Whether you’re trying to slim down for a specific milestone event (your graduation, your wedding, or your high school reunion), or you’ve just been meaning to lose weight for a while and it’s time to get it in gear, we’re providing healthy tips on how to lose 20 pounds quickly and safely.
The reason we point out these are healthy ways to lose weight is because there are so many unhealthy ways to shed pounds. Not only are these unreliable methods unsustainable, but they could have long-term damaging effects on your body. Starving yourself, binging and purging, dieting excessively, or being so strict with your diet that you become weak and malnourished are disorders and behaviors that people sometimes struggle with throughout their lives. No matter how healthy your pursuit starts, we don’t want you to go down one of these disastrous dieting paths. So without further ado, here are some safe tips that allow you to lose weight without losing even an ounce of your health.
How to Lose 20 Pounds…Fast!
While the tried-and-true method of losing weight is slow and steady, involving lifestyle changes, patience, and stick-to-itiveness, there are ways to pinpoint and streamline your efforts to get faster results. This isn’t some kind of dietary get-rich-quick scheme, but 10 proven ways to help you lose 20 pounds ASAP.
1. Eat More Fiber
You wouldn’t think the first tip for losing weight would be to eat more of anything, but it’s true: increasing your fiber intake can help you lose weight. How? Dense and filling, fiber helps boost satiety after a meal. One review found that increasing fiber consumption by 14 grams per day led to a 10% decrease in each day’s calorie intake and 4.3 pounds of weight loss over 4 months, with no other change in exercise, diet, or lifestyle. A longer study of 252 women showed that for every gram of fiber consumed each day, 0.5 pounds of body weight was lost, and 0.25% of body fat. Gram for pound, it’s as simple as that!
The way fiber works is to slow your digestion down, which helps you stay fuller longer and helps keep your blood sugar from spiking. Yet another study found that men who consumed 33 grams of insoluble fiber (found in wheat and vegetables) decreased both their appetite and their food intake. Whether you’re eating fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, or whole grains, you’re contributing to your own healthy weight loss.
2. Count Your Calories
It’s not the most fun you’ll ever have, but counting calories is a great way to become educated about what’s in your food and what’s worth eating. Losing weight is only done by taking in fewer calories, using up more calories via physical activity, or both: end of list. If you start counting your calories, even if you’re not planning to do it forever (and you shouldn’t), you’re getting a crash course in just how many tiny snacks and treats are monstrously huge in calories.
When you pair just a little bit of calorie counting with the rest of the tips on this list, it’s one more effective tool to aid weight loss. The more aware you are of where the best calorie caches are, the healthier choices you’ll make when it comes to what you can “afford” to eat calorie-wise. One review of studies on weight-loss programs found that people who incorporated calorie counting had 7.3 pounds more weight loss than those who did not.
Don’t let calorie counting take over your life, but try using an app or a food journal as you start changing your diet, and see if the knowledge you gain doesn’t change what goes on your plate.
3. Cut Carbs
Decreasing the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat accelerates weight loss rapidly. In fact, the ketogenic or keto diet is one that’s designed specifically for fast fat loss, and one of the first steps in starting is to dramatically reduce your carb intake.
Refined carbs (containing the white flour that’s found in processed foods like cookies, cakes, bread, crackers, etc.) are so processed that they’re stripped of their fiber and nutrient content. Plus they have a high glycemic index number, which leads to spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels (as well as increased hunger).
Consuming high amounts of carbs is scientifically linked over and over again to increases in weight gain, body fat, and ill health. One study of over 2,000 participants found that higher refined carb intake correlated with increased belly fat, while a greater intake of whole grains reduced belly fat. If you’re not ready to say goodbye to carbs drastically, you can make a huge difference by switching from white breads and pastas to whole grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, or better yet, barley, brown rice, quinoa, and couscous.
4. Drink More Water
Here’s another tip that’ll hopefully be easy: drink more water. The facts are in, and a low-calorie diet with an increase of water taken before meals lead to 44% more weight loss in participants over 12 weeks. That’s just one season’s worth of time! Up your water intake in winter, weigh less by spring; start in spring, and you’ll be ready for summer.
Research shows that water intake encourages weight loss because it boosts your metabolism and increases the calories your body burns after a meal. Another study showed that drinking 16.9 ounces of water bumped up metabolism by 30% after about half an hour. Beyond that, drinking water with your meals increases feelings of fullness, helping to curb your appetite and lower your calorie intake throughout the day. If you can drink anywhere between 1-2 liters of water a day, you’ll maximize your weight-loss efforts.
5. Eat Slower
Asian cultures often serve their meals in small dishes, one after another, whereas Western cultures often take their meals all at once, on one big dish. Not only is there a visual component to satiety, but a one-at-a-time style of eating also helps slow down the speed at which you eat your food. You may find yourself perfectly full halfway through a meal, stop eating, and thus cease your calorie intake for the time being because you have all that you need. Studies show that eating slowly increases feelings of fullness, decreases calorie intake, and leads to significantly more weight loss.
6. Increase Protein Intake
A high-protein diet is scientifically associated with preserving muscle mass, improving metabolism, and decreasing belly fat. Combining this tip with tip #3 and following a high-protein, low-carb diet plan is a one-two punch when it comes to losing weight—that’s how you can drop pounds safely and quickly, by putting these tips together to get the best of everything. One study revealed that eating a high-protein breakfast decreases the “hunger hormone” ghrelin significantly more than eating a high-carb one.
7. Lift Weights
Increasing your protein intake helps you build muscle, and you can put those muscles to fat-burning use by starting or increasing resistance-training exercises. Resistance training boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest. One review found that 10 weeks of resistance training can potentially increase your metabolism by 7% and lead to 4 pounds of fat loss. Hit the gym for these workouts, or use your own body weight to start working out at home right away.
8. Do Cardio
While we’re talking about physical fitness, adding cardio workouts to your routine is another way to burn fat. Cardio, aka aerobic exercise, is a physical activity that ups your heart rate and strengthens both your lungs and your heart. Performing cardio workouts for 6 months has been shown to decrease body weight by 9% in obese adults.
No matter what your current fitness level or body type, you can start gently with cardio by walking, running, rowing, boxing, jumping rope, etc. There are so many options! Just 20-40 minutes of cardio per day can maximize your weight loss starting right now.
9. Set and Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Studies show that sleeping at least 7 hours per night and getting good sleep increases weight-loss success by 33%. Getting enough sleep can improve your life overall, as well as your health: you’ll drive better, work faster, and feel happier when you get regular, adequate sleep. One quick tip for getting to sleep on time: establish a regular pre-sleep routine to help train your body and your mind to rest when the day is done.
10. Stay Accountable
It’s the regularity of all these tips that helps coalesce into fast weight loss. Slipping here and there isn’t a disaster, but little actions like weighing yourself each day or keeping a food journal as suggested above can help keep you motivated and accountable on your own. If you have a friend, family member, or partner who also wants to lose weight, you can help keep each other accountable. Working out together and comparing notes can help you both maintain these healthy changes.
How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week
Hey, if you’re looking for an even faster way to healthily lose weight, it can be done. In 1 week you could lose 10 pounds safely—it won’t be all body fat, and it can’t be much higher than 10 pounds while staying safe, but it can be done. Here are the quick tips for you speed demons out there.
- Eat more lean proteins and fewer carbs. This one carries over and makes a real difference right away.
- Drop processed foods for whole foods. If you want to lose weight fast, drop all the junk food stat and be sure to eat only whole foods.
- Reduce your calorie intake. Don’t starve yourself, but the more you can cut the number of calories in each meal (less sauce for example), the quicker you’ll drop weight.
- Try high-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts can start your resistance training off strong.
- Try intermittent fasting. It’s a fast way to train your body to use calories quickly and efficiently.
Lose Weight, Feel Great
Even if your weight-loss goals are grand, with combined efforts to eat smart and stick to an exercise routine, you can drop a significant number of pounds fast, without risking bad side effects (like your body going into starvation mode). Use these weight-loss tips to improve your metabolic rate as well as your eating habits and overall health.