Your beach vacation is two weeks away, and you want to shed some weight before donning your swimsuit. While there are some diets that claim they can help you lose a lot of weight fast, they're usually not the safest, and you'll end up regaining most of the weight as quickly as you lost it. At a healthy rate of 2 pounds a week, you can lose 4 pounds in two weeks. Before starting your short-term weight-loss plan, consult your doctor to discuss your specific diet needs and weight-loss goals.
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Four Pounds in Two Weeks
While you can lose more than 2 pounds in a week, it's not recommended unless suggested by your doctor. Losing weight too quickly usually results in loss of more muscle than fat. Loss of muscle causes a dip in your energy levels and may make it harder for you to keep the weight off.
One pound of fat has 3,500 calories, so to lose 2 pounds in a week you need to create a 1,000-calorie daily deficit. So you're not starving, you might want to split the calorie deficit between diet and exercise, decreasing your daily intake by 500 calories and working out to burn another 500 calories. Use an online calorie calculator to help you determine how many calories you need to maintain your weight, then subtract 500 from that number to determine your weight-loss calories. For example, a 35-year-old women who is 5 feet 5 inches tall, doesn't work out and weighs 150 pounds needs 2,300 calories to maintain her weight. To lose 2 pounds a week, she would need to reduce her intake to 1,800 calories a day.
Cutting Calories to Lose the Weight
Besides keeping tight tabs on what you eat, there are things you can do to cut 500 calories from your daily intake. Instead of a whole-egg omelet, substitute egg whites and save 55 calories per egg. Also, replacing 1/4 cup of regular cheddar with low-fat saves you another 65 calories.
At lunch, ditch the bottle of regular soda for a bottle of seltzer to eliminate another 150 calories. For flavor without calories, squeeze a little lime into your fizzy water. And, instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich, use mustard to drop another 65 calories.
Replace your french fries at dinner with a baked sweet potato. A serving of prepared frozen french fries, which is about 3 ounces, has 160 calories, while a medium baked sweet potato has only 100 calories. Instead of 1/2 cup of ice cream for 260 calories, satisfy your sweet tooth with 1 cup of frozen grapes for 100 calories.
Burning Calories to Lose the Weight
You may have to work out hard to burn 500 calories a day during those two weeks, but the initial weight loss may be just what you need to turn your two-week diet into a new lifestyle plan. There are a number of different ways you can burn off those calories, from running to mowing the grass. How many calories you burn depends on your weight and how long you move. For example, a 155-pound person needs to run at a pace of 5 miles per hour for 50 minutes to burn 500 calories, while a 185-pound person would only need to run for 40 minutes.
You might have to work a little harder with a hand-push lawnmower. A 155-pound person would have to spend an hour and 15 minutes pushing the lawnmower to burn 500 calories; a 185-pound person would need just one hour.
To really burn calories in a short period of time, you might want to consider interval training. This type of workout alternates between periods of high intensity and low intensity for a set period of time. For example, pedal as fast as you can on an exercise bike for two minutes, then at a slower pace for three minutes, repeating this cycle five times for a complete workout. In addition to the calories you burn during the workout, your body continues to burn up to 15 percent more calories for two hours after your workout, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training burns about 220 calories for a 155-pound person and 260 calories for a 185-pound person during a 30-minute vigorous training session. In addition to the calories burned during your workout, building muscle tones your body so you're burning more calories while at rest. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so losing fat and gaining muscle keeps your metabolism running at a good pace, helping you lose those unwanted pounds. Plus, toning up might help you feel thinner even though you've only lost 4 pounds because muscle is more compact than fat.
To make those muscle gains, include strength-training exercises twice a week. Free weights, weight machines and resistance bands make good tools for building muscle, as well as body resistance exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, lunges and squats.