When you need to lose a lot of weight, you want to lose it fast. Don't fall victim to fad diets that make big promises and don't pay off in the long run. To lose an extreme amount of weight and keep it off, you need a meal plan that supplies the right number of calories and is filled with a healthy balance of nutrient-rich foods. Consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss a weight-loss diet that fits your specific health needs.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
This nutritionally sound book-based food plan is based on the research of Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutrition at Penn State University. Rolls says you can lose one to two pounds per week on the plan. The theory is that by swapping out calorie-heavy fat-laden foods with fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water in them, you can eat more for fewer calories. To boost weight loss, you will need to be active—aim for 10,000 steps a day. You might not lose weight as fast, but Rolls has both short-term and long-term evidence to support her approach. Read more about it in Rolls’ latest book, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.
Vegetables are key in weight loss. I know that’s not what you want to hear but it’s true. Luckily on the Lose Weight By Eating site we use hidden veggies to cut calories and trick your taste buds and make it easy to eat veggies. I hide veggies in recipes like Chicken Fajitas, Mac and Cheese and Chili Cheese Omelets, so try a few and have an open mind. These recipes are all “picky eaters” approved, making them perfect for your whole family.
This high-protein, fat-rich plan claims you will lose up to 15 pounds in two weeks, but the unhealthy fat content drops the diet’s ranking. Similar to the ketogenic diet, the idea is that by severely restricting your carb intake, your body will have to burn fat for energy. Atkins has a decent amount of short-term research to support the premise, but the results are mixed. The American Heart Association links saturated fats—prevalent in this plan—to heart disease. Other negatives for Atkins are that it’s tough to sustain, and you’ll miss out on fiber and other nutrients in complex carbohydrates like whole grains. Check out the 15 best Atkins diet foods you can get at the grocery store.
Eat Breakfast Every Day. One habit that's common to many people who have lost weight and kept it off is eating breakfast every day. "Many people think skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories, but they usually end up eating more throughout the day, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. "Studies show people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs than breakfast-skippers and perform better, whether at school or in the boardroom." Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy for a quick and nutritious start to your day.
When you're eating to protect your ticker, researchers have realized that it isn't about clearing your fridge of all fat, but rather focusing on the right type. "Choosing foods with omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol even more than limiting the cholesterol you eat," says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University.
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.
Some diet plans, such as the MIND diet and the DASH diet, are meant to focus on certain areas of health — and weight loss may be a bonus. Others are created with weight loss as a primary goal. “It is important to remember that we are all very unique individuals,” says Kyle. “We all have different states of health and different lifestyles, which could affect what diet plan is best for us. That means that you should not be considering what is working for your friends or family members — and instead should pay attention to what works for you individually.”
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
While 1,200 may be the right number for some, it can be super restrictive for others, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Try basing your meals and snacks off this plan and double up on veggies at any opportunity — more fruit at snack time works too! You can also add an extra ounce or two of protein at all meals if you find yourself feeling hungry. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal (and snack) at a time!