15 Ways to Lose Weight Fast, According to Science
While there's no "easy button" for weight-loss, this advice can make your mission easier.
Whether it's a reunion, a vacation that involves a bikini, a wedding, or [fill in the blank other big event causing unnecessary stress about the way you look], women are often searching for quick weight-loss exercises. While 'quick' and 'weight loss' can often be problematic in the same sentence (an important reminder: fast weight loss plans may help you drop pounds, but they're not always safe or lasting!), if you *do* want to kick-start a weight-loss goal, it's important to do your research. Here, 15 science-backed tips that can act as a healthy starter pack if you’re embarking on a get-fit(ter) quest.
Quick Weight-Loss Exercise Tips
Incinerate more calories per step.
Burn 15 percent more calories (about 40 calories more per hour) by adding a slight incline (around 6 percent) to your normally flat 3.5-mile-per-hour walk, advises Mark Fenton, author of The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness. The steeper the hike, the bigger the spike in calories blasted at any speed. Check out this quick weight-loss exercise math:
10 percent incline @ 3 MPH = 50 percent calorie-burn spike
15 percent incline @ 2.5 MPH = 75 percent calorie-burn spike
Bypass the fat-burning zone.
Forget this so-called sweet spot, when you go slow in order to sizzle a higher percentage of calories from fat: Burning more total calories at the highest intensity that you can sustain means you'll also burn more fat overall. For the biggest metabolism boost and quick weight-loss exercise results, "shoot for an eight or nine on an intensity scale of one to 10, where 10 is an all-out sprint," says lead researcher Christopher Perry, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. (Discover 8 other healthy ways to increase your metabolism.)
Push your VO2 max threshold.
When doing cardio, remember to push yourself to the max—your VO2 max, that is. This will train your body to use oxygen more efficiently. A good way to judge this is with the conversation test: If you are able to have a chat during your workout or even during your short rest period in an interval-training workout, you're not working hard enough.
Consider compound exercises.
The best quick weight-loss exercises work multiple joints at once. Many lower-body moves hit the mark here, since they work the three largest muscle groups in your body: the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Challenging them will cause tiny tears in the muscle fibers, thus creating a large "after burn" effect post-workout, as your body requires a lot of energy to repair these tears. (Check out the science behind the afterburn effect.)
Tighten your abs with balancing tricks.
Exercising on wobbly surfaces forces you to engage your core more, flattening your belly. Do your biceps curls standing on one leg on a Bosu ball or this quick weight-loss exercise with a stability ball: Start on the floor in full push-up position with shins on top of ball. Contract your abs and lift your hips to slowly roll the ball forward, keeping your legs straight (end with ankles on ball), to form an inverted “V;” roll back to start. Do two sets of 20 reps.
Squeeze more sculpting out of each rep.
Rather than do three quick weight-loss exercise sets of one strength-training move, do one set of 10 controlled reps in 60 seconds, says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director for the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts. "Not only do you save the time you would have used to rest between sets," he says, "but because you're no longer relying on momentum, you're also guaranteed to work the targeted muscles more and maintain good form."
Sculpt sexier muscles in one blow.
Breathing out as you lift those dumbbells may make you firmer, says research from the University of Montana in Missoula. Exercisers in the study who exhaled on the effort rather than inhaling or breathing normally lifted significantly more weight during triceps extensions, hamstring curls, and chest flyes. Contracting your ab muscles as you exhale can shore up your core to help you hoist extra weight in a standing position, according to study coauthor Sheng Li, Ph.D.
Quick Weight-Loss Diet Tips
Keep a food journal.
The most successful dieters in a study published in the journal Obesity—those who lost 10 percent of their body weight—spent just 15 minutes per day journaling. Research has proven time and again that people are more likely to lose pounds and keep them off when they regularly record their eats and activity.
Crack an egg for breakfast.
Go for a little extra protein first thing in the day and your brain will stave off the munchies later on, according to findings from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Former breakfast skippers who ate a morning meal with a side of yogurt showed fewer feed-me brain impulses and felt fuller. (Related: What Eating the *Right* Amount of Protein Looks Like)
Get more go with a cup of joe.
You've heard that coffee can kick-start your workout, but how much does it take to net the effect? According to a study from the Australian Institute of Sport, even small amounts of caffeine—1.4 milligrams per pound of body weight, or about two cups of coffee a day for the average 140-pound woman—can help boost speed during cardio, like cycling and swimming. For the best pick-me-up, take your daily dose shortly before you hit the gym. (Okay, but really...how much coffee is too much?)
Health and Motivation Tips for Weight Loss
Sleep off the weight.
Getting between six and eight hours of shut-eye a night helped dieters shed more weight in a study from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. "Plus, consistently increasing your sleep, even if by only 30 minutes a night, and sticking to regular bed- and wake-up times can provide you a boost in alertness and help prepare you for your workout," says Cheri D. Mah, a sleep expert at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory. (Related: How to Eat to Improve Your Sleep)
Move to improve your 'tude.
Skip the snooze button to ace this easy, quick weight-loss exercise tip: Sneak in a morning sweat session and you'll experience the exercise high all day. Research has proven that doing just 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise—brisk walking or easy-paced cycling, for example—gives you a feel-good mood recharge that lasts up to 12 hours. (Need some help? See: I Spent the Last Month Trying to Become a Morning Person)
Chill out to firm up.
Take a few minutes to stretch and meditate to clear your head before you rep: Less-stressed exercisers who lifted weights increased their strength gains by up to 25 percent compared with tenser folks, according to a study at the University of Texas at Austin. (Adding these 11 stress-busting foods to your menu can help, too.)
Have a great flex.
Taking some 'me' time after your workout can also help boost your gains. A post-workout cool-down can leave exercisers with a that-wasn't-so-tough impression of their last sweat session—a better mindset for getting back to the gym the next day. (Here’s more about why you should never skip a post-workout cool-down.) Perform a few soothing stretches before you head for the shower, holding each 20 to 30 seconds.
Divide and conquer any distance.
Imagine mini finish lines along your jogging loop to make the time fly. For instance, think in five-mile increments when you tackle double-digit distances, top U.S. marathoner Kara Goucher says. "If I start to get tired, I visualize myself crossing the finish line, which helps me dig a little deeper." (Related: How to Use “Design Thinking” to Achieve Any Goal)