To lose five to ten pounds in six weeks – that’s about a healthy rate of one to two pounds a week.
No mystery here, your tools are diet and exercise – and a calculator. The average woman should eat roughly 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day. To lose one pound a week you need to cut 3,500 calories from your weekly intake. That means you need to burn 500 calories more a day or eat 500 fewer calories daily. The simplest route: Cut 250 calories out of your daily menu – equivalent to a medium size muffin – and burn 250 calories more a day through exercise.
What you need to do
If you’re a gym regular (3-5 visits a week), you’ll need to look closely at your calorie intake – could your daily chai latte and walnut scone be doing you in? And ramp up your regular routine by adding an extra workout. Make it fun and try a new calorie-burning activity. If you haven’t seen the inside of a gym since high school, focus on initiating moderate exercise like walking or swimming as well as streamlining your meals. A quick visit to your family physician is a always recommended before starting a new routine.
Diet – your killer combo
Begin with a food diary
Write down your current eating habits and make changes based on the patterns they reveal, says dietitian Patricia Chuey, co-author of Simply Great Food: 250 Quick, Easy and Delicious Recipes. If you always skip breakfast and go overboard at lunch, start eating breakfast (you should be eating it anyway!). If you rely too much on sugar and carbs to get you through the day, trade them in for energy-sustaining protein and whole grains.
Add, don’t subtract
Put your diet into positive terms, says Chuey. Don’t dwell on what you are losing like your favourite chips, sweets or triple-chocolate mocha latte. Think about what you are gaining, like more fruits and vegetables, a host of essential nutrients and a new sense of confidence about your body.
Fill your plate
With fruit and veggies, that is – and don’t forget the protein. “Half your plate should include fruits or vegetables in all meals. Accompany that with a 3-4 ounce lean protein serving and a maximum of 1/2 cup (125 mL) to 1 cup (250 mL) of whole grains,” says Chuey.
Eat a balanced diet
“The balance of protein, carbs and fat does way more than mere calorie cutting. Think of it like this, if you want a fire (your metabolism) to burn optimally, you don’t necessarily decrease the fuel source. You achieve the optimum fuel-producing mix – in your metabolism’s case, it’s protein, carbs and fat,” advises Chuey.
Some killer combos
• one egg scrambled with 1 cup (250 mL) of fresh, chopped vegetables served with one piece of whole grain toast
• yogurt and fruit smoothie with added protein, like skim/milk powder or soy protein, with half of a whole grain bagel with natural peanut butter
• tuna salad with tuna, chopped red and green peppers, light mayo and a drizzle of lemon juice inside a whole wheat pita pocket accompanied by yogurt and a piece of fruit
• an open-face turkey sandwich – use only one slice of a grainy bread and accompany with a bowl of hearty bean-vegetable soup
Exercise – your calorie burner
Kick start your heart
“Bottom line, to kick start the metabolism, the body must be stressed more than usual,” says Carly Marie Spragg, conditioning specialist at SHAPE Health and Wellness in Toronto. But be smart and respect your limits when adapting your routine, including proper build up, recovery and rest. Splashing out on a personal training session will help you create a routine that suits you – splurge if you can.
For rapid results, Spragg suggests breaking your week into two to three days of moderate aerobic effort (30min to 60min of brisk walking, for example) and one or two days of more challenging, “Eye of the Tiger”-type activity. This can mean running short sprints on the treadmill, walking using a challenging incline or taking a hard fitness class at the gym.
Strength train two to three days a week
Building muscle is essential in kick-starting your metabolism, says Spragg. Maximize your effort by performing compound movements, which are movements that use more than one joint motion, like squats and the bench press.
Mix it up
If you run regularly, start jumping rope or sprinting on alternate days. If you normally walk, start challenging yourself by adding a few bursts of light running into your walk. “Mixing up exercises is a good shock to your system. Any form of jumping or bounding burns a lot of calories because you’re pushing your body weight against gravity,” Spragg says. Throw in a set or two of what she calls “power endurance challenges.” For example plyometrics (explosive jumping), super-sets (two exercises for the same body part with no rest in between) and high-intensity, heavy lifting (no more than six reps) for greater result.