Feel healthy and energized at the very beginning of your journey with this jump start weight loss plan.

By Boonsri Dickinson
December 03, 2019

If you've ever had an event sneak up on you, you might've wondered  "Is it even possible to lose weight in 48 hours?" The short answer is no, it's unlikely you'll lose any real weight in 2 days. "Experts recommend a safe level of losing two pounds per week," says Shape's deputy editor, Mary Anderson. "One pound equals 3,500 calories, so to lose a pound in two days, you'd need to eat 2,500 fewer calories"–a crash diet that no one should ever attempt.

However, it is possible to start developing healthy exercise and eating habits in just two days, which is the best way to jump-start weight loss. (Related: 20 Easy Diet Tips That Make Healthy Eating Less Challenging)

To start, make a "plan of attack," suggests Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer and creator of The 5-Factor Diet. Draft a grocery list to buy enough grub for 5 small meals a day. You'll also want to schedule when you'll eat and work out. Mark everything in your calendar like you would an appointment.

Need some extra incentive? Pick up some new workout gear. "A new pair of athletic shoes can give you that extra push to be active," says Pasternak. "They can act as a catalyst between the mind and the body to increase motivation and improve performance."

Or go grocery shopping (see the shopping list at bottom of the page) for the ingredients you'll need for the next two days' worth of meals. When Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet, checks out at the grocery store, her cart's half-full of produce–a strategy that bodes well both in the long-term and the short-term.

The reasons to eat vegetables are plentiful:

  1. Veggies have around 20 calories per serving. Other foods have 3 or 4 times the number of calories.
  2. They have a high percentage of water, so you can feel full from eating them.
  3. They have a lot of potassium in them, which can help regulate blood pressure and fluid in your body.

For the time-strapped, "Go to the store and buy vegetables that you can eat off a veggie tray," suggests Blatner. "Also, buy vegetables that you can grill–zucchinis and squash–and add the vegetables to everything you eat."

These moves can help put you in the right mental state. So stock up the pantry and dust off those running shoes–your 48-hour weight loss jump-start begins now.

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Day 1: Diet

A common weight loss mistake is to eat too few calories, so before you start on this or any other weight loss plan, calculate your personal calorie needs. When it comes to maintaining a healthy body, what you drink counts as much as what you eat. "Drinking 72 ounces of water a day is critical," says Blatner. "Put a nice pitcher of water in the fridge. For flavored water, you can float fresh mint in it or you can put slices of pears or grapefruit in it." (Related: The 7-Day Diet Plan for Weight Loss from 'The Biggest Loser')

Blatner suggests the following menu to fuel yourself throughout the day.

Breakfast: Nutty Oatmeal with Apples (roughly 300 calories)

  • 1/2 cup dry quick oats
  • 1/2 cup original soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts
  • 1 small chopped apple

For breakfast, try hot oatmeal soaked in soy milk and topped with a diced apple. If you woke up hungry, this should hold you over until lunchtime. "[Apples] are filling because they are 85 percent water and have 4.5 grams of fiber," says Blatner. And for those of you worried about your cholesterol, you're in luck. "Oatmeal is a whole grain that can help regulate cholesterol levels with a compound it contains called beta-glucan," she adds.

Lunch: Fresh Tomato & Bean Stuffed Pita (roughly 400 calories)

  • 1 medium whole wheat pita
  • 1/2 cup canned white beans
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing

Stuff a whole-wheat pita with beans, tomatoes, and basil, then dress it up with vinaigrette. The whole wheat pita is low in saturated fat, high in dietary fiber, and cholesterol-free. Everything you'll be eating inside the pita is healthy too, especially the white beans. "Beans are a great source of plant protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and zinc," says Blatner.

Snack: Yogurt & Honey (roughly 100 calories)

  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Not only is yogurt full of protein, but it also contains immune system-boosting good bacteria called probiotics. When you add honey to the yogurt, it'll feed the good bacteria in the yogurt and make the bacteria stronger, says Blatner. "Plus, it's better to add your own sweetness to plain yogurt rather than buying it pre-sweetened because you can control the amount." (Related: 12 Yogurt Health Benefits That Show Off Its Nutritional Power)

Dinner: Salmon with Quinoa and Broccoli (roughly 400 calories)

  • 3 ounces grilled salmon
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon pine nuts
  • 1 juiced lemon
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa

You'll get full on this meal. Grilled salmon is high in nutrients, low in saturated fat, and infused with omega-3 fatty acids. And you can't go wrong with broccoli–the vegetable is touted as a cancer-fighting food, rich in vitamins A and C, and a good source of calcium, iron, and magnesium. As for quinoa, it "contains one of the highest amounts of protein of the whole grains," says Blatner. So trade up from white rice–it's a swap worth the trouble.

So where do chips, cookies, candy, ice cream, and alcohol fit in, you ask? "Nowhere," says Blatner. The goal is to go all-in on a two-day reset, she says. "However, long-term people don't have to think that this two-day diet is how perfect they have to be forever."

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Day 1: Workout

If you're a morning workout kind of person, go ahead and lace up after breakfast. However, if you're more of an afternoon or after-dinner exerciser, feel free to work out when you're most comfortable. "It's about forming a habit and it's about the frequency of exercise," says celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza, who's worked with Jessica Alba. "Schedule it in and write it down in your journal. If you don't have energy five mornings in a row, then switch it up."

The trick to getting lean muscle is to combine weight training with cardio, which is exactly what you'll be doing with Braganza's 3-2-1 program (3 cardio segments, 2 circuit segments, and 1 core segment).

"Try not to take a break. Push through the burn," advises Braganza. "But if you must stop, then stop briefly and then continue." She suggests working out at 75 percent of your target heart rate. (You can figure out what your target heart rate is by subtracting your age from 226, then multiplying that number by 0.75 to get your percentage.) If you chose the right weight, you should feel the burn in the last 5 reps, she says.

The whole program should take an hour and will burn around 300 calories. If you want to burn more, increase the cardio time from 7 minutes to 10, and repeat Circuit A and B three times.

Cardio 1

A. Warm-up by jogging for 2 minutes.

B. Interval train for 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the intensity by either jogging on an incline or by upping the speed.

Circuit A

1. Push-Ups

A. Extend arms to shoulder-width apart and extend legs, balancing on toes.

B. Keeping back straight, lower body down, then push back up to starting position.

Do 20 reps.

Scale down: Drop knees on the ground for support.

2. Leg Lifts

A. Lie flat on one side and extend legs straight.

B. Lift the top leg, then lower it to within a few inches of–but not touching–the bottom leg.

Do 20 pulses on one side, then switch.

Make sure form is correct; lean body slightly forward and don't let top hip roll back. This exercise will work the outer thigh.

3. Chair Dips

A. Sit on the edge of a chair with feet together and flat on the floor. Place hands on the edge of the chair on either side of thighs.

B. Bend elbows 90 degrees and lower body to the floor.

C. Straighten arms to raise body back to the start position.

Do 20 reps.

4. Repeat steps 1-3.

Cardio 2

A. Jump rope for 7 minutes.

Circuit B

1. Chest Press with Dumbbells

A. Sit on an inclined bench, holding medium weights to about shoulder height and then lean back against the bench. Make sure the dumbbells are in line with sides of chest and upper arm is under the dumbbells.

B. Extend the dumbbells up.

C. Lower arms back to the original position.

Do 20 reps. The last 5 reps should feel challenging.

2. Walking Lunges

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart.

B. Lunge right leg forward, bending left knee to about 1 inch above the floor and with the right knee bent at a 90-degree angle directly above ankle.

C. Keeping weight in heels to avoid leaning forward, push off the floor with left foot and lunge  left leg forward.

Do 20 walking lunges.

Scale up: Go deep by twisting into the leading leg and touching the ground with opposite hand.

3. Triceps Extensions

A. Lie on a bench, holding 5- to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand.

B. Start with arms extended to the ceiling.

C. Bending at the elbows and keeping palms facing in, lower dumbbells to ears.

Do 20 reps.

4. Take a 30-second break, then repeat circuit B.

Cardio 3

A. Interval train for 7 minutes. Increase the intensity by either jogging on an incline or by upping the speed and keeping it at a steady pace.

Core

1. Double Crunch

A. Lie faceup with both feet off the ground.

B. Hold elbows behind head, then contract body into a ball until elbows touch knees.

Do 20 crunches.

2. Twisting Bicycle

A. Lie faceup. Alternate touching each elbow to opposite knee (i.e., right elbow toward left knee, and vice versa) while lifting into a crunch.

Do 20 crunches.

3. Leg Lifts

A. Lie faceup with hands under butt.

B. Lift legs toward the ceiling, then bring them down until they nearly touch the floor.

Do 20 reps on each side.

4. Plank

A. Get into kneeling position and brace body against the ground with your elbows and forearms. Extend legs straight back to balance on toes and forearms.

Hold this plank position for 20 to 30 seconds (work up to a full minute).

5. Repeat steps 1-4.

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Day 2: Diet

Breakfast: Almond Toast with Blueberries (roughly 300 calories)

  • 2 slices of toasted whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries

Spread almond butter on toast, and eat with side of blueberries. Not only is are blueberries low in calories, but they're also a good source of fiber and rich in vitamin C. Plus, the blue color comes from the antioxidant anthocyanin, which might protect against diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and heart disease, says Blatner.

Lunch: Chopped Spinach Salad (roughly 400 calories)

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 medium baked potato, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Add chopped ingredients to spinach and toss with dressing.

Forget iceberg or romaine lettuce. "Spinach is a leafy green, and these contain a powerful trio of antioxidants called ACE–vitamins A, C, and E–blood builders such as iron and vitamin K, and bone builders such as calcium and magnesium," says Blatner.

As far a salad ingredients go, eggs are good sources of protein that are still low in fat, which makes them great for building muscle while you lose weight. Having protein in every meal will help keep your metabolism up while your body burns off fat. And don't toss the yolk out of the hard-boiled egg, either; it's rich in vitamin D, which fights diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Snack: Celery with Sunflower Butter (roughly 100 calories)

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower butter
  • 2 medium celery stalks

Enjoy celery spread with sunflower butter, which has more vitamin E than peanut butter.

Dinner: Chicken Vegetable Stir-Fry with Brown Rice (roughly 400 calories)

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 3 ounces grilled chicken breast, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables
  • Top chicken with almonds and cilantro. Eat with side of rice and mixed veggies.

As a whole grain, brown rice is very filling and easy to digest. Also, compared to dry whole grains like crackers, brown rice consists of mostly water so it'll make you feel full, says Blatner. (Related: The Lose 10 Pounds in a Month Diet Plan (That You'll Actually Want to Follow))

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Day 2: Workout

Cardio 1

A. Warm up by jogging for 2 minutes.

B. Interval train for 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the intensity by either jogging on an incline or by upping the speed and keeping it at a steady pace.

Circuit A

1. Dumbbell Rows

A. Put left knee and left hand on a bench.

B. Holding a 12-pound weight in each hand (use lighter weights if this is too heavy), extend right arm straight down so the dumbbell is hanging below shoulder.

C. Pull arms straight back, keeping elbow close to side.

Do 20 reps.

2. Squats

A. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart.

B. Squat down as if sitting in a chair.

Do 20 reps.

Make sure you feel it in your heels so you work the back of your legs. Hold 8-pound weights in your hands if the squats get too easy.

3. Biceps Curls

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart.

B. Holding 5-pound dumbbells in each hand, curl the weights toward shoulders.

Do 20 reps.

4. Repeat steps 1-3.

Cardio 2

A. Jump rope for 7 minutes.

Circuit B

1. Reverse Flye

A. Step forward with one leg and lean forward slightly, keeping head in a straight line with hips and keeping eyes on the ground.

B. Start with a 5-pound weight in each hand, with palms facing body.

C. Lift arms to shoulder height.

D. Lower arms until hands are below chest.

Do 20 reps.

Tip: Keep arms slightly rounded by pretending to hug a tree.

2. Step-Ups

A. Start with right foot on a bench and left foot on the ground.

B. Step up onto the bench, straightening the right leg.

C. Tap the bench with left foot, then immediately return left foot to ground again.

Keeping right foot on bench, continue for 20 reps. Switch sides; Repeat.

3. Lateral Shoulder Raise

A. Stand tall with 5-pound dumbbells in each hand at sides.

B. Raise hands by sides to shoulder height.

C. Lower arms back down.

Do 20 reps.

4. Repeat steps 1-3.

Cardio 3

A. Interval train for 7 minutes. Increase the intensity by either jogging on an incline or by upping the speed and keeping it at a steady pace.

Core

1. Double Crunch

A. Lie faceup, starting with both feet off the ground.

B. Hold elbows behind head, then contract body into a ball until elbows touch knees.

Do 20 crunches.

2. Twisting Bicycle

A. Lie faceup. Alternate touching each elbow to your opposite knee (i.e., right elbow toward left knee, and vice versa) while lifting into a crunch.

Do 20 crunches.

3. Leg Lifts

A. Lie flat on one side and extend legs straight.

B. Lift the top leg, then lower it to within a few inches of–but not touching–the bottom leg.

Do 20 pulses on one side, then switch.

4. Plank

A. Get into kneeling position and brace body against the ground with your elbows and forearms. Extend legs straight back to balance on toes and forearms.

Hold this plank position for 20 to 30 seconds (work up to a full minute).

5. Repeat steps 1-4.

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Keep Your Progress Going

If you've made it this far, chances are you'll continue working out. Braganza suggests doing her workout three days a week, alternating with 30 to 40 minutes of straight cardio every other day (you'll have one day of rest each week).

But this routine will only be good for 4 to 6 weeks. After that, you'll have to make tweaks to the routine in order to see any noticeable changes. As creatures of habit, we like doing the same exercise–but if you're trying to lose weight, your efforts will no longer work. "This is called the principle of adaptation," says Braganza. "There needs to be variety in the exercises you do. You can do the same body parts but learn new exercises for them."

(Related: 6 Sneaky Reasons You're Not Losing Weight)

Sometimes grabbing a workout buddy might help you stay in a program for the long haul. Another way to spice up your daily physical activity is to avoid the gym altogether and just go outside. "Take a walk and track how far you go with a pedometer. Or play with your kids or dogs," Braganza suggests. Also, participating in other sports–biking, hiking, or rock climbing, for instance–is a great way to stay active. Find something you like to do and keep doing it.

Whatever you do, make sure you write your diet habits and exercise activities down. Blatner says if you keep track of what you are eating, then you'll lose twice as much weight.

"I do think there is an extreme value of doing a jump start for yourself. The number one reason why people don't stick to a plan is because they don't see the results fast enough," says Blatner. Doing something like this for part of the week will make you more likely to develop healthier habits over your lifetime.

2-Day Shopping List

  • Dry quick oats
  • Original soymilk
  • Walnuts
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 medium-size whole wheat pita
  • 1 can of white beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Plain low-fat yogurt
  • Honey
  • 3 ounces grilled salmon
  • Broccoli florets, chopped
  • Pine nuts
  • 1 lemon
  • Quinoa
  • Loaf of whole wheat bread
  • Almond butter
  • Carton of fresh blueberries
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium baked potato
  • Carrots
  • Bottle of vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Sunflower butter
  • 2 medium celery stalks
  • 1 small bag of brown rice
  • 3 ounces grilled chicken breast
  • Sliced almonds
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 1 bag of frozen vegetable medley
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