To lose 5 pounds in two weeks, you must get really serious about your diet and exercise regimen. This goal -- a 2.5 pound per week rate of loss -- is a bit more than the generally recommended rate of 2 pounds a week. While it may be a doable goal for a person who has a lot of weight to lose, it may be impossible for someone who is almost at her ideal weight. Losing weight quickly is not safe for everyone, so before you start tweaking your diet and workout routine to drop 5 pounds, consult your doctor for guidance, especially if you have any medical conditions.
Losing 5 Pounds in Two Weeks
To shed 1 pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 fewer calories than your body uses, so to lose 5 pounds, you'd have to eat 17,500 fewer calories than what you need, which, over two weeks, translates into a 1,250-calorie daily deficit. Reducing your caloric intake and working out to burn more calories are the best ways to create the deficit. Aim to cut 750 calories from your usual daily intake and workout to burn 500 calories each day. An online calorie calculator can help you estimate your calorie needs. For example, a 35-year-old, five-foot, five-inch woman weighing 155 pounds needs 1,968 calories to maintain her weight. To lose 5 pounds in two weeks, she must limit her daily intake to 1,218 calories.
The reason you want to create the deficit through diet and exercise is because you don't want to eat too few calories. Eating fewer calories than what's recommended -- 1,200 calories a day for women and 1,800 calories a day for men -- may slow your metabolism, making it harder for you to lose weight, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Most healthcare professionals recommend that you not lose more than 2 pounds a week. Losing too quickly may lead to malnutrition or other health issues such as gallstones, or leave you feeling tired and worn down, which is why it's necessary to consult your doctor when trying to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time.
Eating to Lose Weight
To make it easier to adhere to your weight-loss plan, be sure to follow a diet that's filled with low-energy dense foods. These types of foods allow you to eat large portions with fewer calories, which fill you up. Fruits and vegetables have the lowest energy density and should make up the bulk of your meals and snacks. Fill half of your plate with veggies and fruits at each meal. Lean proteins, such as chicken breast and fish, also have a low-energy density, as do whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. Proteins and grains should each take up a quarter of your plate.
To cut the 750 calories from your diet, make a few substitutions. At breakfast, trade your deli bagel for a two-egg white omelet filled with 1 cup of spinach served with a slice of whole-wheat toast to save 250 calories. Swap your fried chicken sandwich at lunch for grilled chicken on a bed of greens with low-fat dressing to cut more than 400 calories. And eat carrot sticks with 1 tablespoon of hummus instead of a bowl of pretzels to cut another 80 calories.
Exercise to Burn Calories
Adding aerobic exercise is a good way to burn the 500 calories so you can drop 5 pounds within your two-week time frame. Higher intensity aerobic exercise burns more calories in a shorter period of time than low-intensity exercise. For example, a 155-pound person has to walk for 90 minutes at a pace of 4 miles per hour to burn 500 calories, but would only have to run for 50 minutes at a pace of 5 miles per hour to burn the same number of calories. A low-impact step aerobics class can help a 185-pound person burn 500 calories in 50 minutes, but if she steps it up and takes the high-impact class, she can burn those 500 calories in 35 minutes.
Keeping the Weight Off
It takes a strict diet and exercise plan to lose 5 pounds in such a short time period. After the two weeks is over, making a few tweaks to your diet and workouts may help prevent you from regaining the weight. Many people have a hard time keeping weight off because they have trouble sticking to the diet, according to a 2014 article published in Today's Dietitian. Adding back 250 to 500 calories to your weight-loss diet plan may help make the diet easier to follow long-term, so you continue to lose at a slower rate, with a better chance of keeping it off.
Also, to maintain, and even build, your muscle mass, add strength-training to your workout routine. Work your muscles twice a week using free weights, exercise bands or body resistance exercises. If you're not sure where to begin with an exercise plan, consult a fitness expert for guidance.
- NHS Choices: Should You Lose Weight Fast?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Finding a Balance
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- Baylor College of Medicine: Adult Energy Needs and BMI Calculator
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eat More, Weigh Less
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Bagels, Egg Whites, Spinach
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Bread Multi-Grain Toasted
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Today's Dietitian: Farewell to the 3,500-Calorie Rule