Maybe an upcoming wedding or vacation has you wanting to lose 30 pounds in 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.
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 would make you about 16 pounds lighter in 60 days time. That may not be the exact number you're aiming for, but you'll still look noticeably thinner and feel healthier.
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This more gradual weight loss is manageable, too, so you'll be able to continue progressing toward your goal even after the two months have 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 equals about 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 lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
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, muscle loss and potential health complications such as 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 sex, age, size and activity level. Subtract calories and plan to add movement to create a daily calorie deficit.
Keep in mind that men should eat no fewer than 1,500 calories a day and women should eat at least 1,200 to get enough nutrients and prevent a metabolic slowdown. If your 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. Indeed, a study published February 2019 in Obesity found that among the 142 people with overweight or obesity who participated, those who logged what they ate most consistently also lost the most weight.
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. Opt for high-fiber foods, such as watery vegetables and whole grains, instead of 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 an April 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Healthy Whole-Grain Swaps
The Refined Option
The Healthier Swap
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 August 2012 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that at least 0.55 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily best supports weight loss. So for example, if you weigh 175 pounds, you'll want to aim for about 96 grams of protein daily.
Quality sources of lean protein include:
- Grilled chicken breast
- Tuna canned in water
- Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
- Black beans
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, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Build up to this amount gradually, though — doing too much, too soon can lead to injury.
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Once you're able, consider adding 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 tends to burn lean muscle, along with fat, because it's an "expensive" tissue to maintain calorically, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If, however, you use that muscle, your body holds onto it. Do at least two strength-training sessions each 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 the amount of weight you're lifting to continue to see results.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Weight Loss and Nutrition Myths
- Journal of Nutrition: Whole Grain Compared With Refined Wheat Decreases the Percentage of Body Fat Following a 12-Week, Energy-Restricted Dietary Intervention in Postmenopausal Women
- British Journal of Nutrition: Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- Obesity: "Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self‐Monitoring for Weight Loss"