Here’s the truth it’s nearly impossible to lose weight fast and safely. To safely lose one pound of fat, you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories more than you take in over the course of a week, or 500 calories per day. That’s why crash diets rarely work in the long term they just don’t allow your body enough time to adjust, slow down your metabolism, and make it easier to regain the weight after you lose it.
1. Track your progress
In addition to a good old-fashioned diary, many people find it helpful (and motivating) to keep track of their weight loss journey with an app or tool. Fitocracy is a popular choice since you can set goals and earn points for hitting fitness milestones. It also helps keep you on task if you’re tracking calories—which most newbies should do until they get a solid grasp on portion control. Tracking doesn’t just have to apply to weight loss, either; many apps like RunKeeper make it easy for you to keep tabs on all sorts of different activities throughout your day.
2. Eat Slowly
It takes your body 20 minutes to realize it’s full you need to eat more slowly if you want to lose weight. Slow down, chew your food thoroughly, and savor every bite. Not only will you naturally eat less, but eating slowly allows time for your stomach and brain time enough to realize they’re full. Think of how long it takes for food to digest; after 20 minutes (when you take your last bite), a lot of calories can still be floating around in your digestive system, clogging things up. By taking smaller bites and chewing well, you help give those calories nowhere else to go but out!
3. Exercise 30 minutes a day
You’ve heard it a million times, but you may not be doing it. Exercise is a crucial component of any weight-loss plan, and research shows that even just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can help with weight loss (thanks, metabolism). And don’t worry about working out before breakfast this one is based on science. One study showed that if people exercised in their morning hours before eating anything else, they had less hunger in between meals compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. The takeaway? Don’t make time for exercise; make time for fitness. If you have 30 minutes each day, block off 15 minutes each morning and evening when you can work on some physical activity. For even better results?
4. Stay hydrated
If you’re feeling hungry, chances are it’s because your body needs water. Most of us don’t drink enough H2O on a daily basis, so we come up with reasons why we can’t or don’t need to quench our thirst. But by regularly drinking water instead of juice, coffee, or soda, you can actually train your brain not to associate hunger with being thirsty. Try adding 1⁄2 gallon of water a day cold or hot to your regular routine. If that seems like too much for you, start with just a few 8-ounce glasses every day and gradually increase how much you drink throughout each week as it becomes more habit than anything else.
5. Keep a food journal
No matter what diet you’re on, keeping a food journal is vital. It helps you know if your diet is off track or if there are certain days when you overindulge. Keeping a food journal helps give you perspective on how healthy or unhealthy your diet really is, and will make it easier for you to lose weight fast since it provides a quick way for you to track calories. Another big benefit of keeping a food journal? You get feedback that can help prompt change if nutrition information isn’t enough to convince us we need to change our eating habits, chances are seeing all that we eat in black and white will be!
6. Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals may help you lose weight faster in some instances, but it also comes with its own problems. One issue is that when you skip a meal, you often find yourself getting hungry and overeating later on. Another issue is that skipping meals can lead to binging or unhealthy food choices later in the day, for example, if you skip breakfast and wait until lunchtime to eat your first meal of 300 calories, you might be more likely to splurge on 600 calories worth of fast food for lunch. Rather than skipping meals altogether, aim for consuming small amounts throughout your day at regular intervals.
7. Drink green tea daily
Green tea is a weight loss superhero, with countless health benefits. It can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, boost memory and cognition, protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and even help you lose weight (3). In one study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that increasing daily green tea intake by just 2 cups helped people lose 4.2 pounds over 12 weeks! Green tea is just one example of an overall lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise. If you’re interested in learning more about how diet affects your health, check out our review of Clean Eating for more information on how proper nutrition can benefit body composition.
8. Snack on fiber-rich foods
Fiber can help curb hunger and cravings, prevent overeating, and keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. It’s a win-win for weight loss! Go for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and seeds all great sources of fiber. Fiber also contains nutrients that may help support healthy digestion. In fact, research shows that increasing your fiber intake regularly can help reduce constipation and other digestive problems that often crop up during weight loss efforts. Start small with an extra 1-2 servings of fiber per day and work your way up as you get comfortable with more fiber in your diet. Aim for 25 or more grams each day. Here are some good sources of fiber.
9. Sleep 7 hours a night
Losing weight is hard enough on its own, but getting a full night’s sleep every night makes it even more difficult. If you aren’t sleeping enough, your body doesn’t have time to recover from your day and will continue craving calories as if you were still awake. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to slow metabolism by about 15%. If you want to lose weight quickly, be sure that you are getting 7 hours of quality rest each night.
10. Buy into small successes
Losing weight is all about creating momentum. The more you focus on your successes however small they may be the easier it will be to stay motivated in the long run. Take small steps, but aim for big changes. You’ll feel better about your progress and boost your chance of keeping those pounds off for good. Instead of aiming for something huge (like a 20-pound weight loss), create a specific plan that helps you lose weight slowly but steadily by changing one small habit each week, for example.