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-Mind Your Damn Fitness-
Long term weight loss is highly desirable for obvious reasons, but it can take time for lifestyle changes to stick (and show results). The reality is that time may not be on your side in certain situations. This could be the case if you have a special occasion rapidly approaching like a birthday or anniversary dinner, or Valentine’s day date with your sweetie. Fortunately, it IS possible to lose weight fast (and safely)!
Now, when I say “lose weight”, I’m talking about dropping up to 10 lbs! And when I say “fast”, I’m referring to within 1-2 weeks!
In full disclosure, it’s generally not possible (or safe) to lose 10 lbs of BODY FAT in 1 week. With this 4-step plan to lose weight fast, you can successfully lose 10 lbs in 1-2 weeks! However, although some of the weight will come from body fat, you’ll also shed pounds by losing excess water weight. As with any weight loss regimen, don’t forget to consult your physician before implementing changes.
Regardless of they exact reason behind why you lose the weight, you’ll still look slimmer in your little black dress! Just keep in mind that this is a short-term weight loss plan that should be followed by a transition to a more sustainable approach.
How To Lose Weight Fast: 4-Step Plan
If you need to lose weight quickly, simply follow the 4-step plan outlined below. Although each of the four steps could be done on their own, combine them together to maximize your weight loss results.
Step 1: Start intermittent fasting ASAP
If you need to lose weight quickly, intermittent fasting is an effective tool because of it’s ability to lower blood levels of insulin, a fat storage hormone.
What does insulin have to do with losing weight?
A lot, actually.
When we eat, insulin levels rise to allow glucose, a type of sugar, to enter cells to fuel bodily functions.
However, insulin has a secondary role. When blood levels of insulin are high, it serves as signal to the body to retain stored body fat. This is so that your body prioritizes the burning of immediately available fuel (from recently eaten food) over using fuel that is stored in the form of body fat.
Interestingly, emerging evidence suggests that excessive weight gain is primarily driven by elevated insulin levels. In fact, in diabetic patients who use insulin to control blood glucose, the more insulin they receive, the more weight they gain.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between fasting intervals (periods of no eating) and feeding intervals (unrestricted eating). The short breaks from eating that occur with fasting both lower insulin levels and increase fat-burning hormones like norepinephrine.
In addition, intermittent fasting effortlessly reduces your daily caloric intake by roughly 300 calories simply because you are eating within a narrow window of time.
How to get started with intermittent fasting
There are lots of intermittent fasting schedules that can help you lose weight. But to lose weight fast without feeling like you’re starving, the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting is best. This intermittent fasting schedule consists of daily cycles of 16-hour fasting intervals (which includes the time you sleep overnight) and 8-hour feeding intervals. Check out my beginnger’s guide to intermittent fasting for more background on this effective weight loss approach.
During the 16-hour fasting intervals, only water and non-calorie beverages like unsweetened coffee and tea should be consumed. However, during the 8-hour feeding interval, you can eat what you want and in the quantities that you want. Of course, if your goal is to lose weight, you’re going to want to generally eat healthful and filling foods. And if you want to lose 10 lbs in 1 week, there are some restrictions in what you eat that I’ll describe below.
You may be eager to jump right in to the 16-hour fasting interval, but this abrupt change in your eating pattern will likely be uncomfortable. To give your body time to adjust to the intermittent fasting schedule, I recommend starting with a 13-hour fasting interval. Then, every day add 1 hour of fasting time over a 3-day period until you reach 16 hours.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re wasting valuable time by starting with a 13-hour fasting interval. Studies have shown that the weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting are apparent even with a 12-hour fasting interval!
An example schedule of rapid progression from a 13-hour to 16-hour fasting interval is as follows:
Lastly, I highly recommend that you end your last meal by 7:00 PM.
Due to circadian rhythm (or sleep/wake cycle), your body processes food less efficiently overnight. Because of this, calories consumed later in the evening are more likely to be stored as fat. Thus, stop all meals early in the evening (and definitely no later than 8:00 PM) to maximize the metabolism-boosting benefits of intermittent fasting.
Step 2: Eat a high-protein diet
The weight loss benefits of a high-protein diet
Pretty much all foods are comprised of the three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. However, the quanitities of each macronutrient will be drastically different depending on the food type.
Eating a high-protein diet means that roughly 30% of the total calories in your daily diet (i.e. all foods you eat in a day) should be from protein. For instance, if we take the “standard” 2000-calorie diet, 30% of the total calories would be 600 calories. And since there are 4 calories in every 1 gram of protein, 600 daily calories from protein translates into roughly 150 grams of protein per day.
Eating a high protein diet during the 8-hour feeding intervals of your intermittent fasting schedule can help you rapidly lose weight by both boosting your metabolism and helping control appetite.
When we eat food, our bodies burn calories to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in our food. This requirement for energy is known as the thermic effect of food. Of the three macronutrients, protein produces the greatest thermic effect, boosting your metabolism by 15–30%. This is considerably higher than the thermic effect of carbs (5–10%) and fat (0–3%).
As a bonus, eating protein also aids in appetite control by making you feel fuller for longer. One study found that when 30% of one’s diet is from protein, people ate roughly 450 fewer calories per day. And when it comes to intermittent fasting, filling up on protein can be particularly helpful during your last meal before your fast as this will help sustain you for longer.
Step 3: Eat no refined sugar and limit natural sugar
The role of sugar and weight gain
To successfully lose weight fast, refined sugar needs to be completely eliminated from your diet. Sugar contributes to weight gain in a variety of ways:
- Refined sugars increase your daily calories but provide little-to-no nutritional value (so-called “empty calories”).
- Because your body digests refined sugars quickly, you are at risk of overeating because you don’t feel full after eating them. This is true even regardless of calorie content.
- Sugar not used immediately to fuel bodily functions gets stored in muscles and the liver in the form of glycogen. Because of the way glycogen binds to water, stored glycogen carries with it roughly three times its weight in water! In other words, glycogen stores are a source of water weight.
- Once glycogen stores are filled up, your body converts excess glucose to fat. This fat is stored in your adipose tissue (fat cells) and also adds to your weight in the form of body fat.
Avoiding refined sugar can help you quickly lose weight by decreasing your total daily calories, reducing water weight, and eliminating the storage of excess sugar as body fat. In addition, when you eat less sugar, insulin levels are lower, increasing your body’s ability to burn stored fat for fuel.
To maximize your weight loss, limit sugar from fruit (naturally-occurring sugar) to no more than one serving per day. However, completely avoid any and all processed versions of fruit, including juices, jams, jellies, preserves, and sauces. Processed fruit often has added sugars, which is a no-no during this lose weight fast plan.
Step 4: Do HIIT three times per week
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are one of the best ways to boost fat-burning for weight loss.
The magic of HIIT lies in a phenomenon known as the “afterburn effect”. After a HIIT workout, your body consumes excess oxygen (which burns more calories) for hours after your workout in order to return to its pre-exercise state. In actuality, HIIT may burn fewer calories during the actual workout compared to traditional cardio, but it can result in more overall calories burned and fat loss post-workout.
HIIT workouts incorporate intervals that vary between quick bursts of intense exercises (all-out effort) and short periods of active rest. While the length of time for the exercise (on) and rest (off) intervals varies, my preference is 20 seconds on/10 seconds off. Because of the intensity, you should have at least 24 hours in between sessions to ensure your body has time to recover. Check out this post for full details on an effective, 8-minute, at-home HIIT workout.
Keep in mind that this 4-step approach to lose weight fast is not designed for the long term. In addition, be mindful that frequent crash dieting can slow your metabolism over time. So after you drop the weight for your special occasion, make sure you have a plan in place for achieving long-term weight management.