lose in a certain amount of time will be based on your current weight, personal fitness goals, nutrition, and other lifestyle habits. This often varies from person to person, and so it’s important to set a realistic weight loss goal based on your needs. Creating a realistic goal can help you maintain consistency and stay motivated.

Rapid weight loss has been shown to negatively influence long-term weight maintenance,[11] making it more difficult to keep excess weight off. Experts recommend it’s best to aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds[11] per week. This is considered a healthy weight loss approach that anyone can adopt.

Assuming four weeks in a month, it’s reasonable to lose 4 to 8 pounds monthly. Typical weight loss over a 3-month period can be anywhere from 12 to 24 pounds, give or take. Your commitment to a diet and exercise plan can highly influence your results.

Factors That Affect Weight Loss

Many factors can influence weight loss. Lifestyle factors, including physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, quality of sleep, and stress, all have a role. Most of these factors were mentioned as ways to create healthy lifestyle choices to promote weight loss.

Other factors outside of your control include age, genetics, and hormones. As you age, the body naturally loses muscle mass and strength.[12] This can lead to challenges to remain physically active, which may contribute to weight gain.

For women, weight gain after menopause is a relatively common occurrence because of hormonal changes[13] that occur in the body. This can make losing weight more challenging for some women. While it’s still possible to lose weight, it is something to consider if you fall into this category.

3-Month Weight Loss Plan

Creating a plan is a great start to reaching your weight loss goals. Take some time to think about your goals and determine a realistic goal based on your needs. Remember, experts recommend losing 1-2 pounds per week for optimal weight loss[11] results.

For nutrition, it may help to use a food journal or food diary to get a better understanding of your eating pattern. Even taking notes on your phone can be beneficial. By tracking your eating habits, you can begin to have a better understanding of how many calories you typically consume.

Based on this information, you can create an exercise routine that helps you achieve the calorie deficit you’ve picked. Tracking your food may also make you realize there are certain foods you need more, such as protein or carbs. There are also many 3-month diet plans online that can make trying new recipes easier.

It may also be beneficial to seek support during your weight loss journey. Whether it’s talking to a close friend or joining an online community, both can help keep you motivated for the long term. Having an accountability partner can empower both of you to reach your goals and not give up.

Things To Consider & Safety Tips

There’s no specific way to lose weight. However, when it comes to health, consistency is key. Healthy weight loss is a journey, not a quick fix.

Weight loss results after 3 months look different for everyone due to a variety of factors. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are currently taking medications, we recommend talking to your primary care provider prior to starting a weight loss program. Together, you can create a plan to safely lose weight.

Avoid extreme dieting techniques unless you will be closely working alongside a healthcare professional who can monitor you. There are many supplements on the market promoting instant results and quick fixes for fat loss. Do thorough research and consult your doctor before trying them as it’s better to be safe when implementing various supplements into your diet.

While some diet pills, such as fat burners, have claimed to contribute to weight loss, more research is needed. Make sure that you talk with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially if you have a past medical history or currently take prescription medications.


Losing weight is a process that takes consistency, patience, and determination. Regardless of where you are on your weight loss journey, you can implement daily habits into your life to start reaching your goals.

Implementing a deficit of at least 500 calories, exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are all effective ways to lose weight. It’s important to remember that certain factors like age, genetics, and hormones may also impact your weight loss efforts.

Set realistic weight loss goals, as you’re more likely to stick to them and not cause your body harm. It may be helpful to start a food diary so you can have a better understanding of how to create a 3-month weight loss plan. If you are unsure, talk to a professional healthcare provider first.

By implementing these tips, you’ll be able to achieve your weight loss goals in a healthy, sustainable way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I realistically lose 20 pounds in 3 months?

Yes, losing up to 20 pounds in three months is possible based on expert recommendations of 1-2 pounds[11] per week. However, for many individuals, being 20 pounds lighter may be too low of a body weight to be healthy.

Does drinking water help you lose weight?

It may help. Studies have found drinking more water to be effective for weight loss[8] when combined with a healthy diet and physical activity.   

Where does weight loss show first?

It varies from person to person based on things like body composition, age, gender, and genetics. 

Can I lose 40 lbs in 3 months?

It’s possible. However, this may not be a realistic goal. Experts recommend[11] losing 1-2 pounds weekly, which would be 12-24 pounds in 3 months.

+ 13 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Ju Young Kim (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome, [online] 30(1), pp.20–31. doi:https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20065.
  2. Nystoriak, M.A. and Bhatnagar, A. (2018). Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, [online] 5. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2018.00135.
  3. Yun Jun Yang (2019). An Overview of Current Physical Activity Recommendations in Primary Care. Korean Journal of Family Medicine, [online] 40(3), pp.135–142. doi:https://doi.org/10.4082/kjfm.19.0038.
  4. Donnelly, J.E., Honas, J.J., Smith, B., Mayo, M.S., Gibson, C., Sullivan, D.K., Lee, J., Herrmann, S.D., Lambourne, K. and Washburn, R.A. (2013). Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women: Midwest exercise trial 2. Obesity, [online] 21(3). doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20145.
  5. Thomas, M.H. and Burns, S.P. (2016). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training. International journal of exercise science, [online] 9(2), pp.159–167. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836564/.
  6. Moon, J. and Koh, G. (2020). Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome, [online] 29(3), pp.166–173. doi:https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20028.
  7. Rakova, N., Kento Kitada, Lerchl, K., Dahlmann, A., Birukov, A., Daub, S., Kopp, C.W., Pedchenko, T.V., Zhang, Y., Beck, L., Johannes, B., Marton, A., Müller, D.N., Rauh, M., Luft, F.C. and Titze, J. (2017). Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake. Journal of Clinical Investigation, [online] 127(5), pp.1932–1943. doi:https://doi.org/10.1172/jci88530.
  8. Thornton, S.N. (2016). Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss. Frontiers in Nutrition, [online] 3. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2016.00018.
  9. Cooper, C.B., Neufeld, E.V., Dolezal, B.A. and Martin, J.L. (2018). Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review. BMJ open sport and exercise medicine, [online] 4(1), pp.e000392–e000392. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000392.
  10. Annual Review of Psychology. (2019). Stress and Obesity. [online] Available at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-102936.
  11. Chrysi Koliaki, Spinos, T., Μarianna Spinou, Μaria-Eugenia Brinia, Dimitra Mitsopoulou and Katsilambros, N. (2018). Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults. Healthcare, [online] 6(3), pp.73–73. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare6030073.
  12. Lorensia, A. (2020). Effect of Age and Weight on Physical Activity – Rivan Virlando Suryadinata, Bambang Wirjatmadi, Merryana Adriani, Amelia Lorensia, 2020. [online] Journal of Public Health Research. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.4081/jphr.2020.1840.
  13. Fenton, A. (2021). Weight, shape, and body composition changes at menopause. Journal of Mid-life Health, [online] 12(3), pp.187–187. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/jmh.jmh_123_21.