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How to Lose Weight Fast in 10 Effective and Safe Steps - Weight Loss Guide

How to Lose Weight Fast in 10 Effective and Safe Steps - Weight Loss Guide

In 2011, US Google users made 88 billion searches related to weight loss. Not only did users search for how to lose weight—they wanted to not how to lose weight fast. At the time of writing, Instagram users had tagged nearly 90 million posts #weightloss.

In the United States, more than two-thirds of adults are considered overweight or obese, and the findings are similar in many other countries, such as the UK and Australia.

It’s no wonder that weight loss is such a popular topic online. But it’s also no surprise that finding accurate information is difficult. You’ll see many tips and tricks online that are nothing more than pseudoscience or marketing ploys designed to take your hard-earned paycheck.

So, how do we find what works? In the case of weight loss, it’s best to stick to information that is evidence-based and recommended by professionals. Find the evidence-based strategies that are practical and sustainable for your lifestyle, overall health, and goals.

If you’re looking for a few ideas to lose weight, let’s dive in.

1 | Calorie Deficits

If you get down to the basics, weight loss is about calorie deficits. At its simplest, a calorie deficit means you have burned more calories than you have taken in. Now, calories are your body’s source of fuel, and they’re essential!

Your body uses calories for basically everything—it’s required to go on that afternoon run, fidget while you’re at your desk, and even digest the food you just took in. For that reason, cutting calories can only go so far.

Eating too few calories is dangerous for your body. But, eating more calories than you’re burning in a day will result in weight gain, as your body stores those calories as fat for future use.

Weight loss seems pretty straightforward. Cut 1000 calories from your weekly diet and lose a pound a week. Great!

But we all know it’s not that simple, right?

Food isn’t only our body’s source of fuel.

It’s how we socialize.

It’s how we celebrate.

It’s how we self-soothe.

Any sustainable journey to weight loss must include just that—sustainability. It’s impossible to swear off socialization, celebration, and emotions long-term. Trying to do so ultimately leads to cheating days and binge eating that will undo all your hard work.

That’s where the next few tips come in!

2 | Eat when you’re hungry

There are a lot of weight loss strategies out there that relate to when you eat instead of just what you eat.

- Intermittent fasting to burn fat stores

- Eat every 3 hours to keep your metabolism moving

- Never skip breakfast so that you have energy and don’t binge before lunch

- Eat small dinners so that your body isn’t sleeping on a ton of calories

There is research behind some of these time-based weight-loss strategies, so feel free to experiment if you think one will work for you! But none of these are the holy grail of weight loss if your overall diet isn’t nutritious and balanced.

In the long run, the most sustainable eating pattern for you is the one that gives you nutrition when you need it.

Prepare a mid-morning snack or a well-balanced lunchtime meal if you’re not into breakfast.

If you get hungry every few hours, have something satiating on hand.

If you only need three square meals a day, make them nutritious and tasty.

If you love a big dinner, eat it!

Plan your day around smaller dinners if a huge meal before bed makes it harder to fall asleep.

Even when not hungry, you’re regularly eating to keep your metabolism “running,” consuming more calories than your body needs.

On the other hand, if you’re withholding food even when you are hungry to fit a fasting window for fat loss, you’re depriving your body of what it needs and making yourself more likely to give into more calories later.

Your body is your best gauge for knowing it’s time to eat. Still, it’s essential to have at least a bit of a plan to ensure that you have a nutritious but satiating choice ready when it’s time to eat.

Even when trying to lose weight, nourishing your body with enough calories and nutrients is crucial.

3| Eat slowly and mindfully

Okay, now that we’ve covered when to eat, let’s talk about how to eat.

Now, I know you probably lead a busy life. Don’t we all? It’s easy to get into the habit of eating in front of the TV or with your phone in hand or shoveling down a snack while driving from one meeting to the next. It’s common and natural in our modern lives.

But research shows that eating quickly and while distracted correlates positively to weight gain. One of the key takeaways from this research is that eating quickly and distractedly keeps our body from recognizing internal hunger cues. What exactly does that mean?

When we’re distractedly cramming food into our mouths before moving on to the next thing, we cannot recognize when we’re full. Research suggests that it takes 20 minutes for our stomach to realize it’s full.

If you’re finishing your meal in less than 20 minutes, the chances of eating more than you need increase, potentially leading to a higher calorie intake than necessary. This impedes weight loss.

In addition to giving your brain time to send hunger signals to your stomach, eating slowly and mindfully increases the pleasure you get from your meal. This means you’ll savor foods more, even if you’re eating fewer!

This is especially true for desserts—one slowly savored cookie can be more rewarding than six eaten quickly!

4 | Balance your plate with protein, fiber, and healthy fats

Finally, let’s talk about what to eat! Sustainable, nutritious diets include a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats at each meal. Registered Dietician Abbey Sharp calls this the Hunger Crushing ComboTM.

Each meal component offers something different and beneficial. Protein is highly satiating, meaning it keeps us fuller longer. Fiber-rich carbs help stabilize energy levels throughout the day. Healthy fats provide even more satiation, as well as help to lower cholesterol.

One rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with one to two cups of vegetables accompanied by a source of protein and healthy fat. This serves as an excellent building block for nutritious meals.

But this strategy can apply even when you’re not building a roasted vegetable and salmon plate! Focusing on additions rather than subtractions helps build sustainably healthy eating patterns.

For example, adding a salad to your lunch sandwich routine will boost its satiety by providing lots of fiber. Coating your morning waffle with protein and healthy fat-rich nut butter and fruit will make your sweet breakfast more satisfying and keep you fuller longer.

Additionally, amping up the nutritional value of your meals by adding these satiating components can help you eat fewer higher-calorie, less nutritious foods throughout the day.

So, how does this contribute to weight loss?

This leads to ultimately fewer calories without the deprivation. It will also help naturally edge out ultra-processed foods in the long run.

Keeping this food combination in mind when planning your meals can help you achieve an overall healthy balance to your diet that negates the need for extreme dieting days followed by extravagant cheat days. And that’s a win when you’re trying to lose weight!

5 | Keep a food journal

This strategy isn’t about keeping track of every calorie you eat. That can sometimes be helpful but often be harmful (see tip seven below!). However, Abbey Sharp, mentioned previously, frequently mentions data when discussing building sustainable eating habits.

What does that mean for losing weight?

Essentially, being mindful of your eating habits and how they make you feel is valuable data that you can use to adjust your habits over time.

Keeping a food journal gives you space to track what and how much you’re eating and how foods make you feel emotionally and physically.

It can even be a great place to practice gratitude for your body and access to food, helping you develop a healthier relationship with food over time.

It’s easy to get lost in your days and not notice how your habits affect you over time. Keeping a food journal can help you become aware of the positive changes in your body that aren’t necessarily related to the numbers on a scale. But again, more on that in tip seven in a moment!

6 | Find a movement that you love

After calorie deficits, exercising to lose weight is probably the next most popular idea we have.

But that’s not the whole truth.

Every individual has a basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the energy they use for basic human functions, including bodily functions that happen while they sleep.

And even though fad diets lead you to believe there are ways to speed up your metabolism (or BMR) and lose weight, the truth is, we have very little control over it.

Here’s the kicker: our BMR accounts for 60-80% of the calories we burn every day. In addition to that, digesting food accounts for 10% of the calories we burn every day.

What does that tell us about exercise and weight loss?

There are only 10-30% of calories that we’ll burn daily through physical activity. And physical activity doesn’t just mean exercise! That includes any walking you do naturally throughout the day, fidgeting at your desk, cooking dinner, and even brushing your teeth!

The takeaway, then, is that no matter how much exercise you do in a day, it will never burn more than 30% of the calories you take in.

In addition to this simple, unchangeable math, people tend to change habits after exercising that can undo any calories they may have burned.

This includes moving less throughout the rest of the day, either because they’re tired or feel they’ve done enough for the day or rewarding themselves with food.

Does this mean you shouldn’t build exercise into your day? Not! Even if it’s not going to cause a significant amount of weight loss, exercise has many significant benefits, from preventing cancer to improving your sleep to improving your mental health.

That’s why it’s crucial to focus more on the movement you love and want to make part of your weekly routine rather than focus on the calories you think it will burn.

Because things like sleeping habits and stress levels do impact our ability to lose weight. Speaking of…

7 | Heal your sleep habits

Research now suggests that sleep quality and weight are linked. Scientists are unsure exactly how and why this is so. Still, most research shows a positive correlation between good sleep and a healthy weight.

There are several hypotheses, from lack of sleep increases your appetite to good quality sleep increases your metabolism.

Even if we don’t know the exact relationship between sleep and weight, we thankfully know some ways to improve our sleep!

Best Ways to improve our sleep quality

- Consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and morning

- Sleep in a room that is dark, quiet, and of a comfortable temperature

- Don’t use electronic devices before bedtime or in your bedroom

- Don’t eat a big meal or drink caffeine or alcohol before bed. But you might want a small snack to keep hunger at bay.

- Do a bit of exercise during the day, even if it’s just a walk. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime!

- Do your planning early in the day instead of before bedtime. Consider keeping a notebook by the bed to jot down things that come to you before or during the middle of the night, but then put them aside until morning.

- Start a nighttime ritual that is relaxing for you and, most importantly, helps you destress. It could be reading, taking a bath, or doing a few breathing exercises. However, many of these tips likely feel impossible if you’re a new parent, pregnant, or even dealing with hormonal shifts. Implementing them as much as possible is essential and will help you in the long run! But, here are a few additional ideas that might help.

- Be aware of your hormonal shifts. Menstrual cycles and the changes in estrogen and progesterone can impact the quality of your sleep. Try cycle track to be more aware of where you are in your cycle each month and become accustomed to how that affects your sleep. Then, you can adjust your sleep habits accordingly. The same goes for pregnancy.

- If you’re a new parent, share nighttime duties with your partner. Commit to your sleep schedule (aside from nighttime waking, of course…) even when chores are piling up. They don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like groceries or errands so that they don’t pile up quite so much!

Incorporate sleep hygiene into your daily rituals, and you’ll have a greater chance of losing weight sustainably.

8 | Manage your stress

Like sleep, research now shows us that stress and weight gain are linked. In the case of stress, we know the culprit: cortisol.

Cortisol is the hormone that your adrenal glands release when you’re stressed. This causes glucose to enter your bloodstream so that you’ll have the energy to face whatever is stressing you out. Then, your cortisol kicks into even higher gear to replenish your energy stores when the threat is over.

The increase in cortisol results in sugar cravings, giving your body energy. However, because you’re not running from a saber tooth tiger, this is usually stored as abdominal fat because your body didn’t go through the energy stores it thinks it did.

It’s a vicious cycle. And it impacts our ability to lose weight.

There are other factors at play here, too.

When we’re stressed, we eat more. When stressed and busy, we skip meals, eat convenient (often high calorie) foods, exercise less, and sleep worse.

All of this combines to make stress a major player in weight gain.

Managing your stress is another way to improve your weight loss chances!

So, how do we reduce stress? It depends on what is stressing you, so let’s look at stress reduction in a few ways.

First, some holistic lifestyle strategies are proven to help reduce stress and improve sleep and overall health. You’ll see some overlap here.

- Move more (and joyfully!). Take a walk, ride your bike, go roller skating, or hop in the pool.

- Eat a healthy diet. Experts regularly tout the Mediterranean diet for its health-improving benefits. Recent research shows it might impact our mental health.

- Cut back on screen time, especially before bed, and avoid toxic places online.

- Make time for hobbies you love.

- Develop habits of positive self-talk, gratitude, and deep breathing.

While the strategies above are a bit all-encompassing, there are also many little things you can do throughout the day that are proven to improve moods and reduce stress.

- Get a hug, cuddle a loved one, or even snuggle up with your pet.

- Laugh! Find something funny on YouTube for a quick fix.

- Squeeze a stress ball, roll your foot over a golf ball, or give yourself a quick hand massage.

- Get outside for a few minutes of sunlight.

- Take a quick break from the desk by standing up to stretch.

- Jot down your wayward thoughts.

- Make a cup of green tea or chew on a piece of gum.

- Make some art or finish a coloring page.

You can also explore more problem-specific problems that create stress in your life.

- Take a long look at your to-do list. You can’t do it all, and it’s futile to try. Prioritize things. There are many ways that you can do this, and ultimately, it’s best to find the way that works best for you. From paper planners to apps, many tools can help you ruthlessly analyze tasks and events in your life.

- Learn to say no. This is in line with the tip above. When prioritizing your lists, be aware of things others think you should do. It’s okay to say no, especially if you’re in a hectic season or are trying to prioritize other areas of your life (like your health and weight!) This can also mitigate problems with toxic coworkers, family, or friends.

- Don’t procrastinate. This can, again, flow into the first tip. Once you have your tasks prioritized, set up a schedule or routine to ensure things won’t pile up. The weight of knowing you have something to do is worse than the time and energy spent just getting them done!

- Create habits and routines that work for you. Dedicate an hour on Sundays to plan meals for the week. Use grocery pickup or delivery services. Delegate cleaning the bathroom to your partner or one of your older children. Hire a high school or college-aged student to take care of some of your most annoying household chores or tasks.

Managing stress is a combination of building healthy, long-term habits, having a toolkit of quick strategies to use at the moment, and learning your triggers to develop routines to mitigate them.

It may be a bit of a process, but it’s one your body will thank you for when you’re losing weight.

9 | Don’t focus too much on the numbers

Did you know that your weight can fluctuate by 2-4 pounds every day?

And we’ve already talked about how only a small percentage of your calories burned each day comes from exercise.

Together, these statistics suggest one thing: don’t focus too much on the numbers.

Most people trying to lose weight become very focused on data.

We use apps to track every bite of food we take.

We wear watches designed to monitor our steps taken, heart rate, and amount of fat burned.

We calculate the approximate calories burned of every physical activity—even supremely pleasurable ones, like sex!

And we step on the scale every day to see measure our success.

None of these data-tracking measures are inherently wrong or harmful. However, when they become an obsession or interfere with our daily routines to harm our enjoyment of life, they can do more harm than good.

So keep up with your calories, enjoy the functions of your fitness trackers, and weigh yourself once a week. But don’t let it take over your life, even when trying to lose weight.

10 | Find your why

Finally, consider why you want to lose weight in the first place.

Research suggests that intrinsic motivation is more influential than extrinsic motivation in losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s the difference?

Examples of extrinsic motivation include wanting to lose weight because you don’t measure up to the pictures you see on Instagram or because someone has commented on your weight.

Examples of intrinsic motivation include wanting to lose weight because you think weight loss will improve your enjoyment of life.

Figuring out why you want to lose weight and feeling confident in independent success toward your goal is the most crucial first step toward your weight loss goal.

Final Thoughts

Many people want to lose weight. If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely one of them! Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But because it’s such a popular goal for so many people, there is a lot of misinformation and bad advice that can be harmful to your weight loss goal.

Approaching weight loss from the perspective of your overall health can help you lose weight and keep it off in a beneficial, rather than detrimental, way to your overall quality of life.



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