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Sometimes we treat weight loss like making orders at a drive-through window: “I’d like to order one pack of flatter abs, 50% less fat, and a six pack, please.” In other words, we make demands of what we want right away, without pausing to think how to keep the weight off long term.

Losing weight quickly is definitely possible, but losing weight quickly and keeping it off for life is the ultimate challenge.

Here, we present you with seven steps that will help you lose weight fast, with accompanying tips to keep the weight off for life.

1. Deny Damaging Drinks

Soda glass

Short Term: Cut Back on Soda

You’ve heard it all before: soda, juice, and other drinks are packed with sugar and add extra pounds to your waistline. Many clinical studies show a positive association between intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain. [1]

So, to lose weight fast, cut back—or even eliminate—sugary drinks.

Long Term: Replace Soda with Water

Cutting back on soda might help you lose weight fast, especially if it was previously a big part of your calorie intake. But, the best way to get long-term weight loss benefits is to drink water.

Water flushes toxins, ensures bodily systems work correctly, and promotes weight loss. In fact, overweight women who increased the amount of water they drank lost a significant amount of weight over time in one study. [2]

According to MayoClinic.com, men need about 3 liters and women need about 2.2 liters per day.

2. Kick It Up with Cardio


Short Term: Do Cardio Exercise

Cardio exercise is good for your heart and your weight. When your blood is pumping from a good cardio workout, it’s a good sign your body is burning more calories. [3]

And, the best thing about cardio is it’s easy to mix and match: try aerobics classes, kick boxing, running, biking, jump roping, or swimming.

Long Term: Do High Intensity Interval Training

Pumping up the cardio definitely pumps up the weight loss. But, if you want to keep losing weight (and keep it off), you need to amp the intensity of your cardio workout.

High intensity interval training combines set intervals of high intensity activity with lower level activity. Many sports already incorporate HIIT. For example, soccer involves periods of sprinting across the field with lighter periods of jogging or walking.

High intensity interval training can easily be incorporated into your workout plan. For example, swim a lap at top speed, then follow it with a slower-paced lap; sprint for 60 second intervals, then jog or walk for 3 minute intervals; run up a flight of stairs and then jog down the stairs; or hike on a trail that includes both uphill and flat portions. Increase the intensity each time you work out to keep pushing your body to burn fat. [4]

3. Work It Off with Weight Training

Weight training

Short Term: Start Lifting Weights

If you don’t think weight lifting can help you lose weight, think again! When you have more muscle mass (as opposed to fat mass), your body burns more calories, even while you’re at rest. So, add weight lifting to your exercise routine, and focus on the large muscles: thighs, abdomen, chest, and arms. [5]

Long Term: Lift Weights Three Times a Week

To really see weight loss results from weight lifting, you need to keep it consistent. Fitness expert Wini Linguvic suggests weight training three times a week to get the best results. Your weight training sessions can be anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, but they need to focus on exercises that utilize your whole body, like lunges, squats, and lifts. [6]

4. Move It to Lose It


Short Term: Walk More

An action as simple as walking more throughout the day helps you take quick steps toward weight loss. One analysis found walking helped subjects lose about 2 pounds. [7]

Long Term: Move More Throughout the Day

Adding a walk or two to your day is a great start, but if you spend most of the day sitting, it will be difficult to keep off the weight. In fact, obese people sit about 2.5 more hours per day than lean people. [8]

Make sure to incorporate movement throughout the day by taking walking breaks at work, getting up to talk to coworkers, and spending evenings moving around rather than sitting in front of the TV.

5. Veg Out With Veggies


Short Term: Eat More Vegetables

Vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber, which could prevent obesity. Aim to consume vegetables low in calories that contain complex carbs, fiber, protein, and other nutrients to keep you satiated. Specific vegetables that are great for weight loss include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, collard greens, leeks, beans, and carrots. [9]

Long Term: Make Half Your Plate Vegetables

ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Women need between 2 and 2 ½ cups veggies a day, and men need between 2 ½ and 3 cups. [10]

Imagine how much weight loss you could maintain by choosing to get most of your calories from nutrient-dense vegetables rather than fatty foods!

6. Focus on Filling Foods

Short Term: Cut Back on Refined Carbs, Sugars, and Fats

Certain foods satisfy hunger and give a quick energy fix, but much of what they’re made of accumulates as fat. By limiting these foods, you’ll be on your way to blasting fat.

Although about half your daily calories should come from carbs, you need to choose the right kind. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables should make up most of your carb intake rather than processed snacks like chips or candy bars. Carbs containing white flour and sugar offer lots of calories but little nutritional benefit. [11]

According to the American Heart Association, we eat four times more sugar than we should, so cutting sugar could cut fat as well. [12]

It’s also important to eat the right kinds of fats: foods containing monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, like avocados, nuts, and fish, rather than foods containing saturated fat and trans fat, like beef, butter, and fried foods. [13]

Long Term: Get More Protein and Fiber

Cutting back on unhealthy food makes a big difference when it comes to weight loss, but to maintain weight loss, you need to incorporate healthy foods into your diet that keep you full—so you’re not tempted to reach for a quick, unhealthy energy source.

Healthy proteins are important in maintaining weight loss. One study found a greater ratio of protein to carbs helped subjects feel full and lose weight. The typical rule is to consume about 1 gram protein for every pound body weight. [14]

Focus on lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and beans.

Fiber is also an important energy source that provides nutrients and keeps you full. Fiber is found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. [15]

7. Cut Calories, But Bring in a Balance

Balanced dinner

Short Term: Cut Calories

The only way you’re going to lose weight is if you expend more calories than you take in. If you’re serious about losing weight, reduce calorie intake by about 500 below your maintenance level. [16]

Examine your portion sizes and how much you eat throughout the day and see where you can cut back. And, if you’re tempted to reach for food when you’re sad, angry, or stressed, choose to do a different activity to relieve your emotions, such as yoga, walking, or listening to music.

Long Term: Eat a Balanced, Nutritious Diet

Cutting calories helps you lose weight in the short term, but if you’re not careful, you could starve yourself, which may cause unhealthy binging—and that’s when the weight comes roaring back.

To keep the weight off, reduce calorie intake slowly, week by week, until you’re ready to reach your calorie intake goal. Don’t reduce your calories by more than 1000 below your maintenance level, and make sure you’re getting at least 1200 calories a day for women and 1800 for men. [16]

Most importantly, make sure you are eating a balanced, nutritious diet, one full of foods that keep you satisfied.

Also, don’t completely eliminate favorite foods from your diet. Depriving yourself of them might cause you to binge later, so allow yourself to indulge in them once in a while. Soon, you’ll feel
the difference when you eat healthy foods, and you won’t want fatty foods nearly as often.

Lose Weight Fast, Lose Weight for Life

If you follow these tips, you should start losing weight fast. But, remember, you never want to go on a short-term “crash” diet that you can’t maintain throughout your life. Instead, choose healthy eating and exercise patterns you can live with, so you keep the weight off permanently.


[1] Vasanti S. Malik et al. “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 84 (2): 274-288. Available from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/2/274.short

[2] Stookey JD et al. “Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity.” Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008; 16 (11): 2481-8. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18787524

[3] Paige Waehner. “Cardio for Weight Loss.” Available from: http://exercise.about.com/cs/weightloss/a/cardiowtloss.htm

[4] Karen Frazier. “Examples of Interval Training. Available from: http://exercise.lovetoknow.com/Examples_of_Interval_Training

[5] Elaine Magee. “8 Ways to Burn Calories and Fight Fat.” WebMD.com. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/8-ways-to-burn-calories-and-fight-fat

[6] “Strength Training for Women.” WebMD.com. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/strength-training-for-women

[7] Caroline R. Richardson et al. “A Meta-Analysis of Pedometer-Based Walking Interventions and Weight Loss.” Ann Fam Med. 2008; 6 (1): 69-77. Available from: http://annfammed.org/content/6/1/69.short

[8] James A. Levine et al. “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon of Societal Weight Gain.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2006; 26: 729-736. Available from: http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/26/4/729.short

[9] “5 Best Vegetables for Weight Loss.” Available from: http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/diets-vegetables-dieting-weight/2010/11/18/id/377479

[10] “How Many Vegetables Are Needed Daily or Weekly?” ChooseMyPlate.gov. Available from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/printpages/MyPlateFoodGroups/Vegetables/food-groups.vegetables-amount.pdf

[11] Shereen Jegtvig. “How Many Carbohydrates Do I Need Each Day?” Available from: http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyournutritionist/f/howmanycarbs.htm

[12] “How Much Sugar Should You Have Per Day?” Available from: http://www.peertrainer.com/nutrition/how-much-sugar-should-you-have.aspx

[13] “Choosing Healthy Fats.” Available from: http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_diet_fats.htm

[14] Donald K. Layman et al. “A Reduced Ratio of Dietary Carbohydrate to Protein Improves Body Composition and Blood Lipid Profiles during Weight Loss in Adult Women.” J. Nutr. 2003; 133 (2): 411-417. Available from: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/2/411.short

[15] Susan McQuillan. “Feeling full: high fiber foods bring satiety.” Available from: http://calorielab.com/news/2006/07/06/feeling-full-high-fiber-foods-bring-satiety/

[16] “Caloric Intake Calculator.” Available from: http://coach.healthytrim.com/caloric-intake-calculator/