Q: Hey Rabbi, it’s been challenging to break the bad habits of overeating from the chagim. I must’ve gained around 10-12 lbs. Now I need to get myself together and get rid of extra body fat. Besides not looking good, I feel more sluggish and have less energy for daily activities! Where do I start?
Overwhelmed, Avi R
A: Hey Avi, first off: Don’t despair! As the saying goes “yesh tikvah!” Losing weight can be incredibly challenging regardless of whether you’re looking to lose five pounds or 25. Not only does it require diet and lifestyle changes, it also takes quite a bit of patience; fortunately, using a mix of proven strategies can simplify and expedite weight loss.
Here are five of the best ways to quickly and safely drop 25 pounds.
1 Count Calories
It may sound like a no-brainer, but counting calories is one of the easiest and most effective ways to start losing weight fast. Weight loss occurs when you use more calories than you take in, either by reducing your intake or increasing your physical activity. While cutting calories alone is generally not considered a sustainable way to lose weight, counting calories can be an effective weight loss tool when paired with other diet and lifestyle modifications. Keeping track of your calorie intake can increase your awareness of what you’re putting on your plate, giving you the knowledge you need to make healthier choices.
Interestingly, one review of 37 studies found that weight loss programs that incorporated calorie counting led to 7.3 pounds more weight loss than those that didn’t. Try tracking your calorie intake by using an app or a food journal.
When paired with other diet and lifestyle changes, counting calories can help you make healthier choices to increase weight loss.
2 Start Lifting Weights
Resistance training is a type of exercise that involves working against a force to increase muscle strength and endurance. Adding resistance training to your routine can bump up fat burning and metabolism to help you burn more calories, even while at rest. One review showed that 10 weeks of resistance training may increase metabolism by 7%, stabilize blood sugar in those with diabetes, and lead to 4 pounds of fat loss in adults.
Get started by hitting the gym or doing body weight exercises at home, such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges.
Resistance training can help increase metabolism and preserve fat-free mass, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
3 Set a Sleep Schedule
While there’s no doubt that switching up your diet and exercise routine are the two most important routes to losing 20 pounds, the amount you sleep could also play a role. In fact, one study in 245 men showed that both sleeping at least seven hours per night and getting better sleep quality increased the likelihood of weight loss success by 33%. And just as getting enough sleep can set you up for success, sleep deprivation can cause the pounds to slowly pack on over time. One study following 68,183 men over 16 years found that those sleeping five hours or less gained an average 2.5 pounds more than men who slept at least seven hours per night. Another study showed that even a single night of sleep deprivation can increase levels of hunger hormones, which could lead to increased appetite and weight gain. Try practicing a bedtime ritual each night, sticking to a routine and minimizing your intake of caffeine before bed to establish a healthy sleep cycle and enhance weight loss.
Getting enough sleep and improving sleep quality could benefit weight loss. Conversely, sleep deprivation can lead to increased hunger and weight gain.
4 Add Cardio to Your Routine
Whether you’re looking to lose one pound or 20, adding cardio to your routine is a must. Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is a form of physical activity that increases your heartrate and helps strengthen your heart and lungs. What’s more, it increases the calories your body burns to aid fat and weight loss. One study of 141 overweight and obese participants showed that cardio exercise alone was effective at inducing significant weight loss. In fact, performing cardio to burn either 400 calories or 600 calories five times per week for 10 months resulted in an average weight loss of 8.6 pounds and 11.5 pounds, respectively.
Another study had similar findings, reporting that six months of cardio exercise alone decreased body weight by 9% in 141 obese older adults. To maximize weight loss, aim for 150-300 minutes of cardio each week, or about 20-40 minutes every day. Walking, running, jumping rope, biking, and playing sports are some easy and enjoyable cardio workouts that can ramp up weight loss.
Cardio can increase your body’s calorie-burning quota to boost both weight and fat loss.
5 Stay Accountable
Staying accountable to your weight loss goals is key to long-term success. There are many different ways to do so. For example, weighing yourself daily has been associated with increased weight loss and a reduced risk of weight regain compared to weighing yourself less frequently. Research also suggests that keeping a food journal to self-monitor your intake and progress can help you lose more weight and keep it off longer. You can also try partnering with a friend, joining an online community, or hiring a coach to hold you accountable and stay on track and aligned toward your goals.
Staying accountable can help increase weight loss. Weighing yourself daily, keeping a food journal, and pairing up with a friend or hiring a coach are all effective strategies to enhance weight loss and promote fitness.