Planning to lose 15 pounds in a month? That's not impossible, but it takes a lot of work. Plus, rapid weight loss isn't always the best choice. Unless you have obesity or overweight, it's safer to lose weight gradually and steadily.
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While it's possible to lose 15 pounds in one month, it doesn't mean it's safe or healthy. To get faster results, switch to a ketogenic diet or try intermittent fasting. Consider increasing your daily protein intake to burn more calories and preserve lean mass.
The Science Behind Weight Loss
Contrary to what you may have heard, weight loss isn't all about calories in versus calories out. While it's important to reduce your calorie intake, food quality matters too. For example, 500 calories worth of lean beef and sweet potatoes are not the same as 500 calories worth of chocolate or French fries.
Lean beef and sweet potatoes supply protein, fiber and slow digesting carbs. Cooked ground beef, for instance, delivers 212 calories, 22 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat per serving. It's also rich in essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. One serving of french fries, by comparison, has 365 calories, 4 grams of protein, 48 grams of carbs (including 4 grams of fiber) and 17 grams of fat.
As you see, beef is higher in protein and has zero carbs. French fries are higher in calories, carbs and fat and boast more calories per serving.
The macronutrients in food have a direct impact on appetite, weight, body composition and overall health. These include protein, carbs and fat. If your goal is to lose 15 pounds in a month, fill up on protein and cut down on carbs. The rest of your daily calories should come from dietary fat.
Protein facilitates weight loss in several ways. First of all, it suppresses appetite and keeps you full longer, according to a review published in the British Journal of Nutrition in August 2012. This nutrient helps preserve lean mass, keeping your metabolism up. As researchers point out, ingesting 1 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily may decrease blood pressure and improve body composition, aka muscle-to-fat ratio.
Your diet should also provide plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Both nutrients increase satiety and aid in weight loss.
Is Rapid Weight Loss Safe?
Do a quick online search for "lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks diet" or "meal plan to lose 15 pounds," and you'll get thousands of results pointing to weird diets, slimming pills and magic workouts that claim to melt away fat overnight. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. It took you months or years to gain those extra pounds, so don't expect to lose them in a week or two.
Read more: The Most Shocking Diet Myths
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), losing 1 to 2 pounds per week makes it easier to keep the weight off. The research is conflicting, though. A clinical trial published in the Lancelet Diabetes & Endocrinology in October 2014 suggests that the rate of weight loss doesn't affect the weight regained in the long run.
Another study, which was published in the Journals of Gerontology in February 2017, states that very low-calorie diets may help treat obesity in older people. In general, these weight loss plans are prescribed in extreme cases and may cause high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream (hyperuricemia), gallstones or bone loss.
Fad diets may aid in weight loss but carry serious health risks. Dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, headaches, fatigue, low energy and constipation are all potential side effects.
Some weight loss plans, such as the cabbage soup diet, limit most foods, which may deprive your body of essential nutrients. Plus, you can't live off grapefruit or cabbage forever. The pounds will add up as soon as you return to "normal" eating.
Read more: PROs and CONs of the 10 Most Popular Diets
If you still want to lose 15 pounds in a month, there are a few things you can do to get faster results. Switching to a ketogenic diet, fasting or filling up on fiber can speed up your progress. To stay safe, consult your doctor before getting started, especially if you have an existing condition like diabetes, gallstones or heart disease.
Try the Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet has emerged as one of the fastest ways to lose weight and keep it off. This weight loss plan is low in carbs, moderate in protein and high in fats. Your daily carb intake will be around 20 to 50 grams.
When you cut back on carbs, your liver starts to produce ketone bodies that serve as a source of fuel. This metabolic state is called ketosis. As the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health points out, both dietary fat and ketone bodies increase satiety. Furthermore, this diet plan balances the hormones that regulate appetite and increases energy expenditure, leading to fat loss.
According to a July 2016 review featured in the Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders, ketogenic diets may also help in diabetes management. This eating pattern not only facilitates weight loss but also improves blood lipids and supports cardiovascular health.
After ingestion, carbs are converted to glucose for immediate energy. The excess is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Each gram of glycogen holds 3 to 4 grams of water. The keto diet limits carbs, which may help you get rid of water weight.
Additionally, low-carb, high-fat diets, such as the ketogenic diet, are clinically proven to reduce body weight and improve glycemic control. They seem to be particularly beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and elevated triglyceride levels.
Consider Intermittent Fasting
Another way to speed up weight loss is intermittent fasting (IF). Depending on your preferences, you can have a designated time frame for fasting each day, fast every other day or fast once or twice a week.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, this eating pattern promotes weight loss and may increase lifespan. In these clinical trials, dieters lost 7 to 11 pounds in as few as 10 weeks. Some studies, though, haven't found any significant changes in body weight or cardiovascular health markers in people who incorporated intermittent fasting into their diet.
A February 2018 meta-analysis published in the JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports assessed the effects of intermittent fasting in people with overweight and obesity. IF has been shown to be equally effective as continuous energy restriction for short-term weight loss.
These findings indicate that whether you switch to IF or limit your calorie intake, the pounds will melt off. Beware, though, that fasting might not be safe for pregnant and nursing women, teenagers, diabetics and individuals who are prone to eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia.
Fill Up on Fiber
Think about how you feel after eating a big salad, melons, apples or vegetables. These foods fill you up quickly due to their high content of water and fiber. Watermelon, for example, is over 91 percent water and has just 46 calories per serving. Cooked broccoli is 89 percent water and boasts 27 calories per serving.
If you're trying to lose 15 pounds in a month, eat foods that are rich in fiber and water. Dietary fiber increases satiety and delays gastric emptying, keeping you full longer. As a result, you'll end up eating less without feeling hungry or deprived. Water has zero calories, so it won't affect your weight.
Fill up on cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, celery, cucumbers and zucchini. Serve them as a side dish or enjoy them as a snack. These foods are low in calories and rich in micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. You can also mix a tablespoon of psyllium husk or wheat bran with water and drink it between meals to curb hunger.
- USDA: "Cooked Ground Beef"
- USDA: "French Fries"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Dietary Protein – Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health"
- CDC.gov: "What Is Healthy Weight Loss?"
- The Lancelet Diabetes & Endocrinology: "The Effect of Rate of Weight Loss on Long-Term Weight Management: A Randomised Controlled Trial"
- The Journals of Gerontology: "Very Low Calorie Diets for Weight Loss in Obese Older Adults—A Randomized Trial"
- NCBI: "Very Low Calorie Diets in Clinical Management of Morbid Obesity"
- BetterHealthChannel: "Weight Loss and Fad Diets"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss"
- Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders: "Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for Management of Type Two Diabetes: A Review"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "Evidence That Supports the Prescription of Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diets: A Narrative Review"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss"
- JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports: "Intermittent Fasting Interventions for Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- USDA: "Raw Watermelon"
- USDA: "Cooked Broccoli"
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "The Role of Fiber in Energy Balance"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Micronutrients Have Major Impact on Health"
- NCBI: "Satiety Effects of Psyllium in Healthy Volunteers"