How to lose weight fast

christina weight lossMore than a third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight (1).

Only 30% of people in the U.S. can now be considered at a healthy weight.

Being overweight has become the new “normal.”

The need for a solution has never been greater and many people are desperate.

This has caused hundreds of fad diets, bogus pills and magic bullet weight loss solutions to pop up all over the internet.

Most of these products are scams and achieving long term success is rare.

The standard solution, a calorie restricted low-fat diet, is so ineffective that about 85% of dieters fail in the long run (2).

Unfortunately, there are no magic bullet solutions. The crash diets don’t work in the long term and the pills are mostly scams.

But what about those times when you really need to lose some weight fast?

Maybe you need to look good for a vacation or an event, fit into an outfit or look good for your wedding. Maybe you want to look your best for a special someone, or you’re simply impatient and want quick results.

In these cases, there are some things you can do that are actually based on science and don’t require you to buy a scam product that doesn’t even work.

This article will explain how to lose weight fast, using methods that are based on real scientific evidence and literally proven to be effective.

Given that diseases like heart disease, cancer and type II diabetes go hand-in-hand with weight gain, this advice may save your life. Literally.

How to Lose Weight Fast in 2016 – The Ultimate Guide

The most important hormone when it comes to body fat storage is insulin, a hormone that I’m sure you’ve heard of before and is best known for its important role in blood sugar control.

What insulin also does, is function as a “gatekeeper” to your fat cells. Insulin shunts blood sugar into fat cells and tells them to build and store body fat.

At the same time, insulin tells the fat cells to hold on to the fat that they carry, and not to let any of it out.

With a western diet, insulin levels can become constantly elevated. They are high almost all the time, leading to the constant body fat accumulation we call weight gain and obesity.

If you’re carrying a lot of body fat on your frame then you have problems with insulin.

How to Lower Insulin Levels

Carbohydrates get broken down into sugar (glucose) in the digestive tract, then travel into the blood and require insulin to get shunted into cells (including fat cells).

Carbohydrates raise insulin the most. Consequently, reducing carbohydrates in the diet makes insulin levels go down. Way down.

When insulin goes down, the fat cells not only stop producing all that extra fat but also stop holding on to the fat that they were carrying.

Suddenly the body has access to a whole lot of body fat that it can burn for energy. When this happens, the brain figures out that there’s plenty of fuel available and that it doesn’t need to eat so much anymore.

The brain makes your appetite go down and weight loss occurs without any sort of restriction in calories as long as the carbs are kept low.

When researchers compare low-carb to low-fat diets in scientific studies, they need to actively restrict calories in the low-fat groups, while the low-carb groups can eat until fullness (3).

In such studies, the low-carb dieters lose more weight, faster, without counting calories and without being hungry. True story (4).

These are the results from a 24-week study on 53 overweight women, from the University of Cincinnati in the year 2003. The researchers are comparing a low-carb diet to a low-fat diet. Take note that the women on the low-fat diet are calorie restricted, while the low-carb women are not hungry and eating as much as they want (5).

Low Carb Weight Loss Results

These results are typical for carb restricted weight loss diets.

Low-carb diets are also healthier. They improve blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides, and cause a greater amount of fat loss than the low-fat diet recommended by most dietitians (6, 7, 8, 9).

A low-carb diet is probably also the best option to reverse type II diabetes (10, 11).

Despite what you may think, low-carb isn’t any harder than other weight loss diets.

The research shows that low-carb diets usually have better compliance (more people make it to the end of the studies) than the diets they are compared to, mostly because they don’t require people to consciously eat less and be hungry (12).

Reducing carbs and insulin is the healthiest, easiest and most effective way to lose fat fast. It is a scientific fact.

People also report various health improvements on low-carb diets, including improved skin, less acne and improved energy levels.

The only thing you need to restrict is carbohydrates.

Calorie counting isn’t necessary, although you can count calories if you want. Losing weight fast would requires something like a 1000 calorie/day deficit, which theoretically should make you lose two pounds per week (Full article: how many calories should I eat?).

So, how many carbohydrates exactly?

  • Maintenance: 100-150 grams of carbs per day.
  • Steady Weight Loss: Under 100 grams.
  • Fast Weight Loss: Under 50 grams of carbs per day.

You can use the free service Fitday to keep track of the amount of carbs you’re eating.

Be aware that it can take a few days for your body to adapt. It’s called the “low carb flu” and is usually over in three days.

What happens is that your body ramps up production of enzymes and other machinery that it needs to generate its own glucose and burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.

In a few days time, you will be “fat adapted” and both dietary and stored fat will be easily accessible to your body’s cells. No more afternoon dips in energy and ravenous hunger between meals, which is fairly common on a high-carb diet.

Foods That Make You Sick And Fat

  • Sugar: Sugar (and its evil twin, High Fructose Corn Syrup) is addictive, very fattening and one of the main causes of the metabolic syndrome (13, 14, 15).
  • Gluten Grains: Gluten is the main protein found in wheat, spelt, rye and barley and may lead to health problems in susceptible individuals (16, 17, 18).
  • Seed Oils: Seed and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil contain excess Omega-6 fats and should be avoided (19, 20).
  • Trans Fats: These are fats found in processed foods and are very harmful for the human body. Luckily, they’re not being used in food production that much anymore (21, 22, 23).
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Many studies suggest that artificial sweeteners, despite being calorie free, are associated with (ironically) weight gain and the metabolic syndrome (24, 25, 26).
  • Low-Fat Foods: Anything labelled “low-fat” will most likely be highly processed and filled with sugar or other artificial chemicals.
  • Highly Processed Food: Foods that are highly processed are likely to be filled with unhealthy ingredients and artificial chemicals, while being void of nutrients.

You MUST read labels. Even foods disguised as health foods may contain added sugar, wheat flour and other unhealthy substances.

Replacing these with healthy and natural foods (see below) should be enough for the fat to start coming off without calorie restriction or any major effort.

However, this article is about losing weight fast so you will need some additional tweaks.

Since you will be going very low on the carbs (under 50g per day), then you also need to:

  1. Remove all grains (also the whole grains).
  2. Remove Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.)
  3. Restrict fruit to one piece per day (preferably berries).

This is temporary. When you’ve reached your goal weight then you can reintroduce healthy carbs like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oats and some others. That is if you want to, many people are fine with eating this way for the rest of their (much healthier) lives.

More info here: How to Eat Healthy, Lose Weight and Feel Awesome Every Day

Healthy Foods That Can Save Your Life

A picture of Weight Loss Foods

You may have heard someone tell you that fatty foods like meat are bad for you, but that is absolute nonsense.

Natural foods that are high in fat are actually very nutritious and healthy, and these should really provide the majority of your calories on a low-carb diet.

Meat, fish and eggs. These form the foundation of the diet. The fat and protein are extremely satiating, allowing you to eat until fullness while still being in a massive calorie deficit.

You should also eat plenty of low-carb vegetables to get your daily requirements of fiber, Vitamin C and other nutrients. Don’t worry, you can eat lots of vegetables without going over your carb limit.

Each meal should be composed of one of three items:

1. Meat and poultry, fish and other seafood, eggs.

  • Meat and Poultry: beef, hamburger (no bread), steak, chicken, turkey, pork, veal. Choose the fattier cuts, they are more satiating.
  • Fish and Seafoods: Salmon, cod, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, trout, tuna, mackarel. Any fish really, the fattier fish are better and carry more Omega-3s.
  • Eggs: It is better to choose Omega-3 enriched eggs. They’re healthier.

2. Fats and Oils.

  • Fats and oils: butter, coconut oil, lard and olive oil. Grass-fed butter and unrefined oils are better.

3. Low-Carb Vegetables.

  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, kale, etc. Eat as much vegetables as you want and try to have some at every meal.

This is not a complete list of foods, just to give you some ideas!

Some cheese, heavy cream, nuts and seeds are fine, but mainly as parts of meals because snacking on them during the day can increase your calorie intake drastically.

Some people recommend eating 5-6 times per day. I personally think this is ridiculous and inconvenient.

I eat 2-3 times per day. When you compose your meals of protein and fat, you won’t need to eat nearly as often and you’ll have stable energy levels.

A typical day for me:

  • Breakfast – 7:30 am – Eggs and vegetables, fried in coconut oil.
  • Lunch – 12:30 – Leftovers from dinner the night before.
  • Dinner – 7:00 pm – Burgers without the bun, with spinach and mild salsa.

I recommend you eat 3 meals per day. If you get hungry in the afternoon, add a 4th meal.

If you want, you can take a break from your diet one day per week (Saturday is great) and eat less fat, more carbs and more calories for one day. Try to choose healthier carb sources like rice, oats and root vegetables like sweet potatoes.

This is the perfect day for a weekly cheat meal where you can have whatever you want.

What About Exercise?

Exercise is obviously important and an essential part of being healthy.

That being said, you don’t need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it is highly recommended.

You definitely don’t want to lose weight just to find yourself all loose and flabby.

Doing exercise helps you get the lean and toned look that everyone wants, not to mention that exercise is probably the single most important thing you can do to reduce junk food cravings, feel good and increase your energy levels.

I recommend strength training three times per week, either in the gym or with bodyweight exercises. Also, cardiovascular exercise such as walking or jogging two times per week.

A Meal Plan That Can Save Your Life

Day 1 – Monday:

  • Breakfast: Eggs and veggies, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken wings (leftovers from night before).
  • Dinner: Cheeseburger without the bun. Serve with vegetables and salsa sauce.

Day 2 – Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch: Leftover cheeseburgers from the night before.
  • Dinner: Boiled Salmon with butter and vegetables.

Day 3 – Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken wings.

Day 4 – Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch: Leftovers from dinner the night before.
  • Dinner: Steak, with vegetables.

Day 5 – Friday:

  • Breakfast: Stir fry with eggs and vegetables. Fry in coconut oil or butter.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad, with some olive oil.
  • Dinner: Pork Chops, with vegetables.

Day 6 – Saturday (optional):

  • Breakfast: Omelet with various veggies.
  • Lunch: Leftovers from dinner the night before.
  • Dinner: Pork Loin.

Day 7 – Sunday:

  • Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch: Salad with some shrimp.
  • Dinner: Roasted chicken.

If you prefer to eat out at lunch, try to find places that serve something healthy and low-carb like bacon and eggs, chicken salads or something similar.

If you find yourself ravenously hungry between meals, some baby carrots, a full-fat yogurt, leftovers in a box and a handful of nuts are all great snack ideas.

A Sample Day of Meals

Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in coconut oil.

Put coconut oil on pan, throw a frozen vegetable mix on top and turn up the heat. When thawed, add eggs and some flavour (salt and pepper, or some kind of spice mix).

Stir fry until ready.

Stir fry with eggs and vegetables

Lunch: Grilled chicken wings, leftovers from night before.

Put spice on chicken wings, insert into oven and bake until they turn brown with a crunchy texture. Serve with some vegetables.

Grilled chicken wings with vegetables

Dinner: Cheeseburgers without the bun, fried in butter.

Add butter to pan. Add burgers and spice. When close to being ready, add the cheese on top. Serve with some vegetables. Put some mild salsa on top of the burgers to make them more juicy.

Cheeseburgers without the bun

If these meals look delicious, that’s because they are! On a low-carb diet, you can eat these foods until fullness and still lose weight. Welcome to paradise!

A Blueprint so Simple a Monkey Could Do It

  1. Do not drink calories (no milk, sodas or juices). Coffee, tea and water are fine.
  2. Avoid sugar, grains, starchy vegetables and limit your intake of fruit.
  3. Each meal: protein, fat and veggies.
  4. Stay under 50 grams of carbs per day.
  5. Exercise! A combination of strength training and cardio works best.
  6. Optional: Take a break from your diet one day per week.

You can expect to lose 5-10 pounds in the first week, although a lot of that will be water weight.

After that, consistent weight loss of 1-3lbs per week is typical, depending on how strict you are, how much exercise you do and much weight you have to lose.

[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]Other Topics you might be interested in:

    •  Low carb diets are all the rage now. We talk about the different flavors of low carb diets here
    • Berberine has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and is now being proven to lower blood sugar better than prescription medicines. Read more about it .
    • Ever wonder what Probiotics are, and what all the fuss is about? Now we’re learning they may aid weight loss too!
    • Cumin is a wonderful tasting spice that has benefits for heart health and helps some people drop a few pounds too.
    • The biggest thing for healthy aging is Nicotinamide Riboside, or Niagen, a recently discovery Vitamin B3.
    • Lipodrene is still one of the strongest natural diet aids, even though the manufacturers have had to modify the formula several times to respond to complaints by the FDA.
    • Garcinia Cambogia is not as popular in 2016 as it was in 2013-2015, but still getting a lot of traction on Amazon.

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the 5-2 diet guide

Hungry Woman With a Can of FoodIntermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves regular fasting.

The 5:2 diet, also known as The Fast Diet, is currently the most popular intermittent fasting diet.

It was popularized by British doctor and journalist Michael Mosley.

It’s called the 5:2 diet because five days of the week are normal eating days, while the other two restrict calories to 500–600 per day.

This diet is actually more of an eating pattern than a diet. There are no requirements about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.

Many people find this way of eating to be easier to stick to than a traditional calorie-restricted diet (1).

This article explains everything you need to know about the 5:2 diet.

How to Do the 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet is actually very simple to explain.

For five days a week, you eat normally and don’t have to think about restricting calories.

Then, on the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to a quarter of your daily needs. This is about 500 calories per day for women, and 600 for men.

You can choose whichever two days of the week you prefer, as long as there is at least 1 non-fasting day in between.

A common way of planning the week is to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, with 2 or 3 small meals, then eating normally for the rest of the week.

It’s important to emphasize that eating “normally” does not mean you can eat literally anything. If you binge on junk food, then you probably won’t lose any weight, and may even gain weight.

You should eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.

Bottom Line: The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days a week, then restricting your calorie intake to 500–600 calories on the other two days.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Apple And Calculator

There are very few studies that test the 5:2 diet specifically.

However, there are plenty of studies on intermittent fasting as a whole, which show impressive health benefits (2, 3).

One important benefit is that intermittent fasting seems to be easier to follow than continuous calorie restriction, at least for some people (4, 5).

Many studies have shown that different types of intermittent fasting may significantly reduce insulin levels (2, 6, 7).

One study showed that the 5:2 diet caused weight loss similar to regular calorie restriction. Additionally, the diet was very effective at reducing insulin levels and improving insulin sensitivity (8).

Several studies have looked into the health effects of modified alternate day fasting, which is very similar to the 5:2 diet (ultimately, it’s a 4:3 diet) (9).

The 4:3 diet may help reduce insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, heart arrhythmias, menopausal hot flashes and more (10, 11).

One randomized controlled trial in both normal weight and overweight individuals showed major improvements in the group doing 4:3 fasting, compared to the control group that ate normally (12).

After 12 weeks, the fasting group had:

  • Reduced body weight by more than 5 kg.
  • Reduced fat mass by 3.5 kg, with no change in muscle mass.
  • Reduced blood levels of triglycerides by 20%.
  • Increased LDL particle size (which is a good thing).
  • Reduced levels of CRP, an important marker of inflammation in the body.
  • Decreased levels of leptin by up to 40%.

Bottom Line: The 5:2 diet may have several impressive health benefits. These include weight loss, reduced insulin resistance and decreased inflammation. Blood lipids may also be improved.

The 5:2 Diet for Weight Loss

Weight Scale

If you need to lose weight, the 5:2 diet can be very effective when done right.

This is mainly because the 5:2 eating pattern helps you consume fewer calories.

Therefore, it is very important not to compensate for the fasting days by eating much more on the non-fasting days. Intermittent fasting does not cause more weight loss than regular calorie restriction if total calories are matched (13, 14).

That being said, fasting protocols similar to the 5:2 diet have shown a lot of promise in studies on weight loss:

  • A recent review found that modified alternate day fasting caused weight loss of 3–8% over the course of 3–24 weeks (15).
  • In the same study, participants lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, meaning that they lost a lot of harmful belly fat.
  • Intermittent fasting causes a much smaller reduction in muscle mass than weight loss with conventional calorie restriction (15, 16).

Intermittent fasting is even more effective when combined with exercise, such as endurance or strength training (17).

Bottom Line: The 5:2 diet should be very effective for weight loss, if done correctly. It may help reduce belly fat, as well as help maintain muscle mass during weight loss.

How to Eat on Fasting Days

There is no rule as to what or when you must eat on the fasting days.

Overweight Woman Eating Salad

Some people function best by beginning the day with a small breakfast, while others find it best to start eating as late as possible.

Generally, there are two meal patterns that people use:

  1. Three small meals: Usually breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. Two slightly bigger meals: Only lunch and dinner.

Since calorie intake is limited — 500 for women and 600 for men — it makes sense to use your calorie budget wisely.

Try to focus on nutritious, high-fiber, high-protein foods that will make you feel full without consuming too many calories.

Soups are a great option on fast days. Studies have shown that they may make you feel more full than the same ingredients in original form, or foods with the same calorie content (18, 19).

Here are a few examples of foods that may be suitable for fast days:

  • A generous portion of vegetables.
  • Natural yogurt with berries.
  • Boiled or baked eggs.
  • Grilled fish or lean meat.
  • Cauliflower rice.
  • Soups (for example miso, tomato, cauliflower or vegetable).
  • Low-calorie cup soups.
  • Black coffee.
  • Tea.
  • Still or sparkling water.

There is no specific, correct way to eat on fasting days. You have to experiment and figure out what works best for you.

Delicious Low-Calorie Meals

There are plenty of websites with delicious meal plans and recipes for the 5:2 diet.

  • Check out this site for plenty of low-calorie meal ideas.
  • This site offers ideas for 10 fasting days that are worth checking out.
  • Here are 27 meal plans for 500-calorie fast days.
  • You can find all kinds of information and recipes on the chat forum of the official Fast Diet website.
  • There are also several books and cookbooks available for the 5:2 diet on Amazon, including the original best-selling The Fast Diet book.

Bottom Line: There are many meal plans and recipes available on the internet for 500–600 calorie fast days. Sticking to nutritious, high-fiber and high-protein foods is a good idea.

What to Do If You Feel Unwell or Uncontrollably Hungry

During the first few fast days, you can expect to have episodes of overwhelming hunger. It is also normal to feel a little weaker or slower than usual.

Beginner Fasting Woman Biting Plate

However, you’ll be surprised about how quickly the hunger fades, especially if you try to keep busy with work or other errands.

Additionally, most people find that the fast days become easier after the first few fasts.

If you are not used to fasting, it may be a good idea to keep a small snack handy during your first few fasts, just in case you feel faint or ill.

But if you repeatedly find yourself feeling ill or faint during fast days, then have something to eat and talk with your doctor about whether you should continue.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and some people are unable to tolerate it.

Bottom Line: It is normal to be hungry or feel a little weaker during the first few fasts. If you repeatedly feel faint or ill, then you should probably stop the diet.

Who Should Avoid the 5:2 Diet, or Intermittent Fasting Overall?

Empty Plate

Although intermittent fasting is very safe for healthy, well-nourished people, it does not suit everyone.

Some people should avoid dietary restrictions and fasting completely. These include:

  • Individuals with a history of eating disorders.
  • Individuals sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels.
  • Pregnant women, nursing mothers, teenagers, children and individuals with type 1 diabetes.
  • People who are malnourished, underweight or have known nutrient deficiencies.
  • Women who are trying to conceive or have issues with fertility.

Furthermore, intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for some women as it is for men (20, 21).

Some women have reported that their menstrual period stopped while they were following this type of eating pattern. However, things went back to normal when they returned to a regular diet.

Women should therefore be careful when starting any form of intermittent fasting, and stop doing it immediately if any adverse effects occur.

Take Home Message

The 5:2 diet is an easy, effective way to lose weight and improve metabolic health.

Many people find it much easier to stick to than conventional calorie restriction.

If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your health, the 5:2 diet is definitely something to consider.