If your doctor recommends it, there are ways to lose weight safely. A steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is recommended for the most effective long-term weight management.
That said, many eating plans leave you feeling hungry or unsatisfied. These are major reasons why you might find it hard to stick to a healthier eating plan.
However, not all diets have this effect. Low carb diets and whole food, lower calorie diets are effective for weight loss and may be easier to stick to than other diets.
Here are some ways to lose weight that employ healthy eating, potentially lower carbs, and that aim to:
- reduce your appetite
- cause fast weight loss
- improve your metabolic health at the same time
One way to lose weight quickly is to cut back on sugars and starches, or carbohydrates. This could be with a low carb eating plan or by reducing refined carbs and replacing them with whole grains.
When you do that, your hunger levels go down, and you generally end up eating fewer calories (1).
With a low carb eating plan, you’ll utilize burning stored fat for energy instead of carbs.
If you choose to eat more complex carbs like whole grains along with a calorie deficit, you’ll benefit from higher fiber and digest them more slowly. This makes them more filling to keep you satisfied.
A 2020 study confirmed that a very low carbohydrate diet was beneficial for losing weight in older populations (2).
Research also suggests that a low carb diet can reduce appetite, which may lead to eating fewer calories without thinking about it or feeling hungry (3).
Note that the long-term effects of a low carb diet are still being researched. It can also be difficult to adhere to a low carb diet, which may lead to yo-yo dieting and less success in maintaining a healthy weight.
There are potential downsides to a low carb diet that may lead you to a different method. Reduced calorie diets can also lead to weight loss and be easier to maintain for longer periods of time.
If you opt for a diet focusing instead on whole grains over refined carbs, a 2019 study correlated high whole grain with lower body mass index (BMI) (4).
To determine the best way for you to lose weight, consult your doctor for recommendations.
Reducing sugars and starches, or carbs, from your diet can help curb your appetite, lower your insulin levels, and make you lose weight.
But the long-term effects of a low carb diet are not yet known. A reduced calorie diet could be more sustainable.
Each one of your meals should include:
- a protein source
- fat source
- a small portion of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains
To see how you can assemble your meals, check out:
Eating a recommended amount of protein is essential to help preserve your health and muscle mass while losing weight (5).
Evidence suggests that eating adequate protein may improve cardiometabolic risk factors, appetite, and body weight, (6, 7, 8).
Here’s how to determine how much you need to eat without eating too much. Many factors determine your specific needs, but generally, an average person needs (9):
- 56–91 grams per day for the average male
- 46–75 grams per day for the average female
Diets with adequate protein can also help:
- reduce cravings and obsessive thoughts about food by 60%
- reduce the desire to snack late at night by half
- make you feel full
In one study, people on a higher protein diet ate 441 fewer calories per day (10, 11).
Healthy protein sources include:
- meat: beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
- fish and seafood: salmon, trout, and shrimp
- eggs: whole eggs with the yolk
- plant-based proteins: beans, legumes, quinoa, tempeh, and tofu
Low carb and leafy green vegetables
Don’t be afraid to load your plate with leafy green vegetables. They’re packed with nutrients, and you can eat very large amounts without greatly increasing calories and carbs.
Vegetables to include for low carb or low calorie eating plans:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
Don’t be afraid of eating fats.
Your body still requires healthy fats no matter what eating plan you choose. Olive oil and avocado oil are great choices for including in your eating plan.
Other fats such as butter and coconut oil should be used only in moderation due to their higher saturated fat content (12).
Assemble each meal out of a protein source, healthy fat source, complex carb, and vegetables.
Leafy green vegetables are a great way to bulk up a meal with low calories and lots of nutrients.
Exercise, while not required to lose weight, can help you lose weight more quickly. Lifting weights has particularly good benefits.
By lifting weights, you’ll burn lots of calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight (13, 14, 15).
Try going to the gym three to four times a week to lift weights. If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice. Make sure your doctor is also aware of any new exercise plans.
If lifting weights is not an option for you, doing some cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming is very beneficial for weight loss and general health.
Both cardio and weightlifting can help with weight loss.
Resistance training, such as weightlifting, is a great option for losing weight. If that’s not possible, cardio workouts are also effective.
Choose what’s sustainable for you.
If you opt for a low carb eating plan, it’s not necessary to count calories as long as you keep your carb intake very low and stick to protein, fat, and low carb vegetables.
If you find yourself not losing weight, you may want to keep track of your calories to see if that’s a contributing factor.
If you’re sticking to a calorie deficit to lose weight, you can use a free online calculator like this one.
Enter your sex, weight, height, and activity levels. The calculator will tell you how many calories to eat per day to maintain your weight, lose weight, or lose weight fast.
You can also download free, easy-to-use calorie counters from websites and app stores. Here’s a list of 5 calorie counters to try.
Note that eating too few calories can be dangerous and less effective for losing weight. Aim to reduce your calories by a sustainable and healthy amount based on your doctor’s recommendation.
Counting calories isn’t usually needed to lose weight on a low carb eating plan. But if you’re not losing weight or on a reduced calorie eating plan, calorie counting may help.
Here are 9 more tips to lose weight faster:
- Eat a high protein breakfast. Eating a high protein breakfast could help reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day (16, 17).
- Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. Empty calories from sugar aren’t useful to your body and can hinder weight loss (18, 19).
- Drink water before meals. One study showed that drinking water before meals reduced calorie intake and may be effective in weight management (20).
- Choose weight-loss-friendly foods. Some foods are better for weight loss than others. Here is a list of healthy weight-loss-friendly foods.
- Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may promote weight loss. Fiber supplements like glucomannan can also help (21, 22, 23).
- Drink coffee or tea. Caffeine consumption can boost your metabolism (24, 25).
- Base your diet on whole foods. They’re healthier, more filling, and much less likely to cause overeating than processed foods.
- Eat slowly. Eating quickly can lead to weight gain over time, while eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones (26).
- Get good quality sleep. Sleep is important for many reasons, and poor sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for weight gain (27, 28, 29).
For more tips on weight loss, read about natural tips for losing weight here.
Eating whole foods, higher protein, soluble fiber, and less sugar can help you lose more weight. Don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep, too.
These sample meal plans are low carb, which limits carbs to 20–50 carbs per day. Each meal should have protein, healthy fats, and veggies.
If you’d prefer to lose weight while still eating complex carbs, add in some healthy whole grains such as:
- whole oats
- whole wheat
- smoked salmon with avocado and a side of asparagus
- lettuce wrap with grilled chicken, black beans, red pepper, and salsa
- kale and spinach salad with grilled tofu, chickpeas, and guacamole
- BLT wrap with celery sticks and peanut butter
- enchilada salad with chicken, peppers, mango, avocado, and spices
- ground turkey bake with mushrooms, onions, peppers, and cheese
- antipasto salad with white beans, asparagus, cucumbers, olive oil, and Parmesan
- roasted cauliflower with tempeh, Brussels sprouts, and pine nuts
- salmon baked with ginger, sesame oil, and roasted zucchini
You may lose 5–10 pounds (2.3–4.5 kg) of weight — sometimes more — in the first week of a diet plan and then lose weight consistently after that. The first week is usually a loss of both body fat and water weight.
If you’re new to dieting, weight loss may happen more quickly. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you’ll lose it.
Unless your doctor suggests otherwise, losing 1–2 pounds per week is usually a safe amount. If you’re trying to lose weight faster than that, speak to your doctor about a safe level of calorie reduction.
Aside from weight loss, a low carb diet can improve your health in a few ways, though the long-term effects are not yet known:
- blood sugar levels tend to significantly decrease on low carb diets (30)
- triglycerides tend to go down (31)
- LDL (bad) cholesterol goes down (32)
- blood pressure improves significantly (33)
Other diet types that reduce calories and increase whole foods are also associated with improved metabolic markers and slower aging (34, 35, 36). Ultimately, you may find a more balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates is more sustainable.
Significant weight can be lost on a low carb or low calorie diet, but the speed depends on the individual.
General weight loss can improve certain markers of health, such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
By reducing carbs or replacing refined carbs with complex carbs, you’ll likely experience reduced appetite and hunger. This removes the main reasons it’s often difficult to maintain a weight loss plan.
With a sustainable low carb or lower calorie eating plan, you can eat healthy food until you’re full and still lose a significant amount of fat.
The initial drop in water weight can lead to a drop in the scales within a few days. Fat loss takes longer.
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