We need to know how to lose weight fast, because sometimes the urge rushes over us and we must suddenly just do something about excess fat. Too much body fat is bad for your health, you know it! This list is for times like now, when we want fast, sensible, evidence-based action tips we can follow right now, this minute! Still reading the intro? Stop reading the intro! Get onto it!
1. Get Real
Real weight loss demands real commitment and real action. You cannot score when you are sitting on the bench or relegated to the sin bin. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You’ve heard all the tropes before, but hard truths are cliché for a reason. The first way to lose weight fast is to want to lose weight so badly, that you act. The initial fire and determination won’t last but solid planned and prepared action will. Do Number One and Number Two and any five others from this list to lose weight fast*.
2. Record What you Eat to Lose Weight Fast
Whether or not you go on a diet, or actively count calories with our tracker, or consciously make food calorie choices, you should record your meals. Write everything you eat in a personal food diary. It is not hard to do and you don’t need to use it for the rest of your life. Keeping a food diary is just about the only uncontested, incontrovertible, rock-solid, proven way to sustainably lose weight fast. After a few days of diligently recording yourself, you will lead yourself to lower calories. No celebrity lifestyle coach required.
3. Feel the Burn! Eat Capsaicin Often
Spicy food which contains capsaicin (the spicy thing in chili peppers) will help you to lose weight faster than otherwise. As with many of the other tips on this list, there is scientific evidence both for and against the weight-loss effect of capsaicin. Even if spicy food does not chemically “burn fat” or speed your metabolism if it is spicy enough you will naturally eat less food. This is because you are likely to eat slower and sip water in between mouthfuls, so you will feel fuller faster.
4. Cut the Cheese
Cheese is high calorie concentrated milk which adds big-time calories to everyday food like sandwiches, pizza, and pasta. Cut cheese out fast to lose weight fast. It is an entirely avoidable food. Get your macros and calcium elsewhere. Cheese is not your friend when you are trying to cut the kilos.
5. Fibre is Your Friend
The defining feature of dietary fibre is its toughness. It is tough to chew, tough to break down in the stomach, and tough to digest in the intestines. It is so tough, that we need help from friendly gut bacteria, which symbiotically live inside of us, munching on the tough fibre we eat. That fibre soaks up water and takes a long time and a lot of energy to digest. For all the while it lingers inside, it occupies space that might otherwise be filled with pies and cheesecake. For this reason alone, replace soft food with fibre-rich food to lose weight fast.
6. Want to Lose Weight Fast? Then Drink up!
Water and water-based drinks are an obvious solution for the incessant consumer of small snacks. There is a good reason that study after study reveals that people who constantly sip water throughout the day lose weight faster than people who do not. Yes, water is essential for life and will promote health in a myriad of ways, but its most important function from a weight-loss perspective is the space it takes up. When you start sloshing around with a bellyful of water, you are less likely to reach for the bikkies. One ham sandwich seems to fill the gap where before two did the job. That sneaky second serve of risotto becomes less desirable. Drink water to trick your stomach and fool your lizard brain.
7. Break your Routine
First, look at your excess weight, then come to a logical understanding: the choices you have made have led to this situation. So, make different choices to end the situation and create a new, better one. Different choices mean doing different things, and doing different things means breaking old routines and leaving timeworn comfort zones. Wake up earlier and go to bed earlier. Stop ordering delivery food and start cooking more. Stop eating high calorie snacks and start eating low calorie snacks.
8. Feel the Morning Sun on your Skin
There is good evidence that people who get some sun in the morning lose weight faster than those who do not. Maybe it is because of more Vitamin D, or maybe the sun has an effect of making a healthier circadian rhythm, or maybe morning sunbathers are just more active. For whatever the reason, it works. A quick walk around the block on a sunny morning can only do you good.
9. Ditch Desserts
Unless you are a medieval king or queen entertaining errant knights at a round royal banquet table, dessert should not be a thing you do. The whole concept of a meal being comprised of more than one “course” should be scrubbed from your worldview. Desserts are a cruel sweet trap for people who want to lose weight fast. Black coffee or lemon water does the job of rounding out the palate just as well as any sickly-sweet treat. Eradicate the nasty anachronistic dessert custom without mercy. If some unsavvy person offers one, decline with a cold stare and perhaps an under-breath mutter “I don’t do desserts”.
10. Use Smaller Plates
Perhaps amazingly, this simple trick works to fool your brain into thinking that you have had enough. Without over-thinking it, serve your normal everyday food on smaller plates and bowls. You don’t need to try hard to put less food on the smaller plate. In fact, for the first few days, make a conscious effort to heap it up higher than you would with your normal plate. After a while, you will naturally and painlessly start eating less. Combined with other strategies, using a smaller plate is a sure-fire way to lose weight fast.
11. Not Hungry? Then Don’t Eat
If, for whatever reason, you do not feel hungry when you usually eat a meal or snack, don’t eat. Sometimes, skipping a regular snack or extending the time between meals has a powerful positive effect on your body’s metabolism. There is usually a good physical reason why you do not feel hungry: you don’t need food right now. When you don’t need food in the moment, your body finds a way to store it for when you need it later. When that later needed moment does not come, you get fat. We humans are not battery-driven machines which require a set amount of charge over a specific period to function at optimal capacity. Instead, “listen” to what your body is telling you and don’t eat when you are not hungry.
12. Eat Salad or Fruit before your Main Meal
Low-calorie, fibre-rich food like leafy salads, steamed greens, and peel-on apples are a good addition to your main meal. Thoughtfully chew the lightly dressed salad or the raw fruit to get the digestion juices flowing and your satiety signals firing up before you tuck into your meat and potatoes. You will find it much easier to stick to whatever pre-planned meal portion has been laid out in front of you. If, afterwards you still feel hungry, eat more salad with no dressing before you leave the table.
13. Take the Stairs
Climbing stairs is a wonderful exercise which strengthens leg and back muscles whilst giving you a good cardio workout. It is just the type of quick, exertion activity that gives the metabolism a jolt like a high intensity workout. One of the fundamentals of losing weight fast is to somehow increase one’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Climbing stairs regularly will force your body to prepare for future climbs by increasing BMR. Best of all, if you work or live in a multi-story building you can gradually integrate regular stair climbing into your lifestyle. No special kit required!
14. Drink Coffee
Several credible studies have shown that coffee drinkers lose weight faster than people who abstain from the roasted bean. (Note that milky coffee will have the opposite effect, we are talking about the pure stuff here!) In addition to the filling effect of any low-calorie drink, the caffeine in coffee causes an elevated heart rate and thus greater energy burn. It is also possible that other chemical constituents of coffee serve to stimulate the metabolism. To top it off, coffee has a diuretic effect, making it easier to lose water weight.
15. Wear Casual Clothes
Yes, its true, people who look as though they are dressed for exercise tend to exercise more. It is a simple truth that you will be less inclined to take the stairs, trot down to the corner shop, or run for the bus when you are dressed in your formal best. If you make a habit of wearing comfortable, flexible clothing you will find yourself being more active than otherwise. If possible, opt for T shirt and jeans rather than a business suit, and keep Casual Fridays sacred.
16. Spray your Oil, don’t Pour it
For something that does not show up as a mouthful in your meal, cooking oil packs a serious calorie punch. When pan-frying or barbecuing, try to use as little oil as you can get away with. The aerosol spray-can oil is a better choice than using a basting brush or pouring a big glug from the bottle. Use cooking oil sparingly and consider using substitutes whenever possible.
17. Drink Straight instead of Cocktails
Light beer, neat spirits, and alcohol served on the rocks or with plain water are much less calorific than mixed drinks. The problem with cocktails is that they invariably involve sugar in large quantities. Sweet fizzy drinks mixed with alcohol combine the fast-burn calories of sugar with the powerful “hidden” calories in alcohol. Stick with a slow-sip hard liquor on the rocks instead of a large Pina Colada to lose weight fast.
18. Wear a Belt
Wearing a non-stretchy belt as part of your daily ensemble is a good idea when you are trying to lose weight. You will feel the belt biting in slightly when your abdomen expands with food and drink. Sometimes, we need a little reminder that we don’t have to finish the lunch box if we have already eaten enough. Belts with buckle-holes are the best choice, because few things are as motivational as pondering an old belt with exposed well-worn holes.
19. Eat Probiotics and Prebiotics
There is evidence to show that a flourishing gut biome promotes weight loss. What does this mean? It seems that in some cases, simply improving your gut health directly causes you to lose weight. Yes, it might also be true that the lifestyle and diet changes you make to acquire a healthy gut are the main cause of the weight loss. In either case, eating helpful live bacteria (probiotics) and food to feed said bacteria (prebiotics) will help you to lose weight fast. The best probiotics are natural yoghurts, fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, and the occasional sourdough slice. Good prebiotics for weight loss are everyday low-calorie vegetables like onions, kale and cabbage with two or three serves of beans per week.
20. Make Open Sandwiches
If you are in the habit of eating sandwiches, get into the habit of eating them open. This means that you forget the top slice and instead add a low-calorie garnish to the filling to make it pretty enough to savour. Not only will you cut the bread calories in half, but you will eat more carefully, slowing down to balance your now-delicate sandwich. You might be surprised to find that an open sandwich can be just as satisfying as a double-decker. Open sandwiches (single slice) are the real secret behind all those healthy low-calorie Instagram pics.
21. Sleep Well to Lose Weight Fast
Good, long sleep is essential when you want to lose weight fast. There is no way for your body to find a natural circadian rhythm and metabolic/hormonal balance when you are sleep-deprived and “out of sync”. Research into sleep and the endocrine system shows that people who sleep well can lose weight faster than those who get poor-quality sleep. You can get better sleep by not eating anything at least an hour before bedtime.
22. Have an Early Dinner
Having an early dinner will allow your digestion system to settle down well before bed, promoting a better night’s sleep. Early dinners also allow for an easier, snack-free period after lunch. Best of all, eating your dinner early will increase your fast time before breakfast. Growing research into intermittent fasting suggests that going without food for a 10+hour stretch triggers beneficial hormones which help you to lose weight fast.
23. Exercise in the Morning
Morning exercise beats evening exercise because you get to extend the benefit of your workout into the other active parts of your day. If you are going to work up a sweat and get the blood flowing, why not use that momentum to keep going with an active mindset, rather get ready for bed? Remember that the best weight loss effect of exercise is not the calories you burn during your workout, but how the exercise raises your BMR over time. Staying active after a good workout will signal to your body’s systems: “We need to upgrade this thing! Ratchet up that BMR!”
24. Cut your Starch in Half
If you are serious about losing weight fast, cut your starch portion in half when eating regular main meals. Whatever the starch source (rice, bread, pasta, potato, etc.), just cut the portion in half. Even if you make up the space difference on your plate with your protein source, you will end up eating far fewer calories per meal over time. For best results, replace the lost starch half-portion with an equal half-portion of fibre-rich vegetables or lean protein.
25. Don’t Stress
One of the body’s responses to stress is to release cortisol (a stress hormone) into the bloodstream. Cortisol slows your metabolism down. Slower metabolisms burn energy at a lower rate than healthy, stress-free ones, so it becomes harder to lose weight. If you want to lose weight fast, try to avoid stress. Take walks, spend quality time with friends and family, or try meditation.
26. Picture your Food
Literally taking pictures of your food will help with your weight loss goals. You don’t have to post the pictures on social media, but it could reinforce your motivation. The pictures work the same way that a food diary does, by making you more accountable to yourself. This practice works even better when you try to plate your food in an attractive arrangement. Being thoughtful when it comes to meals is a big step towards taking control of one’s calorie intake.
27. Sip Green Tea
There are scientific studies which show that the catechins (a type of antioxidant) in tea have the effect of speeding human metabolism. In addition to catechins, tea also contains caffeine, a well-known stimulant which has a positive impact on the rate of metabolism. These combined effects, together with green tea’s impressive hydration qualities, make it a great choice to sip throughout the day. Sugarless, milk-free green tea makes a zero-calorie drink which can be drunk in large quantities without bad side-effects. Have fun finding your perfect taste blend and make it a habit!
28. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
This one is tricky, because artificial sweeteners have practically zero calories so why would you avoid them when you want to lose weight fast? Because chemistry. Artificial sweeteners are many thousands of times sweeter than natural sugar on a weight for weight basis. Your tastebuds instantly recognise this fact and respond positively, so that after a few days of using the intense artificial sweeteners, you develop a taste for incredible sweetness. Without thinking about it, you will find yourself gravitating towards all the real sugar-laden food options in front of you. You end up dodging a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, only to get hit with a triple-glazed chocolate cronut. In case you’re wondering, yes, there are studies to support this sugar taste compensation effect.
29. Skip a Breakfast
Like all the tips on this list, this one should be followed carefully, after receiving proper medical advice. The idea behind skipping a breakfast or two per week is that your body will have gone more than ten hours between meals (assuming you don’t sleep-eat) if you can manage the skip. This time gap between meals is the aim of what is now being called “intermittent fasting”. It has been found that your body will become more efficient at burning its excess fat reserves when in a state of fast. Research seems to show that periodic fasters lose weight faster than non-fasters even when they eat the same number of calories per week.
30. Brush your Teeth Soon after Dinner
Brushing your teeth soon after dinner, rather than just before you go to bed, can nudge you towards having a snack-free evening. Late night snacks are often an easy, lazy option for when you are feeling low-energy and relaxed. Use the mood to your advantage, because who wants to have to re-brush their teeth after eating a bag of microwaved butter popcorn? Brushing your teeth early might also signal an earlier bedtime. Besides, the toothpaste’s minty aftertaste disincentivises sneaky snacking.
31. Drink Water before you Eat
The idea behind drinking a glass of water before you eat is a simple one. The water rushes into your stomach and takes up real estate and starts to stretch things out. There are stretch receptors in the stomach which signal “fullness” to the brain. These receptors cannot tell the difference between water and pancakes, so you might just feel sated enough to stop after the first syrupy hotcake.
32. Don’t Sleep in a Warm Room
The “average” person burns the equivalent of a slice of toast in calories when they sleep each night. You can turn that slice into a slice and a quarter or more if you force your body to work a little harder when you sleep. You can do this by sleeping in a cooler room than you’re used to. Your body will work harder to maintain its temperature, and over time you will use more calories and lose weight faster.
33. Eat 25 grams of Protein with Each Meal
Multiple studies demonstrate that protein makes you feel fuller than carbohydrates. This is the basis for many of the current wave of high-protein diets. You can easily take advantage of protein’s powers of satiation by simply eating more of it in comparison to your usual intake. For best results, aim for 25g of protein per meal whilst keeping to an overall calorie target. Over a couple of days, you will feel more satisfied with your meals so you will find it easier to control your calories and lose weight fast.
34. No Second Helpings
Serving yourself the right portion of food in the first place is a much better strategy than under-serving the first time around. It is a mistake to dish out a tiny portion in the hope that you will suddenly develop superhuman willpower and be satisfied with a couple of mouthfuls. Unfortunately, all you’re doing is pre-empting a justified second helping which will overcompensate and dwarf the correct food portion. Then, you will be demotivated and track back to the comfort zone of overeating. Think twice, serve once, don’t think once, and serve twice.
35. Chew. Food. Slowly. Lose Weight Fast.
Being mindful of every mouthful of food is a powerful way to control calories and lose weigh fast. Savour each bite and chew until the food seems to swallow itself. If you are in the habit of eating too quickly, try counting your chews for a couple of days. There is no right number of chews, but you will become more conscious and slower if you count each full jaw movement. The point of chewing slowly is that your digestive system will have more time to send satiety signals to your brain before you finish your meal. Slow chewers feel fuller than gulpers, so they naturally eat less and lose weight faster.
36. Don’t Eat Whilst Entertained
Eating whilst under the influence of music, television, movies, and other entertainment has been studied. The results are just about unanimous: people eat more when they are entertained. One of the main reasons seems to be that the brain works hard to process the entertainment, so it is less able to manage portion control. The feeling of having had enough to eat is drowned out by the excitement of the entertainment. Anyone who has made it to the other side of a Netflix binge and wondered where all the lollies went can relate. If you feel like snacking in front of the screen, hit the pause button.
37. Cut Sodium to Lose Water Weight
By far the fastest way to drop a kilo is to lose some water weight. “Water weight” is the weight of excess water stored in between your body tissues. Ideally, the water should be processed by the kidneys and released out of the body, but it becomes “trapped” by extra sodium and glycogen. Reducing the amount of sodium in your body, by simply eating less of it, will allow the water to flush out. It is possible to lose up to two kilograms in water weight within a week of starting a low sodium diet. A simple way to eat less sodium is to purposefully avoid processed foods. Most of the excess sodium in our modern diets comes from “hidden” sodium in processed food – read our sodium converter post to learn more.
38. Lift Heavy Weights
Remember that BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the underlying rate at which your body burns energy, and thus the ultimate driver of calorie burn. Your body needs certain types of cells to put food energy to work. Perhaps the most important type of energy burning cell is the muscle cell. Simply put, the more, bigger, and stronger muscle cells you have, the more energy you can burn. Growing muscle will also grow your BMR. One of the fastest ways to grow muscle is to do weight training. Lift heavy weights to increase BMR!
39. Five Colours per Day
Beginning each day with the intention of eating at least five different naturally coloured foods is a good way to bolster your weight loss effort. Thinking about and finding five different colours to eat will invariably make one more careful about what to eat. High-fibre, low-calorie fruit and vegetables are likely to feature prominently in a five-colour food day. “Eating the rainbow” is just another arrow in this quiver of healthy eating habits which will allow you to lose weight fast.
40. No Food After Dinner
Unlike a simple machine, the human body works in a series of biocycles, one of which is the circadian rhythm. Body cycles enable certain processes to occur at optimal times when specific internal conditions are present. For example, the brain “cleanses” and resets when we are asleep rather than when we are driving on the interstate. It would be horribly inefficient and dangerous if our brains decided to start dreaming at any given time, on a whim. New research is indicating that processing food, storing calories, and burning fat are optimised in cycles too. It seems that eating in the late hours, soon before bed, is a bad idea from a weight loss perspective. Get all your daily calories in by the end of dinner if you are serious about losing weight fast.
41. Dip into Dressing and Sauce
The condiments, sauces, gravies, and dressings of any meal are usually the most calorific components by weight. Oily dressings and sauce like mayonnaise and vinaigrette can easily turn a low-calorie meal into something like this monster Caesar Salad. The best way to enjoy sauces and dressings is to order them “on the side”, then dip judiciously. When you are done with the meal, you can look at the remaining uneaten dip and give yourself a pat on the back for dodging those calories.
42. Eat Protein when you are Hungry
Hunger is a basic, animal feeling that by nature is one of the most uncomfortable feelings possible. At a primal level, we want to satisfy our hunger as fast as possible with as much food as possible. That is why it is important to eat the type of food which sates the fastest: protein. Studies show that fewer protein calories are required to satisfy hunger compared to carbs and fat. You feel “fuller” after eating 300 calories worth of roast beef compared to downing 300 calories of cupcake. Simply put, you are less likely to overcompensate your hunger if you satisfy it with protein rather than carbohydrates.
43. Swap Dinner Starch for Vegetable
Replacing your dinner starch with vegetable could be a game-changer. Examples of ways to do this: substitute rice for cauliflower rice, noodles with konjac noodles, and mashed potato with mashed turnip. The vegetables will provide a sense of fullness which will tide you over to bedtime. The calorie shortfall will hit whilst you are asleep and less likely to snack. If you try this trick at lunch or breakfast, it will be too easy to snack a couple of hours afterwards.
44. Get Up Off that Chair
If your occupation demands that you spend hours at a time sitting down, it will be harder to lose weight fast. Even if you exercise vigorously during other parts of the day, sitting in one spot for extended time periods negatively affects your metabolism. Without getting into the details of cellular chemistry, suffice to say that your overall metabolic rate slows down if you don’t move your limbs every waking minute. In our prehistoric past, even our rest periods were dominated by movement and activity. Our bodies are designed to move constantly, so when we don’t the internal calorie burn rate slows down and muscle health deteriorates. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes sitting, even if you just stand up then sit back down, your waistline will thank you for the activity.
45. Read Every Food Label
Food labels exist to inform, so make full use of them! If you get into the habit of reading every food label before you buy and before you eat a product, you will naturally start to lose weight. Why? Because you will become more aware of your food energy and nutrition, then eat accordingly. Being informed is the basis of making food choices which suit your desired nutrition outcome. If you want to lose weight fast, you need to know what you are eating. It may seem obvious, but many people don’t appreciate that food is different, that Brand X has more calories than Brand Y, or Brand A contains twice as much sodium as Brand B. Use our Food Search Box to plan your shopping list if you prefer not to spend too much time in the supermarket.
46. Plan to Lose Weight Fast
To lose weight fast, you must plan. Planning your calorie intake is the crucial part of any diet, because as the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. A plan sets out your goal and the actions you must take to achieve said goal. Whether you call it a meal plan, a diet, a battle plan, a weekly menu, or whatever suits your fancy, make one. You can make a structured plan based on generally accepted formulae (like our Calorie Tracker does), or you can devise your own plan on the back of an envelope. At its most basic level, your plan should include your target body weight and your daily calorie limit. Whatever plan you come up with, dig deep, and try to execute it.
47. Don’t Give Up
Here’s a newsflash: diets usually don’t work. That does not mean that you should give up. It means that you should mix things up and keep trying. If you don’t give up, the best-case scenario is that you lose weight fast, make sustainable lifestyle changes, and your health blossoms forever. If you do give up and make no changes, the only scenario is that your weight today is the best it will ever be.
*Always consult your medical professional before making drastic lifestyle changes which may affect your health.