How to lose 10 pounds in a month

Trying to squeeze into that perfect outfit before the wedding? Worried about looking good in a swimsuit? Or maybe you’re just hoping to slim down before an upcoming interview. Whatever the reason, many adults rely on weight loss pills and the drastic elimination of certain foods and beverages to quickly lose excess pounds before a big event.

Instead of turning to the latest fad diet, consider a more balanced approach to weight loss. Through portion control, calorie reduction, sugar-free foods and beverages and regular exercise, a healthy weight loss is possible in a relatively short time-frame. Here are a few tips to help you safely lose up to 10 pounds in less than two months.

2. Eat Clean

Salad with avocado and greens

We always say “no one ever got fat by eating too many fruits and vegetables,” because it’s true. Fill up your plate with veggies, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats with real ingredients. Say goodbye to processed, packaged foods and artificial ingredients. Get rid of your soda habit. Eliminate added sugars. These are the things that will change your diet for good, creating sustainable, life-long habits that boil down to Michael Pollan’s philosophy: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” By counting calories (as we said above, it does matter) and making those calories healthy and clean, you’ll have one half of your weight loss equation solved.

Related: 5 Ways To Simplify Healthy Eating

3. Combine Cardio and Strength

You can’t lose weight based on your dietary choices alone. Yes, it’s one half of the battle, but you won’t see any results without exercise. Many people get caught up in not knowing where to begin when it comes to exercise, whether they’ve avoided it for years or have fallen into a slump and aren’t sure what will work anymore. Let’s start with the basics: to lose weight you need to hit a few minimum exercise requirements each week:

  1. At least 150 minutes of moderate, heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise each week. This can be divided up however you want, and done through activities like running, biking, or anything else that gets your heart rate up.
  2. At least 2-3 strength training sessions per week. Strength training is the KEY to a revved up metabolism, because the more muscle you have on your body, the higher your resting metabolic rate. (Your resting metabolic rate is how many calories your body burns at rest.)

What’s an easy way to tackle both of these requirements at once? Try getting your cardio and strength done at once using circuit and interval training. Circuit and interval workouts require you to give all-out effort, so they get your heart pumping hard, and typically use a series of strength moves to do so. This helps you tackle both your cardio and strength at the same time, which can be helpful if you’re short on time. A huge factor to consider when you want to lose weight is intensity. You need to be sure you’re training in different heart rate zones. (Use our heart rate calculator to find your personal training zones!)

4. Prioritize Sleep and Minimize Stress 

woman sleeping in bed

Lastly, aside from diet and exercise, there are other factors that can make losing weight difficult. These two factors are often overlooked when looking to lose weight, but they do matter. There’s a scientific link between the stress hormone cortisol and belly fat. And sleep deprivation throws two hormones that regulate your appetite—leptin and ghrelin—out of whack, making it harder for you to feel satiated, thus causing overeating. Work on ways to manage daily stressors and prioritize getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. These things can help make your weight loss journey a bit easier.

Lose 10 Pounds in a Month – The Diet

Your nutrition is going to have the biggest impact on reaching your goals. Here are your dietary guidelines (you can download a free 1 week sample meal plan below that puts all these guidelines into effect):

  • Drink at least 1 gallon of water a day (drink a full glass of water upon waking)
  • 10-20% of your calories can be “free” calories to prevent over-restriction
  • .6-.8 grams of protein per pound of body mass divided somewhat evenly into each meal
  • 5-6 meals/snacks per day spaced evenly every 3 hours (ie 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm)
  • 1tsp – 1tbsp of Carlson’s Omega 3 Oil per day (essential fatty acids)
  • .5-.75 grams per pound of body weight in carbohydrates in your post strength training meal
  • 1 piece of fruit in your first meal of the day on cardio days
  • 1.5 grams/lb of body weight in carbs on Sunday for your refeed. You may space these out however you want that day.
  • 10-12 times your body weight in calories (if you have a higher body fat, use the lower number). Or you can use my calorie calculator to get a more accurate number.
  • Eat green veggies or other low carb, high fiber veggies in as many meals as possible (see below for examples)
  • Fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats spaced somewhat evenly into all meals (see below)

Veggie List:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Mixed Greens
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce

There are also many more veggies to choose from on this list of 100 healthy foods to eat.

Meal Outline:

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday:

  • Meal 1 – Protein/Carb/Veggie (This is your post workout meal. If you work out later in the day, have your carb meal then.)
  • Meal 2 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 3 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 4 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 5 – Protein/Fat/Veggie

Sunday:

  • Meal 1 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 2 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 3 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 4 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • Meal 5 – Protein/Fat/Veggie
  • +1.5 grams/lb of body weight in carbs spread throughout the day however you want.

Now you just need to find meals to fit into these guidelines. I’ve created a sample 1-week diet you can download that follows the above guidelines. Click here to download your meal plan.

The Workout

Exercise is going to make it much easier for you to drop those 10 pounds of fat. Here are your workout guidelines:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Strength training
  • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – Either 45 minutes of steady state cardio or 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training
  • Sunday – Rest

There is a lot of room to play here with workout variations. Your weight training needs to be anaerobic in nature. You should be using a good amount of resistance, whether it’s with weights or bodyweight exercises. A very basic strength training week using weights might look like this:

  • Monday – 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each of the following exercises: Bench Press, Barbell Rows, Squats
  • Wednesday – 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each of the following exercises: Incline Press, 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows, Deadlifts
  • Friday – 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises: Overhead Press, Pullups, Good Mornings
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***Repeat each week, but continually increase the weight each time, or at least add some reps to each set.

An effective bodyweight strength training month might look like this:

  • Monday – 1 minute pushups, 1 minute pullups, 1 minute squat jumps, rest 1 minute (repeat 5 times)
  • Wednesday – 1 minute burpees, 1 minute box jumps, 1 minute bear crawls, rest 1 minute (repeat 5 times)
  • Friday – 1 minute bodyweight rows, 1 minute dips, 1 minute jumping lunges, rest 1 minute (repeat 5 times)

***Repeat each week, but try to break your previous week’s numbers by getting in more reps each minute.

4. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant-based foods, such as whole grains and produce that cannot be digested by humans.

It’s also weight loss friendly since it fills you up.

In fact, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine,  when 240 adults with the metabolic syndrome consumed 30 grams of fiber a day while keeping the rest of their diet intact, they lost more pounds than the control group.

What’s more, fiber also improves metabolic markers such as blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

How much fiber do you need to consume?

According to the dietary guideline, have 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day.

But, when it comes to losing weight, that might not prove enough. That said, I highly recommend that you get around 40 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed, including as many minimally processed plant foods in your diet as possible.

Here are a few precious sources of fiber:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Flax seeds
  • Asparagus
  • Oats
  • Brussel sprouts

6. Don’t Drink Your Calories

Research points out that the consumption of sugary drinks is one of the top contributors to the current obesity epidemic.

In fact, the average American guzzles on average 250 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s about 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds!

Even the so-called diet drink won’t help you lose any weight as research conducted at the Imperial College in London reported that they are just as dangerous and weight gain friendly as those containing sugars.

Here is how to reduce your intake of sugary beverages:

First, wean yourself off any sugary beverage that’s not plain water, black coffee, or green tea.

Next, always have an alternative. Stock up on plenty of non-soda drinks to make giving up the sugary kinds as convenient as possible.

Further, look into the sugar content of your favorite drinks.

This image can help.

8. Try Intermittent Fasting

Multiple reviews and randomized clinical trials have concluded that intermittent fasting promotes weight loss in overweight and obese subjects.

In fact, a study revealed that IF could help reduce body weight by three to eight percent over a period of three to 20 weeks.

Just don’t get me wrong. Intermittent fasting is NOT a diet, but an eating schedule that is purported to speed up fat loss and muscle growth.

Intermittent fasting protocols involve skipping meals during the fasting period, forcing the dieter to decrease calorie intake while limiting “feeding”  to a specific window of time.

During the fasting period, drink plenty of water, and zero-calorie beverages, steering clear of anything with any caloric content.

As long as you don’t compensate by indulging in junk and unhealthy foods during the “feeding periods,” then you’re doing it right.

Here are the main IF protocols to consider:

  • The 16/8 Method. Skip breakfast every day and have your meals during an 8-hour feeding window, such as from 2 pm to 10 pm.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat. Go on one to two 24-hour fasts each week.
  • The 5:2 Diet. Consume no more than 500 calories two days per week, but have your regular meals the remainder of the week.

10. Remove Distractions

After assessing the eating habits of 60 women, research conducted at the University of Surrey and published in the Journal of Health and Psychology found that dieters who consumed food “on the go” increased their calorie intake later in the day.

This, as you can already tell, increases the risks of weight gain and obesity.

Another research published in the Journal Appetite found that subjects who ate lunch while playing games or watching TV ended up snacking more later compared to those who were more mindful about their food intake.

Further, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that multitasking (like eating while texting, talking on the phone, watching TV, or working) triggered overeating.

The worst offender? Walking.

In fact, subjects who had their meals while walking consumed more food compared to eating while watching TV, playing games or having a conversation with a friend.

The reason? Well, the researchers have speculated that when gobbling down food on the go, we don’t consider it as a “real meal.” Thus, we subconsciously eat more later in the day.

Here is how to become a “mindful eater”:

  • Have your meals as a singular activity instead of eating while performing other tasks. Then, sit down and eat with intention.
  • Chew slowly, concentrating on the food and avoiding all sorts of distractions. Try chopsticks if you don’t usually use them.
  • Take your time to eat an average sized meal—typically 15 to 20 minutes.

11. Eat a Big Breakfast

When it comes to managing your appetite, science states that starting your day with breakfast is the way to proceed.

The reasoning?

By having your morning meal, you’re not as famished, thus are less likely to indulge comes next meal.

In research published in the Journal Obesity, a group of obese women with metabolic syndrome was divided into two groups:

  • Group I consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 200 calories at dinner,
  • Group II had 200 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 700 calories at dinner.

Guess which group lost more weight?

At the end of the experiment, Group I lost roughly 18 pounds and dropped three inches from their waist compared to 8 pounds and 1.4 inches for the other group.

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Moreover, researchers at the Imperial College of London assessed the effects of skipping break on the brain using MRI scans, and the results were quite intriguing.

The centers in the brains  —The orbitofrontal cortex— of breakfast skippers lit up when the subjects were shown pictures of calorie-rich foods such as cake, chocolate, pizza.

Not only that, when the subjects were offered lunch, they consume 20 percent more calories at the lunch buffet.

Skipping breakfast, according to the researchers, made the participants more prone to indulge in unhealthy eating than those who had their morning meal.

In other words, by skipping breakfast, you’re priming your brain to seek out extra calories later in the day. And that’s not cool.

Not yet sold on the importance of breakfast?

Researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California found that one of four factors associated with a drop in body mass index was having a substantial breakfast instead of skipping it.

17. Exercise Portion Control

Research has tied increased portion sizes in Americans’ diet to the excessive calorie intake leading to the current obesity epidemic in the U.S.

That said, research also revealed that opting for pre-packaged, portion controlled, meals, can lead to a higher weight loss than a self-selected diet.

One example is a study of 183 overweight subjects published in the Journal Obesity that found portion controlled meals can help dieters shed weight.

Another research conducted at the Cambridge University found those who used a smaller plate reduced their calorie intake by 160 calories, making portion size one of the single most effective measures you can take to aid lasting weight loss.

Here is how to exercise portion control:

  • Buy single-serving packaged meals, opting for nutritious foods in the right proportions.
  • Use your hands as a guide: consume two handfuls of vegetables, one fistful of good crabs, a palm of lean protein, a thumb of healthy fats at every meal.
  • When out, order the smallest portion of everything. Instead of getting the seven-inch sandwich, buy a small salad, a small hamburger, etc.

19. Use A bigger Fork

According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, using a bigger fork helped subjects consume fewer calories.

In the unique experiment, the researchers took over an Italian restaurant over the course of two days, then randomly selected tables to receive either unusually large forks that were 20 percent larger than average, and unusually small forks that were 20 percent smaller.

At the end of the experiment, the researchers concluded that the costumers who received the bigger forks consumed less food.

In fact, those who opted for a bigger fork left roughly 7.9 ounces of food on their plates when they were finished compared to 4.4 ounces in the other group.

According to the researchers, people with the bigger forks may have felt fuller with less food since they were eating larger mouthfuls, creating the impression that they were consuming more food.

22. Join a Yoga Class

Regular yoga practice is strongly associated with mindful eating, which, in turn, may curb binge eating, according to research held at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Another study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that regular short yoga training reduces weight and cardiovascular disease risk in overweight men.

Furthermore, research published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that six months of yoga drastically reduce body weight, lean body mass,  and waist circumference in obese post-menopausal women.

The reason yoga is effective at weight loss might be due to a reduction in the levels of cortisol—a hormone that rises during times of high stress and a known culprit in increasing abdominal fat.

Not to mention the diverse physical, emotional, and psychological benefits that yoga has to offer.

Here is a YouTube Tutorial to help you get started on the yoga path.

Already a practitioner? Hen give these three powerful yoga routines a try.

  • The Strength Routine
  • The Core Routine
  • The Restorative Routine

24. High-Intensity Interval Training

Extended steady cardio state burns calories, but to make the most out of your workouts, high-intensity interval training is the way to go.

High-intensity interval training combines intervals of high-intensity effort with periods of low-to-moderate effort for recovery.

Research found that this form of training burns more calories and increases metabolism drastically longer than steady state training of even longer length.

Here are three HIIT routines to try:

25. Exercise First Thing in the Morning

Working out in the morning, before breakfast, seems to drastically increase calorie burn and weight loss in some individuals.

In fact, research out of Northumbria University found that exercising in the morning on an empty stomach can help trainees shed up to 20 percent more fat compared to working out after breakfast.

Here is how to become a morning exerciser:

  • Plan your workout thoroughly the night before.
  • Lay your workout gear in the open the night before your morning workout
  • Set two alarm clocks and put them away out of arm’s reach
  • Keep a consistent routine by setting your alarm clock for the same time every morning—even on weekends.
  • Get enough sleep, shooting for seven to nine hours per night. This makes getting up earlier easier.
  • Pair up with a training buddy to hold each other you accountable.

26. Keep a Food Diary

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the more records you keep of the food you consume, the more weight you’re going to lose.

In the six-month experiment, the researchers 1700 overweight subjects were encouraged to exercise and follow a sensible diet while keeping a food diary.

At the end of the experiment, the religious record keepers lost about twice as much weight as those didn’t keep food record that often.

Here are a few things to keep track of:

  • Time spent eating
  • Place of meal
  • Your mood at the time of the meal
  • Hunger levels at the time

27. Sleep Well

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, late-night high-carb snacking increases in people who are sleep deprived.

Further research conducted at the University of Chicago revealed that sleep-deprived subjects consumed snacks with twice as much fat as those who had enough sleep.

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Another research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that women who do not sleep enough are 30 percent more likely to gain about 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who sleep eight to nine hours each night.

Sleep and Weight Gain—The Missing Link

Sleep deprivation hinders proper activity in the brain’s frontal lobe—the center for impulse control and decision making.

For that reason, it’s harder to resist temptations and unhealthy indulgences.

Lack of sleep also fires up biochemical reactions which mess with your hunger hormones, resulting in weight gain and other health trouble, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive failure, etc.

How much sleep do you need?

Depends on the individual, but research suggests that aiming for 7 to 9 hours per night is a good rule.

28. Surround yourself with The Right People

According to a University of California research a, having a friend who gained weight in a given interval makes 57 percent more likely to do so yourself.

On the flip side, you’re more likely to achieve sustained weight loss if you had an exercise buddy who successfully lost weight, according to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Further research also showed that those who embarked on the weight loss journey with friends were more likely to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight than those when went on their own.

Here is how to put peer pressure to your advantage:

First, communicate your weight loss and fitness goals within your social environment.

Next, check out online communities, on Facebook, Twitter, or other forums, that offer support, advice, and monthly challenges to help you along your weight loss journey.

Here is a list of websites to check out:

  • Spark People
  • com
  • FitLink
  • Peer Trainer
  • Weight Loss Buddy
  • Weight Loss Wars

29. Meditate to a Thinner Body

It’s not a secret that emotional eating has a significant impact on healthy body weight, and can interfere with your weight loss goals.

Here is the good news.

Daily mindful practice can make you more aware of hunger cues, emotional triggers, and feelings tied with binge eating.

Research held at the North Carolina State University divided 80 subjects into two groups:

  • Group I engaged in daily meditation
  • Group II designed their own

The conclusion?

The meditation group shed an average of 4.2 pounds—seven times the other group’s average of 0.6 pounds.

Another research from The French NutriNet Santé reported that regular meditation could decrease the risk of obesity by 50 percent.

So, please Build the habit of daily meditation, whether it’s in the form of:

  • Breathing exercises,
  • Vipassana
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Muscle relaxation,
  • Self-hypnosis,
  • Yin yoga,

Check this beginner YouTube tutorial for getting started down the mindfulness path:

30. Reduce Your Stress

Cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands, has been strongly tied to increased food cravings and stubborn belly fat by plenty of research. This hormone helps regulate appetite, metabolism, and body composition.

Research published in the Journal Obesity assessed the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in locks of hairs gathered from subjects and found that the more elevated cortisol levels in a participant, the bigger the body weight, waist circumference and BMI of the person.

Also, researchers suggest that stress may also limit the secretion of peptide YY (PYY), which is a fullness hormone that regulates appetite and is released by cells in the intestines and colon.

Here is how to dial down on stress:

  • Meditate regularly
  • Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people
  • Spend more time in nature and away from screens
  • Laugh out loud more often
  • Treat yourself nice
  • Learn to say no
  • Etc

32. Visualize the Food You Crave

Research published in Science found that subjects who imagined themselves repeatedly indulging in junk food ended up consuming less of the actual food when given the chance than those who didn’t visualize consuming the same foods.

In other words, the classic thought-suppression strategy is actually futile when it comes to trying to weight loss and building healthier eating habits and patterns.

Here is how to put into use:

Instead of suppressing and trying not to think about the foods you crave, imagine yourself gorging on piles of cookies, chocolate, cheese, pizza, and other tempting junk foods and snacks.

It’s that simple.

 It worked.

How I lost 10lb in 1 month...and have kept it off

Ps…Sadly, I am not exaggerating my stomach in this “before” pic, I was simply letting it completely relax. (If you compare the angle of my back arch in the two pictures, you'll see as such). It was a shocking realization; the first time I noticed how far my body had gone, because I spent most of my time sucking in my stomach.

I worked my tail off, and I lost the 10lb. I learned a lot about myself along the way, and learned a lot about fitness too. The two main things I learned is:

So…what did I do to lose 10lb in 1 month?

  • Exercised at home 5-6 nights per week, often times at midnight or later. We borrowed a friend's Insanity DVD because I didn't know where else to turn for a good at-home workout. I hated Insanity though, it was soooo boring and was all cardio – I felt like I didn't get toned at all (see below for my new suggestion). *note* The cardio was good for losing weight fast, but now I'm focusing more on toning my core to help get my body in check.
  • I did every exercise with my husband, because I knew I would get lazy and slack off if I did it by myself.
  • I posted my progress on Instagram and got family involved, to get encouragement and suggestions, and be held accountable.
  • I cut back on sugar. I didn't cut it out completely (what kind of life is that??), I just found balance and ate it in moderation. But since I'm a sugar-addict, the cutting back I did was pretty drastic for my typical lifestyle.
  • I stopped eating after 7:30 pm. Not a bite.
  • I was conscious about that I ate. I didn't use a food log (though, get a cute free one HERE!) or count calories or anything, I just made conscious decisions. I stopped mindlessly eating. I cut out unnecessary snacking, cooked healthier, and made the veggie the largest portion on my plate at dinner.
  • I drank more water (water only week, anyone??)
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