How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science
- September 03, 2020
There are many ways to lose a lot of weight fast.
That said, many diet plans leave you feeling hungry or unsatisfied. These are major reasons why you might find it hard to stick to a diet.
However, not all diets have this effect. Low carb diets are effective for weight loss and may be easier to stick to than other diets.
Here’s a 3-step weight loss plan that employs a low carb diet and aims to:
- significantly reduce your appetite
- cause fast weight loss
- improve your metabolic health at the same time
The most important part is to cut back on sugars and starches, or carbohydrates.
When you do that, your hunger levels go down, and you generally end up eating significantly fewer calories (1).
Instead of burning carbs for energy, your body now starts burning stored fat for energy.
According to some dietitians, it’s not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) — sometimes more — in the first week of eating this way. This weight loss includes both body fat and water weight.
One study in healthy women with obesity reported that a very low carb diet was more effective than a low fat diet for short-term weight loss (4).
Research suggests that a low carb diet can reduce appetite, which may lead you to eat fewer calories without thinking about it or feeling hungry (5).
Put simply, reducing carbs can lead to quick, easy weight loss.
Removing sugars and starches, or carbs, from your diet can reduce your appetite, lower your insulin levels, and make you lose weight without feeling hungry.
Each one of your meals should include a protein source, fat source, and low carb vegetables.
As a general rule, try eating two to three meals per day. If you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, add a fourth meal.
Constructing your meals in this way should bring your carb intake down to around 20–50 grams per day.
Eating plenty of protein is an essential part of this plan.
High protein diets can also reduce cravings and obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce the desire to snack late at night by half, and make you feel full. In one study, people on a higher protein diet ate 441 fewer calories per day (9, 10).
When it comes to losing weight, protein is a crucial nutrient to think about.
Healthy protein sources include:
- Meat: beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
- Fish and seafood: salmon, trout, and shrimp
- Eggs: whole eggs with the yolk
- Plant-based proteins: beans, legumes, and soy
Low carb vegetables
Don’t be afraid to load your plate with low carb vegetables. They are packed with nutrients and you can eat very large amounts without going over 20–50 net carbs per day.
A diet based mostly on lean protein sources and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need to be healthy.
Many vegetables are low in carbs, including:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
See a full list of low carb vegetables here.
Don’t be afraid of eating fats. Trying to do low carb and low fat at the same time can make sticking to the diet very difficult.
Sources of healthy fats include:
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- avocado oil
Assemble each meal out of a protein source, fat source, and low carb vegetables. This will generally put you in a carb range of 20–50 grams and significantly lower your hunger levels.
You don’t need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it will have extra benefits.
Studies on low carb diets show that you can gain a bit of muscle while losing significant amounts of body fat (13).
Try going to the gym three to four times a week to lift weights. If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice.
If lifting weights is not an option for you, doing some cardio workouts like walking, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming will suffice. Both cardio and weightlifting can help with weight loss.
Resistance training, such as weight lifting, may be the best option. If that’s not possible, cardio workouts are also effective.
If you need to, you can take one day off per week where you eat more carbs. Many people choose to do this on Saturday.
It’s important to stick to healthy carb sources like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and fruit. If you must have a cheat meal and eat something unhealthy, do it on this day.
Limit this to one higher carb day per week. If you aren’t reducing carbs enough, you might not experience weight loss.
You might gain some water weight during your refeed day, and you will generally lose it again in the next 1–2 days.
Having one day each week where you eat more carbs is acceptable, although not necessary.
It’s not necessary to count calories as long as you keep your carb intake very low and stick to protein, fat, and low carb vegetables.
However, if you want to count them, you can use a free online calculator like this one.
Enter your sex, weight, height, and activity levels. The calculator will tell you how many calories to eat per day to maintain your weight, lose weight, or lose weight fast.
You can also download free, easy-to-use calorie counters from websites and app stores. Here is a list of 5 calorie counters to try.
It’s not necessary to count calories to lose weight on this plan. It’s most important to strictly keep your carbs in the 20–50-gram range.
Here are 10 more tips to lose weight faster:
- Eat a high protein breakfast. Eating a high protein breakfast could reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day (16, 17).
- Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. These are among the most fattening things you can put into your body (18, 19).
- Drink water before meals. One study showed that drinking water a half hour before meals increased weight loss by 44% over 3 months (20).
- Choose weight-loss-friendly foods. Some foods are better for weight loss than others. Here is a list of 20 healthy weight-loss-friendly foods.
- Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may promote weight loss. Fiber supplements like glucomannan can also help (21, 22).
- Drink coffee or tea. Caffeine boosts your metabolism by 3–11% (23, 24, 25).
- Base your diet on whole foods. They are healthier, more filling, and much less likely to cause overeating than processed foods.
- Eat slowly. Eating quickly can lead to weight gain over time, while eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones (26, 27).
- Weigh yourself every day. Studies show that people who weigh themselves every day are much more likely to lose weight and keep it off for a long time (28, 29).
- Get good quality sleep. Sleep is important for many reasons, and poor sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for weight gain (30).
For more tips on weight loss, read about 30 natural tips for losing weight here.
Sticking to the three-step plan allows for quick weight loss, and using other tips will make the diet plan even more effective.
You may lose 5–10 pounds (2.3–4.5 kg) of weight — sometimes more — in the first week of the diet plan, and then lose weight consistently after that.
If you’re new to dieting, weight loss may happen more quickly. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you will lose it.
For the first few days, you might feel a bit strange. Your body is used to running off carbs, and it can take time for it to get used to burning fat instead.
Some people experience the “keto flu,” or “low carb flu.” It’s usually over within a few days.
After the first few days, most people report feeling very good, with even more energy than before.
Aside from weight loss, the low carb diet can improve your health in many ways:
- blood sugar levels tend to significantly decrease on low carb diets (31)
- triglycerides tend to go down (32)
- LDL (bad) cholesterol goes down (33, 34)
- HDL (good) cholesterol goes up (35)
- blood pressure improves significantly (36, 37)
- low carb diets can be as easy to follow as low fat diets
Most people lose a significant amount of weight on a low carb diet, but the speed depends on the individual. Low carb diets also improve certain markers of health, such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
By reducing carbs and lowering insulin levels, you’ll likely experience reduced appetite and hunger. This removes the main reasons it’s often difficult to maintain a weight loss plan.
On this plan, you can likely eat healthy food until you’re full and still lose a significant amount of fat. The initial drop in water weight can lead to a drop in the scales within a few days. Fat loss takes longer.
If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider before making changes, as this plan can reduce your need for medication.
If you want to try a low carb diet, check out these 7 healthy low carb meals that you can make in 10 minutes or less.