If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know how hard the weight loss journey can be. There are numerous weight loss programs, diets and supplements that claim they are all the best to help you lose weight.
However, as weight loss options increase, it seems obesity continues to increase globally. For years, low calorie and low fat diets have been prescribed for those who want to lose weight.
However, a 2007 American Psychological Association research article (1) concluded one third to two thirds of dieters regain more weight than what they lost on when following a diet.
So, what can really help with successful weight loss? Following fad diets or taking short term supplements won’t help you long term with your goals.
The goal for weight loss and overall health is to not go through the yo-yo diet phase where you lose weight, gain it back (or more) and cycle back and forth.
What can be hard with weight loss is adjusting for the slowdown in basal metabolism as you lose weight.
Losing 40 pounds in 2 months can be possible, but it will take some drastic changes and consistency.
What is also important to consider is what your plan for overall health will be after 2 months.
Cut out refined carbohydrates and sweets
One of the first steps for successful weight loss is to cut out added sugars, refined carbohydrates and sweets.
Simple carbohydrates like white flour, sugary beverages and packaged snacks are considered empty calorie sources.
They can also cause blood sugar to raise rapidly after eating. A rise in blood sugar can stimulate a release of insulin to remove the sugar from the blood stream and into body cells.
Another consequence of insulin is it promotes fat storage. Therefore, by cutting out sources of sugar and refined carbohydrates, you naturally lower the release of insulin.
Eat a low carb diet
If you want to lose 40 pounds in 2 months, you will need to lose about 5 pounds per week.
In order to do this, it will take some drastic measures. Besides cutting out refined carbohydrates and added sugar, you can take it a step further and eat an even more low carbohydrate diet.
Low carbohydrate diets can vary in definition, but most research studies looking at low carb diets for weight loss define a low carb diet by eating 40 grams or less of carbs per day.
In order to meet this, you would also have to cut out whole grains, some fruits and starchy vegetables in addition to refined carbohydrates.
In order to still get vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet while following a low carb diet, it is important to eat a high amount of leafy green vegetables and other non starchy vegetables.
A 2014 study (2) examined the effects of a low carb diet versus a low fat diet on weight loss in 148 men and women.
Researchers found the low carb diet was more effective for weight loss compared to a lower fat diet (less than 30% of calories from fat). The group following the low carb diet also had lower triglyceride levels and high HDL cholesterol.
Other studies, but not all, have shown low carb diets to have a stronger impact on weight loss compared to a low fat diet.
Initial weight loss within the first few months can be more pronounced with a low carb diet. If you are trying to lose 40 pounds in 2 months, using a low carb approach may help you get there.
Fill up on fiber, protein and don’t be afraid of fat
What can be challenging on extreme diets that promise fast weight loss is always feeling hungry and deprived.
In a January 2016 TIME article (3), Dr. David Ludwig an endocrinologist at Harvard School of Public Health suggests healthy sources of fat like avocados, nuts, full fat dairy and dark chocolate can be weight loss allies instead of your enemy.
When cutting out refined carbohydrates, replacing them with healthy fat and protein sources can increase satiety and satisfy your appetite.
Filling up on fiber and protein can also help increase satiety long after eating. Fueling up on lean proteins, heart healthy fats and high fiber vegetables can create satisfying, nutrient dense meals that can help you lose weight in a sustainable way.
Add in a variety of exercise
Adding in exercise when shifting your food intake can help promote the loss of fat and keep your lean muscle mass.
Exercise can increase your calorie expenditure, and if you are trying to lose 40 pounds in 2 months your exercise level should be fairly high.
Moderate, aerobic exercise has been the go to for exercise that supports weight loss. However, doing higher intensity workouts for a shorter duration has been shown to have promising effects for weight loss.
A 2011 review (4) of high intensity exercise and weight loss suggests this type of exercise may be more impactful for losing abdominal fat.
High intensity exercise has also been shown to lower insulin resistance and enhance muscle fat oxidation.
Incorporating a workout routine that incorporates moderate intensity, high intensity and strength training can all provide benefit for overall health and supporting fat loss.
Before you start any exercise routine, you should consult your health care team and take into account your own health factors.
Exercising on a low carb diet can be challenging and may increase fatigue. Adding extra carbohydrates on days you exercise may be beneficial so your energy levels and muscle strength are not compromised.
What about after the 2 months?
Having a weight loss goal is a good thing. However, it is important to realize weight loss is much more than a number on the scale. Losing excess body fat can lower risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
Even if you don’t hit your goal of losing 40 pounds in 2 months, any weight loss can have benefits on your health.
The key component with successful weight loss is to be consistent with your efforts and keeping weight loss efforts with something that sustains your overall health.
After your 2 month window, what will be your eating and exercise habits? Sticking with healthy eating and an active lifestyle long term is important for your health regardless of what number you see on the scale.