Fitness After 50: How To Safely Lose Weight Fast

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Table of Contents

Simple science-backed tips to shed pounds quickly

This article aims to provide several proven ideas that you can put to use immediately if you have committed to losing weight and want to get going now.

Anyone putting the majority of these steps to work at once will start losing weight soon after embarking on their weight loss journey.

Note that I emphasized the word majority.

 

All of the ideas here, be they lifestyle changes or dietary changes, can also greatly improve a person’s health.

I can write all this with a fair degree of confidence because medical evidence & nutrition research confirms these ideas.

 

And real- world examples offer further proof of their weight loss effectiveness, safety, & health benefits.

No unproven (& possibly dangerous) fad diets here.

 

 

test tubes red - heydayDo icon

Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

The 3 main areas to dial in for safe rapid weight loss

Medical experts & the NIH (our National Institute of Health) agree that if you want to lose weight the right way, there are 3 areas of your life that you need to put in order.

They are:

  • Dietyour food & drink choices
  • Exercise how much working out you choose to do
  • Lifestyle behavior a number of things like your weight loss goal setting & commitment, mindfulness regarding your eating habits, your level of physical activity, etc.

 

And if you want to lose weight quickly & safely starting now, put all 3 of them in order now.

 

I’ll go through the diet, exercise, & lifestyle behavior sections one at a time.

And I’ll be providing tips & to-do steps for you to apply to each of these 3 pieces.

You’ll give yourself the best chance for fast weight loss by incorporating as many of these dietary & lifestyle upgrades as you can.

When you unify these 3 parts of your life and direct it towards your weight loss goal, extra pounds don’t stand a chance.

Let’s go.

 

(If you have any health issues, get your doctor’s OK first before beginning any weight loss program.)

 

 

Weight Loss Area #1: Your Diet Choices

Here are 5 scientifically-proven diet choices to follow if you want to lose weight quickly:

  • Follow a high protein diet
  • Cut your carbs way back 
  • Avoid all junk foods, refined foods, processed foods
  • Lower your total calories per day
  • Reduce your water retention

You’ll discover that these sound strategies all work together & flow easily once you decide to clean up your diet.

Your body will appreciate these adjustments you make, and you’ll start feeling better in addition to your weight loss.

Let’s look at each one of these in more detail.

 

Diet Choice #1: Get on a high protein diet

Salmon & salad on a plate

 

During the time period while you’re trying to lose weight fast, a high-protein diet is a very good choice, as long as you stick to the right kinds of lean protein.

It’s not a permanent diet change, unless of course you end up becoming very physically active.

People who use their muscles a lot in sports & fitness activities eat more protein than other people because their muscles are yelling at them to do so.

 

‘High’ means higher than the government’s daily allowance

On a high protein diet, you’ll increase your protein intake well above the minimum RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of 0.4 grams per lb. of bodyweight, put out by the US Dept. of Health & Human Services.

It’s important to note that 0.4 grams per lb. of bodyweight is a meager amount of protein. The Health Dept.’s phrase is

“sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people”.

 

They obviously exclude any very active, fitness-oriented person, like an athlete for example.

A 180 lb. athlete would only be getting 65 grams of protein per day if they followed that recommendation.

That won’t cut it in the world of muscular performance.

 

That’s some meager rations

Find me 1 athlete in the US that’s only eating protein to the tune of 0.4 grams/lb. of bodyweight.

I doubt there’s a single 180 lb. high school, collegiate, amateur or professional athlete in this country who is limiting themselves to 65 grams of protein per day.

Or any real active & physically fit person for that matter. 

 

Anyways, Harvard Medical has a better description for that protein RDA than the Health Dept.:

“it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.”

 

Bottom line is, increased protein is the way to go.

You’ll need it to help replace any poor food choices you may have in your current diet.

 

 

 

How high is high?

There’s no exact “high protein number” that’ll work for everyone due to all the variables of gender, weight, age, activity level, etc.

Plus, there’s always going to be squawking & opinion differences amongst doctors & registered dietitians.

Some fear that when the general public hears “eat more protein” we’re all going to run to McDonald’s and start pounding Big Macs, or start eating marbled steak every day.

 

Remember at the start of this High Protein Diet section I emphasized lean protein.

That means more fish, whey, nonfat yogurt, beans, skinless chicken breasts, & the like.

Lean red meat every now & then is OK, but not as a daily diet staple during a rapid weight loss program.

 

orange calorie calc

 

 

Most medical experts are fine with 0.6-0.8 grams/lb.

The Harvard Medical article I mentioned above refers to a Protein Summit meeting in Washington, D.C. that was attended by 40 of the top nutrition scientists in our country.

Based on the research presented, their consensus was

“that taking in up to twice the RDA of protein “is a safe and good range to aim for.”

 

That would be 0.8 grams of protein per lb. of bodyweight.

This other research study and several like it tested protein at levels between 0.6 & 0.8 grams/lb. of bodyweight.

At these levels, the extra protein

  • protected muscle mass in older people
  • prevented muscle decay due to a weight loss program,
  • burned more fat than low protein diets.

 

Going with these medical experts’ numbers, here are the high protein ranges (in grams) for a few body weights:

 

0.6 – 0.8 grams/lb. of body weight

150 lb. person:   90 – 120g

200 lb. person:   120 – 160g

250 lb. person:   150 – 200g

180 lb. (me)        108 – 144g

 

Why more protein is needed to lose weight

Several brown eggs sitting on a bed of straw

Now that we squared our protein numbers away, it’s time to look at why more protein needs to be in a rapid weight loss diet.

 

Your muscles need to grow and need protein to do it

Protein feeds muscles.

Our muscles start losing their mass once we pass 30, and research has shown the importance of high protein intake to reverse this.

Less muscle makes it harder for someone to lose weight.

 

This muscle loss due to aging is called sarcopenia, and it accelerates as we get older too.

And you need your muscles to be growing if you want to lose weight rapidly.

Why?

 

More muscle means you burn more calories

On this topic, medical experts at the Mayo Clinic write:

“And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.”

 

When your muscles grow thanks to a high protein diet plus strength training, your metabolism will speed up and you’ll burn more calories while you’re not exercising.

This boost in resting metabolism due to increasing your muscle mass has been proven in  many scientific studies, including here, here, & here.

 

A high protein diet is an effective weight loss tool

Clinical studies have repeatedly shown that a high protein diet is the way to go if weight loss is the goal.

Here, this study concluded that a

“high protein diet consisting of 50% plant and 50% animal sources of protein can reduce weight and waist circumference more than a standard protein diet among overweight and obese women.”

 

In this clinical trial, 330+ overweight people were put on either a low-calorie diet typically used in weight loss programs, or a high-protein + low carb diet. Researchers determined that

“A high-protein/low carbohydrate hypocaloric (low calorie) diet shows a higher weight loss…than a standard hypocaloric diet.”

 

Eat lean high quality protein

There’s a wide variety of great foods high in protein that you can eat while on a weight loss program.

Go with lean choices to help keep the calorie count down, with things like these:

  • Eggs
  • Fish & shrimp -good fish choices are tuna, cod, Pacific halibut, wild caught salmon, haddock, rainbow trout
  • Chicken Breasts (skip the skin while losing weight)
  • Lean Beef – like sirloin tip, eye of round & top round, lean hamburger with a minimum of 90% lean meat
  • Lean pork – like pork tenderloin, pork top or center loin chop or roast, & pork sirloin
  • Non-fat Greek Yogurt (unsweetened)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Whey & casein protein powders (make sure carb content is under 5g)

Shop for protein powders online

 

Bottom line on a high protein diet:

High protein diets combined with strength training will build bigger muscles, which have been proven to speed up weight loss.

Eat lean protein to manage your calorie count. Aim for 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight.

 

 

Diet Choice #2: Reduce your carbs a lot

Many types of processed foods with trans fats in them

 

When you boost the amount of protein you’re eating, you will be able to go longer periods without hunger pangs than you would if your diet was filled with carbs.

Replacing carbs with protein in your diet is a very good strategy for losing weight quickly.

And except for high-quality whole food carbs that are either nutrient-rich (like vegetables) or fiber-dense (like whole grains, lentils & beans), all other carb-heavy food & drinks will help you pack on the pounds.

 

Keep eating & drinking a high-carb high-calorie diet and you will not be able to lose any weight.

 

An obese nation is one that eats & drinks way too many carbs

Our country has an alarming amount of people who are obese.

Almost 40% of the US population is obese according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).

They also report that 70% – nearly ¾ – of American adults are overweight.

At the heart of that trend is a decision to eat & drink far too many low-quality carbs, appropriately called “empty calories” by medical authorities like Harvard here.

 

Stop consuming low-quality carbs & start losing weight now

I’ve already shown how a high quality protein has proven itself successful in rapid weight loss programs.

What better food to eat than low-calorie protein sources (fish, chicken breasts, eggs, whey powder, etc.) to replace any empty-calorie carbs in your current diet, if losing weight quickly is a goal of yours.

 

Cut out sugary foods & other empty calories

Here’s a brief list of high-carb, high-calorie foods that are devoid of any nutritional value.

Most have way too much sugar in them for our bodies to use, so these foods get stored as fat tissue and weight gain is the outcome.

An important part of your fast weight loss plan is to avoid these empty calorie foods:

  • candy
  • cakes
  • pastries, donuts, muffins (even supposed “health-food” muffins)
  • ice cream, frozen yogurt, & other sugary milk desserts
  • syrups, honey, jams/jellies, & other sweetened toppings

 

And avoid these sugary beverages

  • sodas
  • fancy coffee & tea drinks
  • sports drinks
  • energy drinks
  • fruit juice (even unsweetened has too much fructose in it)
  • hot cocoa
  • chocolate milk
  • iced tea
  • lemonade

red no pizza icon

 

Avoid processed & refined carbs

Any food that uses processed grain will have a lot of carbs but very little nutritional value.

The food makers literally process the grain’s vitamins & minerals right out of whatever it is you end up eating.

What you’re left with are a lot of empty calories from starchy carbs.

Avoid high-carb processed foods.

Here are a few examples:

  • most grocery store breakfast cereals
  • crackers & chips
  • pasta
  • white bread
  • pancakes & waffles
  • hi-carb hi-sugar breakfast bars & energy bars

 

Watch out for sugar-filled condiments

Here are a few empty-calorie food examples that may surprise you.

They all have sugar buried in them, and your body’s better off without them.

If your taste buds are whining because you’re denying their indulgences, just tell ‘em

“A moment on my lips is a lifetime on my hips”.

 

Skip these sugary ‘delights’ if you’re on an aggressive weight loss plan:

  • ‘Lite’ salad dressings & balsamic vinegar
  • ketchup
  • honey mustard
  • sriracha, teriyaki, & hoisin sauces
  • barbecue sauces & pasta sauces

 

If you drink, watch your alcohol amounts

Overweight young woman holding big wine glass while surfing the internet

Wine, beer, & spirits are empty calories too, so keep that in mind if you want to lose weight quickly.

Their calories can add up depending on how many drinks a week you have.

 

Research trials have connected alcohol to excess weight.

Here they found people who had 2 or more drinks a day had oversized waists compared to light drinkers.

And this one noted that heavy drinkers (3 or more/day) were 80% more likely to become abdominally obese than light or non-drinkers.

 

Alcohol triggers hunger pangs

The other thing to be aware of about alcohol is that it can stimulate hunger signals in your brain.

This study showed that even moderate amounts of alcohol (1-2 drinks) increased appetites.

Worse yet, the type of food most of those participants experienced hunger for were high-calorie fatty foods.

 

Bottom line on cutting way back on low quality carbs:

Reducing your carbohydrate intake has been shown to be an effective part of losing weight.

Eliminate empty calories, sugar, & junk foods from your diet, and moderate your alcohol intake.

All this gives your body a fighting chance to shed pounds quickly.

 

 

Diet Choice #3: Stop eating any junk food

Well, the previous section on bad carb foods did have a lot of junk in it.

If you’ve removed all of those from your food choices, good for you.

Your body will respond in a lot of positive ways for you, including weight loss.

There are still a few more junk foods that need to be pointed out though.

 

Typical junk foods

In our culture, junk foods are everywhere.

Makes sense I suppose, because so many people insist on eating them.

What are the common characteristics of the typical junk food?

  • high calorie
  • not filling
  • lacking nutrients
  • high in carbs
  • high in salt
  • very processed

List from Medical News Today

 

 

Avoid these high-calorie high-fat foods

Most of these undesirables do indeed have a lot of empty carbs in them, like those low-quality/high-carb foods discussed in the previous section.

But these foods below, they also pack a wallop of high-calorie bad fats.

All of them stand directly in the way of your weight loss goals.

Your body doesn’t like dealing with unhealthy, high-fat foods and doesn’t want them; why should you?

 

So avoid these products if you want to lose weight quickly:

  • fast foods (particularly fried), convenience store foods, etc.
  • processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage
  • pizza
  • margarine, shortening, lard, cooking oils (except for extra-virgin olive oil)
  • microwave popcorn
  • frozen dinners & pot pies

 

What to eat instead?

A great weight loss diet that gets your body burning as many calories as it can while still leaving you feeling full & satisfied consists of:

  • high amounts of quality protein
  • medium amounts of high-quality fats
  • low amounts of carbs that are nutrient-rich &/or high fiber

(“High, medium, & low” means relative to the typical American diet.)

 

blue fish icon

 

Eating good food burns more calories AND has you feeling fuller

Replacing poor food choices with high quality nutritious food obviously has a boatload of benefits.

One of them is that you’ll feel hungry less often than you do when eating a lot of processed carbs, sugar, and greasy junk food.

Science has demonstrated this in dozens of research studies, and here are a couple of those clinical trials.

 

A systematic review conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at several nutritional research studies and stated

“There is convincing evidence that a higher protein intake increases thermogenesis and satiety compared to diets of lower protein content. 

The weight of evidence also suggests that high protein meals lead to a reduced subsequent energy intake.”

 

“Speak English Doc, We Ain’t Scientists”

thermogenesis – our bodies’ process to burn calories to generate heat

satiety – how full & satisfied we feel after eating

energy intake – basically means eating

 

Translation: Burn more calories, feel full longer, and overeat less.

 

The same result was demonstrated here, as researchers at the University of Washington found that a high protein diet reduced appetite, lowered future calorie consumption, and caused weight loss.

 

Some good fats to eat

Several avocados on a table, some cut in half

 

I already provided many good protein sources to choose from, so let’s fill out the menu with high-quality fats & complex carbs.

Healthy fatty foods keep you from getting hungry for longer periods of time.

This prevents snacking & overeating, and thus helps keep your calorie count per day down in a range that can achieve good weight loss results.

They also provide important nutrition that you don’t get from eating good carbs or protein.

Some healthy fat foods to eat:

  • wild caught salmon
  • avocados
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • organic nuts, seeds, nut butters (watch for added salt or sugar)

Also, watch the quantities of olive oil, nuts & nut butter you eat.

A gram of fat is more than double the calories of either carbohydrates & proteins (9 grams vs. 4).

When you learn to keep track of your calories (we’ll talk about that later), you’ll know how to manage your daily portions of these higher calorie foods.

 

Some good carbs to eat

We also have room for high-quality carbs now that we kicked our obesity-causing empty carbs to the curb.

What types of foods are we looking for?

Nutrient-rich & fiber-dense.

And preferably low-carb.

 

Nutrient-rich simply means that this food is packed with vitamins & minerals that do our bodies good.

Fiber-dense simply means that there is a decent amount of dietary fiber contained in that food.

Vitamins, minerals, & adequate dietary fiber are essential for keeping our bodies healthy & humming along.

 

Don’t embark on a rapid weight loss plan and then shortchange yourself by not eating enough of those three nutrients.

 

Here’s a list of carb foods that are filled with nutrients & fiber

  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grain products
  • Beans, peas, lentils
  • Fruits

 

You can eat from any of these food groups.

In general, the vegetables have the lowest carb counts and should be the biggest part of your daily carb eating. 

For everything else like fruit, grains, & dry beans & lentils, pick your spots, count your carbs, & watch your portions.

 

 

Carb count: one thing to keep in mind

Since the goal here is to lose weight as quickly as possible, splurging on all of these great “quality carb” foods all of the time won’t work.

Why not?

Some of the foods I listed – like beans & whole grains/whole grain bread – have a relatively high number of carbs in them.

So do many kinds of fruit, as well as potatoes & sweet potatoes.

And if you remember, we need to limit our daily carb intake in order to lose weight fast.

So you’ll need to keep track of your daily carb number, and watch your portions.

 

In the case of some types of fruit, you’re better off avoiding it while trying to lose weight rapidly.

Switching to lower-carb, lower-sugar fruit allows you to enjoy their sweetness without sabotaging your diet.

 

 

Several great low-carb foods you can eat a lot of

Close up image of purple kale & chard leaves

 

Here’s a list of low-carb vegetables you can eat to your heart’s content:

  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • chard
  • kale
  • asparagus
  • tomatoes
  • olives
  • avocados
  • broccoli
  • zucchini
  • spinach
  • green beans
  • brussel sprouts

 

Fruit you ought to go a little lighter on, but can still enjoy daily.

Here’s a list of low-carb fruit:

  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • watermelon
  • cantaloupe
  • lemon
  • peach

 

Bottom line on junk food:

Ditch all junk food and replace it with lean protein, healthy fats, & whole food choices like vegetables, whole grains, & fruit.

Eat lots of protein.

Eat lots of vegetables too, some good fats, some whole grains, & a little fruit.

That’s a daily diet to help you lose weight fast.

You’ll feel full longer and will snack & overeat less, plus you’ll burn more calories.

 

 

Diet choice #4: Lower your daily calorie total

In essence, losing weight comes down to burning more calories than you eat & drink.

Gaining weight is eating & drinking more calories than you burn.

Simple enough.

But how many calories need to be cut per day in order to lose weight?

 

Experts agree: 500-1000 calories less than what you burn

Mayo Clinic says

“to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity.”

 

As does Harvard Medical:

“to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week — a rate that experts consider safe — your food consumption should provide 500 to 1,000 calories less than your total weight-maintenance calories.”

 

There you have it.

In order to lose weight safely, you need to eat 500-1000 fewer calories per day than your body currently burns in a day*.

*This is called the Basal Metabolic Rate.

 

If figuring that out sounds like it involves a complicated math equation, I promise you it does.

No worries, an easy-peasy solution is on the way.

 

(I’ve watched these mathematical formulas evolve over the past few decades. The equation that’s currently regarded by many scientists as the most accurate is known as the Mifflin – St. Jeor.)

 

 

Do the math (or don’t)

Luckily for us, there are plenty of plug & play calculators online that will figure out how many calories we currently burn.

All you do is plug in your sex, age, height, weight and current level of physical activity (you pick from a multiple choice).

Some calculators don’t ask you to enter your current physical activity level, but rather provide a table that you choose from after it gives you your number.

 

The calculator will figure out your current daily calorie burn.

From there, subtract 500-1000 calories from that number.

The answer to that is your weight loss range of daily calories to eat.

Allow me to demonstrate.

 

How I figure out my daily calorie range for safe fast weight loss

purple calorie calculator icon

 

Here’s a calculator from the American Cancer Society.

As you can see, they ask for your physical activity level.

OK, let’s go plug in my numbers.

I’m male, 60 years old, 180 – 185 lb., 6’2”.

 

And judging from their descriptions, I’m somewhere in between Moderately Active & Very Active.

I’ll pick Moderately Active.

I hit Calculate, and voilà – their calculator says I’m currently burning about 3000 calories per day to maintain my 185# weight.

 

So in order to lose weight I need to lower my daily calories by 500-1000.

That puts me in a daily calorie range of 2000-2500 if I’m looking to drop 1-2 lb. per week.

 

And if I want to lose it as quickly as I safely can, I’m gunning for that 2000 calorie number, or even a smidge lower.

 

Been there, done that

Given my experience at this**, I know I can safely lose more than 2 lb. per week temporarily, by

  1. increasing my physical activity level, and
  1. closely monitoring my nutrition intake.

 

 

**My experience with changing my body weight fast

I’ve gained & lost at least 20 lb. several times in my life, depending on what my fitness & body shape goal was at the time. 

Sometimes I wanted to get real strong, so I’d pack on a lot of muscle with a little bit of fat.

I weigh 185 now, but I’ve gotten my weight up as high as 215, back when I was really hammering the iron at the gym.

 

Then I’d want to “get cut”, as we used to call it.

I’d change my workout routine & my diet so I could rapidly lose any excess fat stores I’d accumulated while bulking up during heavy strength training. 

I could lose 20 lb. in 6 weeks or so, and I promise you I wasn’t starving. I’d get hungry at times – usually at night before bed – but kept reminding myself of my goals and why they were important to me.

 

This is why I don’t think it’s really hard to lose (or gain) weight.

I set a goal, I make it a top priority in my life, I commit to it, & I don’t stop ‘til I arrive.

When wanting to lose weight quickly, my experience has been that I can lose 3-4 lb. a week for a few weeks (like 2-3, depending on how I was feeling at the time).

Then I’d ease up a little on both the extra exercise & tighter diet so I’d lose 1-2 lb. per week ‘til I hit my target weight.

 

Another online calculator

OK, let’s look at the other type of free online calculator, this one courtesy of Calculator.net.

So here I consult their Activity Level chart and pick my number.

You can see that their definitions of activity amounts are different than the ACA’s, but that’s no biggie.

 

Looks like I’m between the Daily Exercise/Intense Exercise 3-4 times/week and the Intense Exercise levels.

So I’ll go with 2800 calories as my current number.

Thus 1800-2300 is my daily calorie range for losing 1-2 lb. per week.

 

I noticed that if I wasn’t active at all that my calorie burn would only be 1719 calories/day.

So I’m burning around 1000+ calories a day thanks to my physical activity level. 

 

Give these calculators a spin, and figure out your current base calorie burn rate.

Then deduct 500-1000 calories to determine your per day weight loss calorie range.

 

 

Tips to reduce your daily calorie intake in order to lose weight

I have a few things you can do to help you easily &  successfully adjust to a “500-1000 less calories per day” plan.

You will discover that all of these ideas are supported by science.

But first…

 

It’s important to realize that if you upgraded your diet choices according to the first three strategies covered in this article, you will already be eating & drinking a lot less calories per day.

And you’ll have noticed too, that you’re not going hungry at all.

In other words, by:

  •  going with a high-protein diet
  • lowering your daily carb intake a lot, and
  • eliminating all junk foods

you’ll have already gotten rid of a bunch of useless non-filling calories.

 

For some of you, you might only have to adjust your portion sizes by a little bit.

Alright, onto the tips for lowering your daily calories successfully.

 

Track your calories & your weight daily

Keeping track of your calories & recording your weight daily keeps you focused on your weight loss goals.

Always works for me, science says so too.

Here, researchers concluded that

“focusing on daily self-weighing can produce clinically significant weight loss.”

 

And at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, scientists noted that

“a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss was consistently found.”

 

 

No sugary drinks, right?

pinl tinted image of sugar cubes in a glass and a soda bottle spilling sugar out of its top

Just a gentle reminder, we’ve already talked about this.

 

Drink some water before meals

A study using middle-aged & older adults had half of them drink 16 oz of water prior to eating, the other half just ate.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers stated that the pre-meal water drinkers “showed a 44% greater decline in weight over the 12 weeks than the non-water group.”

 

Eat slowly

Enjoy your healthy food, don’t rush.

It tastes good and besides, science has shown “that eating slower inhibited the development of obesity”.

 

And this clinical trial determined that

“Eating slowly significantly lowered meal energy intake (calories)”, lowered eating rate”, and that “Eating slowly led to lower hunger” & “increased fullness”.

 

Eat a high-protein breakfast

By eating a lot of protein early in the day you’re on top of your hunger pangs, and you’ll also be less likely to overeat later in the day.

Here scientists found that

“A breakfast rich in dietary protein provides additional benefits through reductions in appetite and energy intake.”

 

Another independent study on breakfast skipping had similar results, with the participants that ate 35 grams of protein at breakfast enjoying the most benefit among the 3 study groups:

“Breakfast led to beneficial alterations in the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals that control food intake regulation.”

 

Hit your daily fiber requirement number every day

Dietary fiber provides a lot of benefits to you, one of them being a big help towards your weight loss goals.

It helps keep you full, and its been shown that the more you eat, the less likely you’ll be packing a lot of fat.

You’ll get most of your fiber in your whole-grain foods as well as your dry beans & lentils, and your vegetables provide some as well.

 

Men over 50 need 30 grams of dietary fiber per day, women over 50 need 21 grams.

For adults younger than that, the numbers are 38g for men & 28g for women.

 

It’s easy to keep track of your daily fiber – if I can do it, so can you – because all food labels and “Nutrition Facts” websites like FatSecret list fiber right there with sugar content — just below the fats, carbs, & protein numbers.

 

We’re going with a low-carb diet, but not one of those extreme ones.

Many of them restrict your carb intake to such a degree that you can’t get your required amount of dietary fiber.

 

Don’t shortcut. Eat your daily dose of fiber no matter what.

 

 

 

coffee brown - heydayDo icon

Caffeinate more if you like coffee or tea

Our 2 big caffeine beverages – tea & coffee – can lend a hand in helping you lower your daily calorie count.

If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, you’ll be pleased to learn that several research studies have shown that the caffeine found in those beverages boosts your thermogenesis.

(remember that word from earlier? It’s our bodies’ metabolic process of burning calories to generate heat.)

 

Here & here clinical trials observed caffeine boosting our bodies’ metabolism.

This means an increase in our ability to burn calories, which improves the efficiency of our weight loss plan.

 

Bottom line on lowering your daily calorie total to lose weight:

Hopefully you can see that there’s no mystery to figuring out how many calories per day you need to cut out in order to lose weight quickly.

And hopefully you also see that it’s really a straightforward process of making the right choices and following the simple, proven strategies that work.

 

 

Diet choice #5: Reduce your water retention

Here I’ll provide you with a few ideas you might want to try in order to lower the amount of water you’re carrying around.

These tips you can use right at the beginning to lose a few pounds quickly in addition to the 1-2 lb. of fat per week that you’re already working on.

Getting rid of retained water will improve your appearance, leaving you less puffy in some spots, leaner-looking in others.

Eating processed & refined carbs can increase your blood sugar & insulin rapidly, which in turn causes your kidneys to absorb more sodium.

This then causes your body to store excess water.

 

So when you ditch low-quality carbs like we discussed earlier, you’ll trigger the process for your body to start getting rid of the water you made it realize it doesn’t need.

 

Below are a couple of other tips for quickly dumping any excess water you might be packing around.

 

Drink more coffee, flush away more water

coffee in white cup with coffee beans lying around on a wooden table

 

Not really a news flash: coffee makes you pee, although I figure any old java guzzler knows this by now.

In fact it’s been shown to act almost like a diuretic in research studies too.

 

Boost your potassium intake via your foods

Potassium has been shown to both make you pee & reduce your sodium, sort of a “2 birds with 1 stone” deal for water retention issues.

There are plenty of foods with high potassium levels, but we’re talking about losing weight fast so we need to pick the right ones.

Here are a few good low-calorie low-carb potassium food choices:

  • kale
  • cooked spinach
  • cooked broccoli
  • avocados
  • cooked acorn squash
  • lentils
  • kidney beans, pinto beans
  • mushrooms
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

 

Try dandelion (capsules with powder, tea, or extract)

dandelion flower growing with a green grassy background 

Dandelion has been shown to be a diuretic in science research.

I found out it has a lot of potassium in it, maybe that’s the reason it can empty water out of our bodies through our urine.

There’s no standard dose I can provide you with, though this Benefits of Dandelion article on Healthline has various doses, depending on what form you’re taking (tincture, powder capsules, teabags for drinking, etc.)

 

Bottom line reducing water retention & water weight:

Getting rid of refined carbs will start reducing your water weight gain caused by previous bad diet choices.

To quickly lose a few pounds of that unneeded water weight, try drinking more coffee, eating potassium-rich whole foods, and taking a dandelion supplement.

 

 

Conclusion to best diet choices for rapid weight loss

Well, here’s the end of the section on changing your diet choices in order to lose weight fast.

Recap: 

  • Eating high amounts of protein has been proven to help lose weight
  • Combine that with eating high quality fats and low-carb whole foods
  • Eliminate all junk food, processed food, & sugary beverages
  • Lower your daily calorie intake by 500-1000 calories below your baseline daily calorie burn
  • Reduce or eliminate any water retention you may have developed due to a refined & processed foods diet

Making these dietary choices will give your body its best chance to lose weight quickly. 

 

 

 

purple exercise bike iconorange dumbbell iconsilhouette icon of girl running on treadmillred kettlebell icon

 

Weight Loss Area #2: Your Exercise Choices

Now that we’ve covered your diet decisions, let’s move onto the 2nd big area of yours that has a big influence on your ability to lose weight fast: your exercise choices.

Combining the right kinds of physical activity with the dietary guidelines we just looked at will make for a powerful combination for your body:

  • your appearance will improve dramatically compared to you just dieting
  • your appearance will improve in a shorter amount of time compared to you just dieting
  • you will lose more weight in the same amount of time compared to you just dieting

 

Do the right kinds of exercise for rapid weight loss

The following is just my subjective opinion.

It is based on my 35+ years of fitness training experience and my observations of the workout habits of thousands of people during that time. 

 

There are two types of exercise that I believe are essential for healthy & safe rapid weight loss: strength training & high-intensity interval exercise.

You can add a 3rd exercise type to your weekly program if time allows, the familiar steady-state cardio workout (think brisk walking or jogging outdoors or on a treadmill, using an exercise bike, elliptical or rowing machine, etc.).

 

I should disclose here that I have seen literally thousands of overweight & out-of-shape people spend thousands of hours doing regular cardio like that…and make no weight loss or body change progress whatsoever.

 

My subjective belief is that the most important of these 3 exercise types is strength training. But that’s just me…

 

Exercise Choice #1: Start Strength Training

Young woman smiling as she performs a deadlift rep

 

Strength training, AKA resistance training, is the best type of physical activity for you to supplement your diet plan with.

We’ll look at the reasons why that is in a little bit.

First though, let’s get to the “how much, how often” part.

 

How much & how often should you strength train?

I recommend that you plan on performing strength training exercises 3-4 times per week.

If you’re starting from scratch, 3 times per week is very good for beginners.

Your goal is to do a full-body resistance program three times a week – once on each of those 3 days – taking days off in between (e.g., workouts on a Mon-Wed-Fri schedule).

 

If you have a little strength in you or you’re ready to move up a notch from the beginner routine, I recommend doing a 4-day split workout.

This means you will be splitting up the muscle groups you work out over two days, and then doing that twice per week for a total of four workout days.

The goal here is to complete a full-body resistance program twice.

 

The reason you split it up is because you’ll be doing more sets per muscle group (3-4) compared to the beginner’s program (1-2 sets per muscle group).

Splitting the muscle groups up like this gives them more time to recover & grow between workouts.

 

Your 7 main muscle groups

If you’re unfamiliar with strength training terms & its body parts terminology, no big deal – they’re easy to get to know. Here are those 7 main muscle groups that you’ll be working twice or thrice a week:

  • Legs
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps (the muscles on the back of the upper part of your arms)
  • Biceps (the muscles on the front of your upper arms)
  • Abdominal/Core

 

dumbbell red - heydayDo in article icon6

 

 

How much time per day is needed

Your strength training workouts as I described above only take about 13-17 minutes to complete on a 3-day beginner’s plan of doing 1 set per body part.

Two sets per muscle group bumps the time up to around a half hour.

On a 3-day plan you’ll work your full body each day.

So that means all 7 muscle groups on each of those 3 days.

 

Do 1 set

You’ll do 1 set of 8-12 reps for each muscle group if you’re a beginner.

The weight you choose should be heavy enough so that you can’t coast to 15-20 reps.

You want reps 10-12 hard and on some weaker days you might fail on the 8th or 9th rep.

That’s fine.

 

You also don’t want the weight to be so heavy that you can’t even get to 6 reps.

The sweet spot for beginners is in that 8-12 rep range.

 

1 set lasts 40-60 seconds

Each set like this will take 40 seconds to a minute or so to complete.

 

Rest for 1 minute – not 1 second more

You rest for a minute (at the most) in between sets as you get ready for the next exercise in the sequence.

 

It’s important that you limit your rest between sets to 60 seconds.

This means on the 61st second you’ve begun the next set.

If you intend to lose weight you need to keep your heart rate up and muscles engaged throughout the workout.

 


 

 

Perform 7 sets & 7 rests

Complete all 7 exercises and their 7 1-minute resting periods.

 

Total time: 14-16 minutes

This adds up to around 15 minutes or so of total time.

 

(Remember to always skip at least a day between full-body strength training days like these.)

 

Add weight & sets as you get stronger

As you get stronger increase the weight a little so that you maintain your sets in the 8-12 range.

Later on, you’ll gradually add more sets.

After 2-3 months is a good time to start tacking on a second set to your exercises.

Let your energy level that day determine when to add more sets. 

When you’re ready to add a third or fourth set to your exercises, you’ll need to split your workout up over two days.

This extra work means your muscles need more time to recover & grow.

 

 

workout plan purple - heydayDo icon

The 4-day workout split

When you want to bump up the training volume to at least 3 sets per muscle group, switch from the beginner 3x/week schedule to the 4-day workout split.

In the 4-day plan you’ll be splitting up the 7 muscle areas over 2 workout days, which you then repeat later in the week.

Let me illustrate.

 

My typical 4-day a week plan over the years (using it off & on since 1982) has been:

Mon & Thurs: group 1, and let’s go with say

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Abs/Core

Tue & Fri: group 2, you work out whoever’s left, which in my case is

  • Legs
  • Back
  • Biceps

 

In this schedule, your off days would be Wednesday & the weekends.

So here, you see the extra rest you’re giving each muscle group.

You have at least two days of recovery between workouts.

This is important.

 

You can tailor this any ol’ way to fit your schedule…

Mon/Fri + Tue/Sat

Mon/Fri + Wed/Sat

…or whatever.

 

The main thing is to allow for adequate rest for each muscle group.

 

dumbbell blue - heydayDo icon

 

Strength training exercises

There are lots of different weightlifting exercises you can do for each muscle group, including the use of machines.

I’m going to share a few of the fundamental exercises for each muscle group that are proven over decades of strength training & bodybuilding.

 

Free weights are better for you than machines

I strongly suggest using free weights – either dumbbells or a barbell – whenever possible.

You’ll get more out of the exercise since sitting in a machine takes away a lot of your need to control & stabilize the weight throughout the motion.

Sometimes using a machine is the only option and that’s OK.

But if given a choice, definitely grab a pair of dumbbells (or a barbell & a bench) instead.

 

Warm up & warm up sets

You want to get your body warmed up with blood flowing before you start lifting.

And you want to make sure that the muscles & joints you’ll be using for each exercise are warmed up sufficiently too.

 

A good way to do this is to start with 10 minutes on a stationary bike or elliptical machine.

For the last 4 or minutes there, increase the intensity of your effort by raising the resistance on the machine or by you moving faster.

After that, for each exercise you’ll be doing, do one light set of 20-25 reps before doing the set (or sets) that count.

By doing a warm up set beforehand you’ll activate & prepare the muscle group for the heavier set(s) to follow.

 

Here’s a good exercise for each muscle group

I took this series of weightlifting exercises from my article 9 Muscle Building Dumbbell Exercises For Seniors.

There you can read how to get the most of these exercises, as well as why they’re ideal for any strength training program, including one that’s part of your plan to safely lose weight quickly.

 

Chest – Chest Press

Shoulders – Shoulder Press

Triceps – Triceps Extension

Back – Bent Over Row

Biceps – Curl

Legs – Squat, Calf Raise

Abs/Core – Weighted Crunch

 

bumper plate green - heydayDo icon

 

 

Strength training = resistance training

Young woman performing resistance bands military presses on artificial grass field

By the way in case you didn’t know, strength training & resistance training are the same thing.

You’re using some form of resistance against the strength of your muscles.

I use the 2 terms interchangeably.

 

Weight lifting is a type of strength training.

So are bodyweight exercises like push ups & pull ups, as are the use of rubber resistance bands instead of dumbbells & barbells, or an all-in-one home gym like a Total Gym:

 


 

All of these forms of strength training use some kind of resistance to force your muscles to work.

 

Fit young woman performing bench presses

 

How strength training benefits your rapid weight loss

Let’s look at several of the reasons why you definitely want strength training to be an important part of your plan to lose weight fast.

 

Strength training boosts metabolism so you burn more calories

All on its own, even without a great diet, strength training can generate weight loss.

One of the ways it does this is by increasing your metabolism by building your muscles.

The more muscle mass you have, the more capable your body is of burning calories, even while you are not exercising.

 

This is known as strength training’s way of boosting your resting metabolic rate.

Remember what the Mayo Clinic said earlier in Part 1, when we were looking at a high protein diet?

 

“And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.”

 

As we age our metabolism slows, making it more difficult to (among other things) lose weight.

Scientists attribute this slowdown in part to a loss of muscle.

 

Fortunately, clinical research has also (repeatedly) shown that strength training can reverse that aging process, as those same researchers concluded that “Strength training increases resting metabolic rate.”

And this study also found that full-body resistance training significantly increased resting calorie burn for up to 72 hours post-exercise.

 

Strength training stops metabolism slowdown from weight loss

Medical research has found that what often happens during a weight loss program is that a person’s metabolism will slow down as their body adapts to the lower weight.

That can make subsequent weight loss more difficult to achieve.

And nobody who’s trying to lose a lot of weight wants to deal with that.

 

There’s good news though.

Strength training helps maintain your metabolic rate during weight loss, as both of these clinical studies (here & here) have discovered.

In the first case, the researchers also noted that resistance training also preserved fat-free mass (muscle) during the weight loss program.

But the groups that did only aerobics or no exercise at all both lost muscle besides losing weight.

And these two groups both had their metabolism slow after losing weight too, while those strength training were hunky-dory.

 

bumper plate orange - heydayDo icon

 

Strength training lowers your carb storage

Other resistance training research has found that full-body workouts and large-muscle workouts (like legs, back, & chest) both use up your glycogen, provided your effort has some intensity.

What’s glycogen?

It’s what your carbohydrates are called when they’re in storage in your body.

 

If they’re not used they can turn to fat, so it’s great that strength training burns through glycogen while you’re lifting.

Just remember to bump up the weight if you easily get to 15 reps – you’ll get more calorie burning benefit if you do.

 

Strength training + great diet = best weight loss results

In this study put together by 4 universities, women were assigned to a diet-only program or a diet + strength training program.

The strength training + diet group outperformed the ‘diet only’ by a good margin.

 

Here, overweight subjects were put on a low calorie high protein diet combined with a strength training program for a month.

The other subjects were put on a low calorie diet without the high protein content.

The high-protein group performed the best, losing 10 lb. of fat while adding 2.5 lb. of muscle in a month.

(And remember how more muscle will burn more calories too…)

 

Bottom line on strength training as exercise choice #1:

It’s easy to see how combining strength training with a great low-calorie, high-protein diet will really kick your weight loss plan into high gear.

It doesn’t require a big time commitment, especially considering all of the powerful benefits it can provide you.

Strength training helps reverse aging processes to keep your metabolism elevated & burning calories.

Plus, it protects your metabolism from slowing down due to weight loss, which happens to people who only diet.

 

 

Choice #2: High intensity interval exercise

Fit young woman performing HIIT on a rowing machine outdoors

 

High-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) is another great physical activity to add to your “lose weight fast” plan.

HIIE is similar to strength training in that it doesn’t need a whole bunch of your time to be effective.

And it delivers many of the same benefits as other types of cardio exercise, yet in a fraction of their time.

 

High intensity interval exercise has many names

If you’re unfamiliar with HIIE, I’ll explain what it is in a sec.

This form of exercise is known by other names & acronyms.

I even call it something else besides HIIE most of the time (“HIIT”), but we’re all talking about the same thing.

Here are a few of its names & acronyms:

  • High-Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE)
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT, pronounced like “hit”)
  • HIT (same as the one above it)
  • Sprint Interval Training (SIT, pronounced “sit”)
  • Burst Training

There are even specialized types of HIIT/HIIE like one called Tabata, but we don’t need to get that deep into it to accomplish our rapid weight loss goals.

 

What is HIIE? 

HIIT/HIIE is a type of cardio exercise routine.

Regardless of what you call it, HIIT is a proven way to boost your metabolism & burn calories in significantly less time than conventional cardio.

It can be performed on any cardio machine – treadmill, stair stepper, elliptical machine, exercise bike, rowing machine, etc.

It can be performed outdoors if you have some room to run, like on a track or at a park. It can even be performed in your living room without a cardio machine if you’d prefer to run in place.

I’ve love doing HIIT, and I’ve researched it thoroughly and written fitness guides here on heydayDo on various aspects of it too:

What’s A Low-Impact HIIT Workout?

HIIT For Seniors

How Long Should A HIIT Workout Be?

 

How do you do HIIT?

The basic concept is this: you combine a short interval of all-out effort (as in 100%, everything you’ve got) whether you’re running or working on a machine.

Then you follow that up with a recovery period that’s at least twice as long as your intense time was, and go at a nice, slow, low-intensity pace.

Or rest completely by slowly walking around during your recovery time.

Those two periods combined equal 1 repetition (AKA 1 rep, 1 round, or 1 set – whatever you want to call it).

 

If you’re out of shape you may find that you can only go all-out for 10-15 seconds; that’s fine.

Give it your all for 10 seconds, then recover for 20-30 seconds.

Repeat this sequence until you’ve been at it for several minutes – shoot for 6-10.

If you can’t go for 10 minutes, don’t sweat it at all.

You can try again in a couple of days.

 

Example of a 6-minute HIIT workout

For example, a 6-minute HIIE routine given the fitness level I described above would require 12 sets:

10 sec. full intensity + 20 sec. low-intensity recovery = 30 seconds

12 x 30 seconds = 6 minutes

 

heydayDo author Greg Simon performing high intensity training on A Xiser Mini Stairmaster

I do my “on land” HIIT with my Xiser (my phone is my stopwatch)

 

heydayDo author Greg Simon doing surfing paddling training in his swim spa

And I do HIIT workouts with my surf training in the water

 

You’ll get stronger over time

Gradually you’ll be able to give it 100% for a longer period than whatever your starting point is.

Just adjust your recovery period accordingly.

Let’s say the person in my example above gets it up to 20 seconds of all-out intensity.

Their recovery portion would be extended to 40 seconds.

They could do their 6-minute workout with just 6 sets (20 + 40).

Or they could bump it up to 7, 8, 10 minutes…whatever their body is feeling like going for.

 

Examples of 10-minute HIIT routines

To show you how much flexibility there is with HIIE training, here are 4 workout routines that all take around 10-11 minutes to complete:

20 sets @ 10 sec. intense + 20 sec. recovery

15 sets @ 15 sec. intense + 30 sec. recovery

10 sets @ 20 sec. intense + 40 sec. recovery

7 sets @ 30 sec. intense + 60 sec. recovery

Do what best works for you.

 

red stopwatch icon

 

 

HIIT guidelines for beginners

Here are a couple of important things to consider:

  • Don’t do HIIT every day; skip at least a day in between
  • There’s no magic number of minutes per HIIT session, but try & shoot for approximately 6-10 minutes total time to start out with
  • If you’re really giving it 100% you only need a few (say 2-3) HIIT workouts per week. Shoot for 12-20 minutes total per week to start, if you’re looking to give your weight loss plan a big boost
  • Make sure you’re giving 100% total effort during the intense interval portion of each set, or this program won’t be as effective
  • Understand that only well-conditioned athletes can go all-out for a minute or more. 30 seconds max is plenty good enough for the rest of us
  • Don’t worry about how long your intense intervals are, focus on giving them 100%
  • You ought to feel that your 100% effort on your last couple of sets will be much harder than your 100% effort was on your first couple of sets that day

 

Other health benefits provided by HIIE training

(the links connect to a clinical research study relevant to that benefit)

  • HIIE boosts your metabolism, and keeps it elevated for several hours after your high intensity workout is over
  • HIIT burns calories, fat, & even visceral belly fat as well as regular aerobic exercise does but in half the time or less
  • A HIIT program (of 20 sec. intense + 40 sec. rest, repeated 30 times over a 30-minute period) burned 30% more calories than cycling, weightlifting, & treadmill cardio did in the same amount of time

 

Bottom line on High Intensity Interval Exercise:

HIIE, HIIT, HIT – whatever you want to call it – is a great component of any fitness program, and is well-suited for someone who wants to lose weight quickly.

It delivers powerful benefits in a fraction of the weekly time required for regular cardio exercises.

You need to give it 100% total effort during the intense interval portion of each set to make this type of exercise routine work for you.

 

Conclusion of exercise choices for rapid weight loss

Strength training & high-intensity interval exercise are excellent choices for bumping up your physical activity level.

Both have been proven to be successful in helping your body lose weight.

Another major benefit of both exercise types is that they don’t require an excessive amount of time per week in order to be effective.

Combining these exercise plans with a great weight loss diet is a powerful strategy to quickly & healthily lose weight.

 

 

Weight Loss Area 3: Managing Your Behaviors

Overwieght man in bed in a pink room hugging pink frosted donut

 

We’ve dialed in the diet & worked out the workouts needed to lose weight quickly.

Only 1 more area left to cover and that’s improving how you manage your behaviors related to your eating habits & your physical activity.

The National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical & other weight management experts all sing a similar tune when it comes to losing weight:

Changing & managing your behaviors is THE key to success.

 

As Mayo writes

“Behavior modification is vital, and could have the greatest impact on your long-term weight-loss efforts.”

 

So with that in mind, here’s a little overview of what I’m going to cover in this final section of How To Safely Lose Weight Fast:

  • Effectively set goals & create a reward system for yourself
  • Raise your self-awareness & increase your food knowledge
  • Ideas to live a more physically active lifestyle

 

How to set weight loss goals for success

A great way to improve your chances of losing the weight you want to get rid of is to know how to effectively set goals & use rewards.

Using a goals & rewards system that works, you can create a habit of success.

This pattern will encourage & inspire you to stay on course for the weeks & months ahead in your fitness journey.

 

Make the goals specific & realistic

The NIH (Nat’l Inst. of Health) recommends setting goals that are

  • specific
  • attainable, doable, realistic
  • forgiving (less than perfect)

 

Examples:

“I want to lose a lot of weight” is not specific.

“I want to lose 40 lb.” is specific.

 

“I want to lose 40 lb. in a month” is not doable or realistic.

“I want to lose 40 lb. in 6 months” is doable & realistic.

 

“Do 45 minutes of exercise every day no matter what” isn’t forgiving.

“Exercise 5 days a week for a weekly total of 3 hours” is forgiving, specific, & realistic.

 

Set process goals to support your outcome goals

Mayo Clinic also says to set realistic goals, recommending 1-2 lb. per week max as a realistic target.

They also suggest setting both outcome goals & process goals.

 

Examples of outcome goals are: “Lose 10 lb.”, “become a size __”, “weigh ___ lb.”, etc.

 

Here are some process goals I could come up with in order to turn those outcome goals into reality:

Process goal – Do strength training workouts 3 times per week

Process goal – Do 3 10-minute HIIT workouts per week

Process goal – Eat 100-144 grams of protein per day

Process goal – Limit my total carbs per day to 100 grams

 

I love setting process goals because they adjust my daily behavior to be in line with my outcome goals.

Process goals are where the “rubber meets the road” so to speak.

They are your action items, the things you need to regularly do if you want to achieve your outcome goal.

Completing those 4 process goals above on an ongoing basis would insure I’d reach that “Lose 10 lb.” outcome goal, for example.

Pretty easily too, as a matter of fact.

 

 

Create a reward system for your little successes along the way

happy boy sitting at pool splashing water with his legs

 

A perk of process goals is that you can (& should) enjoy the success of achieving them along the path towards reaching the outcome goal they’re related to.

Each process goal accomplished puts you closer to attaining your bigger outcome goal, and you should acknowledge these ‘little’ successes along the way, according to the National Institute of Health.

 

“Nothing succeeds like success”

That’s the old proverb they quote to illustrate the concept of shaping, where you build momentum toward your ultimate goal by frequently attaining all of the related process goals.

As you tick off the boxes of these ‘step’ goals and get closer & closer to your big goal, the NIH says to reward yourself in little ways.

(They only half-kiddingly say “But not with food”).

 

They suggest buying yourself a little gift or giving yourself a little break away from your day-to-day responsibilities.

Per the NIH, this honoring of your successes will encourage & inspire you to keep going full steam ahead towards achieving your bigger goal.

 

 

Increase your knowledge about the food you eat

Becoming more  knowledgeable about what you eat & drink, and how much of it you consume, is a behavior any prospective dieter has to do.

Keeping daily track of what you eat, your exercise routine, & your body stats like weight & waist size are important behaviors to adopt per the NIH, Harvard Medical, Mayo & other weight loss experts.

 

Even research studies like this one here have clearly demonstrated that people who self-monitor their food & exercise lose weight more successfully than those who don’t invest the effort.

A daily journal to record your workouts & your weight is a good idea, as it can

  • let you know how you’re doing
  • encourage you as you see your progress develop
  • hold you accountable
  •  and as the NIH says “moves you closer to the desired direction and can produce ‘real-time’ records for review by you and your health care provider”.

Another biggie is mastering how to calorie count.

 

Count your calories & your macronutrients

In part 1 of this article How To Safely Lose Weight Fast, we looked at 5 key dietary choices that contribute to losing weight quickly.

One of them was to lower your total calories per day, by 500-1000 below your base metabolic rate (your daily calorie burn excluding activity).

 

Here again are those 2 sites I used that have the calculators, so you can get your starting point:

American Cancer Assn.

Calculator.net

 

Now though, you also need to know how many calories a day you’re currently eating & drinking so you can reduce your calories appropriately.

There are a couple of ways to go about this, let’s look at them now.

Oh, lest I forget to mention it – go buy a food scale.

 

You can use an online calorie counting app

There are a number of calorie counting apps out there.

Most are free with ads, or you can pay a small monthly premium to be ad-free.

 

I’ve checked a few of the larger popular ones out.

I’ve noticed they each have their plusses and their “not-so-great” qualities:

  • a few aren’t real user-friendly for logging in home-cooked meals (which are like 95% of my meals)
  • these all track your macronutrients in addition to your calories – fats, carbs, protein, fiber, sugar
  • some will keep track of your exercise, & a couple even track vitamins & minerals if you want to go that deep
  • most have a community forum of one kind or another
  • a few require an additional monthly fee to tap into certain features

 

They’re easy to bang around in and easy to set up, so check a couple out to see which one suits you.

Here are links to the ones I checked out:

Fat Secret

My Fitness Pal

Spark People

Lose It!

My Net Diary

Cronometer

green macros icon

Or, you can track your calories & macronutrients yourself

Feeling intrepid?

If you’re somewhat nimble with spreadsheets you can easily build a database table that keeps track of your daily calories, as well as your daily intake of protein, fats, & carbs.

It’s how I do it; I enjoy the process**.

 

**Counting calories by hand

It’s what I do, simply “because I can”. Well…PLUS I really like keeping track of numerical things important to me. 

I also track daily wave heights & sea temperatures of Pacific Ocean buoys off the southern California coast since I love to surf. 

And I track the rainfall on my property since I grow hundreds of pounds of vegetables, fruit, & wine grapes every year. And I live in a dry place – we’re always desperados for rain around here.

Something about writing these numbers down every day makes me feel more connected to the important things they represent: my food & my passions. 

 

 

Use the Nutrition Facts food labels to get your numbers

Since I go the manual route, I grab the numbers off the Nutrition Facts label, if the product has one.

And a lot (but not all) of the food we buy has the Nutrition Facts labels on the packaging.

It’ll have all the info you need.

Here are the data points I record from those labels:

  • calories
  • fats
  • carbohydrates
  • protein
  • fiber
  • sugar

Fresh produce doesn’t have a Nutrition Facts label, nor do several other items.

For example, one of the fruits I grow on my property is mulberry.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen mulberries for sale in a store.

So for those unlabeled foods, I Google (for example)

[1 oz mulberries nutrition facts]

(I standardize many foods to a 1 ounce portion, because it makes it easy for me to enter 2 oz. of this, 4.5 oz. of that, etc., on my daily food spreadsheet.)

 

Most of the time Fat Secret pops up on the first page, so I use them when I can.

They list a lot of foods at the 1 ounce size, and they show the numbers on a page that looks just like the familiar Nutrition Facts label we’re all used to.

Plus, on Fat Secret I can change the portion size and the screen will update accordingly.

F’rinstance, I never eat 1 oz of skipjack tuna – I eat a whole 5 oz can at a time. So that’s the portion size for that item that I’ll enter in my database.

 

I assembled a database of my commonly eaten foods

When I first started my calorie counting spreadsheet, I Googled for the nutrition facts of everything I could think of that I had eaten in the past week.

Then for the next couple of weeks, I’d look up anything I was eating that wasn’t on my database yet, and add it.

For my daily calorie & macronutrients sheets, I’d copy a food’s row from the database page & put it on that day’s sheet.

Easy peasy.

 

The calorie counting routine got quicker & easier

After a month or so, it got so I rarely had to Google a new food item – I had the majority of my foods & drinks in my database by then.

Also — I noticed I eat a lot of the same foods throughout the day, depending on what’s in season.

Then at dinner, there’d be more variety of main courses & vegetables.

So I could copy & paste several foods from the previous day’s table onto the ‘table of the day’, and only have to adjust the quantities if needed.

 

Note this if you’re going to manually count calories like I do

Just wanted to remind you that on Nutrition Facts labels they often use a serving size that’s different than how much you’re eating.

Like they’ll list nutrition facts for 1 slice of bread and say you’re eating 2, so you’d adjust accordingly.

Or maybe your portion is smaller than their serving size, and that’s why a scale is helpful.

Also, they often put servings sizes in grams, and that’s why my scale can weigh in grams as well as ounces.

 

Become more mindful of your food behaviors

Very overweight young woman with pizza in one hand and TV remote in the other blankly staring at TV

 

Here are a few tips I gleaned from the medical experts who treat weight issues.

Some of what I’ll share is meant to help raise your awareness of common situations in your life that might lend themselves to making an “anti-weight loss” decision.

 

Certain triggers, be they places, events, people, even certain times of the day – can create habitual reactions in us that developed over time & repetition.

The triggers we want to be aware of have mostly to do with food & drink choices – specifically the poor choices that work against our weight loss goals.

 

By being aware of your previous or typical behavior in these situations, your ability to instead make a positive choice for yourself & your weight loss goals increases substantially.

 

Mindful eating

Make the meal an important time; after all, what you put in you has a lot to do with your quality of life.

  • Slow down your eating time
  • Chew food slowly
  • Savor the food & pay attention to how it tastes

 

This research study found that the dieters who added a “meal meditation” practice to their eating lost more weight than the group that only followed the diet.

 

And the National Institute of Health adds:

“Changing the way you go about eating can make it easier to eat less without feeling deprived. 

It takes 15 or more minutes for your brain to get the message that you’ve been fed. 

Eating slowly will help you feel satisfied.” 

 

Eat more during the day & eat less at dinner

Various studies have looked & continue to look at ways our eating patterns determine how well we’ll lose weight, our likelihood of becoming obese, etc.

 

Bottom line: eating most of your calories earlier in the day is beneficial to your weight loss goals.

 

A couple of related clinical studies that I found:

Here, a large breakfast plus a much lighter-than-usual dinner caused more weight loss in overweight or obese women than those who had the traditional dinner.

And in this 6-year population study, researchers found that the people who had the larger dinners were twice as likely to become severely overweight or obese.

 

Eat most of your meals at home & learn to cook if you need to

When you buy the groceries & prepare the meals, you have full control over what you’re putting in your body.

You can tailor the meals to hit your macronutrient numbers that are a part of your weight loss goals.

 

When you eat out somewhere, in most cases you haven’t a clue what the calorie count is or what the nutrients are or aren’t in your meal.

That sure makes it hard to keep track of your diet.

Plus, the likelihood that unhealthy foods like refined carbs & low-quality fats are in your meal is greater.

 

Diet & body fat research showed that:

  • the more someone had a restaurant meal (sit-down or fast food), the higher fat content their body had compared to other people
  • the more someone cooked their meals & ate at home the better their meals’ nutritional quality was, and the less body fat they had, compared to others

A few more eating behavior tips

Here are a couple of little recommendations/suggestions I got from the medical sources used in this article:

  • use smaller plates when eating
  • after dinner, the kitchen’s closed – no eating ‘til breakfast
  • keep an eye on mindlessly snacking while watching TV or device scrolling
  • at parties, eat only healthy hors d’oeuvres, or avoid them by eating a good meal beforehand

 

Ideas to live a more physically active lifestyle

We’ve already looked at the exercise plan for rapid weight loss in part 2 of this article- a combo of strength training & high-intensity interval training. OK, great.

But what I’m going to talk about in this section has to do with your free time aside from your work, your workouts, & social schedule.

A few simple lifestyle adjustment ideas will help increase your calorie burn throughout your day, and accelerate your weight loss.

 

Hey that’s NEAT

The ACE (American Council on Exercise) uses the acronym NEAT for our bodies’ calorie-burning that is not related to exercise or food processing.

NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

 

They write that aside from your exercise program,

“other forms of physical activity, called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), can play a significant role in helping to maximize the total amount of calories burned in a single day.”

 

Senior man in park bouncing a soccer ball up & down off his foot

What are NEAT things we can do?

Here are a few ideas to burn a few more calories…

 

Sit less

The ACE recommends interrupting our tendency to sit for long periods of time.

Develop behaviors to – as they put it – “move consistently throughout the day”.

This helps keeps our bodies’ ability to burn fat active.

  • start a new fun activity with someone that involves moving or being up on your feet
  • play with kids, grandkids, friends
  • walk or bike to walk if you can

 

Do more household chores

Treat housecleaning & yard work as opportunities to burn more calories.

You can even put a little more effort into it since you’re aware that it does a body good.

 

Stand more

Mayo Clinic cautions on the health risks of extended sitting, especially for people who have desk jobs.

And this study connected extended workplace sitting with higher body fat.

 

Think of ways to get up & stand or walk more, at work or at home:

  • get up & take a 5-minute walk every hour you’re sitting, & stand up to take a few steps every half hour
  • stand while talking on the phone or watching TV
  • turn informal meetings into a “walking” meeting if you don’t have to use a conference table
  • can you use a standing desk or desk treadmill when you work?

 

Get a FitBit or other step counting app

red fitness watch icon

 

Recent studies like this one have found that people who track their daily steps on their phone burn more calories and body fat, thanks to using the app.

 

These results remind me of the studies I mentioned earlier about people who self monitored – those who counted their calories & macronutrients, and kept track of their daily weight – lost more than dieters who didn’t.

 

Conclusion to managing food & lifestyle behaviors

OK, time to wrap up this section.

Our 3rd big area to work on is the establishment of positive behaviors that’ll help us reach our rapid weight loss goals.

A very important behavior to implement is goal setting, and I discussed the way to make this process very effective for you.

Becoming more aware of our food & our food habits is important too.

Things like keeping daily track of the calories & macronutrients we consume, recording our body weight & exercise routines…all these self-monitoring behaviors increase that awareness and put us in greater control of our weight loss plan.

Additionally, we learned about several simple yet powerful habits regarding both food & daily activity behavior we can put to work to help achieve our weight loss goals.

 

Wrapping up

Here in my article How To Safely Lose Weight Fast I discussed the 3 main areas nutrition & medical experts agree are the most important to get a firm handle on, if losing weight quickly & safely is a person’s goal:

  • Make smart diet choices
  • Make smart exercise choices
  • Manage daily behavior patterns so that they’re in alignment with weight loss goals

I hope you found this article useful, and I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.

– greg

July 2020

 

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About heydayDo

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Organic food & wine grower. Surfer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far). Read more…
heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
I write about the fitness and health research I’ve found concerning the quality of life benefits that exercise and good nutrition provide.
 
When I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s only hype. I also post my experiences product-testing & evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.
 
 It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
So if you’re looking for medical or nutritional advice, please consult with your doctor or health professional for that, since heydayDo does not provide medical advice.