Lose 5 pounds in one week! It’s a trope we see everywhere. And while it’s possible that someone can lose that much (if not more) in that time period, it really depends on your metabolism and loads of other factors, including physical activity and body composition, all of which are entirely unique to you.
Weight loss ultimately comes back to the concept of calories in, calories out: Eat less than you burn and you’ll lose weight. And while it’s possible to lose water weight quickly on a low-carb diet, I certainly wouldn’t advocate for it. The diet itself can trick you into thinking that this eating style is working — when really, you might gain back what you lost as soon as you eat carbs again. That can feel incredibly dispiriting if you want results that last longer than a week.
Based on my experience in nutrition counseling, most of us tend to snack on foods that aren’t nutrient-dense, but are high in calories. For example, skipping sugary beverages is often the easiest way to lose weight faster. You don’t feel full from drinks — even the ones that do contain calories — so swapping those out for sparkling water or unsweetened tea and coffee is the best place to start. Other major culprits often come in refined grains like cereals, chips, crackers, and cookies.
If you’re looking to speed up weight loss, I’d also encourage you to be mindful of the foods you eat that you don’t choose for yourself. Think: food pushers at work or your kids’ leftovers. Noticing where your extra calories actually come from is another step to making better choices in the short and long term.
In my experience, there are a few other tips that hold true for almost all of us across the board — and they’re concepts that we can put into practice beginning right now.
So, here’s where to start:
1. Eat more vegetables, all of the time.
It’s that simple, I promise! If you think about making any meal mostly veggies (at least 50% of anything that you’re having), you’re on the right track to better health and weight loss.
2. Build a better breakfast.
All meals are important, but breakfast is what helps you start your day on the right track. The best, heartiest breakfasts are ones that will fill you up, keep you satisfied, and stave off cravings later in the day. Aim to eat anywhere between 400 and 500 calories for your morning meal, and make sure you’re including a source of lean protein plus filling fat (e.g., eggs, unsweetened Greek yogurt, nuts, or nut butters) and fiber (veggies, fruit, or 100% whole grains). Starting your day with a blood sugar-stabilizing blend of nutrients will help you slim down without sacrifice.
3. Know your limits with salt.
Since salt is a preservative, packaged and processed foods are often highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. When it comes by buying snacks, a “low sodium” product has to be 140 mg or less per serving — so if you’re REALLY in a bind, you can follow that guideline for what to put in your cart.
4. Drink more coffee.
Start your day with a cup of joe. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage. You can have up to 400 mg — about a venti Starbucks coffee — daily, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Not much of a coffee drinker? Tea is also a natural diuretic, and types of herbal tea such as dandelion or fennel root can also lend a hand. In fact: When a recent study compared the metabolic effect of green tea (in extract) with that of a placebo, researchers found that the green-tea drinkers burned about 70 additional calories in a 24-hour period.