Sure, a months-long healthy diet is the real key to lasting weight loss. But you can lose weight quickly and safely. Here’s how
If only I could lose 5 pounds by Friday.
So goes the all-too-common refrain, often overheard in dressing rooms, ladies restrooms, and spin classes galore — or, let’s face it, anywhere there’s a mirror and a captive female listener who’ll pretend to care.
It’s not like we’re obsessed with being something we’re not, but a flatter belly or looser jeans asap would definitely come in handy for an impromptu beach weekend or party where we expect to see an ex. The thing is, most of us don’t think it’s possible to look 5 pounds thinner that fast. But here’s a shocker: It’s do-able. And you don’t need to go on some long-term, healthy foods diet to lose weight that quickly.
Don’t just take our word for it. Our favorite experts say that depending on your body type, it’s realistic to drop 5 pounds in five days — or at least lose enough water weight, or trim enough inches, to make it look like you have, which is all that really matters. Best of all, none of the following ways to look skinnier involve crash dieting, funky pills, or hunger pangs that’ll make you run for the nearest vending machine at 4 p.m.
Instead, these tips involve eating good-for-you foods, staying adequately hydrated, exercising for a reasonable amount of time, and breathing deeply — all stuff that we should be doing anyway to help our bodies thrive in the midst of our stressful, busy, and emotionally exhausting lives (funny how these are the factors that contribute to a lot of weight gain in the first place). And while each tip is designed to make an impact on its own, combining a few of these can only help you lose weight more quickly. So put down that diet soda and get a jump on sliding into those skinny jeans by Friday. Here’s how.
- SLASH YOUR SODIUM Who knew your favorite granola bar or canned tuna could double as a salt lick? In a recent report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about American sodium consumption, researchers found that approximately 75 percent of the sodium in the typical American diet doesn’t come from the shaker — it’s added to commercial foods during processing, or while a restaurant cook’s prepping your meal. In fact, only about 25 percent occurs naturally or is added at the table or in home cooking, the CDC report explained.
Cut the added sodium and you’ll lose water weight and bloat. To tackle the excess white stuff, consume “no more than 500 mg of added sodium per day — like salt from processed or prepared foods”. A lot of seemingly “healthy” foods (think processed cereals, cottage cheese, and even frozen vegetable mixes!) are high in salt. The good news? These can easily be replaced with oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and fresh DIY veggie/grain combos.
One trick: The more potassium you consume, the more your body will get rid of sodium. Sweet potatoes, coconut water, apricots, bananas, cantaloupes, figs, oranges, and beats are all high in the big P.
- GET REGULAR It’s not very ladylike to talk about poop, but moving those bowels is an effective route to a flat stomach and fewer pounds on that mean ol’ scale. That said, this is no time to reach for the laxatives. Natural routes to regularity are your best bet for short- and long-term well being.
First up, fiber. While the recommended intake is 25 mg per day for women, suggests eating 35 to 40 g of both soluble and insoluble fiber to lighten your weight and look like you’ve lost 5 pounds. Both types of fiber are equally important for health, digestion, and preventing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and constipation.
When making a food choice, however, don’t worry about choosing one form of fiber or the other. Just know that soluble fibers are found in the plants you eat — they’re the parts that pass through your system undigested, delay the emptying of your stomach, and make you feel full, which helps control the munchies. This type of fiber is found in foods like oats, legumes, barley, apples, pears, and flaxseed.
On the other hand, insoluble fibers have a laxative effect and add bulk to your diet; they pass through the GI tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. This fiber is found mostly in grains and vegetables, including whole wheat, whole grains like barley and brown rice, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, dark leafy vegetables, and grapes.
Supplements, broken into doses throughout the day, can also help — namely digestive enzymes taken 30 minutes before a meal to aid digestion and probiotics taken 30 minutes after a meal to help regulate bowels. Chelated magnesium, taken before bed, also helps with regularity.
Finally, a cup of hot water with lemon, in the morning or as a nightcap, can also get things moving. “This drink lowers the PH in your belly, which helps preserve natural probiotics and helps activate digestive enzymes”. As a health bonus, all this excretion will help rid your body of toxins, excess estrogen, and lower your cholesterol levels as well.
- EAT ONLY WHOLE FOODS Nutritionists insist on eating whole foods as a health decree, but it’s also a sound weight loss tip. Because you’re giving your body what it recognizes as the cleanest fuel, it will digest and metabolize it more easily. If Mother Nature didn’t make it, don’t eat it. This means your carbs include whole grains, fruit, dairy, and starchy vegetables; proteins include beans, meat, cold water fish, poultry, and eggs; and healthy fats include nuts, seeds, and oils like canola, olive, and hemp.
- GET BITTER Don’t get all “Eww, bitter!” on us just yet. Another healthy way to lose 5 pounds fast is to simply eat one serving of bitter-tasting food, per meal, for three meals a day. These pound-shedders include kale, arugula, olives, almonds, miso, collard greens, mustard greens, radish, dandelion leaves, and radicchio. Mix them into an omelet, soup, sauté, or even a smoothie.
“Taste is one of the five corporeal senses, and bitter is a hardwired catalyst for our bodies”. “Bitter food stimulates saliva, gastric juice, and bile secretions. These chemical reactions boost digestion, burn fat, detoxify the liver and gallbladder, prevent constipation, and reduce sugar cravings.” Bitter greens are also among nature’s healthiest foods in terms of vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin B1, calcium, and chlorophyll.
What’s more, notes that aperitifs, the fancy drinks traditionally served before elegant dinners, are, yes, bitter. (Heck, one drink is even called “bitters.”) The French word “aperitif” is derived from the Latin verb “aperire,” which means “to open,” since the bitter aperitif opens the digestive system to prepare it for a sumptuous meal. Now, this doesn’t mean we suggest you drink your daily bitter consumption.
- TAKE MORE DEEP BREATHS Though your doc might ask you to inhale and exhale through your chest during a physical exam, this kind of superficial breathing won’t do you any good when you’re trying to lose weight quickly. “Breathing is the key to sustainable and long-lasting weight loss.
And yet nine out of 10 of us aren’t breathing properly. “Put one hand on your chest, the other on your abdomen. Take a normal breath. If the chest hand goes up rather than out, you’re breathing wrong.
” If you don’t breathe properly, you’ll take in a third of the oxygen your body needs. “And when the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can’t burn through fat”.
What’s more, proper breathing can rev your metabolism, lower stress chemicals which cause your body to retain fat, and keep you centered so you’re less likely to binge or stress eat. The goal is to take long, deep breaths into your abdomen. To practice this, lay on the floor with a book on your belly. On your inhale, make sure the book rises. On the exhale, the book should come down. “Slow, deep inhales and exhales are best”.
Once you get the hang of belly breaths, recommends trying the 1-4-2 breath, which is specifically designed for weight loss. Here, breathe through your nose to whatever count is comfortable. Hold the breath inside your body for four times as long, and then exhale through your mouth for twice as long. So if you breathe in to the count of 4, lock it into your body for 16 (4×4) and exhale for 8 (4×12). “It will get deeper and longer as you can get better at it”. “Do 10 of these, twice a day.”
- MOVE IT, FIRST THING IN THE A.M. When the alarm goes off at 6 a.m., your first instinct may not be to work those abs. Yet five minutes of high intensity core work, first thing in the morning, will trim inches from your waist. “It speeds your metabolism for the rest of the day”.
Two slimming moves we like: Hold a plank, with your back straight and tummy pulled in, and sustain the position for 15 seconds if you’re a beginner, 30 seconds if you’re intermediate, and one minute if you’re advanced. Another option is to lie on your back, draw your knees into your chest — keeping your back flat on the floor — and squeeze your knees and the insides of your feet touching. Now twist your hips back and forth, from side to side, while keeping your knees and feet squeezed together. Beginners can do 10 to 20 reps; intermediates: 25 to 50; advanced: 50-plus. In both, the key is to shorten your contractions and isolate your lower abs as much as possible.
- MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME We’ve all heard that it’s good to be as active as you can with everyday activities — park far away from the grocery store, take the stairs at work — but what if you went even further and turned those already-helpful everyday activities into interval training? “Intervals keep your heart rate going for maximum burn, and studies show that it’s much more effective than steady state cardio for fat burning”. Two ideas:
1. When brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed, do 50 squats both times, as quickly as you can without dribbling toothpaste all over your bunny slippers. Though brushing and squatting might take some practice, form here is key. “Sit back in an imaginary chair and be sure your knees don’t go past your toes”. “Stand back up squeezing your glutes.”
2. When yapping on the phone, do heel raises. Stand with your feet in ballet first position, heels together and toes turned out, and rise to your toes and then lower down. Do this every time you get a call, or even if you find yourself stuck in a bank or grocery line. “Heel raises are discreet, and you can do them throughout the day, all day long.” Suggests 20 reps, five times a day.
- SWITCH FROM SAUCES TO SPICES Opting for cayenne pepper over ketchup, or a chili powder rub over BBQ sauce, can do wonders for weight loss. “Spices work with the body naturally, whereas sauces can work against it”.” Sauces deliver a bummer triple whammy: They typically have too much sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients. Spices, on the other hand, help you burn fat from within.
“They warm you on the inside, and they can act as a metabolic aid, fight bad bacteria, and cleanse the body”. In a recent Purdue study, researchers found that when red cayenne pepper was eaten, rather than taken as a supplement, participants burned more calories.
Add it to egg whites, lamb kabobs, marinara sauce, or chicken tacos. You won’t even miss the old stuff. “Sauces typically cover the taste of food, but spices enhance it.”
- CUT THE SUGAR FROM YOUR DRINKS Cutting sugary drinks are a simple way to lose a quick 5 pounds, since sugar is hidden in a lot of surprising beverages — including milks, non-dairy milks (like almond and soy), and juices (fruit and veggie). Fructose, lactose, cane syrup, corn syrups, agave, honey — in excess, they all contribute to weight gain, especially belly fat. To reduce your sugar load, suggests going from a large to small latte, replace bottled lemonade and sweetened iced tea with green juice with lemon and ginger, and choose flavored waters like Hint Water and Ayala’s Herbal Water, which get their taste from herb and fruit essences, over Vitamin Waters full of added flavors and sugars.
Cutting sugar impacts your metabolism’s efficiency, since excess sugar gets stored as fat — especially around your middle. It also affects hormone function and impairs digestion. Though you’re saving yourself calories by losing the sweet stuff, this is more about optimizing metabolic function, since the body will use what it’s taking in as energy and not store it as fat. The goal is not to replace your sugars with artificial, non-caloric sweeteners, of course, but if you must add oomph to your morning joe or tea, organic Stevia or Xylitol is fine.
- SPLIT MEALS WITH YOURSELF When it’s time to eat, most of us pack more calories into a meal than we need. Suggests splitting your meals into mini-meals consumed every three hours during the day. This way you’ll give your body the fuel it needs for optimal energy, without extra that can be stored as fat.