5 Ways to Lose 5-10 Pounds This Week + 3 Tips To Lose 1-3 Pounds Every Week After (and a 3-Step Plan For Rapid Weight Loss No Matter What Your Timeline Is)
This post will cover some smart and not-so-smart ways to lose weight fast.
If you search the internet for rapid weight loss tips and ideas, you’ll find all kinds of crazy things. From sniffing fruit to surrounding yourself with the color blue to drinking water with flower petals in it. I really hope that people aren’t duped into thinking this stuff works.
So, what really works? Hard work. That’s what!
Losing 5-10 pounds in a week is not going to happen without a ton of hard work. There’s just no easy way to accomplish those kinds of results. It takes a huge commitment, extreme mind-blowing effort, and a comprehensive strategy that covers a few key areas – not to mention some water loss.
Can it be done? Sure.
Is it smart? Not really.
Will it work? Maybe.
So, here are five ways that may help you lose 5-10 pounds in just a week…
Rapid Weight Loss Option #1: Eat at your maintenance level and burn an extra 2,500-5000 calories per day through exercise (e.g. vigorous exercise for 3-6+ hours/day). So, if you run a marathon every day (or do the equivalent with some other form of exercise), you should be all set.
Yeah…that’s not happening. How about option #2?
Rapid Weight Loss Option #2: Exercise vigorously for only 2-3+ hours per day AND eat at half of your maintenance level (i.e. starving yourself). Hmm. I don’t think that’s a good combination. Okay…let’s see option #3…
Rapid Weight Loss Option #3: Dehydrate yourself drastically until the 5-10 pounds comes off. Unfortunately, this only works until you re-hydrate. Bummer.
Rapid Weight Loss Option #4: Get sick and stop eating for 3-7+ days. It’s not very pleasant, but it works like a charm.
Rapid Weight Loss Option #5: Self-amputation. This is not recommended for those interested in health and fitness (see the medical disclaimer, for more information).
All kidding aside, it’s true that sometimes, rapid weight loss happens. We all know someone (or have heard about them online or on TV) who has lost 5-10+ pounds in a week or 20-50 pounds in a month. Or, some other ridiculous figure. But that doesn’t mean this kind of weight loss is healthy or sustainable, or that we’re talking about fat loss, for that matter.
Usually, rapid weight loss happens due to a combination of two or three factors…
- Large increase in physical activity over previous levels (i.e. burning a lot of calories through exercise), AND/OR
- Large decrease in calories consumed (i.e. a calorie deficit created through calorie counting, portion control, or elimination of certain foods, etc.), AND
- Large water loss (i.e. losing “water weight”)
Now, here are some other things that are true about rapid weight loss:
- Rapid weight loss almost never lasts.
- Rapid weight loss isn’t healthy, natural, or easily sustainable.
- Rapid weight loss almost always results in rebound, weight gain, and ending up in worse shape than when you started.
Those facts are well-supported by the research.
In other words, it’s usually a really bad idea.
So, what’s a better option?
3 Healthy, Doable Ways to Lose 1-3 Pounds Per Week
Well, if you’re a smaller person, a good general goal to shoot for is one pound of weight loss per week (and preferably that’s all fat loss – and not muscle or water weight). If you’re an average sized person, 1.5 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week is a good goal to strive for. And if you’re on the larger/heavier side, you may be able to push it to 2-3 pounds per week – maybe more if you’re morbidly obese. Those rates of weight loss are considered ambitious, doable, and healthy.
And over the course of a year, you can lose 50-150 or more pounds with that rate of progress, which is more than enough for most people’s needs.
So, let’s say you want to lose an average of two pounds per week in a healthy, natural, and sustainable manner. To do this, you’ll need to either consume 7000 less calories total per week or burn 7000 extra calories per week through exercise – or some combination of those two strategies.
So, what would that look like? Here are three options…
Healthy Weight Loss Option #1: Reduce your calorie intake by 1000 calories per day (i.e. below your baseline/maintenance level) – The upside is that you will lose the weight. The downside is that you’ll be very hungry.
Note: if this results in a starvation-level diet for you (i.e. greater than a 30% calorie deficit), this is not a healthy option for you.
Healthy Weight Loss Option #2: Increase your physical activity to burn at least an extra 1000 calories per day – It can certainly be done, and assuming you don’t compensate for the extra activity by eating more, it’ll work. So, if you love exercising and would like to train hard almost daily, this may be a good option for you. The downside is that it’ll require a lot of hard work and time. We’re talking a minimum of 1-2 hours of exercise per day. If that sounds like it’s up your alley and you don’t want to change your diet, go for it.
BEST CHOICE: Healthy Weight Loss Option #3: Reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day (i.e. below your baseline/maintenance level) AND increase your physical activity to burn at least 500 extra calories per day – Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? For most people, this is the best option. It’s a challenging, but very doable goal and it doesn’t require an extreme diet or exercise program. Eliminating a daily snack, dessert, and/or calorie-laden beverages (e.g. beer, juice, soda) can often do the trick. And 500 calories can usually be burned in 30-60 minutes of exercise, depending on how hard you’re working.
So, option #3 is a challenging, but very doable choice. And it would be my recommendation for those interested in healthy, natural, and sustainable fat loss (i.e. a combination of calorie restriction and vigorous exercise).
3-Step Plan For Rapid Weight Loss
Okay, but seriously, John. I want to lose 5-10 pounds this week. What should I do?
Well, after you understand what’s explained above (and have adjusted your expectations), here’s a surefire plan for rapid weight loss.
1) Maintain an aggressive, but not starvation-level, calorie deficit (e.g. no more than 30% below your baseline/maintenance level of calories).
So, for example, if you need 3,000 calories a day to maintain your weight. Eat around 2,100 calories per day. Or, if you need 2000 calories per day, eat around 1400 calories. The best way to accomplish this is to closely track your calorie intake.
If you’re not interested or willing to do that, then you can change some eating habits, which will probably accomplish the same effect – though will less accuracy.
If you go this route, here’s what I’d recommend:
- minimize carbohydrate intake (e.g. eating only vegetables and complex starchy carbs)
- restrict your starchy carb intake to immediately following exercise
- eliminate all processed foods and “junk” foods
- eat more protein, vegetables, and whole foods
- eliminate snacks, condiments, and liquid calories (i.e. don’t drink any calories)
- drink more water and cut your salt/sodium intake to the minimum healthy levels
2) Begin a vigorous exercise program that focuses on three key areas.
- Full body strength training (at least 3 sessions per week)
- High intensity interval training (at least 3 sessions per week)
- Moderate intensity cardio training (at least 3 sessions per week)
Here’s an example of a weekly workout schedule:
Monday – 45-90 minute full body strength training session + low to moderate intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes
Tuesday – 15-30 minutes high intensity interval training + low to moderate intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes (optional – separate session)
Wednesday – 45-90 minute full body strength training, low to moderate intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes
Thursday – 15-30 minutes high intensity interval training, low to moderate intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes (optional – separate session)
Friday – 45-90 minute full body strength training, low to moderate intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes
Saturday – 15-30 minutes high intensity interval training, low to moderate intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes (optional – separate session)
Sunday – low intensity activity (e.g. walking) or rest
On top of that, you should also do more non-exercise physical activity whenever possible (e.g. walking, taking the stairs, cycling to work, etc.).
Suffice to say, to lose 5-10 pounds in a week, you will need to become very active.
Note: Keep in mind that an increase in physical activity usually increases hunger. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, be aware of this and don’t compensate by eating more.
3) Do an 18 to 24-hour fast on day 7.
You can skip breakfast and lunch. Or, lunch and dinner. Or, go a whole day without eating. And make sure you don’t eat the whole house when it’s over. Ideally, you’ll have a light meal ready-and-waiting to “break” the fast (e.g. a salad). And then get back to your normal calorie restricted diet.
And on that note, I’d also strongly recommend having a plan to transition into a more normal routine for when this week is over. Most people can’t make such drastic life changes and stick with them for the long term. So, come up with a more realistic plan for the long haul and make sure you start it on Day 8 – no breaks or “off days.”
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that rapid weight loss is risky, but it can be done. Do I recommend it? Absolutely not! In my experience, it usually creates more problems than it solves, and the people who try it often end up in worse shape than when they started.
In my opinion, you’d be much better off following a long-term approach to naturally and sustainably lose 1-3 pounds of bodyfat per week. If that interests you, I’d highly recommend this book: The Body Fat Solution. And after that, follow it up with this excellent book: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle.
Those are two of the best resources for healthy, permanent fat loss and body transformation. I’ve seen both of those programs work for thousands of people from all walks of life. So, if you’ve been struggling with weight loss for awhile, getting yourself a copy of those books would be money well-spent. They are in a class of their own, and I highly recommend them!
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Health-First Fitness Coach