How to Lose Weight Fast, but in the Safest Way Possible (2023)

As a registered dietitian, I don't believe that losing weight fast is the healthiest approach. It often backfires, which leads to regaining all (or more) of the pounds shed, and it usually results in shedding only water weight, rather than body fat.

That said, I've counseled hundreds of people throughout the years, and some need to see quick results in order to feel confident and successful, which allows them to build the motivation and momentum needed to ease into long-term lifestyle changes. The latter is the ultimate goal, and the best way to achieve lasting weight-loss results.

But if you're initially motivated to drop a few pounds fast, here's a primer on what you should know, including the safest approaches, and who should definitely not go down the quick fix path.

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Some research indicates that the rate of weight loss doesn't necessarily dictate results down the road. One study, published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, enrolled over 200 men and women with high BMIs. During the first phase, participants were assigned to either a 12-week rapid weight loss plan or a 36-week gradual weight loss program. Both approaches were designed to reduce weight by 15%. Those who lost 12.5% or more weight during phase one were placed into a phase two weight maintenance plan for 144 weeks. At the end of the study, both the subjects who lost weight gradually and those in the rapid weight loss group had regained most of their lost weight.

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While this wasn't a good outcome in terms of weight management, researchers say the results indicate that the rate of weight did not affect the proportion of weight regained. In other words, the findings are not consistent with the belief that weight lost quickly is regained more rapidly. However, this study does support a result I've seen over and over in my practice, which is that keeping weight off requires making changes you can sustain long term.

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Eating Less of These Foods Might Help

Most weight loss tactics focus on what to cut out. For quick results, you'll see the greatest impact when you ditch the usual suspects: processed foods, including fast food; sugary foods, like candy and sweet drinks; products made with refined white flour and sugar, including baked goods; and items high in sodium, such as frozen dinners, pizza, and canned soup.

These foods can trigger water retention and bloating, which can affect your weight on the scale and how your clothes fit. They also generally pack a more concentrated amount of calories or carbs per serving, which can create surpluses that interfere with weight loss. And these foods are typically stripped of nutrients and fiber. The latter delays the return of hunger and helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which are tied to weight management.

If you clear your kitchen and grocery cart of these foods, just be sure to replace them with nutrient-rich whole foods (see more below). Eating too little can leave you feeling hungry, irritable, fatigued, and constipated, which can trigger a binge. And don't swap them with "diet" foods made with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. These faux sugars can stoke a sweet tooth, throw off appetite regulation, and potentially cause bloating. What you replace these foods with is just as important as nixing them.

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Non-starchy veggies are at the top of the list of foods to incorporate into every meal. Most provide 25 calories or less per cup (about the size of a tennis ball) and are low in carbs while packing filling fiber and fluid as well as many nutrients. Aim for about five cups per day, such as one cup at breakfast, two at lunch, and two at dinner.

This can include greens and raw vegetables, or sautéed, oven roasted, or grilled veggies. Try to mix up the colors and types to take in a broader array of nutrients and antioxidants. Blend spinach or kale into a smoothie at breakfast, or sauté veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and greens with eggs. Make an entrée salad or Buddha bowl your go-to lunch, with a base of greens and veggies the size of two handfuls. Opt for cooked veggies at dinner, in a dish like a veg-packed stir-fry. Or cover half of your dinner plate with sautéed or oven-roasted veggies, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, eggplant, or cauliflower.

Round out your meals with lean proteins, healthy fats, and smaller portions of whole food carbs. Proteins can include plant or animal sources, including pea protein powder in smoothies, lentils, and beans, pasture-raised eggs, or fish. Healthy fats boost satiety and keep you fuller longer. To get your fill, blend nut butter in a smoothie, serve avocado with eggs, toss salads with extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette, and drizzle pesto over cooked veggies.

Finally, don't omit nutrient-rich, whole-grain carbs like brown rice and quinoa, starchy veggies (including skin-on potatoes and butternut squash), and fresh fruit. To meet your energy needs, including at least one cup of fresh/raw or a half cup of cooked carbs per meal. Leaving them out can result in lingering hunger or cravings, plus spontaneous snacking that hinders results. In other words, don't fall into the old trap of making meals out of steamed veggies and plain grilled chicken. In addition to feeling miserable, you'll burn out quickly and deprive your body of important nutrients.

What To Drink and Not Drink

You don't have to give up coffee, but do doctor it up with a little unsweetened plant milk, sugar in the raw or maple syrup, and cinnamon, rather than refined sugar or artificial sweeteners and cream or dairy. After a cup or two, switch to water, and aim for 64 ounces spread evenly throughout the day. Make water your only beverage, and if you don't like it plain, flavor it with all-natural ingredients like citrus, fresh mint, cucumber, ginger, or bits of in-season fruit.

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Eliminate alcohol, at least short-term. In addition to its calories, alcohol is an appetite stimulant and it lowers inhibitions, so you're more likely to overeat or nibble on foods you wouldn't eat when sober. For a longer-term strategy, limit alcohol to a few occasions per week, and stick with cocktails made with sparkling water rather than regular or diet colas or tonic water.

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Before you try to lose weight at all, examine your relationship with food. If you have a history of disordered eating, or if previous weight loss attempts have led to feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness, or other emotions, take a beat. Health includes both physical and emotional well-being, and if a focus on weight loss harms your mental health, it is not a worthy trade. Explore why you feel compelled to lose weight, and seek out support from loved ones who care about you or a mental health professional.

Losing Weight Fast: Bottom Line

In my years of working with clients one-on-one, I think I've seen it all, from cleanses and detoxes to dozens of quickie diets. I've also observed very predictable patterns related to weight loss, including what tends to stick or fizzle out, and the methods that enhance health versus those that deter from it. If you're a good candidate for a weight loss jump start, please consider these two final bits of advice. First, extreme methods don't lead to better results. Second, if you want to keep the pounds you lose off permanently, settle into an eating pattern you can sustain long-term, so you won't wind up taking another wild ride on the unending weight control rollercoaster.

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FAQs

Can you lose weight quickly and safely? ›

Losing more than 1 or 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) a week is not safe for most people. It can cause you to lose muscle, water, and bone density. Rapid weight loss can also cause some side effects including: Gallstones.

What is the safest way to lose weight permanently? ›

Top Two Tips For Permanent Weight Loss
  1. Exercise! A key strategy for achieving permanent weight loss is regular exercise. ...
  2. Increase the amount of satiety you get out of your calories. Traditionally, weight-loss strategies have focused on reducing caloric intake by restricting portion sizes or counting calories.

How can I drop 20 pounds fast? ›

Here are the 10 best ways to quickly and safely drop 20 pounds.
  1. Count calories. ...
  2. Drink more water. ...
  3. Increase your protein intake. ...
  4. Reduce your refined carb consumption. ...
  5. Start lifting weights. ...
  6. Eat more fiber. ...
  7. Follow a sleep schedule. ...
  8. Set reasonable goals and stay accountable.
13 Aug 2018

How can I drop 10 pounds fast? ›

How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Month: 14 Simple Steps
  1. Try cardio for weight loss. ...
  2. Eat fewer refined carbs. ...
  3. Start counting calories. ...
  4. Choose better beverages. ...
  5. Eat slowly. ...
  6. Add fiber to your diet. ...
  7. Eat a high protein breakfast. ...
  8. Get enough sleep every night.

Will I lose weight if I stop eating? ›

It can help with weight loss

Fasting one or two days a week may be a way for you to consume fewer calories over time. You may find this easier to do than cutting back a certain number of calories every day. The energy restriction from a 24-hour fast may also benefit your metabolism, helping in weight loss.

How do I kick start my weight loss? ›

Top 13 Weight Loss Tips to Kick Start Your Journey
  1. Eat What's Right for Your Body. ...
  2. Lose Weight by Eating Mindfully. ...
  3. Stay Hydrated. ...
  4. Farm to Table. ...
  5. Eat for Better Health. ...
  6. Enjoy Life More. ...
  7. Avoid Processed Foods. ...
  8. Don't Eat in Front of the TV or Computer.

How do you get skinny stomach? ›

Techniques that may help people get a flat stomach include:
  1. Add cardio. Share on Pinterest Running is effective in trimming a person's midsection. ...
  2. Eat more fiber. ...
  3. Limit refined carbs. ...
  4. Increase protein intake. ...
  5. Do exercises while standing, not sitting. ...
  6. Add resistance training. ...
  7. Eat more monounsaturated fatty acids. ...
  8. Move more.
6 Mar 2019

What is the simplest diet you can live on? ›

Under the diet, each meal should consist of four handfuls of food — one handful of protein, one of carbohydrates, and two of vegetables — plus a spoonful of fat. This means no calorie counting or weighing food portions, which can be difficult if you're on the go or don't own kitchen scales.

How much water should I drink to lose weight? ›

Drinking at least 64 ounces (eight cups) of water every day may help with weight loss. Downing liquid is not the only way to meet this goal. About 20 percent of your hydration needs can be met through your diet, says Caroline Susie, RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

What is overweight for a 5 10 female? ›

tall is considered overweight (BMI is 25 to 29) if she weighs between about 145 and 169 pounds. She is considered obese (BMI is 30 or more) if she is closer to 174 pounds or more. A man who is 5 ft. 10 in.

Does drinking water help you lose weight? ›

Water can be really helpful for weight loss. It is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if consumed before meals. The benefits are even greater when you replace sugary beverages with water. It is a very easy way to cut back on sugar and calories.

What is the military diet? ›

The military diet, also called the 3-day diet, is a short-term, rapid weight loss diet that claims to help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week. The diet plan involves a 3-day, calorie-restricted meal plan followed by 4 days off.

What is the maximum weight loss in a week? ›

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one to two pounds in a week is a safe amount to lose if you're doing it gradually and steadily. 1-2 pounds in a week is a safe amount to lose, per the CDC.

What is the egg diet? ›

What Is the Egg Diet? The egg diet is a weight loss program that requires you to build at least one meal each day around the traditional breakfast staple, the chicken egg. It is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, high-protein plan designed to help you lose weight quickly without losing muscle mass.

Can eating too little cause weight gain? ›

Eating too few calories can be the start of a vicious cycle that causes diet distress. When you cut your calories so low that your metabolism slows and you stop losing weight, you probably will become frustrated that your efforts are not paying off. This can lead you to overeat and ultimately gain weight.

Why is weight loss so hard? ›

Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight? Your body is designed to hold onto as much fat as possible to store for times when food may be scarce. That makes losing weight difficult for most people. Factors at play include genetics, age, race and ethnicity, diet, physical activity, hormones, and social factors.

Can you lose weight by eating one meal a day? ›

Study participants who tried eating one meal a day ended up with less total body fat. This particular group of people didn't experience significant weight loss. That said, intermittent fasting in general has proven to be an effective weight-loss method. The typical weight loss is 7 to 11 pounds over 10 weeks.

What is the first place you lose weight? ›

The first place men typically lose weight is the belly, while women tend to lose weight all over, but hold onto weight in their thighs and hips, Dr. Block explains.

How long should I fast to lose weight? ›

According to some researchers, fasting for 10–16 hours can cause the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream. This should encourage weight loss.

Why is my stomach so big? ›

If you eat too much and exercise too little, you're likely to carry excess weight — including belly fat. Also, your muscle mass might diminish slightly with age, while fat increases.

What 2 foods can you survive on? ›

4 Foods You Could (Almost) Exclusively Live Off Of
  • Potatoes. Advertisement. ...
  • Human Breast Milk. Advertisement. ...
  • Kale. Advertisement. ...
  • Trail Mix.
7 Jul 2016

What 3 foods could you survive on? ›

  • Perfect Foods. (Image credit: XuRa (opens in new tab) | shutterstock (opens in new tab)) ...
  • Beans. (Image credit: USDA) ...
  • Kale. (Image credit: Justin Jernigan) ...
  • Cantaloupe. (Image credit: stock.xchng) ...
  • Berries. (Image credit: Ohio State University.) ...
  • Barley. (Image credit: USDA) ...
  • Seaweed. (Image credit: NOAA) ...
  • Fish.
8 Dec 2021

Why can't I lose any weight? ›

At the most basic level, not reaching your weight loss goal can occur when calorie intake is equal to or higher than calorie use. Try strategies such as mindful eating, keeping a food diary, eating more protein, and doing strength exercises.

What is the healthiest way for a person to lose weight? ›

Get more active. Being active is key to losing weight and keeping it off. As well as providing lots of health benefits, exercise can help burn off the excess calories you cannot lose through diet alone. Find an activity you enjoy and are able to fit into your routine.

Is it possible to lose weight permanently? ›

They'll say the act of losing weight permanently is a myth, and the only is with invasive methods like weight loss surgery. While it's true that approximately 95% of the time we gain our weight back, it's largely because of the methods we are using to lose that weight.

What is the unhealthiest way to lose weight and keep it off? ›

Unhealthy ways to lose weight
  • Skipping meals. Skipping meals is not an effective way to lose weight. ...
  • Cutting out certain food groups. ...
  • Only drinking weight loss shakes. ...
  • Working out on an empty stomach. ...
  • Being too restrictive. ...
  • Sticking to a liquid diet. ...
  • Taking supplements without medical approval. ...
  • Undereating or starving yourself.

Can you lose a pound a day? ›

The bottom line. Although it may be theoretically possible, losing 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body fat per day would require you to significantly increase your physical activity and limit your food intake.

How can I boost up my metabolism? ›

5 ways to boost metabolism
  1. Exercise more. Add interval training to your cardio routine and burn more calories in less time. ...
  2. Weight train. Add muscle mass to your body and you can burn more calories at rest. ...
  3. Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. ...
  4. Eat fat-burning foods. ...
  5. Get a good night's sleep every night.

Why is it so difficult to lose weight? ›

Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight? Your body is designed to hold onto as much fat as possible to store for times when food may be scarce. That makes losing weight difficult for most people. Factors at play include genetics, age, race and ethnicity, diet, physical activity, hormones, and social factors.

What should I drink to lose weight? ›

The best drink for weight loss is water since it has zero calories and can keep you hydrated. Other weight loss drinks include coffee, green tea, vegetable juice, and smoothies. If you're trying to lose weight, avoid high-calorie, sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice.

Why can I not lose weight no matter what I do? ›

Many factors can affect your ability to lose weight, including certain health conditions, your dieting and weight loss history, age-related changes and your mother's diet and weight changes during pregnancy.

What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to lose weight? ›

1. Not Controlling Your Calorie Intake. An imbalanced calorie intake is one of the reasons why losing weight is hard for some people. It's also one of the common mistakes people make since they often underestimate their calorie consumption when they start to have healthy foods.

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