While the most effective way to lose weight is gradually, you can drop pounds relatively quickly with some serious willpower and effort. Do know that with quick, extreme weight loss, the chance of regain is highly likely. Plus, extreme weight loss does require some hunger, a lot of sweat and a good deal of sacrifice.
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The most effective diets for extreme weight loss are still safe and don't ask you to give up entire food groups or to sweat yourself into heat stroke or dehydration. They do dramatically trim calories and ask you to give up your favorite goodies — including sweets, alcohol, soda and refined carbohydrates.
The strict eating plan associated with extreme weight loss means you may have to turn down restaurant outings— or at least your favorite menu items — and settle for scant portion sizes.
If you're committed to quick weight loss, look for certain criteria when determining if a diet is effective, fast and safe for extreme weight loss.
Read more: Good Workouts to Lose Weight Fast
To lose weight, you do need to take in fewer calories than you burn. The greater you can make this deficit, the faster you can lose weight — up to a point.
Remember, dropping below 1,200 calories daily as a woman or 1,800 as a man can have serious effects on your metabolism, notes the American Council on Exercise. If you reduce calories too much, your metabolism slows down and it's that much harder to lose weight.
For a 1-pound per week weight loss, you need to eat at least 500 calories fewer than you need to maintain your current size; for a 2-pound per week weight loss, the magic deficit is 1,000 calories. Although it seems unfair, the larger you are, the easier it is to create a big deficit and lose weight at a faster rate each week.
Effective diet plans give you sustained nutrition that leaves you without deficiencies and needs to take a supplement. The best diet plans don't forbid entire food groups — such as fat or carbohydrates. They offer you a balanced meal plan that includes lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and moderate amounts of healthy, unsaturated fats.
When you eat a variety of foods, it helps you get all the nutrients you need to support a healthy, functioning body and high levels of energy. You need that energy to hit the gym for workouts to burn calories and build metabolism-boosting muscle.
A fast, effective diet plan helps you learn how to manage eating even when you've reached your goal weight. While meal replacement plans can be fast and convenient, they don't help you learn how to eat when you aren't restricted to mail-order food. Effective means you can learn how to maintain a healthy weight long term, so you gain knowledge about smart food choices, portion size, and meal frequency.
Despite the skepticism surrounding fast weight loss, if you have a medical issue such as high lipid levels or high blood sugar, rapid weight loss can have positive effects on these health markers, reports a study published in a 2017 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. When picking a method for that weight loss, just make sure it helps you do so in a healthy, safe way so you keep weight off for the long run.
Diets That Just Might Fit the Criteria
While no one diet is right for everybody, some are better than others when your goal is fast, extreme weight loss. A review of the research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015 found that several diet plans show potential in safely helping you drop pounds quickly. Skip the fads and consider trying on of these healthier options:
Weight Watchers: The program has evolved since it was first introduced and the modern-day version includes apps, websites, and in-office counseling that helps you learn how to eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet with no restrictions. Weight Watchers is based on a point system that prioritizes healthy, filling foods. You're assigned a specific number of points per day and you choose foods to fulfill your goal. You're entirely in control and learn pretty quickly how to make choices that are best for your goals.
Jenny Craig: The Jenny Craig diet offers prepackaged low-calorie foods to help you control portions and resist temptation. The prepackaged foods are nutritionally sound and take the guesswork out of meal planning. The program also provides counseling – in-person or phone-based – and online tools to help you plan and track meals. You're also encouraged to exercise regularly and not ban any specific food. Meals are based on real foods and none promise a magical "fat-burning" ability.
Atkins Diet: The Atkins diet has also evolved since it was first introduced in 1972. Originally presented as a plan that eliminated carbohydrates and celebrated fat and meat, today's Atkins plan focuses on helping you to choose lean proteins, healthy fats, and high fiber vegetables, while limiting your intake of carbohydrates – especially refined carbohydrates.
The diet has four phases that gradually help you adjust to maintaining your weight. Research published in a 2017 issue of Nutrients found that, after reviewing a number of studies, the Atkins Diet had the most evidence in producing clinically meaningful short-term and long-term weight loss.
Read more: Tips on Losing Weight Fast
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- Michigan Health and Wellness: Characteristics of Safe Weight Loss Programs
- U.S. News and World Report: The 10 Best Diets for Fast Weight Loss
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What a Healthy Weight-Loss Plan Really Looks Like
- MyPyramid.gov: MyPyramid Plan