A 15-pound weight loss in two months is ambitious, but possible, if you have a focused dietary plan and if you engage in regular exercise. You'll need to lose about two pounds a week, consistently -- a rate at the high end of the safe, sustainable range, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To achieve your goal, plan to make some relatively aggressive revisions to your eating habits, portion sizes and exercise schedule.
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Create a Calorie Deficit
Weight loss is the result of eating fewer calories than you burn. Since a pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories, you'll need to create a total deficit of 52,500 calories to reach your 15-pound, weight-loss goal. Divide this by two months or eight weeks, and you need to make this deficit 6,563 calories per week -- or about 937 calories per day.
Many people will find that achieving this deficit by solely reducing their food and beverage intake to be an impossible feat. Many adults burn between 1,600 and 2,100 calories per day. Depriving themselves of 937 calories daily would put them below the 1,200-calorie minimum recommendation for adequate nutrition. Eating so few calories would also create a sense of deprivation during the two months, and would lead to loss of muscle mass.
Most people need to boost their daily calorie burn with exercise and other extra movement to successfully achieve a deficit. A paper published in a 2009 issue of Obesity Reviews showed that weight-loss programs involving diet and exercise resulted in greater, more sustainable weight loss.
Figure your daily caloric requirement -- or about how many calories you burn at rest. Use an online calculator that considers your age, gender and size to estimate this number. Then, determine how many fewer calories you need to eat and how many calories you need to burn to achieve your goal.
Exercise to Lose 15 Pounds in Two Months
Exercising 150 minutes per week at a moderate-intensity cardio bolsters your health, but you'll need at least 250 minutes to achieve notable weight loss, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The calories you burn during exercise depends on your size and on the intensity and duration of the activity. For example, it takes about an hour of swimming laps, jogging or playing tennis for a 155-pound person to burn 450 to 500 calories. Engaging in strength training regularly helps offset muscle loss during weight loss and also improves your ability to lose weight.
Boost your calorie burn rate further with non-exercise activities such as doing household chores and yard work, parking farther away in the parking lot and by fidgeting. Instead of watching television or playing on the computer in your spare time, take up a more active hobby that keeps you moving. With conscientious changes to your daily activity level -- including standing more than sitting and walking more often -- you'll have the potential to increase your daily burn by as much as 350 calories.
Dietary Changes to Lose 15 Pounds in Two Months
Even with additional movement and exercise, you'll most likely need to trim about 500 calories daily to create a deficit that causes you to lose 15 pounds in two months. Start by minimizing your consumption of foods that are high in added sugars and fats. Refined grains and sweets are a poor source of nutrients and are a leading source of calories in the American diet. Examples of foods to avoid include baked treats, white bread and pasta, candy, soda, sweetened breakfast cereal and snack crackers and chips. Choose leaner cuts of meats instead of marbled steak or processed meats such as sausage and luncheon meats. You'll also want to limit your intake of alcohol -- which adds calories and clouds your judgement when it comes to choosing quality foods.
Load your plate generously with leafy green vegetables at most meals. Include a modest serving of a lean protein -- examples include white-meat chicken, tofu, flank steak and fish -- and a serving of whole grains such as brown rice or barley. Snack on a small handful of nuts, or have low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables or whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese.
Behavioral Changes to Help You Lose Weight
When trying to lose almost two pounds a week, you'll need to change what you eat, as well as how you eat. Consider spreading your calories out over several mini-meals during the day, without eating more. This way, you may find hunger easier to manage Avoid skipping meals, which only encourages you to binge later. Stay consistent with your habit of choosing healthy foods and moderate portions. A "cheat day" or lax weekend can do a lot of caloric damage and can also make it difficult to get back on track.
The National Sleep Foundation also recommends that you sleep seven to nine hours per night to promote a healthy weight. Non-food strategies to deal with stress also help your weight-loss cause. Take a bath, call a friend or go for a walk instead of stress eating, which will quickly derail your daily calorie goal. You'll need to stick closely to your plan to lose 15 pounds in two months.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010: Chapter 2: Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
- Ask the Dietitian: Overweight & Weight Loss
- Obesity Reviews: Long-Term Effectiveness of Diet-Plus-Exercise Interventions Vs. Diet-Only Interventions for Weight Loss: A Meta-Analysis
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- American Heart Association: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
- National Sleep Foundation: A Good Night's Sleep Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights