How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science (2024)

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Cutting carbs, eating more protein, lifting weights, and getting more sleep are all actions that can promote sustainable weight loss.

Focusing on long-term health and habits that you can stick with over time will help improve your health and are more likely to result in lasting weight loss.

Here are some science-backed tips to help you lose weight.

1. Eat protein, fat, and vegetables

Aim to include a variety of foods at each meal. To balance your plate, your meals should include protein, fat, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.

The following are the recommended amounts you should eat by age according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025:

Food typeAdultsChildren 2–8Children 9–13Adolescents 14–18
Protein5–7 ounces (oz)2–5.5 oz4–6.5 oz5–7 oz
Vegetables2–5 cups1–2.5 cups1.5–3.5 cups2.5–4 cups
Healthy oils22–44 grams (g)15–24 g17–34 g24–51 g
Grains5–10 oz3–6 oz5–9 oz6–10 oz

Protein

Eating a recommended amount of protein is essential to help preserve muscle mass while losing weight.

Diets with adequate protein may also reduce cravings and snacks by helping you feel full and satisfied.

The following are examples of foods that contain protein with amounts and servings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Data Central database.

FoodAmount of protein/100 gramsDaily serving
lean ground beef20.8 g3.7 oz
skinless chicken breast23.2 g3.7 oz
black beans21.6 g0.7 oz
lentils9.02 g0.7 oz

Vegetables

All vegetables can be nutrient-rich additions to your diet. Aim to eat about 2.5 cups of vegetables daily.

Examples of vegetables include:

  • leafy greens
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • green beans
  • squash

Note that certain vegetables — like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn — are considered carbs or grains when on the plate because they’re higher in carbs and calories. Be mindful of your portion sizes when adding these vegetables to your plate.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds are great choices for your eating plan.

Although some oils, like olive oil, are considered healthy, they also provide 9 calories per gram, compared to protein and carbs, which provide only 4 calories per gram.

For this reason, it’s important to eat healthy fats in moderation and limit saturated and trans-saturated fats.

The following are examples of other foods that contain healthy fats:

FoodHealthy fat content
almonds (100 g)49.9 g (3.8 g saturated fat)
sunflower seeds (100 g)56.1 g (5.4 g saturated fat)
green olives (100 g)15.3 g (2 g saturated fat)
avocados (100 g)14.7 g (2.1 g saturated fat)
butter (100 g)81.1 g (51.4 g saturated fat)
coconut oil (100 g)99.1 g (82.5 g saturated fat)

Butter and coconut oil should be enjoyed only in moderation due to their high saturated fat content.

2. Move your body

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend combining cardio workouts with weight training for optimal health.

Cardio workouts include things like walking, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming. Learn more about types of weight training exercises.

Be sure to talk with a doctor before starting a new exercise plan.

3. Eat more fiber

Fiber moves slowly through the digestive tract and can help you feel fuller for longer to support weight loss.

It might also stabilize blood sugar levels, promote regularity, and protect against certain chronic conditions.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, breads, and legumes are food groups that contain a lot of fiber. Aim to eat 2 cups of fruit and 6 oz of grains daily. Many vegetables and legumes also contain fiber.

The following are examples of foods that contain fiber with their recommended daily servings:

FoodFiber/100 g
oats (100 g)10.4 g
chickpeas (100 g)5.9 g
bananas (1 banana)2.2 g
brussels sprouts (100 g)2.6 g
beets (100 g)2 g
apples (100 g)2 g
quinoa, cooked (100 g)2.8 g

4. Eat mindfully

Having a good understanding of how your body responds to food and eating can help you make sure you’re not overeating. This is known as mindful eating. It can involve the following:

  • eating more slowly
  • learning to recognize when you’re hungry vs. when you’re craving food for emotional reasons
  • cooking colorful foods with a variety of textures to prolong and enjoy your meals

The reason eating quickly can be problematic is that it doesn’t allow your brain to register consciously when you’re full.

Eating slowly gives your stomach more time to tell your brain you’re full, which helps you learn to distinguish the feeling of genuine hunger vs. fullness. This can result in you eating less.

Try minimizing distractions while you eat and follow these to slow down during your meals. Learn more about mindful eating and weight loss.

5. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help promote weight loss by reducing your food intake, especially if you drink water before a meal.

It might also work by increasing fat burning, which can help enhance long-term weight loss.

Be sure to choose water or other low calorie drinks rather than sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, which are high in sugar and calories and could contribute to weight gain.

Other benefits from drinking water related to weight loss include helping you stay hydrated while you exercise and helping remove waste from the body. In general, drinking water helps your body run more efficiently.

6. Get plenty of sleep

In addition to changing your diet and exercise routine, getting enough sleep each night may be beneficial for weight loss.

One study found that people who regularly sleep less than 7 hours per night are more likely to have a higher body mass index and develop obesity than those who sleep more.

Plus, sleep deprivation might also alter levels of hormones that control hunger and appetite.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended to aim for at least 7 hours of high quality sleep each night.

It’s not always necessary to count calories as long as you follow a balanced diet rich in protein, fat, and vegetables.

If you’re not losing weight, you may want to keep track of your calories to see if that’s a contributing factor.

Try using a free online calculator to estimate your calorie needs.

Eating too few calories can be dangerous and less effective for losing weight. Aim to reduce your calories by a sustainable and healthy amount based on a doctor’s recommendation.

A note on calorie counting

Counting calories may be a helpful tool for some, but it may not be the best choice for everyone.

If you’re preoccupied with food or weight, feel guilt surrounding your food choices, or routinely engage in restrictive diets, consider reaching out for support. These behaviors may indicate a disordered relationship with food or an eating disorder.

Talk with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, if you’re struggling.

You can also chat, call, or text anonymously with trained volunteers at the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for free or explore the organization’s free and low cost resources.

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Here are a few nutritious meal ideas that can support weight loss and include a mix of proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs:

  • poached egg with sliced avocado and a side of berries
  • salmon baked with ginger, sesame oil, and roasted zucchini
  • spinach, mushroom, and feta crustless quiche

For some nutritious snack ideas, check out this article.

You may lose weight more quickly in the first week of a diet plan and then at a slower but more consistent rate after that. In the first week, you typically lose a mix of both body fat and water weight.

If this is the first time you’re changing your diet and exercise habits, weight loss may happen more quickly. Losing 0.5–2 pounds (lbs) per week is a safe amount to aim for.

What is the fastest way to lose weight?

Reducing your calorie intake and adding more physical activity to your routine can help you lose weight quickly and sustainably. That said, each person is different, and there may be other factors that need to be considered, such as your diet, what medications you’re taking, your hormones, your mood, and genetics.

How can I lose weight in 7 days?

Decreasing your intake of processed foods and added sugar can help you lose weight in 7 days.

Drinking plenty of water and adding fiber to your diet might also help. That said, many factors influence your ability to lose weight, and it’s better to aim for slower and more sustainable weight loss of 0.5–2 lbs per week.

How can I drop 20 pounds fast?

Exercising, staying hydrated, and enjoying a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods can help you lose 20 pounds or reach your healthy goal weight.

For safe and healthy weight loss, 0.5–2 pounds of weight loss per week is a realistic weight loss goal that you are more likely to maintain.

Eating protein, fat, and vegetables; drinking more water; increasing the fiber in your diet; and adding exercise may all help you reach your weight loss goals. But there may be other things to consider, like what medications you take, other health conditions you have, your hormones, and genetics.

How can I lose 10 pounds in a week?

Losing 10 pounds in a week is not realistic or sustainable. For safe and healthy weight loss, aim for 0.5–2 pounds of weight loss per week by changing your diet and lifestyle.

How can I lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks?

Losing 15 pounds in 2 weeks is unrealistic, unsustainable, and likely unsafe. Healthy weight loss is 0.5–2 pounds of weight loss per week, and you may be most likely to do this by changing your diet and modifying your lifestyle.

While losing weight quickly may be your goal, it’s important to think about the long run.

While you may lose water weight quickly, fat loss takes longer, and developing sustainable weight loss may take longer than you’d like.

Following a balanced diet and staying active can help support long-term weight loss.

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How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science (2024)

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