If you plan to lose 20 pounds, you are going to need to make lifestyle and diet changes and a workout plan. Fortunately, there are several proven methods to lose weight. Here are some steps you can take to lose weight as a woman (or man) that have proven results.
Count Calories for Weight Loss
One strategy that may help you lose weight is counting calories. Counting calories can help you stay within your caloric needs for weight loss and help you be aware of what you're eating, as calorie counting makes you accountable to yourself. According to a review of studies published in Obesity Reviews in July 2014, weight loss programs that used calorie counting as a strategy showed an average of 7.3 pounds more weight lost than programs that did not use calorie counting.
Calorie counting is relatively simple. If you want to lose weight counting calories can help you create a calorie deficit, meaning you burn more calories than you eat. You can do this either through increasing her physical activity or modestly decreasing your calorie intake.
Harvard Health Publishing recommends calculating your calorie needs by multiplying your current weight in pounds by 15. The resulting number is how many calories you need to eat per day to maintain your weight. To lose weight, subtract between 500 and 1000 calories to create a deficit, which you can create both through eating fewer calories and moving more to burn more calories.
Do note that you should not restrict your calorie intake too much. Harvard Health Publishing recommends women should eat a minimum of 1,200 and men should eat at least 1,500 a day even while trying to lose weight unless explicitly instructed by your doctor. This is the minimum amount you need to maintain good health and get a wide variety of nutrients you need to keep your body running smoothly.
Adjust your Diet
In addition to counting calories, you should make sure that the calories you are taking in count. While in theory you could stay within your calorie needs by eating smaller portions of unhealthy food, it's better to make sure you are eating high quality calories and not just filling your plate with empty calories. To do this, eat plenty of vegetables and fruit and make smart choices about the rest of your food.
One easy swap to make is choosing whole grains, like whole grain bread, over refined carbohydrates like white bread. According to a recent small study published in Gut in January 2019, participants who ate primarily whole grains saw a reduction in fat around their midsection. This study confirmed findings from earlier studies that showed similar results.
Additionally, you'll want to get the right amount of lean protein in your diet. According to a study published in Obesity Facts in July 2017, diets that includes the recommended amount of protein have similar results to high-protein diets in helping people lose weight. In other words, you don't need to start including large amounts of protein if you want to lose weight.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In pounds, you would multiply your weight by 0.36 to find out how many grams of protein are recommended for your current weight.
Workouts to Lose 20 Pounds
As you make dietary changes, and if you are a female just beginning to work out, you might want to look for a beginner gym workout for a female that will help optimize your weight loss. Your workout routine should consist of a combination of weight lifting and cardio routines.
Read more: The 30-Day Squat Challenge
According to the National Institute for Fitness & Sport, weight lifting for women has several benefits including:
- it helps improve muscle tone
- it helps you burn more calories throughout the day
- it gives you a confidence boost
A beginner's strength training workout for a woman should consist of routines that will hit all the large muscle groups in the body. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a beginners strength training routine could consist of:
- single arm dumbbell rows
- shoulder press using dumbbells or fitness bands
- stability ball squat - place ball between back and a wall and perform a squat
- dumbbell chest press
- stability ball crunch
- lunges - 10 reps per leg
During your lifting routine, ACE says you should aim to do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps. You can do this lifting routine 2 to 3 times a week, just make sure you leave a rest day in-between.
Read more: The Only 5 Exercises Women Need to Get Lean
In addition to a lifting routine, you should be sure to include regular cardio workouts. According to a study published in JAMA Oncology in September 2015, a woman should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week, which can be broken down throughout the week. The study also found that women who exercised for 300 minutes per week or more had better weight loss results than those who exercised less.
You can adjust your cardio routine to fit your needs and lifestyle. You may not be up to more intense exercises right away, so walking for a half hour may be your best option. Or, you might want to bike, run or jog for 20 to 30 minutes a day. More advanced exercises can include high intensity interval training (HIIT) routines that focus on intense sets of cardio conditioning. If hitting the gym is not your thing, you can play sports or do other physically-demanding activities, such as hiking.
You should talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine. Your doctor may be able to help tailor an exercise routine to your individual fitness level. Additionally, you may want to consider working with a personal trainer or group exercise class to get an idea of some effective exercises, if you are new to weight loss.
- Obesity Reviews: "Effect of Behavioural Techniques and Delivery Mode on Effectiveness of Weight Management: Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression"
- Gut: "Whole Grain-Rich Diet Reduces Body Weight and Systemic Low-Grade Inflammation Without Inducing Major Changes of the Gut Microbiome: A Randomised Cross-Over Trial"
- Obesity Facts: "Effect of a High-Protein Diet versus Standard-Protein Diet on Weight Loss and Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day?"
- National Institute for Fitness & Sport: "Weightlifting for Women: Enhance Weight Loss and More"
- American Council on Exercise (ACE): "Strength Training Workout for Beginners"
- JAMA Oncology: "Effects of a High vs Moderate Volume of Aerobic Exercise on Adiposity Outcomes in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
- Harvard Health Publishing: Calorie counting made easy