How To Lose Weight Quickly Yet Safely

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Going on a weight loss journey is a big deal, and it's understandable to want to see results quickly. Cue you, looking up the fastest way to lose weight (to hopefully speed this entire thing up). How can you lose weight fast, stay safe, and keep the pounds off in the long run?

Here's the thing—experts don't generally recommend losing weight fast. Instead, dropping one to two pounds a week is ideal for long-term success, says Danielle Crumble Smith, RDN, a dietitian at Eat Well, Live Well. This means working at a manageable pace, eating balanced meals, and making sustainable changes so you can feel your best.

That said, there are still proven ways to lose weight that will give you results without the pressure to try a restrictive diet. Ahead, dietitians share how to lose weight quickly in a safe way, including practical tips you can try right away and weight loss strategies to implement long-term.

Meet the experts: Danielle Crumble Smith, RDN is a nutritionist at Eat Well, Live Well. Jordan Hill, RD is also a nutritionist with Top Nutrition Coaching. Kami Blease, CPT is a personal trainer at Fyt Personal Training. Tatyana Johnston, CPT, is the sports performance lead at OMORPHO.

Short-Term Weight Loss Tips

1. Try one workout per week.

Instead of feeling pressured to hit the gym 24/7, commit to working out just once a week—especially if you're brand new to movement, says Kami Blease, a personal trainer at Fyt Personal Training. "Start smaller than you might think," Blease says. "Often people overcommit because they are excited. However, it's then easy to get burnt out."

After a few weeks, add in a second day, and when that feels seamless, try a third, and over time, you'll find a cadence that works for you, Blease says. Your body will eventually adapt to your new workout routine, so constantly increasing intensity over time is a good way to ensure you continue to get stronger and see results over time, she adds.

2. Start walking consistently.

Yes, walking for weight loss is a thing! "Walking more frequently is a sustainable, approachable way to burn more calories and stick with your weight loss goals," says Tatyana Johnston, CPT, the sports performance lead at OMORPHO. "It's also low impact and is not a super strenuous form of movement, which increases the chances that someone will stick with it."

A brisk 30-minute walk a day (even if it’s broken up into three 10-minute walks) has been shown to increase calorie burn and push you closer to your weight loss goals, Johnston notes. "Just remember to recover with hydration, fuel, and stretching," she says. "Be super consistent with your walking, and be okay with the fact that the distance and location might change occasionally." Short walks count, too!

3. Ask a personal trainer for help.

Personal training can be a helpful way to boost your motivation, research shows. "Having a trainer create a program that is specific to your needs ensures that you are more likely to get the results you are looking for—and keep your body safe in the process," says Blease. "There are a variety of trainers out there, so take the time you need to find someone who fits your goals, training style, and budget."

Working with a trainer has many benefits, but if your goal is weight loss, a trainer can help you build more muscle, Blease says. "This helps you burn more calories even at rest, resulting in possible weight loss," she says. A trainer will also make sure you maintain proper form and that you stay consistent. Decide on a number of days per week that fits your goal, and ask your trainer to help hold you accountable, Blease recommends.

4. Learn how to lift weights.

Weight lifting for weight loss is a helpful strategy for keeping the pounds off—plus, strength training packs some major health benefits. "It helps with balance and stability, improves metabolism, and even lowers your risk of certain diseases," says Blease.

A common misconception is that lifting will make you "bulky," which can feel counterintuitive if weight loss is your goal. However, it's pretty rare for this dramatic body transformation to happen unless you're genetically predispositioned to a certain body type—or if you're intentionally lifting to bulk up, says Blease.

To get comfortable with form, try practicing weighted exercises without weights first, Blease recommends. Then, start lifting three to five days a week. This can help you target specific muscle groups and focus on progressive overload—which means gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of reps over time, Blease says.

5. Start eating more protein.

A healthy eating plan includes a variety of protein-rich foods like seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds, per the current Dietary Guidelines For Americans. While individual dietary needs vary, you can generally aim for 30 to 35 grams of protein per meal to help you stay full throughout the day. "It’s much easier to make healthy choices when you’re not hungry. Additionally, protein-rich foods help support stable blood sugar levels," says Smith.

If you currently have a high-carb diet and want to lose weight, adding more protein to your plate can help even things out. "High-carbohydrate meals spike insulin levels, and one function of insulin is that it triggers fat storage," Smith says. Eating a protein-filled diet helps you maintain lean muscle mass which results in a higher resting metabolic rate, she adds, which can ultimately help with weight loss.

6. Drink more water (and limit sugary beverages).

Losing weight isn't just about your diet—make sure to stay hydrated, too. "Drinking enough water can help you to feel full and prevent overeating," says Hill. Aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces of hydrating fluids per day.

Another tip you can implement right away for weight loss? Avoid sugary beverages. "Juices, sodas, and fancy coffees are often are the calorie-equivalent of a meal, yet, they will still leave you hungry," says Smith. "The sugar content is often more than a candy bar, which will cause blood sugar levels to rise." Instead, replace your beverages with fruit-infused water, herbal tea, or coffee with cinnamon instead of heavy sweeteners.

7. Get your heart rate up.

Although cardio isn't the only way to get your heart rate up, it is one of the easiest. "If sustained on a regular basis, cardio can help you lose weight and maintain that weight loss," says Johnston. The average recommendation for cardiovascular activity is 150 to 300 minutes a week (two and a half to five hours a week), per The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

However, this number can vary based on someone’s individual health, and the intensity of the cardio, Johnston says. "Consistency is key. If you can establish and stick to a cardio schedule, you have a better chance at losing weight and keeping it off. Secondly, make your cardio fun." Playing sports, working out with friends, or listening to a podcast during cardio can help boost your motivation, she adds.

8. Try a HIIT workout.

If you enjoy high-impact exercises and want to lose weight fast, HIIT workouts can be a great way to expend a lot of energy (and build muscle) in a short period of time to help activate weight loss.

"Aim for about three days if possible with more low-intensity movement one to two other days," Blease says. "You can ramp up the intensity by trying to get in more reps during a certain amount of time or using heavier weights while maintaining the same time goal. Both will increase your intensity and continue to challenge your body." That said, be sure to have rest days, too. "People can get so fixated on weight loss that they end up hurting themselves," Blease says. "Take time to stretch, rest, and recover as needed."

9. Eat balanced meals (and limit processed foods).

For any eating pattern to remain successful long-term, you need to feel satisfied. The combination of protein, carbs, and healthy fats helps regulate appetite and also supports more stable energy levels throughout the day.

"When you have more energy, you move more and push harder in workouts. When you’re satisfied, you’ll also find that pesky sugar cravings also decrease naturally," says Smith, who recommends meal prepping to help you stay consistent and balanced throughout the week. You can also add different fats and flavorings to add variety, she says.

Plus, you'll want to avoid foods that are high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and empty calories, which can contribute to weight gain, says Hill. "Instead, focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that will provide your body with the nutrients it needs."

10. Add fiber to your meals.

Eating fiber-rich foods and incorporating vegetables into your meals can also help you lose weight long-term. "Fiber is more slowly digested and helps keep you feeling full for a longer period," says Smith. "Vegetables are a very low-calorie way to add volume to your meal as well, which leaves you more satisfied." Increased vegetable intake is also linked to lower blood sugar levels, lower LDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and increased HDL (the "good" cholesterol), she says, and can help promote liver detoxification.

To eat more veggies, try to switch up the vegetables that you consume and "eat the rainbow," Smith says. "The different colors of vegetables (and fruits) is due to different antioxidants which help protect your body from cellular damage," she explains. If you don't love veggies, you can also puree them and add them to a sauce or weight loss-friendly smoothie.

Long-Term Weight Loss Tips

1. Be kind to yourself.

Negative self-talk can naturally come up when you're trying to lose weight. However, practicing self-compassion and returning to your plan will help reinforce your goal and remind you that this weight loss journey requires patience and perseverance. "Practice giving yourself grace when [you] slip up,” Johnston says. “As long as it doesn’t become a habit, you will continue moving forward towards your goal.”

2. Practice intuitive eating.

Listening to your internal cues of hunger and fullness can help you control portion sizes, which can also aid weight loss. "Honoring fullness can help prevent overeating and ensure that you're not consuming more calories than your body needs," says dietitian Jordan Hill, RD. Keeping a food journal can also help you become more mindful of what you're eating, when, and how you're feeling throughout your weight loss journey.

3. Persevere through setbacks.

When you encounter a setback in your weight-loss journey (like when you skip a few days of workouts), it can be discouraging and all-consuming, and can cause you to fall off track.

"We think if we veer from our plan in one element of our lives, the day is ruined and we might as well veer from the whole plan," says Johnston. "One of the most crucial components of successfully reaching a goal is to not let setbacks ruin our progress. The setback is often not as severe as we think, and will not impact our end goal very much at all. If we meet the setback with the understanding that we are all human and mistakes are normal, we can simply move forward with our healthy mindset and plan."

4. Gradually incorporate more movement into your day.

It's all about finding ways to incorporate more movement into your daily life, like taking the stairs every day at work, walking around the block two times on your lunch break, or holding a plank first thing in the morning.

"All these things add up over time and can feel more reasonable for someone who is not your typical gym-goer," says Blease. "I recommend finding things you could do almost daily.”

5. Don't skip meals.

When trying to lose weight fast, you may feel compelled to skip meals and eat less. However, this is not recommended. “When you skip meals or go too long in between meals or snacks, you get overly hungry. This makes it much more difficult to make healthy choices, and it also makes it harder to not overeat later," says Smith. Skipping meals can also result in a slower metabolism and leave you feeling fatigued, which can negatively impact your workouts both in effort and recovery.

If you struggle with eating consistent meals, Smith recommends munching on small snacks throughout the day. “Set yourself up for success by bringing healthy snacks with you when you’re away from home, so you’re not caught in a situation where you are really hungry but have no access to healthy food,” she says.

6. Focus on long-term lifestyle changes.

This means looking at the overall lifestyle you want and figuring out the activities that will help get you there. "Some people have very little desire to go to the gym and lift weights or go to a workout class—that’s fine,” Blease says. “Hiking, swimming, skiing, surfing, or biking are all forms of movement that might feel more sustainable.”

Tips For Mindful Weight Loss

Wanting to lose weight fast is understandable, but it's important to keep your body safe and healthy in the process. Unhealthy weight loss methods can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other health problems, especially if they involve skipping meals, fasting, or other unsustainable practices, says Hill.

Additionally, losing weight isn't about restricting foods you love—rather, developing a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and movement for long-term success. "Extreme weight-loss methods can lead to disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food, which can have long-lasting negative effects on mental and physical health," Hill adds.

If you're trying to drop pounds quickly, be sure to consult your doctor or work with a trainer who can help you set mindful, attainable goals that will keep your body healthy and strong.

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