If you’ve booked to go away on a beach vacation in less than a week’s time – and you’ve only realized you have left it too late to ditch the excess weight, first of all, no need to stress. Because here are six easy steps that will help you shed 10lb in just a week – without succumbing to a diet of smoothies and salads.
1. Get on the intermittent fasting wagon
The key to any kind of weight loss is in reducing your calorie load. A good way of keeping track is using a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal, which will help you to set goals (1,500-1,650kcals a day should be manageable for a short space of time). But if calorie reduction was really that easy, we’d already be doing it.
So on top of using a tracker, you might want to try intermittent fasting. By reducing your eating window, you’re naturally going to consume fewer calories. Dr Michael Mosley is the guy who came up with the 5:2 diet and he recommends setting yourself a 10-hour window – which is more generous than some IF programmes. All that means is that if you have your breakfast at 10am, you finish your last meal at 8pm.
2. Lift weights
While diet is crucial for losing body fat, you can’t get away from the fact that exercise plays a huge role. And weight training in particular is key when it comes to transforming body shape. When you lift heavy weights, you’re breaking down the muscle – causing it to repair itself and get stronger.
That process needs energy and your body turns to its own fat supply to keep those muscles fed. If you’re wearing a calorie-tracker while you pound the treadmill, it may well tell you that you’re burning more calories during that 30 minutes on the treadmill that when you do 30 minutes resistance training.
However that’s not the whole story. Strength training gives you a higher percentage of lean muscle mass. If you have more muscle mass, you’ll also have a higher metabolism so you’ll burn more calories just staying alive – not just in that half an hour when you’re training, but every single hour of the day and night. That means that if you want to keep on burning fat even after you’ve finished working out, lifting heavy might be the solution.
3. Get more active in general
You don’t need to be wearing lycra and you don’t have to carve out time in the day to workout. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, is where we burn calories while doing anything that’s not eating, sleeping or actual exercise.
Try balancing on one foot or squatting while you brush your teeth, walking to the shops, playing with your kids more and using a basket down the supermarket.
Even going for a 20-minute stroll at lunchtime can help. You can still jot up around 2,000 steps – and that’s before you even factor in the walking you do during the rest of the day. So plug into your favourite playlist or podcast and get out for a break. You’ll be at your 10,000 step goal before you know it.
4. Reduce water retention
OK so as we say, 10lbs in seven days is going to be largely water weight – but dropping that can make you look a lot leaner. When you see bodybuilders and bikini models, one reason they look so tiny is that they’re no longer holding onto any water weight (some go extreme lengths to dehydrate themselves which is really not a good idea). Water retention happens when you get excess fluid building up inside your body. To stop it from happening, try to eat less salt and consume more magnesium and B6. Those are found in things like leafy greens, beans, bananas and walnuts. You can also reduce it with regular exercise and moving around more.
5. Reduce starch and load up on lean protein
Note that we don’t say bin the carbs altogether. If you’re looking to dramatically reduce your weight fast then you’re probably going to have to limit the number of carbs you eat. But that doesn’t mean cutting them out altogether. Just go for whole food options (half a sweet potato, a small cup of wholegrain rice) and then load up on lean proteins. Plenty of research has found that protein can help to reduce your appetite and boost metabolism. Replace starchy carbs with colourful veg instead.
6. Avoid processed junk
It’s a no-brainer but if you’re trying to reduce body fat, the first thing you might want to do is quit the junk. Base your diet around whole foods, using mostly single-ingredient foods. That means buying, say, a chicken, some peppers, tomatoes and some rice – instead of opting for a ready-made stew.