While it may be possible to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, this isn't a healthy goal. In fact, losing weight too quickly can have long-term consequences for your weight and health. Still, two weeks is a good amount of time to kickstart your weight loss and start to see real progress.
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For fast-but-safe weight loss, the best strategy is to cut down on carbs, fill up on protein and reduce your calorie intake. High-intensity workouts can also increase your calorie burn and speed up fat loss.
Here are five habits to establish in the next two weeks to help you lose 10 pounds in about a month.
Rapid weight loss following a restrictive diet can slow down your metabolism, deprive your body of nutrients and lead to gallstones, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
1. Cut Your Calories
To get started, figure out your daily calorie needs to maintain your current weight. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans' chart estimates calorie needs based on age, sex and physical activity level, so that's a good place to start.
To get a more precise number, download a calorie tracker like LIVESTRONG.com's MyPlate app, which takes more factors into account (and lets you track the calories you eat and burn).
Keep in mind that one pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories, per Harvard Health Publishing. This means you must create a 3,500-calorie deficit — whether it's by eating less, exercising more or both — to drop one pound. Now multiply that number by 10.
If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you need a 35,000-calorie deficit. That's a big number. If you wanted to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, you'd need to cut or burn 2,500 calories per day for those 14 days. This is not realistic or healthy for anyone.
A healthier approach is to aim for a 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit each day, according to the Mayo Clinic. This will help you lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week, so you could be halfway to your 10-pound goal in two weeks.
Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn't fall below about 1,500 calories per day. This is the minimum calories for weight loss because going lower could cause muscle loss, fatigue and nutrient deficiencies, and it could slow your metabolism (causing you to gain weight in the long run).
2. Choose Whole Foods Over Processed Foods
Whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains are naturally high in fiber, and fiber is key for weight loss because it fills you up on fewer calories.
Just aiming to eat 30 grams of fiber each day could help you lose weight as effectively as a more complicated diet, according to a February 2015 randomized trial in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Foods high in fiber include:
- Beans, peas and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Sweet potatoes
Look for these foods in their whole, unprocessed form (i.e. rolled oats rather than flavored instant oatmeal; a baked sweet potato rather than potato chips). Processed foods have been linked to weight gain.
3. Add HIIT Workouts
This workout method involves short, intense bursts of exercise followed by brief periods of rest or low-intensity training. It can be applied to strength training, body-weight exercises, cardio workouts or full-body circuits. A typical HIIT workout can include moves like burpees, push-ups, high knees, plank jacks and mountain climbers, working for 20 to 30 seconds at your max capacity and then resting for 10 to 15 seconds in between.
HIIT burns calories in the moment, but here's the real kicker: You'll also burn tons of calories after your workout thanks to the "afterburn effect."
Just don't do HIIT every day — stick to two or three of these workouts a week.
Never Done This Type of Workout Before?
Get started with a beginner's guide to HIIT.
4. Consider Intermittent Fasting
Rather than simply cutting calories, some people choose to follow a time-restricted eating strategy known as intermittent fasting. Basically, you eat only during certain hours of the day and abstain from food for the other hours (you can and should continue to drink water, though).
Although the research is still limited on IF, a December 2019 review in The New England Journal of Medicine linked it to weight loss as well as reduced inflammation, lower blood pressure and improved mental state.
There are several different types of IF, but popular methods include 16:8 fasting, which has you eat your meals during an eight-hour period and fast for the other 16 (including the time you're asleep), and 5:2 fasting, which calls for five days of regular eating and two days of eating only 500 to 600 calories.
5. Cut Back on Sodium
Especially if you're getting a lot of salt in your diet (and most of us do), cutting back on the amount you eat can be a healthy change that can also help you lose weight in two weeks.
- Look for salt- or sodium-free on food labels
- Avoid processed foods high in salt such as deli meats, pizza, soups, breads/rolls, burritos and tacos
- Opt for fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables
- Make food at home more, and limit takeout and dining out
Is Rapid Weight Loss Safe?
Crash diets have long been blamed for metabolic slowdown, weight gain, hormonal imbalances and impaired immune function. These weight-loss plans are unsustainable in the long run and deprive your body of vital nutrients. Plus, yo-yo dieting may increase the risk of dying from heart disease, per the Mayo Clinic.
Furthermore, these diets plans don't lead to lasting weight loss, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Detox programs, cleanses and other very-low-calorie fad diets have no proven benefits and may worsen existing health conditions.
As the Mayo Clinic points out, the key to lasting weight loss is to change your diet and exercise habits rather than starving yourself or skipping meals. That's why the general recommendation is to lose no more than 2 pounds per week.
So, while you may not be able to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, following the above tips will put you well on your way to hitting your goal weight and keep you healthy in the process.
Ready to Lose Weight?
Set yourself up for success with LIVESTRONG.com's Weight-Loss Kickstart program.
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Minute: Why Yo-Yo Dieting Might Be Bad for Your Heart"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss: 6 Strategies for Success"
- The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology: "The Effect of Rate of Weight Loss on Long-Term Weight Management: A Randomised Controlled Trial"
- Obesity: "The Effect of Rate of Weight Loss on Long-Term Weight Regain in Adults With Overweight and Obesity"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "4 Ways Low-Calorie Diets Can Sabotage Your Health"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Simple Math Equals Easy Weight Loss"
- Sports Medicine: "Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis"
- MDPI: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: "Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?"
- NCBI: Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "Nutritional Ketosis and Mitohormesis: Potential Implications for Mitochondrial Function and Human Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "Can Natural Diuretics Reduce Fluid Retention and Help With Weight Loss?"
- World Action on Salt and Health: "Water Retention"
- KoreaMed: "Dietary Salt Intake and Hypertension"
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome"
- The New England Journal of Medicine: "Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Diet for rapid weight loss"