The answer to the question is YES. From what I have learned over a number of years, however, a slow weight loss is typically the most effective. Losing weight in the short term can be helpful, though, as a jump start. If, say, you are heading to the beach for spring break, and you want to lose a few pounds, you can do so in a healthy manner. You can even keep it off if you play your cards right. My suggestion is always to take the long term approach, but if you have an event like a wedding or spring break, using that as a goal to help you start the process is fine.
The following are three ways to lose a few pounds in a few weeks:
1. Drink more water. Wake up and drink a glass of water. Drink a glass of water a few hours later. Before lunch, drink a glass of water. Drink a water bottle all afternoon. Drink a glass of water before (or with) dinner. Drink some herbal tea with lemon an hour before you head to bed. Why is water helpful to losing weight?
The body doesn’t differentiate well hunger from thirst. If you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, you may mistake thirst for hunger and eat more than you really need, which can also impair weight loss.
An abstract by Dr. Brenda Davy, associate professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech, presented at a 2009 obesity conference in Phoenix, Arizona, showed that people who drank two glasses of water 20 to 30 minutes before every meal lost weight more quickly initially and lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t.
In another study by Davy, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, she found that people who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal. Think about that… if you ate 75 fewer calories at lunch and dinner for the next year, you could lose over 14 pounds! Finally, being even 1 percent dehydrated can cause a significant drop in metabolism, which can also infringe on weight loss.
2. Cut back on bad carbs. We have heard about “bad” carbs for a while now, and it can be confusing. For a thorough look at good v. bad carbs see this Dr. Oz article. Basically, if you cut back on white breads and sugary snacks you are doing a lot to minimize your carb intake. I am a big fan of fruit (yes bananas, too) and so I would never tell anyone to cut back on fruit. Increasing the amount of vegetables we eat is important. Most vegetables are of the “good” kind and so filling up on those helps us avoid the “bad” variety such as breads, etc.. Even just cutting out all white carbs (and only eating a small amount of whole grain carbs) can jump start a weight loss for spring. Then add just the healthy variety slowly back into your diet after that.
3. Maximize your workouts. You do not necessarily need to workout more in order to lose weight. You just need to be more efficient. Interval training is a great way to burn more calories as it allows you to up the intensity of your exercise and continue to burn more calories for several hours after your workout.
I wrote about Tabata workouts last week. Intervals involving alternating short sprints (or weights) with short rest periods are a great way to boost your heart rate and possibly your metabolism. Even adding quick speed intervals to your regular workout pace can help. If you are lifting weights, try limiting the rest time between exercises to keep your heart rate elevated, or do 10 jumping jacks to turn strength training workouts into cardiovascular workouts, too.
These three things can be just the right combination of change that you need to lose a few pounds quickly. As I mentioned earlier, the best results are what you can sustain, not what you can do in the short term. Realistic goals, healthy eating, and a balance of intense exercise (while drinking lots of water) are great ways to prepare for spring or summer fun in the sun.