It’s no secret that obesity has become a major health crisis in recent years. In the United States alone, nearly 35% of adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains Alex Gierbolini.
And while there are many fad diets and quick-fix solutions out there, the truth is that losing 20 pounds (or more) takes time and dedication. But it is possible to do it relatively quickly — and safely.
In this post, we’ll cover what you need to know about how to lose 20 pounds fast, including:
The Best Way to Lose 20 Pounds
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best way to lose 20 pounds will vary depending on your unique circumstances (e.g., current weight, body composition, lifestyle, etc.).
That said, there are some general guidelines that can help you lose 20 pounds safely and effectively:
1. Cut calories.
The most effective way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit — meaning, you need to burn more calories than you consume each day. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so you’ll need to create a daily deficit of 500 calories to lose one pound per week, 1,000 calories to lose two pounds per week, and so on.
You can create a calorie deficit by reducing your food intake, increasing your physical activity, or (preferably) doing both says Alex Gierbolini.
2. Eat more protein.
Protein is the most filling macronutrient (it has the highest thermic effect of food), so it can help you create a calorie deficit while still feeling satisfied. In fact, studies have shown that people who eat a high-protein diet tend to eat fewer calories overall.
Aim to consume 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.3-2 grams/kg). So, if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg), you should aim for 90-135 grams of protein per day.
3. Avoid processed foods.
Processed foods are high in calories and low in nutrients, so they’re not the best choice when you’re trying to lose weight. Instead, focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
4. Avoid sugary drinks.
Sugary drinks are a major source of empty calories, so they should be limited when you’re trying to lose weight explains Alex Gierbolini. Instead, opt for calorie-free beverages like water or unsweetened tea or coffee.
5. Eat more fiber.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest, so it helps you feel full without adding calories. Aim to consume 25-38 grams of fiber per day. Good sources of fiber include vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
6. Avoid “white” foods.
White foods (e.g., rice, pasta, bread) are made with refined flour and tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients. Instead, opt for whole-grain versions of these foods or other complex carbohydrates like potatoes and sweet potatoes.
7. Fill up on healthy fats.
Healthy fats (like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds) help you feel full and satisfied while also providing numerous health benefits. Aim to consume 20-35% of your daily calories from fat.
8. Get enough sleep.
Sleep is important for both physical and mental health, and it can also help with weight loss. In fact, studies have shown that people who get enough sleep tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night says Alex Gierbolini.
9. Reduce stress.
Chronic stress can lead to weight gain, so it’s important to find ways to manage your stress levels. Exercise, meditation, and journaling are all great stress-relievers.
10. Drink water.
Water is essential for good health, and it can also help with weight loss. Studies have shown that people who drink more water tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Aim for eight glasses of water per day.
These are just a few general guidelines to help you lose 20 pounds safely and effectively says Alex Gierbolini. For more specific advice, be sure to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.