Rapid weight loss is highly desired by many people, but losing too much weight too quickly can be dangerous. You need to know how to lose weight safely so that you boost your health, not harm it.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to starve yourself to lose weight. You can enjoy a wide range of healthy, nutritious foods every day and still lose weight quickly, without hunger pains.
The key to weight loss is regular exercise and a well-balanced, nutritious diet that is easy for you to stick to in the long-term.
How is weight lost?
Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. If you were to burn 500 more calories than you consume every single day for a week, then you will likely lose around 2lbs during that time.
To lose weight faster, you need to exercise more and eat less. However, you need to do this safely, because if you have too large a calorie deficit then it can be dangerous for your health.
It’s important to remember when attempting to lose weight that you won’t see results overnight. Losing a lot of weight takes weeks and months of dedication, and constant control of your diet and exercise regime.
However, when you first start dieting and exercising you will likely experience fairly rapid weight loss. During the first week, you may lose as much as 10lbs, whereas the typical weekly weight loss is around 2lbs or so, and that is what you are more likely lose in the following weeks. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you will lose it.
Do not get disheartened by the numbers you see on the scales though. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are building muscle and losing fat, your weight may remain constant or increase, even though you are fitter and have a lower body fat percentage.
Do strength training and cardio for your exercise
A large number of health professionals recommend a combination of strength training and cardio if you want to lose weight, ideally doing around an hour of moderate exercise each day.
By including strength training, you will build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, even when you are just resting. In addition to burning calories, you can also help prevent a slow metabolism.
Remember, you don’t need to complete your daily exercise in an hour-long session. It can be split up into three 20-minute sessions instead, for example. Just pick whatever routine is easiest for you to commit to based on your daily schedule.
There’s also no need to join a gym if you really don’t want to, as you can go running in the local park, and do some bodyweight exercises (such as press ups) in your home.
Reduce your consumption of sugar and starches
Sugars and starches (carbohydrates) stimulate the secretion of insulin, the main fat storage hormone. Having a high insulin level makes it harder for your body to burn fat, but if you follow a low-carb diet then your insulin level will be lower and more constant, resulting in your body burning fat as energy rather than carbs.
Additionally, when your insulin levels are fairly low, your kidneys remove excess water and sodium from your body. This can reduce unnecessary water weight, as well as reducing bloating.
When following a low-carb diet, generally you will eat until you feel full, and then stop. Meanwhile, people who follow a low-fat diet can often find themselves hungry throughout the day and having to count calories.
This can therefore lead to overeating, making the low-carb diet easier and more effective for weight loss.
It should be highlighted that not all carbs are bad, but some carry fewer benefits than others. For example, sweet potatoes are much better for you than chocolate bars and sweets.
Avoid fruit juices, because even if they do supply one of your five a day, they are very high in sugar. It is best to choose real fruit (berries are low-carb) and stick to water, tea and coffee instead.
Choose vegetables, protein, fat and water
So, you’re cutting down on carbs, but what replaces them? The other macronutrients – fat and protein – and plenty of nutritious vegetables. Ideally, each of these will be present in every meal you eat.
Vegetables are an excellent source of fibre and many essential vitamins and minerals. They are typically low-calorie, and help fill you up and therefore prevent overeating. When following a low-carb diet, you will want to stick to vegetables that grow above ground, generally.
Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, celery, cucumber, Brussels sprouts and lettuce are all great examples of low-carb vegetables. You can eat a sizeable amount of these and still be following a strict/moderate low-carb diet.
There are many great sources of protein, such as meat, fish, seafood and eggs. Protein is important for muscle growth, and also boosts your metabolism.
For decades, fat was viewed as the enemy, with low-fat diets promoted everywhere as the best way to lose weight. However, the tide is now turning as more research supports the inclusion of natural fats into a healthy diet, with studies showing they do not increase the risk of heart disease.
Healthy fat sources include avocados, butter and olive oil, and they are all great at helping you feel full. It’s very difficult to try and follow a low-fat and low-carb diet at the same time, so it is generally recommended to stick to just one of these.
Another great way to keep you feeling full is to drink plenty of water. Try and drink a large glass of water 30 minutes before each meal, as it may help prevent overeating. Avoid sugary soft drinks and restrict your milk consumption, as these all contain carbs. Additionally, studies have linked diet drinks (which contain sweeteners instead of sugars) to more weight gain than regular versions.
Consider keeping a food journal
Many people have a diary which lists all the food and drink they consume, and when, to help them keep on track. In addition to this, some people jot down their emotions at the time, which may have influenced their food and drink choices.
Get plenty of sleep every night
To lose weight fast and safely, not only do you need to adopt a healthy diet and exercise regime, you also need to ensure you have a good night’s sleep each night. Stop using your smartphone, tablet, laptop or TV after 10pm, and get to bed at a reasonable time, aiming for eight hours’ sleep daily.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before trying to lose weight, because they can ensure you will be able to do it healthily, especially if you have a medical condition and/or take medication.