4 Tips on How to Lose 15 Pounds Safely
WE'VE ALL BEEN there— you have an event coming up (wedding, important work thing), and you want to get in shape fast. If you only shed, like, 15 pounds, that suit would fit.
Unfortunately, losing weight fast almost always means extreme restriction and an unhealthy amount of exercise. And, even more unfortunately, that means it's easy to gain that weight right back when you're bound to take a break from your regimen.
The risks are scary: If you aim to lose fat too quickly, you might end up harming your health. "To lose weight 'safely' means to do so in a way that is sustainable, healthy, and does not put your physical or mental health at risk," says Erin Kenney, M.S., R.D., founder of Nutrition Rewired.
Your body always has a way to fight back against extreme change, too.
"People may try challenging strategies to maintain weight over the long term," says Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., M.P.H., obesity medicine physician at Harvard Medical School and a Men's Health advisor. "For example, they may choose to overly restrict calories. While they may lose weight fast, the body fights back, and their lost weight is rapidly regained."
There are ways to lose those last pesky pounds without spending several hours in the gym daily and surviving only off of cans of plain tuna, though. Losing weight, after all, is all about calories in versus calories out.
It's simple math: To lose one pound of fat, you must be in calorie deficit of at 3500 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Calories add up quick— but that also means they can be subtracted quick. A healthy weight loss rate is about 1 pound per week, or about 500 calories per day.
Small changes can help cancel out these calories. Here are 4 ways to do it safely.
1. Eat Minimally Processed Foods
Natural foods are easier for your body to breakdown than more processed foods. Plus, some have more unnecessary calories than their natural counterparts.
"Evaluate your food and see if it looks like what you see in nature," Cody Stanford says. "If it does not, it is likely processed, which can be problematic for weight regulation."
2. Listen to Your Hunger Cues
It feels intuitive, because it is. Eat when you're hungry, and don't eat when you're not. But sometimes, we over analyze our hunger cues. We might try to wait out eating when we're hungry to restrict our calories. Or, we may feel starving and overestimate how hungry we are and eat too much, leaving us over-full and uncomfortable.
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to acknowledge our hunger cues and obey them to the best of our ability, Cody Stanford says. When you're hungry, eat. When you're not hungry, don't eat. Our hunger cues are a direct communication of what our body needs—so listen to them, but don't over think it.
As in, water. It's the drink of life, and (apparently) of weight loss. Keeping your body hydrated assists in so many aspects of your health, and can help when you're trying to shed some pounds. Consuming water with and after meals will help you feel fuller, longer which will prevent you from needing snacks throughout the day. It can also help boost your metabolism which will cause you to burn more calories in a day, Kenney says.
4. Add in Activity
Find small ways to add extra activity into your day, both Kenney and Cody Stanford say.
"Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the entrance, or going for a walk during lunch can all add up to more movement throughout the day," Kenney says. Extra activity will help you burn more calories in a day. Like we said above, small changes can add up to create a big impact.
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