A four-month timeline might feel generous -- and more than you'd prefer to wait for weight loss results -- but it's a relatively short time frame to change your body. Losing 50 pounds in four months requires losing about 3 pounds a week, which is about 50 percent more than the maximum recommended weight loss rate of 2 pounds weekly. If you have a lot of weight to lose, and 50 pounds is just the start of your weight loss journey, it might be possible. Otherwise, it might take slightly longer to drop the 50 pounds -- though you'll still be able to lose a significant amount of weight in four months.
Make a Plan to Lose 50 Pounds
Slow and steady is the best way to beat the battle of the bulge, and you should generally aim for a loss of 1 to 2 pounds each week. Losing 50 pounds in four months requires a more aggressive timeline; you'd have to drop an average of 2.8 pounds each week. To do that, you'd need to burn significantly more calories than you eat daily, about 1,400 extra per day.
That may or may not be realistic, depending on your size. If you're extremely active, young and have a lot of weight to lose, it might be possible. For example, a 25-year-old man who is 6 feet tall, weighs 290 pounds, and works out about an hour a day burns about 4,300 calories daily. He could cut his intake to 2,900 calories a day and lose weight fast enough to shed 50 pounds in 4 months.
On the other hand, someone who has just 50 pounds to lose, leads a less active lifestyle or is older likely won't be able to cut enough calories. A 53-year-old, 5-foot, 2-inches tall woman that weighs 180 pounds and lives a sedentary lifestyle burns around 1,900 calories daily. Cutting out 1,400 calories means she'd eat just 500 calories a day. She should go for slower weight loss, since cutting so many calories would trigger "starvation mode" that makes it difficult to lose weight. Regardless of your starting weight, for safe and sustainable weight loss, women shouldn't eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day and men shouldn't go below 1,800 calories.
Because your four-month timeline requires losing weight more quickly than recommended, consult your doctor before you start. She can recommend an appropriate timeline for your individual circumstances. For help with a specific meal plan, consult a registered dietitian.
Stay Full and Satisfied With a Healthy Diet
Whether you have the go-ahead to try the four-month timeline, or you need to go for longer weight loss, you'll need to make dietary changes to meet your goals. You'll have the most success including breakfast in your routine, recommends the University of Michigan Health System. Try starting your day with a two-egg omelet loaded up with tons of veggies -- red peppers, kale and spinach, or a mix of asparagus, thinly-sliced fennel and mushrooms.
You should also focus on foods low on the glycemic index, recommends UM. Low-GI foods help keep your blood sugar levels stable, so you won't get blood sugar crashes that trigger junk food cravings. Most veggies have an extremely low impact on blood sugar, and whole grains and fiber-rich fruits -- like pears, apples and grapefruit -- also have a low GI. Include protein at each meal; it also helps maintain stable blood sugar levels to prevent cravings.
Work Out During Your Four-Month Weight Loss
When you're going for an aggressive weight loss goal, you'll need to increase the number of calories you burn through activity. Getting more active makes it easier to create that 1,400-calorie "gap" you need for weight loss without depriving yourself of essential nutrition. Plan on regular cardio sessions to burn more calories. Create a varied cardio schedule that alternates longer, moderate-intensity exercise -- like a 60-minute workout on the elliptical -- with shorter interval workouts that increase your metabolism.
You'll also need to include strength training in your routine to shed weight safely. Pumping iron isn't necessarily the best calorie-burner, but it helps maintain and build lean muscle, which increases your metabolism. Strength training is especially important when you're trying to lose weight fast. With rapid weight loss, you'll tend to lose muscle as well as fat, and weightlifting can minimize your muscle loss. Perform full-body strength training workouts three times a week, generally, on the same day as your lower-intensity cardio workouts.
Plan for Plateaus
While it'd be nice to lose 3 pounds each and every week, weight loss doesn't always come steadily. And when you're going for a significant 50-pound loss, you should expect at least one weight loss plateau, in which your weight loss stalls temporarily.
That doesn't mean you can't work through each plateau, though. Break through a plateau by incorporating more protein into your meal plan, especially your breakfast, recommends California State University. Protein increases your metabolism, so it can help you get back on track with fat loss. Double-check you're hitting your calorie targets and staying on track with your meal plan; you might find that small "extra" snacks or condiments are interfering with weight loss.
Surprisingly, giving yourself some time off from the gym might help you work through a plateau. While exercise is great for your health, it's also a form of stress, and too much stress can actually inhibit weight loss. Cut your workouts down to three days a week, recommends CSU. Once you start losing weight gain, you can scale your workouts back up to keep losing weight and reach your goal.
- Baylor College of Medicine: Adult Energy Needs and BMI Calculator
- University of Michigan Health System: Weight Loss and Obesity
- Harvard School of Public Health: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods
- California State University: How to Conquer Plateaus at Any Stage Of Your Weight Loss Plans