A month gives you plenty of time to lose 5 pounds without extreme deprivation or hours of exercise. A moderate calorie deficit, reasonable amounts of physical activity and some lifestyle adjustments help you achieve your goal and sustain your new body size. Make a plan with weight loss-friendly meals and an exercise program to help you reach your goal.
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How Weight Loss Works
To reach your goal, you'll need to lose about 1 1/4 pounds per week. A 625-calorie daily deficit helps you achieve this rate of loss, since a pound equals 3,500 calories. Create this deficit by combining exercise and reducing your calorie intake. A combined strategy is most effective in helping you keep off the weight for good, showed a 2014 review published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics." You don't want to lose 5 pounds in a month only to put it back on quickly. Use the month to adopt habits that keep the new, lighter weight as your new norm.
To lose 5 pounds in a month, for example, perform physical activity that burns an additional 250 calories daily and eat 375 calories less that what's needed to maintain your weight. An online calculator can help you estimate your daily calorie needs, so you can subtract 375 calories to get your daily calorie intake target.
Eating to Lose 5 Pounds in a Month
"Rabbit food" and minuscule portions aren't the only way to lose 5 pounds in a month. Minimizing calories from foods with no real nutritional value helps. Use low-fat milk instead of sugared creamer in your coffee, opt for water instead of soda and choose fruit instead of cookies for dessert. Make your meals consist of whole, unprocessed foods; when you're hungry, serve yourself extra helpings of fresh vegetables.
Adequate protein is important because it helps you feel full and maintain lean muscle as you lose weight. About 25 percent of each pound lost comes from muscle if you don't eat properly and exercise when creating a calorie deficit, notes the American Council on Exercise. That's 1 1 /4 pounds of muscle gone in a 5-pound weight loss if you're not careful. Aim for 0.55 grams of protein per pound of body weight for weight loss benefits. For a 140-pound person, this is equal to about 77 grams per day, or 20 grams at each meal and 10 grams at each snack. A 1 1/4 cup of cubed, soft tofu provides 20 grams; 3/4 cup of chopped, roasted chicken provides 26 grams; 6 ounces of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt provides 17 grams.
Moderate portions of whole grains, such as quinoa and brown rice, as well as watery, fibrous vegetables contain fiber and few calories in a lot of volume to fill you up. Fresh fruit, 100 percent whole wheat crackers and small portions of nuts and hummus make satisfying but nutritious snacks. Avoid excess sauces, especially if they contain a lot of sugar or saturated fat, and bottled salad dressing, syrups and fast-food meals.
Meal Ideas for a 5-Pound Loss
Combine fiber and protein at breakfast to help keep you feeling full. A 2008 study in the "International Journal of Obesity" showed that an egg breakfast enhances weight loss, compared to an equal-calorie refined grain breakfast of bagels. Have two eggs scrambled with peppers, mushrooms and spinach served with a banana or two hard-boiled eggs with a few woven-wheat crackers and a peach. If eggs aren't an option, blend half of a frozen banana with 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries, a scoop of whey protein powder, 1/2 cup raw baby spinach and low-fat yogurt to make a quick smoothie. Old-fashioned oatmeal cooked in water topped with skim milk, fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts also helps keep you feeling full all morning thanks to its fiber content.
Prepare a green salad topped with grilled chicken or fish and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice as a healthy lunch. If you want a cooked meal, stir-fry chicken breast with water chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli and snow peas. Season with soy sauce and serve over 1/2 cup of brown rice. Homemade lentil or vegetable soup alongside half of a turkey sandwich on 100 percent whole-wheat bread is another lunchtime option with fiber, protein and vegetables.
Make dinner at home; select easy-to-prepare meals to avoid spending hours in the kitchen. Have 1/2 to 1 cup of seasoned black beans with 1 cup of quinoa, a few slices of avocado and salsa. Pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve yourself about 4 skinless ounces alongside a small whole-wheat roll and a spinach salad topped with an ounce of feta, cherry tomatoes and olive oil-balsamic dressing. Broil flank steak seasoned with dried thyme and oregano to have with 1 cup of 100 percent whole-wheat pasta tossed with fresh basil and chopped tomato. Grill salmon, bake tofu or roast chicken breast to accompany a small baked sweet potato and steamed asparagus.
Be Active, Sleep and De-Stress
The boost in calorie burn and energy you get from regular physical activity makes losing 5 pounds in a month easier. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity daily to burn 250 to 300 calories, or more. Brisk walking, jogging, pedaling an elliptical trainer, swimming laps or joining dance fitness classes help. The less time you have for exercise, the more intense it should be.
Strength training is another important component of your exercise plan. Working against resistance makes your body hold onto muscle, since it's being used, and gives you a lean, rather than soft, appearance. Do an exercise for every major muscle group at each of two sessions per week. Aim for eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise using a weight that feels heavy by the last one or two attempts. Perform between one and three sets.
Use the month to improve your sleep habits and ability to deal with stress. Get at least seven hours per night, because sleeping for less can lead to weight gain and trouble losing weight, showed a 2005 study published in the journal "Sleep." Take the screens -- including cell phones and tablets -- out of your bedroom and make sure it's dark and comfortable. Stress can also prompt you to eat out of anxiety, rather than hunger. The hormone cortisol you produce when you're worried about bills, job deadlines or family problems further causes you to choose higher-calorie foods. Yoga, meditation or just self-care, such as a warm bath, can help you cope with stress in a helpful manner.