Rapid weight loss is not recommended by any health professional or reputable diet guru. Still, sometimes you just need to lose 5 pounds in a week.
It doesn't matter if it's to fit into a favorite outfit or for a little self-confidence boost before a big meeting or a first date — quick weight loss is sometimes required. As long as you keep nutrition in mind and either stop after one week or slow it down to the recommended 1.5 to 2 pounds per week, this is doable.
Understand Weight Loss
If losing weight were simply a matter of burning more calories than you take in, it would not be the frustration roller coaster that so many people struggle with. According to the fitness experts at the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), there are three main components to successful weight loss, and two of them involve paying attention to the quality of the calories which make up your meal plan.
Of the three keys to losing weight that the ISSA advises, the first is to cut out, or drastically cut down on, the number of starchy carbohydrates you eat during the week that you are trying to drop 5 pounds. The second is to increase the amount of lean protein you take in, and the final tip the ISSA offers is to increase the both the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Doing these three things, the ISSA asserts, will help you burn fat more efficiently. The majority of the 5 pounds you will lose in one week will be water weight. Following this advice rigorously may help you melt off a little bit of fat, but a loss of 5 pounds per week is neither safe nor feasible as a long-term weight loss plan.
Cut Out Starchy Carbs
If those 5 pounds sneaked up on you all at once, the culprit could be water weight, according to the experts at Texas A&M University. Water is necessary for your body to function in a healthy way, but certain circumstances can cause you to retain more water than your body can use. These circumstances can include too much sodium in your diet, hormones, a medical condition or too many carbs in your diet. Texas A&M advises consulting with a medical professional to determine precise causes.
Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center (Wexner Medical) concurs. Just as some people have an intolerance for gluten or lactose, so too can the body be intolerant of carbohydrates. If you have a carbohydrate intolerance, Wexner Medical explains, your body cannot metabolize them efficiently. Extra carbs encourage your pancreas to send insulin into your bloodstream. If there are any carbs left, your liver takes them in and stores them as fat. Carbs to avoid, Wexner Medical says, include:
- Refined sugar
- White flour
- Simple grains such as white rice
- Fruit juice
- Chips, crackers and pretzels
- Cake, cookies, donuts
Read more: Can a High-Carb Diet Make You Retain Water?
Pile on the Protein
One way to achieve quicker weight loss on your one time only 5-pounds-in-a-week plan, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is to eat more lean protein. Protein is harder than carbohydrates for your body to digest, MIT explains, so one benefit is that it keeps you feeling full for longer after a meal. Eating a diet that is high in protein also keeps you from losing muscle mass, because your body burns fat instead, MIT states.
A diet high in protein also helps older adults burn fat without also losing bone density, according to the experts at Wake Forest University. This is important because even though you are only intending to stay on this particular weight loss program to lose 5 pounds in one week and then either stop or slow it down, you do not want to risk causing any damage to your body.
Eating a diet high in protein and low in calories, can help you to lose weight safely, reassures Wake Forest. Focus on chicken, fish and small portions of lean red meat prepared without adding any fat when possible. Bake, broil, grill or roast chicken and fish with plenty of herbs and spices for flavor and no added fat for a lean and delicious meal. Add plenty of leafy greens, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to ensure proper nutrition.
Load Up on Leafy Greens
While it may be possible to lose 5 pounds in a weekend, it is safer to stick to your plan of losing those pounds over the course of a week. One way to help you achieve this goal is to load your meal plans with fresh, crisp leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, according to Grand Canyon University (GCU).
Leafy, green vegetables include lettuces of all kinds, as well as spinach and kale. Not only are they packed with nutrients, says GCU, but leafy green vegetables offer a lot of bulk for very few calories. This can help keep you feeling full without using up your allotment of calories for the day. Fiber also aids in healthy elimination, which can help you feel and look less bloated.
Cruciferous vegetables are those such as broccoli Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, GCU reminds. These are also loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, ensuring that your low-calorie meal plan is as nutritious as possible. Even though you are only going to be on the plan for one week, the more nutritious the plan, the better you will feel.
Work Out to Reduce Weight
Concordia University-Saint Paul highly recommends exercise as a means to help lose weight faster. Exercise alone will not ensure that you can lose 5 pounds in a weekend or even in a week, but it can certainly help. Cardiovascular exercise such as running, walking, swimming, dancing or playing a high-intensity sport such as tennis or racquetball, raises your heart rate, Concordia says, which burns calories.
Cornell University adds that exercising not only helps you to lose weight, it also helps your lungs work at their most efficient capacity, lowers blood pressure, encourages the burning of belly fat and releases endorphins which help elevate and regulate your mood.
While exercising may not have a huge impact on your one-week weight-loss plan, doing both cardio and weight workouts for a full week may help you get into the habit of exercising regularly, which benefit you in the long run.
Read more: A Full-Body Weightlifting Workout for Weight Loss
Help Your Body Hydrate
Another component to your weight loss week is one that many people tend to overlook, and that is the importance of staying hydrated. According to the University of Michigan (UM), many people who have overweight also tend to be somewhat dehydrated. This may be due to habits such as eating fewer water-rich fruits and vegetables, or simply not drinking enough water throughout the day.
While the link between hydration and weight loss needs to be studied more closely in order to draw clear conclusions, UM does note that staying hydrated can help with weight loss in several ways. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, UM notes, which can lead to taking in more calories than are needed, which in turn can sabotage even a short-term, one-week-only weight-loss plan.
- International Sports Sciences Association: "3 Science-Backed Methods for Losing Fat"
- Texas A&M University: "You Asked - 'What Is Water Weight?'"
- Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: "A Carb Intolerance May Be the Reason Weight Loss Is Difficult"
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: "Study Suggests Healthy Weight Loss Is More Than Just Math"
- Grand Canyon University: "Fitness Facts - Friendly Foods for Weight Loss"
- Cornell University: "Exercise for Weight Loss?"
- University of Concordia-Saint Paul: "The Science of Weight Loss"
- University of Michigan: "Study - Water Intake Overlooked in Obese Individuals"
- Wake Forest University: "New Study Shows More Protein and Fewer Calories Help Older People Lose Weight Safely"