You’ve seen them everywhere. Big claims telling you how you can can lose weight fast.
“Drop 30lbs in a week”
“Lose 3 inches off your waist in a day”
It’s all hype of course… maybe these people have something to sell .
But you can lose weight fast. And you can lose it without trying.
No crash diets, no calorie counting, no spending hours on a treadmill! You don’t even have to eat salad for every meal!
How much will you lose? 10lbs in the first week is common.
Listen, science has proven that you can lose weight quickly and without effort.
By just making a few tweaks to the way we eat we can melt away the pounds.
And you’ll keep them off.
Does that sound like hype?
Maybe, but it’s also true and to prove it I’ll include references to all the scientific studies in this post.
We’re not designed to sit behind desks all day.
We evolved as hunter-gathers who had to hunt animals and fish and forage for wild nuts, seeds and vegetables.
Not only were those foods very healthy we had to expend a large amount of physical effort to obtain them.
This helped to keep our ancestors lean.
It is well documented that being overweight can lead to a number of health issues including high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, mental illness and, indeed, death from any cause1 2.
In fact, studies conclude that obesity is worse for our health than both smoking and alcohol3 4!
Let’s get one thing straight.
If you are overweight then, unless you have a medical condition that impacts your bodyweight, losing “weight” is completely within your control.
But we need to clarify what we mean by “losing weight”.
Because when we talk about losing weight what we really mean is losing fat.
This distinction is very important as you don’t want to lose lean tissue. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many fad and commercial diets cause.
As it’s the term most people use I’ll use it in this post but I hope you understand the difference.
“Calories in, calories out” is a common diet mantra.
This is based on the belief that all calories are created equal (is 100 calories of doughnut really the same as 100 calories of lettuce?!) and that to lose weight fast you must burn more calories than you consume.
I’m not going to dissect the faulty premises underpinning this here but I will just say that whilst burning more calories than we consume is a factor there is much more to it.
The quality, the type of food and how we consume it are all key.
Whether you follow the advice set out below is, of course, your choice. If you chose not to and instead opt for another approach please be very careful.
Diets that severely restrict calories actually increase weight issues in the medium/long term.
Drastically cutting calories will make you lose weight fast at first but it will end up making you fatter
By cutting calories people may see quick results on the scales but the result is that our bodies think we are in starvation mode (we have not evolved much from times when food could be scarce5).
It then takes action to slow down the rate at which we burn calories. This is an effort to help us survive for as long as possible.
The initial drop in weight is usually just water and carbohydrate stored in our muscles which returns when normal eating is resumed.
Our bodies also keep the amount of calories we burn low so that we put back on weight as a protection mechanism just in case we encounter another “starvation” period.
What makes things worse is that it doesn’t just wait until we have returned to previous weight levels it waits until we have added a bit more fat as “insurance” in case we have another “starvation period”.
This worked well when we were hunter-gatherers but just leads to yo-yo dieting in modern times.
To lose weight and keep it off we need to do things differently.
You may have heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I agree.
It is also when many people eat foods that set themselves up badly for the day.
In Western diets we typically eat some form of cereal, baked goods or other carbohydrate-heavy breakfast.
The issue with this is that, for many people, these foods screw up their blood sugar levels for the day which results in them eating more and eating more of the “wrong” type of foods later on.
Carbohydrates (particularly the highly refined variety found in typical Western breakfasts) cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels in our bodies which is shortly followed by a crash.
When blood sugar levels crash we get hungry, tired, irritable and crave carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods.
This is not the case for everyone, some people tolerate carbohydrates well. If you are one of those people then count yourself lucky.
And it may be making YOU especially fat
To test your tolerance try this experiment:
For a week consume 1-2 pieces of white toast with jam or honey at your normal breakfast time and note the time that you start to feel hungry again.
Also note down whether you feel tired or energised, calm or irritable.
For the next week replace the toast with a breakfast of meat and nuts at the same time as you ate the toast.
That’s right, meat and nuts!
About 80-100 grams of lean meat or fish of your choice and a handful of raw nuts with the skin on is about right.
Again, note down the time you begin to feel hungry and whether you feel tired or energised, calm or irritable.
If your body does not tolerate carbohydrates well it is likely that you will see a marked difference in the results.
You should feel fuller for longer, more energised and calmer with the meat and nuts breakfast. You should also find that you do not crave carbohydrate-heavy foods as much.
But, a big breakfast will make you lose weight fast
The protein in the meat and nuts causes a slow rise in blood sugar levels which in turn avoids the crash. The healthy fats in the nuts help with the production of chemicals called neurotransmitters which keep our minds sharp and also raise blood sugar levels slowly.
Studies have shown that adding protein to meals leads to reduced appetite and increased feelings of fullness6 7 8.
On top of this, when protein is eaten at breakfast it results in greater feelings of fullness than if the same amount of protein is consumed at lunch or dinner9.
In fact, a study10 showed that people who ate protein for breakfast in the form of eggs ate up to 300 calories less at lunch and dinner than people who ate either cornflakes with milk, toast and orange juice or a croissant and orange juice.
This reduction will result in large weight loss.
The meat and nuts breakfast is probably one of the more “out there” hacks you’ll read on our site but it’s also one of the most powerful.
I can’t take credit for it. I learnt about it from a Canadian Olympic coach called Charles Poliquin.
My wife and I both tried it 7 years ago and we still follow it today. The increased energy and leanness it gives us is massive.
Of course, some people are allergic to nuts so have to avoid them.
If you are one of these people then you can substitute nuts for certain fruits that have been shown to cause slow rises in blood sugar levels.
Not all fruits do this so stick to the following: berries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and grapefruit.
Even if you are not allergic to nuts be sure to rotate the type every few days to prevent food intolerances developing.
More of what? Protein. By eating more protein you will lose weight fast because it:
How much do I need to lose weight fast?
To get these benefits, aim to get between 25% and 35% of your calories from good quality protein each day.
Eggs, wild fish, organic and wild meats are all good sources. If consuming this amount is difficult then you can add a protein supplement.
Whey protein isolate from organic, grass-fed, drug free cattle is a good choice here.
Calculating your individual protein requirements is straightforward but takes a bit of time. It’s worth it, though, if you want to lose weight fast:
These numbers are the amount of protein in grams that the studies suggest you should be aiming for each day.
That description is quite involved so an example may be helpful. Let’s say a woman eats this amount of calories in a week:
Using this example, she should consume between 110 grams and 155 grams of protein per day.
How to cheat
If you don’t want to go through this exercise you could base your protein intake on the recommended daily calorie amounts advised by Government health authorities.
This would very much be second best, however, as it would not be tailored to your specific needs. As a guide, the US and UK Governments estimate that moderately active women need around 2,000 calories per day and men need 2,500.
This gives a protein range of 125 to 175 grams a day for women and 156 to 219 grams a day for men.
Portion control, or more precisely a lack of it, is one of the major reasons why people become overweight.
But you don’t hear much about it.
Because it’s dull, it’s not sexy. It doesn’t sell well .
So what! We’re here to help you lose weight quickly and this hack will help you do just that.
Eating even a little too much at each meal over weeks, months and years gradually builds up and piles on the pounds.
Did you know that the size of restaurant portions has increased over the years, the size of food packages has grown and average plate size has also increased?
So, it’s easy to see how we can overeat.
Speed-up your weight loss by doing this
The good news is that there are lots of simple and things we can do.
What follows may be one of the easiest things you can do to lose weight. It is so simple and so well researched that it is surprising we don’t hear more about it.
Just chewing food properly leads to you eating less calories which in turn helps us lose weight.
If you’re like most people you don’t chew your food properly, especially when you’re in a hurry.
Chewing is the first stage of digestion and the way we chew and how long we chew has a massive impact on our health and our body fat levels.
Let’s have a look at the proof.
A 2014 study21 took a group of 70 men and women and had them eat at a slower speed, chewing their food properly.
The researchers found that the participants ate between 57 and 88 fewer calories per meal than those who ate at their normal speed. 57-88 calories may not sound a lot but it will add up to a substantial difference.
And it will lead to significant fat loss.
Another study22 took a group of participants and measured the number of times they typically chewed their food. They then looked at the effects of increasing the number of chews by 50% and 100%.
By increasing the number of chews by 50% participants consumed 9.5% less food and by doubling the number of chews their food intake decreased by 14.8%!
It is not just a reduction in the amount of food we eat that chewing properly causes, it has also been shown to:
In addition to chewing food properly, speed of eating is important.
A study28 of 30 women looked at the effect of eating quickly until comfortably full and slowly (by putting down cutlery in between mouthfuls) until comfortably full.
When eating quickly the group ate on average 646 calories but when eating slowly the group ate 579 calories, 67 calories less. The group also reported being more hungry one hour after the quick eating session.
Chewing food quickly and eating until full has been shown29 to triple the risk of becoming overweight.
Why does chewing more slowly work?
One reason relates to our bodies’ signalling mechanism which tells us when we are full.
It takes some time for this signalling mechanism to work and when we eat quickly we may have already overeaten by the time the signalling process has kicked in.
Result: we have already consumed more calories than we need by the time our body tells us we are full!
So how many times should we chew each mouthful?
Lots of studies that have looked at this but trying to specify a precise number is difficult and would make mealtimes a chore.
Add in the fact that different foods have different consistencies, some taking longer to chew than others, and there has to be a better way.
There is. Simply chew each mouthful until it is liquefied before swallowing.
This will take some conscious thought to start with but will soon become a habit. You can make the transition easier by following a few simple guidelines:
Another simple and little-known hack to lose weight fast is to drink more water.
Plain old water!
It is beneficial to weight efforts in two ways: by burning more calories and reducing appetite. And it’s an easy thing to do.
It may surprise you to learn that just drinking water leads to an increase in the number of calories we burn.
Plain water, of course, is calorie-free but our bodies still have to work to digest and use it. In one study30 drinking 500ml (about 17oz) of water was shown to increase calories burnt by 30% following consumption.
This equates to around 24 calories. In itself it is not much but it’s easy to see how it adds up.
Another study31 showed that the increased calorie burning continued for 60 minutes following consumption.
When it comes to appetite reduction the effects of drinking water are even bigger.
For example, a study32 gave participants 500ml of water 30 minutes before meals then examined the energy intake (amount of calories) consumed.
On average those who drank the water ate 13% fewer calories. This equated to an average reduction of 74 calories for a single meal.
Water before meals will make you leaner
Another study33 looked specifically at the fat loss effects of increased water consumption.
All participants were put on the same fat loss diet with half also drinking 500ml of water 30 minutes before eating.
Over the 12 week study period the group drinking water lost 2kg (4.4lbs) more weight than the non-water group.
For such a simple step that is a big difference.
A study34 of 50 overweight women had the participants consume 500ml of water before each meal for a period of 8 weeks whilst continuing to follow their normal eating patterns.
This measure alone led to weight loss of 1.4kg (3.1lbs) and a 0.6 point reduction in BMI.
Finally, a study35 of over 18,000 people concluded that increased water consumption generally is associated with eating fewer calories (together with sugar, cholesterol and salt).
The researchers found that an increase in water consumption of between 1 and 3 cups per day was linked to a decrease in daily calorie intake of 69-206 calories.
Interestingly, the opposite occurs when people drink sugary drinks.
For example, a study36 gave participants either 450 calories a day of jelly beans or 450 calories of sugary drink and found that the jelly bean group naturally compensated by consuming 450 calories fewer each day but the sugary drink group did not.
This resulted in significant additional calorie consumption.
The size of the plates and bowls we eat from has a huge an effect on the amount of food we eat.
If we choose smaller plates we serve ourselves less food and therefore consume fewer calories. The opposite is also true: if we use larger plates we serve ourselves more food and eat more calories.
The cause of this is not simply that we can fit less food on a smaller plate and more food on a larger plate, it seems to be caused by an optical illusion with the fancy name “Delboeuf illusion”.
This is best explained by the image below:
Which of the two grey circles is larger?
You may have guessed from the introduction that it’s a trick question. The answer is neither.
They are actually both the same size but the first circle seems much smaller than the second.
Now imagine how this would translate to when we are serving food. The same amount of food served on a smaller plate would seem to be more than when served on a larger plate.
It is also interesting to note that being aware of this optical illusion is not enough to stop our brains being affected by it37.
For example, in a study38 involving a group of HR managers attending a seminar on creating healthy organisations participants were given an hour-long session on how plate size can affect portions.
Afterwards they were given a buffet lunch. Those who received larger plates served themselves twice as much as those with smaller plates!
A review of over 50 studies39 on the effect of smaller plate sizes on portion control concluded that eating from smaller plates leads to a 30% reduction in the amount of food consumed.
It’s not just when we eat from plates that overeating issues arise.
In a study40 of cinema-goers researchers gave free stale(!) popcorn to people who had eaten lunch before going into the theatre. Eating lunch first was important as it eliminated hunger as a variable.
Some of the participants were given popcorn in a medium size bucket and some were given popcorn in a large bucket.
Even though the participants were not hungry and the popcorn was stale those given the large bucket ate 51% more than those given the medium bucket!
Don’t fall asleep!
It’s not a very catchy heading but it gets straight to the point!
And it will supercharge your efforts to lose weight quickly.
Research has proven that we tend to eat a similar weight of food per day, irrespective of the calorie content (also known as “energy density”)41.
So, by eating foods that are less energy dense we will consume fewer calories which results in less bodyfat.
One of the issues with traditional “dieting” – I’m trying to avoid using this word because of its negative connotations – is that calories are cut in such a way that people feel hungry.
This hunger then makes it very difficult for people to stick to the diet.
One of the benefits of consuming foods that have lower energy densities is that you can eat the same amount of food so you don’t feel hungry42 43.
In fact, if you significantly ramp up your intake you can eat more but still consume fewer calories and lose weight44!
Eat more to lose weight faster!
How does eating food with lower energy densities impact weight loss?
Clearly by eating fewer calories we can expect a positive benefit.
Studies45 have shown that normal weight individuals tend to consume more low energy density foods than obese individuals. The reverse is also true: individuals that eat higher energy density foods tend to have higher BMIs46.
Finally, a study47 in which participants were given a low energy density soup as part of their meals demonstrates how powerful this approach can be to losing weight quickly.
In this study participants were given either a broth-based soup to eat before two meals each day or a dry snack to eat before the meals.
The soup and the dry snack contained the same number of calories but the soup weighed more.
At the end of the study the group consuming the soup lost 7.2kg (16lbs) compared to only 4.8kg (10.5lbs) in the dry snack group.
The best (and healthiest) way to lower the energy density of the foods we eat is to add more fresh fruit (rather than dried fruit which has less water and so is more energy dense) and vegetables to our meals and to swap high calorie snacks with fresh fruit.
There are a number of ways to do this.
At meal times you can have a salad prior to our meal or as a side dish, you can add servings of vegetables on the side of the meal or, if vegetables aren’t your thing, you can incorporate them in the meal itself to disguise the taste but still enjoy the benefits.
Ever wonder why people in the far East tend to be slim?
The answer may be green tea. They drink a lot of it out there.
Green tea has fat burning properties and causes our bodies to increase the amount of calories we burn each day.
In one study48 drinking 4 cups of green tea a day led to an extra 2.5kg (5.5lbs) weight loss. Another study49 showed it increased weight loss by 3.3kg (7lbs).
Try it! You’ll be glad you did.
What things? Single ingredient, whole foods.
This may sound boring but it needn’t be.
These have been proven to fill us up for longer and so are very effective in helping us lose weight fast.
Not only that, eating more of these types of food means we’ll eat less of the things that cause weight issues in the first place: sugar, harmful fats and processed foods.
And as an added bonus whole foods are extremely healthy! They’ll make you feel better and ward off serious conditions like heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety and dementia.
They do this by supplying us with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy and lean.
So, which are best?
A study50 back in the 1990s compared how filling different foods are. They used white bread as the baseline and measured how filling other foods are against that.
They then created something called the “Satiety Index” (SI), a fancy name for a list of how filling different foods are.
Each food was given a number. The higher the number, the more filling it is.
As it was the benchmark, white bread was given 100. So, anything above 100 is more filling than white bread, anything below it is less filling.
Apples new role
So, to lose weight as fast as possible, eat more foods with a high Satiety Index (150+) and fewer foods with a low Satiety Index.
Then watch the pounds fall off whilst you feel healthier and happier!
Virtually all food is processed in some way before we eat it; what I am talking about here is overly processed foods.
Foods that have been highly refined with the result that their nutritional value has been removed and/or chemicals (preservatives, flavourings, colourings, etc) have been added.
Our brains love processed foods.
We evolved from times when food could be scarce and so calorie dense foods were a great aid to survival.
The problem our brains have not evolved to recognise that we are no longer in a struggle for survival and so still crave them.
This leads to eating too much51 and can lead to addiction52.
As processed foods are often high in refined carbohydrates, low in nutrients, high in calories, low in fiber, high in trans fats and packed with chemicals they cause health issues and make losing weight difficult.
In fact, eating processed foods has been linked with an increased risk of cancer53, asthma, eczema and severe allergic reactions54.
These nasty foods destroy weight loss
When it comes to weight loss a study55 compared people who ate processed foods to people who didn’t.
The processed food group actually ate 508 more calories a day and over the 2 week study they gained 0.9kg (2lbs).
The people who avoided processed foods lost 0.9kg (2lbs).
Another problem with processed foods is that they are sneaky. Things that we think are healthy and good for weight loss are actually not.
So, how can we avoid them? Here are some simple guidelines:
Have you ever felt the urge to have an unhealthy snack at night?
Do you crave sweet or fatty foods when you’re trying to lose weight?
You’re not alone. Most of us do.
And, of course, when you can just walk into your kitchen and grab something unhealthy your more likely to do it.
You’re probably less likely to get in the car, drive to the store, buy something then drive back.
It’s no surprise then that there are lots of studies that prove that the types of food you have at home affects your chances of losing weight and your eating habits generally565758.
It has been shown, for example, that people who are overweight keep many more unhealthy snacks in their store cupboards.
So, to lose weight fast get rid of the unhealthy foods in your kitchen and replace them with healthier snacks.
Fresh fruit, nuts and yoghurt are all good options.
Or better yet, drink them both.
You may have heard that drinking coffee is bad for us, that’s it’s unhealthy.
It turns out that this isn’t true. Research shows that just a couple cups of coffee per day provides a variety of powerful health benefits.
Coffee is loaded with healthy antioxidants and other substances which will help you lose weight as quickly as possible.
It increases weight loss by speeding up our metabolisms (the amount of calories we burn each day) and burning more bodyfat for energy596061.
So, just by drinking coffee we burn more calories and lose more weight.
And studies show this increase can be as much as 13%.
That’s about 260 calories a day for women and 325 calories a day for men.
As you’ll be drinking more it will also help suppress your appetite as an added bonus!
Just give me diet pills instead
Now, you may be thinking that it’s just the caffeine in coffee that causes these effects and that you can take caffeine pills instead.
Yes, caffeine is one of the things that helps but studies show it’s not the only one.
For example, theobromine62 and theophylline63 have been shown to boost our immune systems and chlorogenic acid64 may slow down our absorption of carbs making it less likely they’ll be stored as fat.
There’s just one caveat: some people are sensitive to caffeine and it can make them feel nervous and jittery.
This soon passes but if you do not currently drink much coffee, start slowly. Especially if you’re drinking green tea as well.
Green tea contains only small amounts of caffeine but it can soon add up.
Getting a good night’s sleep will help you lose weight quickly.
There are a few reasons.
Firstly, if we don’t sleep properly it skews our hormones that control our appetite6566. It increases a hormone called ghrelin that makes us feel hungry and decreases another hormone, leptin, that makes us feel full67.
It’s a double-whammy!
So, if we’ve not slept well we crave more food and more of the “wrong” type of food: carb and sugar heavy, high calorie things.
But that’s not all…
Sleep more, weigh less
Studies also show that people who don’t get enough sleep weigh more6869 and that it’s one of the biggest risk factors for obesity.
One study70 showed that not enough sleep means we’re 55% more likely to become obese!
If you don’t sleep well and want to lose weight you should take steps to remedy the situation.
If poor sleep patterns are simply because you do not have the time then try to reorganise your life to allow you to do so; at least whilst you’re trying to lose weight.
On the other hand, if you are not sleeping well due to some form of insomnia the most important thing to do is to consult your doctor.
There may be an underlying medical cause.
That said, these steps should help increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep:
I really dislike phones.
I know, I’m in the minority. Some people’s whole lives seem to be tied to them.
I know they can be useful but, to me the downsides outweigh the benefits.
If I sound like a grumpy old man then you’re half right! I’ll take the grumpy but I’m not old yet!
Seriously, for weight loss eating when you’re distracted is a BIG problem.
And these days this often means eating whilst on your phone, at a computer or with the TV on.
If you’re reading this whilst eating. STOP! Put your food down and go back to it later!
A massive review71 that looked at 24 previous studies found that eating whilst distracted causes two problems:
First, you’ll eat 10% more calories at that meal.
You’ll also eat 25% more at meals later in the day!
It is impossible to lose weight fast, or even maintain your current weight, with this amount of extra calories.
So, turn it off (whatever it might be) and focus on what you’re doing: eating.
If you’re trying to lose weight then actually eating an unhealthy, carb heavy meal once a week can actually help.
There is evidence7273 that doing this increases the levels of fat burning hormones (gherlin and thyroid hormones) in our bodies making it easier to lose weight fast.
Don’t go overboard. Any more that a “cheat meal” once a week can sabotage all your fat loss efforts.
To help control things you can try eating your cheat meal off a red plate.
Well, colour psychology is proven to be very powerful.
And it has been proven to reduce the amount of food and drink we consume.
Sneaky psychological tricks
The study74 looked at the amount people ate and drank when using different coloured plates and cups. They compared red, blue and white.
It turned out that when eating and drinking from the red plates and cups people consumed much less.
The researchers believe the reason is that we associate red with warnings and things like stop signs.
Whether this is right or not doesn’t matter. The fact is it works! Try it out for yourself.
There you go!
Science has proven that you can lose weight fast and keep it off…
..just by following a few simple hacks.
No more spending hours on a treadmill, no more calorie counting, no more “health foods” (that aren’t really healthy) and no more fad diets.
So, what will it mean for you? Can you imagine how you’ll feel looking in the mirror loving what you see? Or, shopping for smaller clothes?
How will that feel?
Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
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