How To Lose Weight Fast & Safely: Advice From Expert

Many people struggle with excess body weight and seek effective ways to shed those extra pounds. In reality, the fastest method of shedding excess weight entails a safe and enduring reduction. This article will discuss rapid weight loss methods’ potential risks and рitfalls. We will also provide expert advice to help you slash calories and build a healthy foundation.

Join us as we unveil our comprehensive guide’s 15 most straightforward evidence-based tips.

The risks of rapid weight loss

It can be a struggle for anyone to live with extra body weight. It’s even more complicated when it feels like nothing works to keep the weight off.

Recently, HealthToday had the opportunity to talk with an expert in the field of diet, Dr. Christopher Gardner, a distinguished professor at Stanford University. According to Dr. Gardner, healthily losing weight is more than looking good. It’s also about improving metabolic health, which is crucial for overall well-being. Unfortunately, rapid weight loss methods that promise quick results can harm your metabolism and health.

So why are fad diets still on the rise? Dr. Gardner suggested common psychological points:

For certain people, when they eliminate a certain set of foods, they feel satisfied, satiated, and enjoy the food. They think they have found a way that works for them, then they get on social media and say, ‘I have the answer.

However, these crash and fad diets are often unsustainable and difficult to stick with. Many people stop losing weight after around six months (1). These diets are also often lacking in scientific evidence and can put your health at risk (2, 3).

The worst part of these diets is that people often blame themselves for their lack of willpower or genetics. This self-blame can lead to dangerous behaviors like extreme calorie restriction or even starvation mode.

Severe restriction of calories may rob your body of crucial nourishment, resulting in reduced muscle mass and a sluggish metabolism. These effects pose obstacles to keeping the weight off when reverting back to normal eating patterns (1).

Also, many weight loss supplements marketed as “quick fixes” can have harmful side effects (4).

While rapid weight loss methods may seem appealing, they often come with risks and may not yield lasting results. Common health risks are nutrient imbalance and muscle loss. It’s important to adopt a balanced approach based on sound scientific evidence.

How to lose weight fast, naturally, and permanently

The general consensus is that losing 1-2 pounds per week is a safe and effective rate of weight loss (5).

A widely held myth is that you can shed pounds and maintain that body shape after a few weeks of diet. A diet plan seems to be something to follow once you’ve reached a goal weight and then returned to your old ways (1).

Our body operates on a delicate balance of reactions that must be harmonious to function properly. A fad diet can disrupt the balance, so it doesn’t work in the long run. In fact, about 90-95% of all fast weight-loss diets fail (6).

Changing at once every part of your lifestyle can be overwhelming and sets you up for failure. Instead, make healthy changes gradually to allow yourself time to adapt and stick to them.

Adopting a sustainable and balanced approach to weight loss is safer and more sustainable. Slow and steady always wins the long race!

15 evidence-based tips to lose weight fast & safely

While there are countless weight-loss fads and gimmicks out there, it’s best to rely on tips that have been scientifically proven to be effective.

Let’s discover 15 proven strategies for shedding your extra pounds.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts

  • Fast score: 5/5
  • Sustainable score: 3/5

HIIT workouts involve short periods of intense exercise followed by rest or lower-intensity activity periods. This routine keeps your heart rate up and boosts your metabolism. So it can slash the time commitment while getting in shape (7).

HIIT can help you burn more fat and build muscle rather than break it down like regular cardio exercises (8).

Studies have shown that when women increase their workout frequency, they report better food choices, improved moods, and can exercise more (9).

A variety of typical workouts constituting HIIT include leaping, crouching down, performing jumping jacks or burpees, lifting dead weights, and more. 

However, HIIT is only sustainable for some due to its high intensity and potential for catching an injury or burnout if not well managed. It’s best to start at a comfortable pace before gradually increasing the duration and intensity.

Intermittent fasting

  • Fast score: 4/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Regarding diet, many people only think about what they eat. However, when to eat is equally important, and fasting is an effective method. Intermittent fasting is about stretching the time between meals.

As you fast for an extended period, your body has to use fat stores for energy (10). According to one study, intermittent fasting was more effective than daily energy restriction alone within 4 months, including improving insulin sensitivity and reducing body fat (11).

Intermittent fasting can lose the same weight as continuous restrictive diets without requiring calorie counting (12). Upon examining 27 analyses, it was found that, on average, intermittent fasting reduced body weight by 0.8% to 13% within six months (13).

The most common intermittent fasting methods are the 16/8 and 12/12, where you fast for 16 or 12 hours and eat during the remaining (08 or 12) hours. The 16/8 method decreased fat mass and maintained muscle mass in resistance-trained males (14).

A small tip is to start with shorter fasting periods and gradually increase them as you become more comfortable. It is important to keep your body hydrated and listen to its needs. 

Intermittent fasting should be considered a shift in daily routine rather than a diet. So ensure to fill your diet with healthy foods during the day.

Dr. Gardner also shared his view on this:

My frustration with a lot of time-restricted eating plans is that they don’t address the quality of food, only the eating window. I think many people make poor food choices, and in the long term, food quality will matter the most.

Eat more soluble fiber

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 5/5

Dr. Gardner suggested fiber as the first component of a weight-loss diet:

So my preference is actually, if you just had to boil it down to a simple message, it would be more fiber.

Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut, slowing digestion and keeping you fuller for longer (15).

Thousands of bacteria types in our gut can make us gain weight when their amounts are imbalanced. Fortunately, soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut and inhibiting harmful bacteria’s growth (15, 16).

Dr. Gardner explained how fiber could help protect our gut health:

It is important to maintain a thick protective layer of mucus by consuming fiber, which the microbes can feed on instead of feeding on the lining of the gut.

Notwithstanding this, the ordinary ingestion of dietary fiber by adults in America is still lower than fifty percent of what has been advocated (17). Dr. Gardner also shared his experiments concerning this problem:

In a study that we recently did, people in general that we recruited were getting 20 grams of fiber a day. And the recommendations in the US are to get 35 or 40.

So how can we include more fiber in our diet? Diverse and irresistible food items, including whole grains, legumes like peas and beans, greenery of varied kinds as well as juicy apples or citrus fruits (18), can be a source of soluble fiber.

Fortunately, many foods rich in fiber are also packed with nutrition. Remember to pick up some of these options for maximum nourishment!

Increase protein consumption

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 5/5

Eating more protein will help you still feel energized when losing weight. Protein is essential for building muscles, which support a healthy metabolism.

Plus, protein requires the most energy to digest among macronutrients, making your body burn more calories. It also can help to curb cravings (19, 20).

Set your sights on attaining no less than 0.8 grams of protein per kg of your body daily (21). Some excellent high-protein sources for your diet include eggs, meats, seafood, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds (22).

Here’s a pro tip: Have a breakfast teeming with protein. This could be achieved by eating eggs or Greek yogurt, as well as indulging in some protein smoothies. It can aid in sustaining satiety and satisfaction for the rest of your day (23, 24). 

Also, be careful with a plant protein called gluten. Some people can’t digest it, resulting in inflammation. Dr. Gardner cautioned us during our interview:

So, some people with celiac disease have an intestinal problem with gluten, a protein almost exclusively found in wheat. They get very sick if they consume any gluten. Although some other grains contain a small amount of gluten, it is mostly found in wheat.

Get moving more

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 5/5

If you sometimes sit for prolonged periods, you should bear in mind that sitting too much can harm your well-being and lead to unwanted weight gain (25).

One can keep a healthy weight without being bound to the confines of gym memberships or strict regimens. The art of integrating exercise as a fundamental aspect of your routine can unlock holistic wellness (26).

Here are some methods to include your physical effort on an everyday basis:

  • Ditch the elevator and take the stairs
  • Stand up instead of sitting for long periods
  • Get moving with household chores
  • Walk or bike to work or school
  • Go for a leisurely jog after meals

Making small changes to your everyday life can add up to big benefits for weight loss. Start moving, and watch those pounds melt away!

Mind your portion

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Healthy foods like avocados, nuts, and full-fat dairy are absolutely delicious but can pack a calorie punch (27, 28). Ingesting too many of these foods may result in caloric consumption surpassing your recognition.

Eating smaller portions can significantly decrease your weight by limiting your calorie intake. You can still enjoy what you like while maintaining a calorie deficit.

You can keep a food journal or use a food-tracking app to watch your portion sizes effectively. With this knowledge, you can make better food choices, manage portion control, and achieve weight loss goals.

You can also use a smaller plate and bowl for your meals. When you downsize your plate, an optical illusion makes the same amount of food look more like it. This simple trick can let your brain feel satisfied with less.

Eliminate sugar and refined carbs

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Sugar can be hidden under names like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, juice concentrate, maltodextrin, raw sugar, and brown sugar. Dr. Gardner suggested that these sneaky sugars can often be hidden in things that sound like healthy foods. So be careful with flavored yogurt, ‘low-fat’ dairy, fruit juice, salad dressings, and protein bars.

Dr. Gardner also shared valuable sugar and refined carbs insights in our conversation. He mentioned how they can be addictive, affecting your gut-brain access and your brain’s ability to sense when you’re full. This can lead to overeating and struggling to lose weight.

Also, high-sugar foods, especially fructose type, tend to increase fat in your liver and affect insulin sensitivity (29). Refined carbs are stripped of their nutrients (30). Dr. Gardner said:

It’s mostly starch, which is just glucose. And when you absorb that and digest it, you’re just getting a lot of glucose.

There are several easy changes you could apply. It is not necessary to rid yourself of all sugar to be healthy. Instead, replace all man-made sweeteners with natural alternatives like raw honey and fresh fruits, but enjoy it in restraint.

It’s best to stay away from white rice, white bread, and breakfast cereal while opting for complex carbs like whole grains, oats, and sweet potatoes (31).

Choose fats wisely

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Different fats create different qualities, and some fats are pretty helpful for your weight loss goals. 

Nurturing robust and healthy fat digestion can be achieved by consuming monounsaturated fats, especially omega-9 fatty acids, in your diet. A wide range of nourishing sources like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado are abundant with this type of fat (32, 33).

Within plant oils, fatty fish, and egg yolks lay polyunsaturated fats – another source of goodness. They include essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are great for your brain and heart health (33, 34).

To evade unwanted weight, Dr. Gardner recommended reducing saturated fats. Swap out butter for cooking with olive oil or coconut oil. Snacking on a handful of nuts, seeds, or trail mix can also be a part of your healthy weight loss plan.

Cook at home

  • Fast score: 3/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Cooking can be a challenge for busy folks. However, engaging in this activity is one of the most important things when attempting to shed excess pounds.

Dr. Gardner explained:

The food industry makes cheap, tasty food very accessible. And it’s hard to resist: It’s inexpensive, tastes good, has salt, sugar, and saturated fat in it, and comes in a nice package that’s easy to buy.

Unfortunately, unhealthy foods are currently the cheapest and most accessible. The ‘healthy’ or ‘organic’ foods are not affordable for everyone. So the healthiest yet cheapest choice comes from your kitchen (35).

When you prepare your food, you have control over the constituents and quantity you decide to incorporate. This can help you make smarter choices, reduce calorie intake, and improve the nutritional value overall (36).

A helpful tip is to spend a few hours on the weekends preparing meals. You can create basic staples like sauces and wholesome munchies (e.g., fruits, nuts, and seeds). It is feasible to effortlessly ingest them over the span of seven days. 

Plus, you can save money by selecting recipes that highlight in-season foods.

Get enough sleep

  • Fast score: 2/5
  • Sustainable score: 5/5

The answer to sliding off the pounds may lie in something as simple as getting enough sleep.

A dearth of sleep can slow down our metabolism. Thus, calorie combustion may become more strenuous (37).

Insufficient rest can also upset the crucial hormone balance, such as ghrelin and leptin, which control cravings and appetite. This imbalance may result in yearning for unhealthy, high-calorie, sugary, and fatty treats (37, 38).

One study revealed that people who get less than 5 hours of sleep each night consume nearly 385 additional calories the next day as compared to those who sleep for over seven hours (39). That’s like eating an extra portion of hamburger or a sugary dessert without realizing it!

To improve your sleep:

  • Aim for 7-9 hours sleeping every night (40).
  • Limit caffeine and simple carbs intake in the afternoons since they can disrupt your sleep pattern. 
  • Power down electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to wind down.

Mindful eating

  • Fast score: 2/5
  • Sustainable score: 5/5

Many people often munch mindlessly on snacks, even when they’re not hungry. Practicing mindful eating can help escape from this cycle (41).

Mindful eating means paying close attention to your eating habits and being fully present during meals. It involves listening to your body’s cue of hunger or fullness and savoring your food (42, 43). This process will ease digestion and help your brain catch up with your body.

Also, eating rapidly can make you overeat, as it typically requires about 20 minutes for your stomach to alert the satiety signals (44). By fostering a state of mindfulness in the eating moment, you can evade episodes of excessive eating and become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around food (41, 42).

Prior to eating, check in with yourself to determine if hunger compels you. Should you choose to indulge in a meal, ensure that you are seated and offer your complete focus on what you are eating.

Avoid eating straight from the package – transfer your snacks to a bowl so you can see how much you’re eating. That might help curb your cravings.

Late-night snacking can be a big culprit in mindless eating. To prevent unnecessary calorie intake, try to have a balanced dinner and avoid eating close to bedtime.

Drinking more water

  • Fast score: 2/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Sipping on water is a simple and sustainable habit anyone can incorporate into their daily routine. Studies have shown that drinking enough water can effectively reduce overall body mass (45, 46). 

As we consume water, it satiates us without contributing to any additional caloric intake. By utilizing this approach, we can aptly quell our yearnings and avoid giving in to excessive high-calorie snacks. 

Drinking water can also give our metabolism a boost. Studies found that drinking water increased metabolic rate by a whopping 30% in healthy individuals for 30-40 minutes (47, 48). This means that our body can burn more calories even when we’re just resting.

To ensure to stay hydrated throughout the day, try drinking water regularly with a straw, especially before meals. It’s a quintessential habit that can make a profound difference in your weight loss journey.

Manage stress and mood

  • Fast score: 2/5
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

When we are in a state of stress, our body releases the hormone cortisol. It may contribute to fat buildup when there is a calorie excess (49, 50). 

As we look towards food to take charge of negative emotions, such as distress or boredom, our inclination is to choose indulging foods composed of unhealthy fats and loaded with sugar. These foods can quickly add up in calories (51, 52).

But don’t worry; there are ways to handle stress and kick that belly fat to the curb. An efficacious approach is meditation, the practice with the potential to diminish cortisol levels and induce a state of tranquility (53). Another option is yoga, a gentle exercise that can help reduce stress and improve flexibility (54).

Instead of turning to food as a crutch, consider exploring alternative ways to manage feelings. For instance, talking to your loved ones, strolling, or pursuing a hobby that sparks happiness could be helpful.

The importance of maintaining good mental health is identical to that of your physical well-being. Dedicate moments in your day for self-care, comprehending that you deserve it. It could be beneficial to practice another gratitude exercise (55).

Practice intuitive eating

  • Fast score: 1/5
  • Sustainable score: 5/5

If you are confused about diets and strict rules that leave you disconnected from your body, it’s time to listen to your true self through intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating is a compassionate and mindful approach that empowers you to listen to your body’s unique hunger and satiety cues (56). This tactic can help you cultivate a healthy bond with food and feel more at peace with your physique.

Bear in mind that food should function as a channel of enrichment rather than discouragement. Focus on decisions that are in harmony with your overall welfare, and don’t view food as the “culprit” of excess weight. 

Some people think that emotional reasons for eating are the hardest to overcome. Research suggests that intuitive eaters are less likely to engage in emotional eating or eat when not hungry.

Intuitive eaters may also be less likely to eat to soothe stress and more likely to be physically active. So, intuitive eating may be a realistic and sustainable alternative to conventional weight-loss treatments (57, 58, 59).

This lifestyle can also improve your self-worth and body image, leading to a healthier mindset about food (56). Your body has an inherent wisdom, and intuitive eating can be a game-changer in your weight loss journey. 

Track your progress

  • Fast score: It depends.
  • Sustainable score: 4/5

Tracking your progress can be a great motivator! Keeping a tab on the weight you’ve shed, documenting your meals, or journaling about healthy changes can be thrilling. 

You can also share your post-workout selfies or join a club where members cheer each other on. Employing a fitness tracker or downloading an app to keep track of your exercise and nutrition is also advantageous.

When it comes to tracking, some may think about counting calories. Unfortunately, this method can consume copious amounts of time and might even lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Some foods can be sneaky and loaded with hidden calories, making it tricky to gauge portion sizes.

Plus, not all calories are created equal. There’s more to healthy eating than just numbers (60). Stray away from the numbers game that may potentially thwart your endeavor to shed unwanted pounds. 

Take heed of what we have recommended earlier tune in on your body’s signals instead, and focus on progress, not perfection.

Summary

We hope you’re ready to rock your weight-loss journey with these key points:

  • Fast weight-loss diets or plans may come at the expense of sustainability. It’s best to integrate sustainable lifestyle changes, such as a nourishing, balanced diet coupled with consistent exercise.
  • For a wholesome weight-loss diet, make an effort to incorporate plenty of water, soluble fiber, healthy fats, complex carbs, and protein while eschewing the intake of sugar as well as refined carbohydrates.
  • You can make some minor and easy changes today, like getting more moving, preparing your own meals, getting enough sleep, and practicing mindful eating.

Remember, you don’t have to follow any specific diet’s rules completely, especially for these best diet plans to lose weight. You can try and discern which is efficacious for your circumstances and which fails to be impactful.

If you need personalized guidance and support, seeking counsel from a qualified medical practitioner or an accredited dietitian is always a great idea.

How Do You Feel About This Article?

Peifen Chou RD

Medical reviewed by Peifen Chou, RD

Obstetrics and gynecology, lactation instructor, integrative medicine, aromatherapist, holistic nutritional consulting, functional medicine, and pet nutrition.

Peifen Chou RD

Medical reviewed by Peifen Chou, RD

Obstetrics and gynecology, lactation instructor, integrative medicine, aromatherapist, holistic nutritional consulting, functional medicine, and pet nutrition.

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