At it’s most basic, losing weight is about burning more calories than you eat. That seems simple enough, but if were really that simple, none of us would have a weight problem. Too often we take drastic measures to see results — diets, pills or those weird fitness gadgets on infomercials that promise instant success. Maybe you lose weight but what happens when you go off that diet or stop that crazy workout program? You gain it all back and more. The real secret to weight loss is to make small, lasting changes. The key is to forget about instant results and settle in for the long run.
WebMD Expert Column
Working on weight loss? Then you probably want results — fast.
Let me save you some time: skip the fad diets. Their results don’t last. And you have healthier options you can start on — today!
You can safely lose 3 or more pounds a week at home with a healthy diet and lots of exercise, says weight loss counselor Katherine Tallmadge, RD
How to Lose Weight Fast
If you burn 500 more calories than you eat every day for a week, you should lose about 1-2 pounds.
If you want to lose weight faster, you’ll need to eat less and exercise more.
For instance, if you take in 1,050 to 1,200 calories a day, and exercise for one hour per day, you could lose 3-5 pounds in the first week, or more if you weigh more than 250 pounds. It’s very important not to cut calories any further — that’s dangerous.
Limiting salt and starches may also mean losing more weight at first — but that’s mostly fluids, not fat.
“When you reduce sodium and cut starches, you reduce fluids and fluid retention, which can result in up to 5 pounds of fluid loss when you get started,” says Michael Dansinger, MD, of NBC’s The Biggest Loser show.
Diets for Fast Weight Loss
Dansinger recommends eating a diet that minimizes starches, added sugars, and animal fat from meat and dairy foods. For rapid weight loss, he recommends focusing on fruits, veggies, egg whites, soy products, skinless poultry breasts, fish, shellfish, nonfat dairy foods, and 95% lean meat.
Here are more tips from Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet:
- Eat vegetables to help you feel full.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get tempting foods out of your home.
- Stay busy — you don’t want to eat just because you’re bored.
- Eat only from a plate, while seated at a table. No grazing in front of the ‘fridge.
- Don’t skip meals.
Keeping a food journal — writing down everything you eat — can also help you stay on track.
“Even if you write it down on a napkin and end up throwing it away, the act of writing it down is about being accountable to yourself and is a very effective tool for weight loss,” says Bonnie Taub Dix, MA, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It.
Besides jotting down what you ate, and when, you might also want to note how you were feeling right before you ate it. Were you angry, sad, or bored? We often focus so much on foods and calories, but our emotions are a huge part of our eating habits.