Ask an R.D.: What's the Quickest Way to Lose Weight Safely?By Carole Anderson Lucia Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D. Science-Backed
Are you gearing up for a big event? Have a tropical getaway around the corner? If so, you might be wondering how to lose weight quickly. We understand: You want to look and feel your best! But it’s important not to fall prey to fad diets that promise dramatic, fast, ongoing weight loss, especially if they’re too restrictive.
“Diets that overly limit or eliminate nutrients can backfire and actually cause you to gain weight over time,” explains Briana Rodriquez, Registered Dietitian at Jenny Craig. “It’s far more effective — and safer — to follow a well-rounded diet plan that moderately restricts calories and includes adequate amounts of all necessary nutrients.”
I spoke with Briana to find out the quickest way to lose weight that’s still safe and sustainable. She emphasized that the most effective type of weight loss plan (like Jenny Craig) may help you lose weight rapidly at the outset but at a healthy, moderate rate of weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. Here are her top tips to lose weight fast and keep it off.
Before beginning any weight loss program, talk to your healthcare provider.
1. Reduce your calorie intake moderately
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Remember the phrase, “calories in, calories out”? Well, it’s true! While some diets may claim that the number of calories you eat doesn’t matter, healthy, sustainable weight loss comes down to how many calories you take in vs. how many you burn.
In other words, to lose weight, you likely need to take a combined approach and reduce your calorie intake while burning more calories through exercise — known as the 80/20 rule for weight loss.
How many calories you should eat a day to lose weight will depend on several factors, including your age, sex, how much weight you need to lose, and your activity level. But in general, most experts — including Rodriquez — recommend reducing your calorie intake moderately.
“I don’t recommend going below 1,200 calories daily. For some people even that is too low” she says. “Coupled with the right type of weight loss and exercise plan, this can be the safest, quickest way to lose weight.”
Briana explains that cutting calories too drastically can lead to feelings of extreme hunger, potentially causing you to overeat unhealthy foods later.
2. Strengthen your workout routine
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If you’re already getting your heart pumping regularly with cardio exercise, great! However, Rodriquez says it’s important to include strength training.
“This type of exercise is great for weight loss and your overall health,” she explains.
Not only does strength training — also called resistance training — help you manage your weight by giving your metabolism a boost, but the Mayo Clinic reports that it has numerous other health benefits. For instance, resistance training can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by strengthening your bones. It also can be helpful for managing certain chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.1
How often should you do strength training exercises? Experts recommend trying them at least two times per week.2
“Doing resistance training doesn’t mean you need to join a gym,” Rodriquez explains. “Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and planks are great exercises you can do at home that don’t require any equipment.”
She points out that it’s best to get your doctor’s OK before starting a new exercise program.
New to strength training? Check out these 6 tips to start a strength training routine.
3. Try intermittent fasting
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One of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in weight loss revolves around the concept of intermittent fasting, which aims to put your body in a natural fasted state where it can begin to burn stored fat as fuel.3
Intermittent fasting doesn’t require that you abstain from eating for days (or even a single day); rather, it simply means that you limit your eating to certain hours of the day — preferably during daylight hours, so you can take advantage of the weight loss and health benefits that might come from following your natural circadian rhythms.4,5,6
With intermittent fasting, all of your meals and snacks should be consumed during a certain time frame. For example, you could eat during a 12-hour time period, followed by a 12-hour break in which no foods or caloric beverages are consumed (most of this time is spent sleeping). So, if you finish your last meal at 7 p.m., you would have your next meal at 7 a.m.
Jenny Craig believes so strongly in the effectiveness of intermittent fasting that our latest weight loss program integrates the cutting edge science. With our new My Rapid Results program, you could lose up to 16 pounds in the first four weeks,† after which you transition to a more gradual, rate of weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. Our menus are created by registered dietitians and nutritionists to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need while losing weight.
†First 4 wks only. Avg. weight loss 11.6 lbs. for those who completed the program.
Our program is so effective, in fact, that in addition to several other categories, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Jenny Craig as a top fast weight loss diet!
4. Use your DNA to your advantage
To help maximize your weight loss efforts, you might want to look at your DNA. That’s right: Groundbreaking research has shown that your own unique genetic makeup along with environmental/lifestyle factors may influence a number of weight loss and weight maintenance variables, including:7,8,9
- How your body is likely to process carbohydrates, fat and protein
- How your body is likely to respond to cardio exercise
- How your body is likely to respond to strength training
Having this type of information can give you insight to help you break past any weight loss barriers or even a weight loss plateau.
For example, if your DNA indicates that your body may not process carbohydrates efficiently, a lower-carbohydrate plan, one that emphasizes lots of healthy, non-starchy vegetables and moderate amounts of whole grains, may be better suited for your body. On the other hand, if you find that your body is likely to processes carbohydrates efficiently but is less efficient at processing fats, then a lower-fat plan may be more optimal for you.
5. Stay hydrated
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“Yes! Getting enough healthy fluids, especially water, can be one of your best allies in your effort to lose weight,” Rodriquez says. “It’s quite common for people to mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking water before eating can help you determine how hungry you truly are.”
To help boost your weight loss efforts, Rodriquez recommends that you aim to drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If you’d like a flavor boost, try adding some fresh fruit or cucumber to your water, or try calorie-free sparkling water.
6. Focus on eating healthy foods
Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels
According to Rodriquez, a healthy eating plan for weight loss includes lots of non-starchy vegetables, a moderate amount of whole grains and lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fats, along with a serving or two of low-fat dairy.
“Healthy fats and protein can aid weight loss by helping you feel more satiated and less likely to overeat,” Rodriquez explains. “And vegetables are a great way to get the nutrients you need while filling up on fewer calories.”
What about fruit?
“While fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, if you’re trying to lose weight quickly, we recommend sticking to one to two servings per day,” Rodriquez explains.
7. Get enough fiber
Fiber is important for so many reasons. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that getting enough dietary fiber could help:10
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Control blood sugar levels
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
It’s also helpful for weight loss, as its bulk helps you feel fuller longer, which could make you less likely to overeat. Foods that are higher in fiber also tend to be less energy-dense, meaning they have fewer calories, ounce for ounce, than other types of foods.
How much fiber should you get a day? Experts recommend women should aim to get at least 28 grams of fiber per day; men should aim for 33 grams or more.11
Rodriquez notes, “Some of the best sources of fiber include beans, peas and other legumes; fruits and vegetables; nuts and seeds; and whole grains.”
8. Eat frequently throughout the day
If you’re trying to lose weight, you may think that skipping meals can help by reducing the number of calories you eat. But the opposite is often true: Depriving yourself of regular meals and snacks can cause you to be ravenous at your next meal and encourage overeating.
“If you’re overly hungry, you may be tempted to reach for higher-calorie, less-healthy foods,” Rodriquez says. “Skipping meals can also cause dips in your blood sugar, which can cause your energy levels to plummet and lead you to reach for quick-energy foods such as candy and cookies.”
So, how often should you be eating?
We recommend eating three evenly spaced meals and three healthy snacks a day.
We hope we’ve given you useful information and tips on the best way to lose weight quickly and safely — in time for your next big event or trip.
Do you want to lose weight without giving up the foods you love? Book an appointment with a Jenny Craig coach today and see how our science-backed program can help you reach your weight loss goals.
Carole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.
Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
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