Fast weight loss is always a very popular subject among people who want to lose weight for a special occasion. Last week we got a simple but yet very interesting question from a reader that ended: How can I lose 5 pounds quickly? The full question was the following:
I don’t normally have an issue with my weight, i am slightly overweight but not by much, i am still happy with the way i look. i need to know how to lose about 5 pounds fast, i bought my graduation dress two months ago and when i put it on today it was too small, my graduation is in week and a half, how can i lose five pounds that quickly?
Here is the reply from our team of weight loss experts.
The graduation day fast approaching, you bought the dress a few months ago but when you do a trial before the big day is too small. That is a very familiar picture for a number of people; it may not be a graduation but it may be a wedding or a special occasion. Time left to fit in the dress? 1 ½ weeks. What do you do to lose those extra 5 pounds?
Well to be very honest there is no way you can actually lose 5 pounds of fat in 1½ weeks. It could appear like to do lose 5 pounds in that time scale but it would mainly be water. Some people will argue that it is good enough to just fit in the dress whether it is water or fat they lost.
Now that we have made it clear that you will not be losing 5lbs worth fat, one could say that it doesn’t matter which diet you follow. All fast diets will bring the same result. As tempting as it is to follow a fad, fast style diet try not to. All of these fad style, 7-10 day diets have been criticized about their safety and the strain they place on the body. In addition, chances are that you will not do it just once but most probably every time an outfit doesn’t fit. Yo-yo style dieting can have negative health effects. Below are some suggestions.
Calories do matter. Even if you do follow a healthy balanced diet, if you consume more calories than you use then you will store them as fat. It is harder to do so with a healthier diet as this kind of diets consist of a high amount of foods which are low in calories, such as vegetables. Think about it, how much salad would you need to consume in a day to reach 3000kcal? Moreover, you are likely to suffer from gastrointestinal complaints after all that green, with the most common being the ‘embracing wind’.
To stir back to the main point now; and that is calories. If you want to lose weight you need to create a negative calorie balance. This means consume fewer calories than you need. By how much should you cut? Some authors suggest that 1 lb of fat translates to 3.500kcal. Therefore, if you want to lose 1lb of fat you need to use 3.500kcal. It sounds a lot? It is. So if you were to lose 5lbs of fat in a week you would need to burn:
3.500kcal x 5lbs = 17.500 kcal per week
If you divide this number by 7 days in a week then:
17.500 kcal / 7days = 2500 kcal per day
Let me thing, does that mean you will have to starve yourself completely?
A point to make
In reality all these calorie calculations do not work to the letter. The business of losing weight and dieting is a lot more complicated than simple numerical calculations.
The calculations assume that people burn calories at a constant rate and it is all of it fat. However, in reality metabolism can slow down as part of energy/calorie restriction and also the body will be losing glycogen, water and protein as well. Use them as a guide only
Apart from some very few exceptions (severe illness being one of them) the task of losing 5 lbs of fat in 1 week or even 10 days is more like mission impossible. So concentrate in lowering calorie intake within safe and healthy ranges. The average recommended calorie intake for women is approximately 1500 – 2000kcal and for men and young adults is 2000 – 2500 kcal. The amount of calories used everyday depends on many factors such as body size, age, and physical activity.
In general, if you are consuming astronomical numbers of calories then try to lower it down to the recommended values and do account for factors which may influence calorie usage. For an average calorie intake aim for about 500 kcal reduction and is recommended not to go bellow 1200kcal intake per day.
What will you get with a 500kcal reduction? If we go back to the calculations you have:
500kcal x 7 days = 3.500kcal in a week which is about 1 lb of fat.
Exercise will increase the amount of calories you burn, simple. If you lower your food intake by 500kcal you burn 1lb of fat so if you use 500kcal through exercise you just increased your fat burning potential. As mentioned above in reality it doesn’t work like that; however the truth is that you will increase the amount of calories you use and increase your weight loss with exercise. See 10 fitness tips for women for more details.
Be aware: It does make sense that the more you exercise the more calories you will burn. However, it may be tempting but do not take on a really heavy and intense workout 2 hrs a week for a week in order to maximize weight loss. If new to exercise you will get DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which means that every muscle you worked will hurt. You don’t want to be the girl/guy in the party who ‘looks really good in that outfit but what is it all about with the Robocop movements?’
Aim for 1 hour a day. Start with light exercises or a run. Maybe try adding exercises from Pilates which can help you cheat a bit with a flat stomach effect. Do consult a medical professional and a fitness professional to make sure is safe and appropriate before taking on any exercise.
Be strict but choose healthy
You only have 7 – 10 days to lose the extra pounds. It will require being strict with food intake. However, do be healthy and do make healthy food choices. Consuming 1200kcal from McDonalds is not healthy and the pickles do not count towards your 5 a day regardless what the advert said. Follow a balanced diet such as a modified Mediterranean, the zone diet, the new Atkins diet etc. Some diets are more general some can be more specific with meal plans. Choose what suits you as an individual. In general aim for loads of vegetables and fruit, a moderate amount of protein and a low amount of carbohydrates and sugars. I would say if you can avoid any refined sugars is the best. See some of my other articles for more details on healthy diets such as Diet Tips: The role of proteins in weight loss and Weight loss: an introduction to a healthier life.
Some easy ways to cut down calories is to avoid alcohol, refined sugars, fizzy drinks, milkshakes, snacks such as energy or cereal bars and finally hot drinks such as sugary coffees, and rich hot chocolate. Coffee is actually considered by some researchers as a way to increase metabolism and fat burning. However, too much coffee is not good for your nervous system and can give you palpitations, increased heart rate and can make you feel anxious and restless. You don’t want that so don’t drink yourself senseless with coffee.
There are small little things you can do to cheat your way to the outfit without necessarily losing all the weight.
1. Avoid foods that can make you bloat. A large amount of vegetables, especially if eaten raw can make you feel bloated and as mentioned above can give you gastrointestinal complaints. It may contradict previous advice of adding fruit and veg in your diet. Well you can do both. In moderation is the answer. Maybe steam your veg especially carrots which can be hard to digest, and have a mixture of raw salads and cooked vegetables instead of just salads.
Breads and refined carbs can also make you feel bloated. As I have mentioned above try to avoid them.
2. If there is still an inch left, then try some of the control underwear. This is not a weight loss tip and most definitely will not help you lose weight; however some of the control underwear can help shave an inch from the body. Don’t go for the really tight, I can’t breathe type, just normal control.
For future reference
It may be too late now but you will find that for the future this is a very valuable point. Allow more time for losing the extra pounds. Make it a rule that you will try the outfit at least 2 weeks before the big event. What can you do in 2 weeks? A lot more and you have a lot more chances in actually losing 5 lbs in 2 weeks. You may still have to be strict with your diet and all the above but you will get better results with less heartache.
Make long term changes
Eating healthier and exercising is best kept for long term. Why only use them as a remedy for emergencies and not adapt our lifestyle to a healthier option? It doesn’t have to be a forever dieting and exercising life or even be massively dissatisfied about your weight. Make small changes in your diet and add 30min of exercise is good enough. This way you will be able to control your weight better and also lose weight easier for when you need to.
How to Lose 5 pounds summary
1. You will most probably not lose 5lbs of fat in 7 – 10 days. Even if you lose 5lbs it will be some fat but mainly glycogen, water and some protein.
2. It is best to follow a healthy diet combined with exercise and do not lower your calorie intake to much. It is not good and you will not lose more fat.
3. Do little things which can help you cheat your way in the outfit.
The above are only weight loss tips. It is always recommended to consult the appropriate health professionals before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.