With a few tweaks to your diet and a consistent exercise routine, you can successfully lose weight and look great in just four weeks. Studies show that a balanced and nutritious diet is an important part of losing weight and keeping it off. Focus on changing just one or two habits each week for your best chance at success.
Week 1: Calculate Your Needs
Overeating is a common problem for those who are overweight. In order to lose weight, you must know how many calories or macronutrients you should be eating.
- Weigh yourself and calculate your body fat percentage.
- Access an online calculator, such as MyFitnessPal or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).
- Input your information, along with your goal, to receive your food intake numbers.
- Keep a daily diet journal or input your meals into a calorie or macro-tracking app, so you know exactly how much you're eating.
For week one, aim to stay with your allotted intake. Weigh yourself again each week to chart your progress. It will help you stay on track with your weight loss goal.
Week 2: Designate Eating Times
Weight gain can occur when you are constantly grazing, even if the food is healthy. When you eat between meals, your body burns the food instead of burning fat. It is also easy to lose track of how much you're eating. To avoid these problems, designate meal and snack times.
- Write down the exact times you will eat each day, including both meals and snacks, and stick to them. You may want to put these directly on your calendar to serve as reminders.
- Avoid eating between meals. Hydrate instead. You're welcome to have water, tea, or coffee, but stay away from items that have sugar, such as fruit juice, soda, shakes or smoothies.
While there is debate over how many times a day you should eat for weight loss, most studies recommend three to five. Choose what works best for you.
Week 3: Plan Meals in Advance
According to a 2017 study, those who plan their meals ahead of time are more successful in maintaining a healthy diet and have a lower chance of being overweight. Planning ahead takes away the pressure of thinking about what you're going to eat as meals approach. It will also prevent you from reaching for something easy and unhealthy when a craving hits.
- Take some extra time on Sunday to plan your meals for the week. Keep it simple by repeating your favorite meals and choosing simple options, like a breakfast smoothie or chicken tacos.
- Go for bulk with carbohydrates. High fiber veggies and low sugar fruit are less calorie and macro-dense than starches and grains. That means you can have much more broccoli, bell peppers, or strawberries than you can rice, potatoes or oatmeal.
- Make sure your protein is lean. Choose chicken breast over thighs. Try ground turkey instead of ground beef. Lean protein gets you the most out of each serving, allowing you to save fats for additions to make your food taste great. The exception is fish, like salmon or tuna, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Week 4: Eat High Quality Fat
Fat is not a four letter word. It's actually good for your body. It helps you absorb nutrients and keeps you feeling satisfied between meals.
- Eat high quality fats, such as almonds or avocados. Eating fat in the morning can help curb cravings later in the day, so have more during breakfast. Keep an eye on your portions because calories and macros add up quickly! A little fat goes a long way.
- Avoid low-fat processed foods. When companies remove the fat, they often add sodium or sugar to compensate.
Adopt a Weekly Exercise Routine
The other essential component of a weight loss program is exercise. Keep it simple.
- Adopt a routine of working out three to five days a week.
- Make sure to mix up your workouts with strength training and cardio. For faster results, try high intensity interval training.
- Take at least one or two days off to rest and recover.
Like with your meals, it may help to schedule your workouts and plan them in advance. It will take the guesswork out of exercise, so you can focus on burning fat and building muscle.
One Day at a Time
The key to following through with a 30-day challenge is to focus on completing your healthy habits one day at a time. A combination of healthy eating and consistent exercise will help you lose weight steadily from day one all the way through to the end. It will take some effort on your part, but if you're truly committed, you can be successful.