An upcoming wedding or vacation gives you extra incentive to lose 30 pounds, but this deadline is in just two months. You might be tempted to try a fad diet with promises of speedy results — but those promises are usually too good to be true, unfortunately.
Video of the Day
Losing 30 pounds in such a relatively short period of time is not realistic for most people. A sustainable and safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, which will make you about 16 pounds lighter in 60 days time. You'll still look noticeably thinner and feel healthier.
This more gradual weight loss is manageable, too, so you'll have no trouble continuing to progress toward your goal even after the two months has passed.
Set Realistic Weight-Loss Expectations
You lose weight when you create a deficit between the calories you eat and those you burn. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so to lose 30 pounds, you'll need to create a deficit of 105,000 calories. To achieve your goal in the two months, you would need to create a deficit of about 1,750 calories per day — an unrealistic target.
Most major health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend a more moderate deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day to yield 1 to 2 pounds per week lost.
This rate is recommended because you can tackle it pretty readily — it requires you to reduce food intake and move more without starving yourself or extreme exercising. You also avoid nutritional deficiencies, exercise burnout, a stalled metabolism and muscle loss.
Even if you could somehow create such a large daily deficit, it would result in a loss of almost 4 pounds per week for the eight weeks. Losing faster than 3 pounds per week for more than the first week or two of a diet plan can lead to health complications, including gallstones.
Develop Calorie Awareness
Determine a safe weight-loss calorie intake goal by using an online calculator that figures your daily burn rate using your gender, age, size and activity level. Subtract calories and plan to add movement to create a 1,000-calorie deficit per day. Men should eat no fewer than 1,800 calories per day and women 1,200 calories to get enough nutrients and prevent a metabolic slowdown. If creating the 1,000-calorie deficit puts you below these numbers, adjust your weight-loss goal accordingly.
With such a short deadline, it's important to stay on top of your calorie goals. A food journal can help keep you on track. A study published in a 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that keeping a food diary can help a person lose twice as much weight compared to those who don't keep a record. Also invest in a food scale and use measuring cups and spoons to determine the most accurate portion sizes.
Make Smart Food Choices
When you're focused on cutting calories and dropping maximum pounds safely in two months, choose filling, nutritionally dense foods that are low in calories. High-fiber foods, such as watery vegetables and whole grains, replace refined — or white-flour — grains and processed snacks.
Vegetables fill you up with few calories per serving. Whole grains also have proven weight-loss benefits. Women who followed a low-calorie diet that included 480 calories from whole grains lost more fat in 12 weeks than those who also followed a low-calorie diet but with 480 calories from refined-flour grains, reported a 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Choose brown rice over white, oatmeal instead of white toast or quinoa over white pasta.
Protein also plays an important role in weight loss. It helps keep you full and discourages the loss of lean muscle as you lose weight. You want to maintain muscle because it requires more calories to sustain than fat tissue. If you lose muscle, your metabolism drops, and weight loss becomes trickier.
A study in the 2012 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that at least 0.55 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily best supports weight loss. Quality sources include grilled chicken breast, tuna canned in water, tofu, flank steak, eggs and white-meat pork.
Commit to Physical Activity
Becoming more physically active all day long helps you burn more calories, so a deficit is easier to maintain. Do more household chores, climb stairs instead of riding the escalator and walk the dog. At least 250 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, such as brisk walking, also helps you expedite weight loss in two months.
Build up to this amount gradually — doing too much, too soon can lead to injury. Some of your cardio sessions may include high-intensity cardio bursts, such as running or fast cycling, to burn even more calories and potentially more fat, suggests a review of research published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011.
Commit to weight training over the course of the two months, and beyond. Weight training helps counter the loss of muscle that can occur when you reduce calories. When your body faces a calorie deficit, it burns lean muscle, along with fat, because it's an "expensive" tissue to maintain calorically.
If, however, you use it, your body holds onto it. Do at least two strength-training sessions per week that address all the major muscles in the body. Two months gives you enough time to build up to an additional weekly workout and increase weight lifted to continue to see results.