Losing 10 pounds in one month is an ambitious -- but achievable -- goal. Your success doesn't hinge on starvation or the elimination of entire food groups. It does require you to carefully monitor portion sizes; choose whole, unprocessed foods; and increase your levels of physical activity. Use this month to become slimmer and healthier -- and to set up positive diet habits for the long term so you can keep the weight off.
Calories Still Count
A pound equals 3,500 calories, so to lose 2.5 pounds per week, you'll need to create a weekly deficit of 8,750 calories -- or 1,250 per day. The average woman eats 1,785 calories daily and the average man 2,640 calories, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines. The average man can cut 1,250 calories and still consume a healthy 1,390 calories daily to lose 10 pounds per month. Cutting 1,250 calories from the average woman's diet leaves her with just 535 calories per day -- too little to meet energy and nutritional needs. Women should increase their daily calorie burn through exercise and activity to create the deficit necessary to lose 10 pounds in a month.
When you're aiming to consume 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day to lose that 10 pounds in a month, portion sizes matter. At each meal, plan for just 2 to 4 ounces of protein -- an egg, chicken breast, white fish, tofu or lean red meat, for example. Add fiber and bulk with a half-cup of grains, such as oatmeal, rice or quinoa; a slice of whole-wheat bread; or a small serving of starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or winter squash. Fill the rest of your plate with fresh vegetables, especially water-rich types such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and green beans. Season them with spices, vinegar, herbs, citrus juice and broth, rather than high-calorie sauces and dressings. Include fruit, yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and skim milk at one or two of your meals, or as snacks.
Don't Fear Fat
A little fat is an important part of each meal, too -- even when you're trying to lose 10 pounds relatively quickly. It increases your sense of satisfaction, helps you feel fuller and supports nutrient absorption. Choose healthy sources -- such as an 1/8 of an avocado, a tablespoon or two of nuts or a teaspoon of olive oil -- to go alongside your proteins, grains and vegetables.
A breakfast might include one egg cooked with mushrooms, peppers and red onions and a slice of toast; a bowl of oatmeal with berries and milk; or a cup of plain yogurt with a tablespoon of walnuts and a small banana. For lunch, make a large vegetable salad topped with roasted, skinless chicken breast, a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, and vinegar and oil; a cup of vegetable soup with half a turkey breast, spinach and tomato sandwich or a half cup of quinoa mixed with half a cup of black beans, chopped peppers and salsa. At dinner, enjoy 3 ounces of grilled salmon with a small sweet potato and steamed asparagus; flank steak broiled with tomatoes and onions wrapped in a corn tortilla; or a 1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta tossed with eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, onions and broccoli, alongside a few ounces of broiled chicken.
While your focus might be on the food you're eating, every step you take -- or don't take -- will affect your ability to drop the 10 pounds in a month. Regular exercise, such as 30 minutes on an elliptical or treadmill five times per week or weight training, helps. Small activities -- including walking to the office, taking the stairs at the mall and walking Fido every morning and evening -- also boost your daily calorie burn to help you achieve your goal.