If you are looking to lose weight quickly, it is important to avoid trendy diets that offer unrealistic promises and may not be healthy for you. Such diets can lack essential nutrients and may even result in long-term weight gain.
Instead, it is recommended to follow a well-balanced meal plan that moderately reduces calorie intake while providing all the necessary nutrients. Fortunately, there are reliable and sustainable ways to achieve rapid weight loss.
While the most effective weight loss plan may lead to quick results initially, it is better to aim for a healthy and moderate weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds per week. Here are seven helpful tips to assist you in achieving safe and sustainable weight loss.
1. Reduce your calorie intake moderately
Remember the phrase, “calories in, calories out”? Well, it’s true! While some diets may claim that the number of calories you eat doesn’t matter, healthy, sustainable weight loss comes down to how many calories you take in vs. how many you burn.
In other words, to lose weight, you likely need to take a combined approach and reduce your calorie intake while burning more calories through exercise — known as the 80/20 rule for weight loss.
How many calories you should eat a day to lose weight will depend on several factors, including your age, sex, how much weight you need to lose, and your activity level. But in general, most experts — including Rodriquez — recommend reducing your calorie intake moderately.
Don’t go below 1,200 calories daily. For some people even that is too low. Coupled with the right type of weight loss and exercise plan, this can be the safest, quickest way to lose weight.
Note that cutting calories too drastically can lead to feelings of extreme hunger, potentially causing you to overeat unhealthy foods later.
2. Strengthen your workout routine
If you’re already getting your heart pumping regularly with cardio exercise, great! However, it’s important to include strength training.
This type of exercise is great for weight loss and your overall health.
Not only does strength training — also called resistance training — help you manage your weight by giving your metabolism a boost, but the Mayo Clinic reports that it has numerous other health benefits. For instance, resistance training can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by strengthening your bones. It also can be helpful for managing certain chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
How often should you do strength training exercises? Experts recommend trying them at least two times per week.
Doing resistance training doesn’t mean you need to join a gym. Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and planks are great exercises you can do at home that don’t require any equipment.
It’s best to get your doctor’s OK before starting a new exercise program.
3. Try intermittent fasting
One of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in weight loss revolves around the concept of intermittent fasting, which aims to put your body in a natural fasted state where it can begin to burn stored fat as fuel.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t require that you abstain from eating for days (or even a single day); rather, it simply means that you limit your eating to certain hours of the day — preferably during daylight hours, so you can take advantage of the weight loss and health benefits that might come from following your natural circadian rhythms.
With intermittent fasting, all of your meals and snacks should be consumed during a certain time frame. For example, you could eat during a 12-hour time period, followed by a 12-hour break in which no foods or caloric beverages are consumed (most of this time is spent sleeping). So, if you finish your last meal at 7 p.m., you would have your next meal at 7 a.m.
4. Stay hydrated
You’ve probably heard that drinking enough water can help you lose weight, but does it really work? “Yes! Getting enough healthy fluids, especially water, can be one of your best allies in your effort to lose weight It’s quite common for people to mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking water before eating can help you determine how hungry you truly are.
To help boost your weight loss efforts, aim to drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you’d like a flavor boost, try adding some fresh fruit or cucumber to your water, or try calorie-free sparkling water.
5. Focus on eating healthy foods
Healthy weight loss meal plans includes lots of non-starchy vegetables, a moderate amount of whole grains and lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fats, along with a serving or two of low-fat dairy. Healthy fats and protein can aid weight loss by helping you feel more satiated and less likely to overeat. And vegetables are a great way to get the nutrients you need while filling up on fewer calories.
What about fruit?
While fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, if you’re trying to lose weight quickly, it is recommended that you stick to one to two servings per day.
As part of your healthy-eating plan, also make sure to keep your diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.
6. Get enough fiber
Fiber is important for so many reasons. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that getting enough dietary fiber could help:
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Control blood sugar levels
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
It’s also helpful for weight loss, as its bulk helps you feel fuller longer, which could make you less likely to overeat. Foods that are higher in fiber also tend to be less energy-dense, meaning they have fewer calories, ounce for ounce, than other types of foods.
How much fiber should you get a day? Experts recommend women should aim to get at least 28 grams of fiber per day; men should aim for 33 grams or more.11
Some of the best sources of fiber include beans, peas and other legumes; fruits and vegetables; nuts and seeds; and whole grains.
7. Eat frequently throughout the day
If you’re trying to lose weight, you may think that skipping meals can help by reducing the number of calories you eat, unless you’re trying intermittent fasting. But the opposite is often true: Depriving yourself of regular meals and snacks can cause you to be ravenous at your next meal and encourage overeating.
If you’re overly hungry, you may be tempted to reach for higher-calorie, less-healthy foods. Skipping meals can also cause dips in your blood sugar, which can cause your energy levels to plummet and lead you to reach for quick-energy foods such as candy and cookies.
So, how often should you be eating? We recommend eating three evenly spaced meals and three healthy snacks a day.