In this guide we’ll show you how to lose weight as fast as possible. We’ll cover how to do it safely, without compromising your health, and successfully, by keeping the weight you lost off.
Fast Weight Loss – The Basics | The 4 Caveats | 3 Steps to Lose Weight Fast | Easy Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
Achieving fast weight loss is no picnic in the park. If you want to lose weight fast (and keep the weight off) you will need willpower and dedication. Anyone that tells you otherwise is wasting your time and effort.
There are ways of losing weight that require substantially less effort, as described in our article How to lose weight – 3 surefire steps, but they take longer. Such diets are more flexible, less restrictive in the foods you can eat, and they teach you how to make lifestyle changes for long term benefit.
A fast weight loss endeavor, however, is not easy. It’s restrictive, limiting in food choices and it’s less likely you’ll keep the weight off. But you’re here to learn about it, so we’ll tell you how to do it!
*As always, always consult your physician before making changes to your diet or level of activity.
Fast Weight Loss – The Basics
For the purpose of fast weight loss, let’s talk about body fat which is a storage of excess energy.
To remove that excess energy we need to burn it. We do that by taking in less energy than we use. The technical term for this is calorie deficit (1) .
The larger the calorie deficit over a period of time, the faster weight loss will occur. If you have an average calorie deficit of 800 calories a day, you’ll lose weight faster than if you have a calorie deficit of 300 calories a day.
So far, nothing mind blowing, right? You’ve probably heard this all before.
But what is it that makes it so hard to maintain this calorie deficit? We all know that losing weight is as ‘simple’ as burning more calories than you consume.
Well, we have identified four important caveats that you should be made aware of. These caveats may be the reason why you’re struggling to stick to a diet plan. Keep on reading to learn more about them and how to overcome them.
The 4 Caveats to Fast Weight Loss
It sounds extremely straightforward – just burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. For most people this is easier said than done, but only very few people are actually able to achieve it in the long run.
Later on, in this Ultimate Guide to Fast Weight Loss, we’ll talk about what you can do to partly bypass these four caveats and how to make losing weight faster, easier.
Caveat 1: Your brain likes body fat
In most of the world there is an abundance of food, however, that wasn’t always the case.
Back in the day where humans had to hunt and gather for sustenance, the body needed to be able to store excess energy in the form of fat, in order to survive long periods without food.
A body which has been recently fed won’t release a hunger signal. However, if you start to decrease your body fat percentage by eating less, your brain will release a hunger signal to let you know that you need to eat more to maintain the level of body fat (2) (3). So effectively, this hunger signal can be blocked to some extent by eating, which is exactly what we’re trying to manage.
Our brains are hardwired to avoid running out of energy. The temptation of extra food can override our feeling of fullness and lead us to grab that tasty snack after all.
To help you understand this, we’ll get into the science behind this in the next points where we talk about two hormones that influence hunger.
Caveat 2: Leptin resistance
The hunger signal we mentioned above in Caveat 1 comes, in part, from a decrease in a hormone called leptin. Leptin helps signal the brain that the body has enough energy stored, that you can stop looking for food (4) .
Body fat produces leptin, therefore leptin levels are lower when you’re thin, and higher when you are overweight. So the less body fat you have the less leptin there is to suppress the hunger feeling in your brain. (5)
The unfortunate news is, that if you’ve been overweight for a while, your brain may have become leptin resistant to a certain degree. But don’t worry, it’s not permanent and this resistance level can be adjusted.
This is comparable to experiencing temporary hearing loss from being at a concert. The hearing will come back after a few hours. The same happens in our brain with leptin resistance (although it’ll take more than a few hours to ‘retrain’ it) – it becomes partially “deaf” to the leptin if you’ve been sending high amounts of it to the brain over a long period of time. This commonly happens when you are significantly overweight.
In the same way as you will need to raise your voice to be heard by someone who’s been at a concert, you’ll have to send more leptin to your brain to suppress the release of the hunger hormone.
So unfortunately, this amplifies the effect of Caveat 1 (the brain likes body fat) and can lead to a frustrating and vicious circle.
Caveat 3: Insulin resistance
Another hormone that influences the amount of hunger you experience is insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced naturally by the pancreas. Its main role is to allow cells to convert glucose (a type of sugar found in many carbohydrates) into a form that can be used by these cells for energy.
If you frequently eat a lot of sugary foods, chances are that your body will become insulin resistant to a certain degree. This means that your body needs to produce more insulin to remove glucose from your bloodstream than with people who are not sensitive to insulin.
Insulin resistant people have higher levels of insulin floating around in their bloodstream in order to try to manage the elevated glucose levels. Over time, this could damage the pancreas and result in a reduction in insulin production, which in turn, could lead to type 2 diabetes.
The problem for weight loss is two-fold:
- When the insulin level rises, it puts the brakes on fat burning for fuel and encourages storage of incoming food, mostly as fat. That’s why as long as the diet is high in carbohydrates, the body never has a chance to burn its own fat, which is what is needed for weight loss. (6)
- When glucose levels are high, the pancreas releases more insulin which opens up cells to receive glucose, thereby decreasing the blood sugar concentration. The reduction in blood sugar levels will signal to your brain that you’re hungry. (7)
To become insulin sensitive, the opposite of insulin resistant, would resolve these issues. We’ll cover more on that later.
Caveat 4: Slow metabolism
As you probably already know, your body is a very complex mechanism!
Your body will try to store as much energy as possible in order to ensure survival. So, if you reduce your calorie intake, your body thinks it needs to hold on to extra energy and your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will be reduced as well. (8)
Your BMR is the amount of calories your body burns just by performing its everyday functions such as breathing, keeping your heart beating etc. For more information on BMR and how to calculate your BMR, have a look at our article on How to Lose Weight.
If your BMR is 1,600 calories (meaning your body burns 1,600 calories a day just by being in ‘rest’ mode), and you consume an average of 2,000 calories per day, the BMR might drop to 1,200 if you eat 1,250 calories per day.
That amounts to 400 calories (1,600 – 1,200 = 400) that do not burn ‘by default’. Instead these 400 calories need to be expended by either eating less and/or exercising more.
You could say your body goes into a metabolic slowdown, which essentially means it’s going into energy saving mode. You want to avoid this as you want to create a larger caloric deficit.
The 3 Steps to Lose Weight Fast – That are Backed by Science
If your goal is to lose weight fast, you will need a lot of willpower as there are no easy solutions to the four caveats described above. They will kick in and increase your appetite.
The only exception is caveat 3, insulin resistance. If you follow the steps below you will become insulin sensitive again, thereby breaking the frustrating cycle of eating to compensate for low blood sugar levels. The downsides of insulin resistance will disappear and your insulin levels will adjust.
Step 1: Intermittent fasting
You may have heard of Intermittent Fasting, a very popular lifestyle ‘diet’ at the moment. It is not only favored for weight loss, but also for overall health.
Intermittent fasting is a cycle of eating and fasting windows, it’s a way of eating that focuses less on what you eat, and more on when you eat. The most common intermittent fasting pattern is referred to as 16:8, which means 16 hours of fasting, and 8 hours of eating within a 24 hour period.
This sounds hard, but if you think about it, most of us fast between dinner and breakfast for a good 12 hours anyway (assuming you finish dinner at 7pm and have breakfast at 7am). You just need to stretch this window by another 4 hours.
You could also, for example, start with a 13:11 cycle, this will also help although 16:8 is generally more effective. Start by eating dinner an hour earlier and over a week or so, stretch out your breakfast to 10am, delaying it by an hour a day. You will be surprised at how quickly your body will get used to it.
You can drink water or black tea or coffee until you break your fast. Some people prefer to skip dinner and eat from, say, 8am to 4pm. This is also fine as it falls within the 16:8 time frame – whatever works for your lifestyle.
Occasionally, you could try fasting for a full day. That might sound a bit extreme, but it’s actually really healthy. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and it gives you a little more wiggle room on the other days of the week!
With intermittent fasting, it’s important to keep the meals small. By having a shorter eating window, you should automatically be eating less, reducing your calorie intake. Eat when you’re hungry, and eat mindfully until you feel your hunger is satisfied.
Step 2: Eat natural foods (but don’t be too strict)
To be successful, eat natural foods and stay away from processed foods, sugar and refined carbs.
Fill your plate with fresh vegetables to provide you with fiber and vital nutrients, lean protein such as chicken, fish and eggs, and healthy fats found in nuts, seeds and avocado.
Make sure that half your plate consists of vegetables, ideally a palm sized portion of protein, and limited amounts of complex carbohydrates such as legumes and whole grains. You could even leave out the carb heavy foods completely which will speed up your weight loss effort.
As with any weight loss endeavor, remember not to be too strict with yourself. We’re only human! It’s better to allow yourself a small treat from time to time than to deprive yourself completely and end up being unhappy and overeating. You should find that your healthy eating lifestyle will lead to fewer cravings.
By eating natural foods, and cutting out processed foods and sugar especially, you will likely be reducing your calorie intake without even counting.
That’s the great thing about eating whole foods, you don’t need to count calories! As long as you use common sense and don’t go eating a whole bag of almonds or a bunch of avocados (both healthy sources of fat and fiber, but still, high in calories) you should be fine. You will automatically find your happy medium.
For a comprehensive list of the best foods for weight loss, please have a look at our article on The 20 Best Foods for Successful Weight Loss!
Step 3: Walk, move and workout
Physical activity is necessary to increase your calorie expenditure or “burn”. The average female burns around 1,400 calories a day doing nothing at all (9) . In order to burn more calories than we take in (achieve a calorie deficit), we need to increase our physical activity and get our heart rates up (10; 11). Even just 20 minutes of extra movement a day will help!
As always, check with your doctor before starting any new form of exercise.
Ways to increase your heart rate can include anything from taking a walk, dancing in your living room or going for a run. An active lifestyle has shown to have both physical and mental benefits, and it may even help you live a healthier life(12)!
There are many, many options to get your heart rate up. Here are some examples of activity that can burn an extra 200 calories a day on average (13) :
- Bike around the neighborhood for 30 minutes at 10-12 mph;
- Jog for 25 minutes;
- Walk for 45 minutes;
- Swim for 30 minutes;
- Play tennis for 30 minutes.
*exact calories burned depend on sex, weight, metabolism.
We believe in lifestyle changes for long-term results, and exercise is vital to a healthy lifestyle. Combined with intermittent fasting and a whole food diet, exercise is key to losing weight fast.
Important Note: We really don’t advocate taking calorie restriction too far to achieve weight loss results in a short period of time. If you cut more than 500 calories a day too quickly, this can result in some unpleasant side effects. These can include extreme hunger, loss of libido, low energy levels and for young women it could also disrupt, or completely stop the menstrual cycle.
Easy Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
It’s important to take your time when it comes to weight loss. It’s much easier to lose 10 pounds over a three month period (with an average calorie deficit of 400 calories a day), than to lose 10 pounds in one month (with an average calorie deficit of 1200 calories a day). Losing weight over a longer period of time will make it easier to keep off as well.
The four caveats may still get in the way from time to time, but far less than if you try to lose weight faster – and you’ll just enjoy your life much more 🙂
For those who may have a long road ahead to get to a healthy weight, remember that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Just start applying the 3 steps (Intermittent fasting; Eating natural foods; Walk, move and workout) today! Don’t wait until the next Monday, or the beginning of next month. And if you can’t start all three today, start with one and incorporate the other steps in the days that follow. Just START.
Wanting to lose weight too fast is a big reason why people don’t achieve their weight loss goals. It’s tremendously difficult not to gain back weight that has been shed in a short amount of time, partially due to caveat 2 and caveat 4 (leptin resistance and slow metabolism).
Maintaining a healthy weight may require constant effort and awareness. It requires a lifestyle change and commitment, and this may be the first step to actually making a change.
That doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to give in to temptation or wholeheartedly enjoy a guilty pleasure from time to time. Absolutely not! It just means that you’ll have to be aware of it and explore new ways of eating. Which, we promise you, can be very rewarding and fun!
If you have any questions about this article, or anything else, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help you!
Please be sure to check out our FREE 28 Day Holistic Meal Plan that will help start you off on the right track.
To read more about diets, head over to our website to see our latest articles on Weight Loss Diets and How to Lose Weight – Three Surefire Steps.
This article has been medically checked by a MPH, RDN.