There are various reasons why people may desire quick weight loss, including upcoming surgery, medical advice, or an approaching event or vacation.
Women, in particular, may ask themselves questions such as, “How can I achieve a flat belly?” or “Why am I not losing weight quickly enough?” Losing weight can be a gradual process and may lead to frustration.
However, there are healthy ways to accelerate weight loss without jeopardizing one’s health.
Here are some practical tips to assist in boosting weight loss and achieving a flat belly without resorting to crash diets.
1. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting creates a calorie deficit without having to count calories. Here are a few of the most popular types of intermittent fasting:
- Alternate Day Fasting. As the name suggests, you’ll refrain from eating (or keep calories to <500 calories/day) every other day. On non-fasting days, you can eat whatever you’d like.
- 5:2 Diet. You’ll fast 2 days per week and eat 5 days per week. On fasting days, you may consume up to 500 calories for women and up to 500 calories for men.
- Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF). Each day, you’ll have a specified “eating window”. For example, you will be able to eat normally during 8 hours of the day, and the other 16 hours you will not consume any calories.
Important note: Eating excessively on feeding days can cancel out any calorie deficit that was created during fasting days.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy that you expend during the day while you do non-exercise activities.
Intentionally add movement to your day by increasing the amount of time you spend standing, walking, and fidgeting to add up to 2,000 kcals of expenditure per day.
3. Get rid of water weight
Losing excess water weight can help you shed up to 3-5 pounds in just a few days.
4. Track what you eat
Food tracking does two things initially:
1. Builds awareness so you can instantly see where you can adjust your nutrition to see results.
2. Increases mindfulness. When you must write down everything you eat, you might think twice before grabbing that additional snack or treat!
If you’re not currently exercising, just beginning an exercise routine will help you increase the number of calories that you burn per day to help you lose weight. If you already exercise, you can adjust the intensity of your exercise or the number of days that you exercise/week (while still giving yourself at least one rest day). Here are the exercise recommendations for adults (USDHHS 2021):
- At least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (or a combo of both).
- Resistance training at least 2 days per week.
6. Eat lots of protein
Protein is satiating, helps you maintain lean muscle mass, and can help you maintain a healthy calorie intake. Adults should aim to consume 0.54 to 0.7 grams/pound of body weight for the average person, or 0.7 to 1.0 grams/pound for athletes or individuals looking to build muscle mass.
7. Increase water intake
Increasing your water intake can help you shed water weight (sounds counter-intuitive, but it works), reduce hunger pangs (dehydration can mask hunger), increase your energy mid-afternoon, and decrease your overall calorie intake (if you swap out caloric beverages and replace them with water).
Recommended daily water intake for women is 11.5 cups/day and for men 15.5 cups (IOM 2005).
8. Practice mindful eating
Turn off distractions (like TV shows or social media), eat slowly, chew each bite thoroughly, and set the fork down between bites to give your brain enough time to recognize full signals during meals.
9. Cut down sugar and refined carbs
Packaged foods that don’t contain whole ingredients often contain excessive amounts of calories, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars. By sticking to whole-food items, you’ll reduce your overall calorie intake and boost your nutrient intake to aid weight loss.
10. Get enough sleep
Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep can lead to decreased energy, increased cravings for sweet/salty foods, elevated hunger, and decreased motivation for exercise. Get more ZZZs to set yourself up for weight loss success!