Turn on the TV and you'll see at least one commercial featuring diet pills that guarantee overnight results. If you're eager to lose weight fast, it's not always easy to resist such promises.
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But, realistically speaking, you can't lose that much weight in such a short time without starving yourself or cutting off a limb. But it is possible to lose 60 pounds or more over several months through sustainable lifestyle changes.
So, How Long Does It Take to Lose 60 Pounds?
If you're wondering how fast you can lose 60 pounds, know that the journey will be the most successful if you take it slow and steady. The recommended rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you follow this guideline, you can lose 60 pounds in seven and a half to 15 months.
This may seem like a lot of time, but it's worth the effort: Slow and steady weight loss makes it easier to keep the pounds off, according to the CDC.
A diet high in protein and low in carbs combined with high-intensity exercise can speed up your progress and ignite your metabolism.
How to Lose 60 Pounds Fast
1. Set a Realistic Calorie Goal
One pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories, per Harvard Health Publishing, so one school of thought says you'll need to burn 3,500 calories (whether through diet, exercise or some combination) to lose a pound of fat.
If you're aiming to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, then, you'll need to burn 3,500 to 7,000 additional calories, or between 500 and 1,000 calories per day.
Still, these numbers aren't absolute. How much weight you'll lose depends on a number of factors, including your age, metabolic rate, activity level and body composition.
Some research suggests the thinking behind the 3,500-calorie rule is flawed: A June 2013 article in the International Journal of Obesity says it fails to address the dynamic changes in energy balance, wherein the human body adapts to weight loss and weight gain, altering its metabolism and energy expenditure.
People tend to lose weight more rapidly at the start of a new diet or exercise program. As their bodies adapt to these changes, they either hit a plateau or experience slower progress. That's why it's important to monitor your results and adjust your diet accordingly.
The amount of weight you ultimately lose — not the rate at which you lose it — is what matters most in terms of metabolic health, according to a January 2019 review in the Journal of Obesity.
2. Focus on Food
Set realistic goals and then come up with a plan to accomplish them. Losing 60 pounds requires a calorie deficit, meaning that you need to burn more calories than you take in. To do so, it's necessary to reduce your calorie intake, raise your energy expenditure or both.
One way to reduce your calories is to cut down on sugar and simple carbs, trans fats and alcohol. Each gram of carbohydrates delivers 4 calories, per the USDA. The same goes for protein. Dietary fat, on the other hand, provides 9 calories per gram, while pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, according to the NHS.
As for how to readjust your eating plan?
High-protein diets seem to be particularly effective for weight loss. Protein suppresses appetite and reduces fat mass, per a November 2014 review in Nutrition & Metabolism. This macronutrient balances the hormones that regulate your appetite, increases energy expenditure and helps preserve lean mass (think: muscle). Compared to carbs and fats, it has a higher thermic effect, as it requires more energy to digest.
You'll want to focus on lean animal protein, fish, legumes and low-fat dairy if you're following a high-protein diet. You'll also want to limit or eliminate refined carbs, such as those found in cookies, pastries, soda, ice cream and energy bars. And be cautious of added sugars and those hidden or disguised by another name, including ingredients like dextrose, maltose, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, per the University of California San Fransisco.
The Mediterranean diet is another eating plan that research suggests is effective for weight loss. This diet consistently ranks at the top of U.S. News & World Report's annual list of best diets. While it wasn't conceived as a weight-loss diet, weight loss may be a positive side effect of the eating style for those who are overweight.
Researchers linked the diet to weight loss, lower body mass index and lower waist circumference — albeit, at a slower (but healthy) pace than other diets that are focused on weight loss, per a March 2019 review in Nutrients. This is a non-restrictive diet that focuses on fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and olive oil with a moderate to limited amount of lean protein, such as chicken, fish and eggs.
3. Find the Right Exercise Program
Physical activity is also important for weight loss. While it's possible to lose 60 pounds without exercise, doing so is not recommended for most.
Regular exercise, especially strength training, helps preserve lean mass and improves muscle tone. The more lean mass you have, the higher your energy expenditure, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Some exercises promote weight loss better than others; high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength-training together yield better results in less time.
An April 2019 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that HIIT resulted in a 28.5 percent greater reduction in total fat mass compared to moderate-intensity continuous training. This training method may also improve insulin response, decrease blood pressure and increase metabolic rate. With HIIT, you'll continue to burn calories long after leaving the gym.
Keep your workouts varied by adding new exercises to the mix. Plyometrics, full-body circuits and sprints all torch fat and improve overall conditioning, per a December 2016 review in the Journal of Human Kinetics. You won't lose 60 pounds in a month, but you will be leaner, stronger and fitter within weeks.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Simple Math Equals Easy Weight Loss"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Why Is the 3500 Kcal per Pound Weight Loss Rule Wrong?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Losing Weight"
- Journal of Obesity: "Absolute Weight Loss, and Not Weight Loss Rate, Is Associated With Better Improvements in Metabolic Health"
- USDA: "How Many Calories Are in One Gram of Fat, Carbohydrate, or Protein?"
- NHS: "Calories in Alcohol"
- The BMJ: "A High-Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats"
- International Journal of Bioscience, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics: "Comparison of Thermogenic Effect Between Meals Containing Protein Predominantly From Animal and Plant Sources"
- University of California San Francisco: "Hidden in Plain Sight"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "Is Interval Training the Magic Bullet for Fat Loss? a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Comparing Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training With High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Can You Boost Your Metabolism?"
- Journal of Human Kinetics: "Effects of Plyometric Training on Physical Fitness in Team Sport Athletes: A Systematic Review"
- Nutrients: "Mediterranean Diet and Cardiodiabesity: A Systematic Review through Evidence-Based Answers to Key Clinical Questions"
- U.S. News & World Report: "Mediterranean Diet"