If you want to lose weight in 10 days, you can do it as long as you’re dedicated and serious. You may only have 240 hours, but with some focus and patience, you can lose weight quickly and safely!
Figure out your goals.
How much weight are we talking here? 3 pounds? 10 pounds? A healthy amount is 1 or 2 pounds a week, but in the first week it’s possible to lose a lot more (mainly water weight), so we’re not going to do any dream crushing just yet. Just figure out how much you want to lose during the next 240 hours.
Let’s say you want to lose 5 pounds in the next 10 days. That’s 1 pound every 2 days. Since a pound is 3,500 calories, that’s 1,750 calories you need to lose every day. What’s your amount?
Figure out your needs.
Let’s keep going with this 5 pounds example. You need to have a 1,750 calorie deficit to lose .5 pounds a day. For the record, that’s steep, but we’ll entertain it nonetheless. Here’s how to figure out how to make that work:
Go to wikiHow’s How to Count How Many Calories You Need to Eat to Lose Weight article. It’ll give you your BMR and the amount of calories you can eat every day.
Once you get that amount of calories you can eat every day, subtract 1,750. That’ll be the number you’re working with. Obviously, the more exercise you do, the more calories you can eat.
You’re serious about this, right? So grab a notebook or download an app (there are dozens of free ones out there). When you come face-to-face with what you’re eating, it’s a lot easier to see where your downfalls are. And to see your progress! And lots of apps have neat things you can mess around with that are pretty motivating, too.
In this diary, you’ll be counting calories and tracking them. That way if you do really well on one day, you can fudge a little on the next. Or vice versa.
Figure out your workout schedule.
Select an exercise plan that you can make a part of your routine. Is it easier for you to work out in the mornings before work? Or, is waking up early something you can’t commit to? Look at your schedule for the the next 10 days and pick specific times to work out that are doable for you. Be sure to stick to them.
Aim for a workout almost every day. An hour is good, but 30 minutes will do. If you have to break it up, no problem! And if you “don’t have time,” make some. Even though you’re focusing on the next 10 days, there is no harm in striving for a healthier routine you can carry forward.
Throw out the junk in your house.
You’ve got the plan. You’ve got the motivation. Now all you need to do is set yourself up for success. It sounds a bit harsh and it may feel like a blow to your wallet, but go through your kitchen right now. Throw out the junk food and prepackaged stuff you know you don’t need. If you’re serious about this 10-day weight loss thing, you’ll make the sacrifice. It’s the only way to avoid the temptation.
Okay, easier said than done. The family would probably throw a fit, wouldn’t they? Let’s make a compromise: get whoever lives with you to hide the food or put it somewhere you can’t find it. And don’t let them tell you where it is!
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Know how to eat.
Let’s get down to brass tacks right away. We only have 10 days, so it’s high time we start eating the right way. And after so many years of eating you thought you had it down! Nuh uh. Mom didn’t have weight loss in mind when she taught you. Here’s how to eat with an eye on a trimmer waistline:
Eat often. We’re not talking the 6 small meals a day like you’ve heard — we mean three decent-sized meals and two snacks. When you eat 6 small meals a day your body is constantly producing insulin and never switching gears — and you’re never really fully satisfied. So put snacks into your diet. You’ll actually end up eating less.
Eat slow. Chew your food. Put down your fork between bites. Because if you eat too fast, your body gets all, “Woah, wooahhh! I’m full! Did I forget to tell you?” You gotta give it time to register what you’re putting in.
Eat from a small plate. It’s an optical illusion. Whatever is in front of you, your brain wants to eat. So fill up a smaller plate and you’ll magically eat less.
Don’t multitask. If you’re shoving food in your face in front of the fridge, your mind doesn’t register it as mealtime. So sit down. Concentrate. Think about the texture and flavor. And then go about your super busy day.
Blue is an appetite suppressant. So use a blue (small) plate, have a blue tablecloth, and for good measure, wear a blue shirt. Ever wonder why restaurants are never blue?
Think about calorie cycling.
Recent studies have shown that having a higher-calorie day every so often can actually help you lose more weight. Yeah. Crazy, huh? The reason being that when you’re restricting your body, your metabolism slows down and your body clings to its nutrients for dear life. Having a higher-calorie day gives your body a metaphorical breath of fresh air, allowing it to relax and let go of some of your fat stores and let your metabolism run wild. So during this 10 day period, consider 1 or 2 days where you eat a little bit more.
A variant of calorie cycling is carbohydrate cycling. If you’re eating mostly non-starchy veggies and protein (aka not a lot of carbs), it could do you well to have a day where you do consume carbs. Your body prefers to burn them over fats or protein, so including them in your diet does the same thing — it vamps up your body’s processes, actually spurring you to weight loss.
Another thing to consider is your stress levels. Turns out higher stress levels equal higher levels of cortisol — and that equals wanting to eat more. When you’re under stress, there’s emotional eating, there’s less sleep, and in general less mindfulness. So relax! Your waistline needs it.
A good place to start? Meditation or yoga. Yoga also burns calories, so that’s two birds with one stone. If nothing else, take 15 minutes a day to sit down and get some zen. Too many days pass by where you don’t get any “me” time!
More science! It seems that those who sleep more, weigh less. And it makes sense — you feel good, you’re body is running normally, and you have less time to eat! So get in your 8 or so hours. You’ll feel all the better for it.
It has to do with your hormones leptin and ghrelin.
Carefully consider fad diets.
Let’s tell it like it is: if you spend the next 10 days drinking nothing but lemonade and Sriracha, you’re going to lose a ton of weight. You’ll just feel like crap a week from now and all the weight will come back when you reintroduce food to your body. It totally messes up your metabolism and if you’re looking for a long-term solution, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking to fit into that dress? Well…maybe. Just be careful. And don’t tell your mom we mentioned it.
wikiHow’s How to Lose weight fast has a great section on fad diets. Whether you’re looking to only drink maple syrup, eat cabbage, spend days in the sauna, or get your colon cleansed, it has everything you’d ever want to know (and probably a few things you don’t).
Go on green.
In case the stoplight metaphor is helpful and all. If you want to lose weight and quick, the easiest way is to load up on green veggies. Yeah, all vegetables are “good” for you, but some are definitely better — and those are the green ones. They’re what they call “nutrient dense”: for very few calories, they’re awfully filling and full of vitamins and minerals.
Anything leafy is pretty fantastic. Kale, swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, etc. Brussels sprouts, too! You can eat handful after handful and still have plenty of calories left for your day.
Stop on white.
Not red, white. If it’s white, it’s probably a refined or processed carb. That means the fiber is basically gone and there’s not a lot of nutrients packed in there. So white rice, white bread, and even starchy, white potatoes should be kept to a minimum, if eaten at all in this 10 day period.
Just for the record, your body needs carbs. They’re found in vegetables and whole grains and those are some of the best things for you. But those are complex and unrefined; it’s the processed, sugary ones you want to stay away from.
You know about Atkins (no carbs). For 10 days, it can be effective. This is kinda like the fad diet thing — you can try it for 10 days and it’ll probably work, but the second you stop, get ready to clean up the mess you’ve made. So go no-carb if you can stick it out, but know of the long-term possible consequences.
Go for low-fat protein.
Your diet needs to be at the very minimum 10% protein. If you want to lose weight, it’s a good idea to have it be even more of this. It builds up your muscles and is super filling — all of which leads to weight loss. So pile on the fish, white meat, soy products, and beans.
It’s become so trendy that even a diet up to 30% is considered normal. Studies have shown that a high-protein diet, when combined with exercise, can reduce your blood fats. And protein is known to reduce insulin spikes, which calms cravings.
Know what the healthy fats are.
Because your body does need them! It’s not a good idea to cut them out entirely — just concentrate on the good ones — those are the unsaturated kind. They’re found in avocados, olive oils, nuts, fatty fish like salmon and trout, an low-fat dairy products. In fact, having these healthy fats in your diet (moderately, of course) can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce risks of heart disease.
Humans needs at least 10% of their diet to come from fat. Around 25% is normal and good — though only 7% or so should come from saturated fats. That’s the kind found in red meat, high-fat dairy products, poultry skin and eggs.
Eggs are good sources of protein, though, so 1 a day is fine. Same goes for avocados, which are more rich in fat than protein.
Limit your sodium intake.
Not only does sodium constrict your blood vessels, which makes your heart have to pump much harder, it manifests in clinging onto water, which bloats your waistline. So if you’re not doing it for your heart’s health, do it for your pants size!
One teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. We only need 200 mg each day. That’s a little unfeasible, though, so 1500 mg is the recommended daily amount. No more than 2,300 however!
Nix nighttime eating.
This one is less about science and more about psychology: humans have a tendency to eat the worst stuff (and/or the most) at night. So if you swear to yourself that you won’t eat past 8 PM, those late night taco runs won’t be happening. And when those late nights roll around and tu quieres tacos but you opt for that glass of water instead, that’s poundage falling off. It’s tough socially, but it’s worth it.
This is probably the hardest thing to do. Your friends go out, there’s alcohol, there’s munchies, and you want nothing more than to take part. Consider two things here: you can go if you can take the temptation. But, also, it’s only for 10 days. You could do anything for 10 days, right?
weights. The facts are this: cardio burns calories faster than weightlifting. However, combining both burns even more. There’s nothing better for your body than working all your muscle groups in different ways. And cardio and weights do just that. So make time for both!
In this 10 days, you’ll want to do cardio pretty much every day. Weights, on the other hand, should only be done every other. If you do want to do them more, make sure you’re working different muscle groups; your body needs a day to repair itself after a workout.
Take the small opportunities.
Going to the gym every day is great. It really is. Very few people can say that. But if you’re going to maximize these 10 days and milk ’em for all they’re worth, you need to take small opportunities to stay active. Heck, even fidgeters are more likely to be thinner!
When we say “small opportunities,” we mean things like dancing while you’re doing the dishes. Doing yoga while you watch TV. Planking during commercials. Cleaning your room instead of Facebooking. Scrubbing the floor. Washing the car by hand. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Parking at the far end of the parking lot….Is your mind churning with ideas yet?
Try interval training.
Cardio is good, but lately science is pointing the to fact that interval training is better. And it’s quicker and more convenient to boot! Instead of jogging for 30 minutes, you do quick bursts of all-out runs for 30 seconds between periods of leisurely walking for 15 or 20. Why? It burns more calories and keeps your heart pumping; there’s an afterburn effect, too!
It can be done with anything — not just on the treadmill. As long as you’re cycling between periods of intense work and not-so-intense work, it qualifies.
Curious about this after-burn effect? It’s called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. When your body works out at rates it cannot sustain, it takes the next day to build its oxygen back up. That’s more calories gone even when you’re not working out.
It’s too easy to develop a routine…and then get bored with it. Either your muscles get bored or your mind gets bored or both. And when this happens, you actually burn fewer calories — you’re pushing yourself less hard. So switch it up! Either mess around with duration or intensity or do a completely new activity. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Fill your days with exciting activities to get that spark ignited. Instead of going to the gym, take a kickboxing class. Go to the pool or go on a hike. Grab some friends and play basketball, tennis or volleyball. That way you’re burning calories and barely even realizing it.
Hot yoga can be a fun twist on an old exercise favorite. It can even help flush salt out of your system, which may have you bloated. Just remember to replenish the lost fluids with water or green tea.
Know when you’re at your best.
Bodybuilders will probably tell you to do weights and then do cardio. Weight loss advocates may tell you do to cardio first. And some others will tell you to do cardio on an empty stomach in the morning. But what it boils down to is this: know when you’re at your best. Whenever you can push yourself the most, whenever you feel like you’re pumped up, work out. Whether that’s in the middle of the night or after a taco is up to you. It’s all good.
Experiment! You may hate running because you’ve only done it after work. Maybe before work actually goes better for you — and it could energize your entire day. So in these 10 days mess around. You could find a habit you’d like to pick up for the rest of your life.