When swimsuit season rolls around and you need to shed pounds quickly, having a step by step guide containing information on the fastest way to lose weight for women is a must.
Knowing exactly how to drop weight quickly means learning a few simple tips and tricks, like those I'll share with you inside this article.
Put Safety First
Many women desire rapid weight loss, but shedding pounds too quickly can be dangerous. That’s why putting safety first is important.
Use Caution with Very Low-Calorie Diets
Severe calorie restriction (eating fewer than 800 calories per day) can lead to unpleasant and dangerous side effects when used long term.
Following very low-calorie diets (VLCD's) can help you shed up to 5 pounds each week and reduce chronic disease risk factors.
However, these VLCD's also come with potential side effects of being in starvation mode long term — such as becoming malnourished and getting gallstones.
That’s why it’s important to work with a healthcare professional when choosing VLCD's for weight loss if you have a large amount of weight to drop — and you need the weight gone ASAP.
Determine Safe Calorie Allotments
If shedding pounds fast on your own is your goal, following a low-calorie diet containing 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day for women (rather than very low-calorie plans) is the way to go.
Avoid dropping below 1,000 calories daily unless your doctor supervises you. This is the safest, fastest way to lose weight for women who don’t have the time (or insurance coverage) for regular medical supervision.
Understand Side Effects and Limits
You’ll probably be able to tell when you’re not consuming enough calories, as side effects you’ll experience won’t be the most enjoyable.
You might feel tired or notice frequent headaches, nausea, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, gout, gallstones, brittle nails, hair loss, and bad breath.
Many of these symptoms happen when following VLCD's for rapid weight loss, which is why healthcare professionals generally don’t recommend them (even under medical supervision) for more than 12 weeks.
Intermittent Calorie Restriction
Choosing a strategy of intermittent energy restriction has helped many women shed pounds effectively, so knowing more about this weight loss strategy can get you headed in the right direction.
What is Intermittent Calorie Restriction?
Intermittent calorie restriction means you’ll alternate between periods of low-calorie dieting and regular healthy eating patterns.
For example, you may eat 1,000 to 1,200 calories for one to two weeks — then go back to your usual weight-maintenance eating pan for the next one to two weeks.
Continue this cycle until you meet your weight loss goal.
Weight Loss Benefits
Research reported in a 2017 review published in ‘Behavioral Sciences' found that alternating normal eating patterns with periods of reduced calorie intakes (intermittent calorie restriction) is just as effective as continuous calorie restriction for weight loss — and may be more effective for fat loss and improved insulin resistance.
However, more research is needed in this realm.
Another study published in 2018 in the ‘International Journal of Obesity' found similar results. Researchers say study subjects lost more weight and body fat when using intermittent calorie restriction vs. continuous calorie reduction.
Researchers concluded that alternating calorie restriction with usual weight-maintenance meal plans is the most beneficial for weight loss success — especially long term.
Additional Health Perks
Intermittent calorie restriction may provide you with additional health benefits, in addition to being one of the fastest ways to lose weight for women.
Shedding excess body weight often means improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, diabetes risks, and your risk for heart disease.
You may also reduce your risk for cancer when using intermittent calorie restriction.
A study published in 2016 in ‘Scientific Reports' found that while both continuous calorie restriction and intermittent calorie reduction lower your risk for cancer, intermittent dieting appears to protect against cancer more in certain animal studies.
More research is needed to know which type of dieting strategy is the best method for cancer prevention.
Additional Tips and Tricks for Rapid Weight Loss
Here are a few additional tips and tricks for achieving rapid weight loss you can maintain long term.
Focus on Cardiovascular Exercise
Reducing calorie intake is the fastest way to lose weight for women, as dieting is generally more effective than exercise if you had to choose between the two.
However, combining calorie restriction with cardiovascular exercise is the most effective rapid weight loss strategy long term, say researchers who conducted a 2014 study published in the ‘Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics‘.
That’s because while diet is crucial when you want to maximize weight loss, exercise helps ensure you’ll keep lost weight off for good. Regular workouts also help lean body mass to keep you tight and toned.
You might be wondering how much exercise you need when seeking the fastest way to lose weight for women?
For best results, aim for at least 150 to 200 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week, as recommended by the ‘America College of Sports Medicine'.
Choose swimming, biking, using an elliptical machine, rowing, jogging, hiking, walking uphill, or playing soccer or basketball when you’re trying to shed pounds quickly.
Consider HIIT When You’re Tight on Time
When time is of the essence and free time is scarce, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
This form of exercise is just as effective as continuous cardiovascular workouts when it comes to dropping weight quickly, according to a 2017 study published in the ‘Journal of Diabetes Research'.
The only difference is choosing HIIT, which is when you alternate periods of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise with slower steady bouts, means workouts will take up less time in your day.
You can perform HIIT with just about any aerobic workout — simply push yourself for a minute or two, lower your intensity for the same time period, and push yourself once again (alternating) for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Hydrate with Very Low-Calorie Drinks
Many Americans are chronically dehydrated, which can drastically hinder rapid weight loss for women. A 2016 study published in ‘Frontiers in Nutrition' found that increasing hydration is associated with weight loss — and a reduction in chronic disease risk factors.
Ice water is an ideal choice for weight loss (as it’s more palatable than cool or room temperature water), but black coffee and unsweetened tea are excellent choices as well — containing just 5 calories per serving.
In fact, a 2017 study published in the ‘Journal of Basic and Clinical and Physiology and Pharmacology' found that caffeine (found in coffee and tea) helps to increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day, aids in fat burning, and improves healthy weight maintenance.
To shed pounds as quickly as possible without the urge to overeat, aim to drink at least 2 cups of water before meals and snacks. Studies show that doing this is an effective weight loss strategy.
Reduce Carb Intake/Focus on Healthy Carbs
While your body needs carbohydrates to function properly and keep energy levels high during weight loss, lowering your carb intake is one of the fastest ways to lose weight for women.
That’s because carbohydrates cause your body to hold excess water, and extra carbs are stored in your body as fat.
How many carbs should you eat in a day for rapid weight loss you might be wondering?
Cutting out carbs entirely is the fastest way to lose weight for women, but can be dangerous and cause unpleasant side effects — like extreme fatigue, bad breath, and headaches.
Instead, reduce carbs to 130 grams per day (or less if you’re following a structured weight loss program), which is the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult women.
Choose carbohydrates from healthy, high-fiber sources — such as veggies, dried beans and peas, whole grains (quinoa or brown rice), nuts and seeds — instead of getting carbs from baked goods, sweet treats, and refined grains (like white bread and white rice).
Go Walking When Sugar Cravings Hit
Junk food cravings make it difficult to stick to a weight loss plan, so do what you can to kick cravings to the curb.
Going for a walk helps nix sugary snack cravings in people who are overweight, suggest researchers who conducted a 2015 study published in ‘PLoS One'.
So next time you feel the urge to splurge on sweet treats, take a brisk walk outside instead.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!
Sleeping is just as important and eating right and exercising when it comes to the fastest way to lose weight for women.
Sleep deprivation changes hormone levels within your body, causing increases in appetite. When you’re feeling sluggish from lack of sleep, you’re less likely to exercise and burn extra calories throughout the day.
Research shows that sleeping 8.5 hours each night is associated with lower calorie intakes, while sleeping just 4.5 hours per night boosts unhealthy food consumption.
Increases in appetite associated with sleep deprivation make it difficult to cut calories to achieve rapid weight loss.
Women generally need more sleep than men and should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to maximize weight loss.
Journaling about your daily activities is a good strategy when you’re trying to drop weight quickly.
Doing so helps determine where you’re struggling — whether it’s eating too many calories, taking in too much sugar, getting too little exercise, or not sleeping enough.
Use a journal or diary to track progress in each of the following categories: food intake, daily exercise, stress levels, mood, hours of sleep, and weekly weigh-ins.
Record the weight you’ve lost each week to determine which strategies are working (and not working) well. And, seeing the lost weight in writing is a good motivator for many women.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Tracker is a free tool that helps you track food groups you’re eating, total calories, and whether or not you’re taking in enough protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Consider Meal Replacement Shakes
Very low-calorie diets often use meal replacement shakes to ensure nutritional needs are met during periods of extreme dieting.
You should always work with a healthcare provider when choosing VLCD's, but many effective commercial weight loss programs use meal replacement shakes too.
When you’re on the go, in a hurry, or simply don’t have time to prepare healthy meals at home, replace fast-food meals with nutritious meal replacement shakes.
You’ll know exactly how many calories you’re getting, which is crucial when weight loss is your goal.
Many of these shakes are rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure to choose nutrition drinks that are free from (or very low in) added sugar.
Give Up Alcohol
Drinking alcohol doesn’t lend itself well to rapid weight loss, mainly because alcohol is packed with empty calories that can go right to your midsection when consumed in excess.
Alcohol contains almost twice the number of calories per gram as protein and carbohydrates (7 calories in alcohol vs. 4 calories in protein and carbs).
If you’re unable to nix alcohol entirely, keep your intake low — one drink per day for women is a good rule of thumb.
Find an Organized Program
There are a variety of organized weight loss programs you can choose from, and signing up for one helps many women achieve weight loss success.
In fact, a 2017 study published in the ‘American Journal of Men’s Health' says women are more likely than men to use organized programs to shed pounds.
Having a structured program in place, and somebody to keep you accountable (such as a health coach or other diet expert), is a weight loss strategy that works.
If your program doesn’t have individualized goals set in place for you, set weekly weight loss targets yourself to stay motivated.
Goal setting significantly boosts your chance at weight loss success, says a 2016 study published in the ‘Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics'.
A variety of strategies are effective when it comes to finding the fastest way to lose weight for women. It comes down to making sure your total calorie intake is less than the calories you’re burning throughout the day.
Remember, fast weight loss isn’t necessarily better for long term success — aim to lose about 1 to 3 pounds each week to keep lost weight off for good.
Getting started on your weight loss journey means deciding which program works best for you, and making lifestyle changes you can stick with long term.
If you fall off the wagon for a week or two, it’s okay! Simply try a different strategy to stay motivated.
Remember, taking a “cheat day” here and there isn’t the end of the world — and can even be beneficial. If you meet weekly weigh-in and healthy lifestyle goals, reward yourself for a job well done!