8 Tips to Lose Water Weight Fast

Water weight is the extra water that’s stored throughout your body. Sometimes your body retains too much water. This condition is called edema or fluid retention, and is a common side effect of chronic inflammation. (1)

Excess water retention is caused by many things, from poor diet, lack of sleep, and sometimes disease.

It’s normally a temporary condition, and often comes after overindulging in food and drinks. Women often suffer from fluid retention during their menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Although it’s not serious, excess water weight can cause some people to feel sluggish, uncomfortable, and can have a negative effect on their appearance and quality of life.

So whether you have a big event coming up, feel extra bloated, or just need to drop a few pounds quickly, losing water weight is one of easier things you can do. It may just be temporary, but sometimes it’s the difference between fitting into your clothes comfortably, and not fitting into them at all.

Here are my 8 simple tips how to lose water weight fast and safely.

#1. Drink More Water

Your body is made up of about 60% water, and it plays a key role in almost every function of your organs and cells. (2)

If you know me, you know that I LOVE water. Drinking more water is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your weight loss, and interesting enough, drinking water can help you lose water weight. (3,4)

The reason drinking more water helps you lose water weight is because oftentimes, if your body is in a state of dehydration, it tends to hold onto as much water as it can. By drinking water, you help restore the fluid balances in your body, and you lose water weight fast. (5)

The benefits of drinking water go beyond weight loss as well, it includes improved health, mood, mental sharpness, digestive regularity, and more. (6,7)

If you’re wondering “how much water should I drink to lose weight”, I recommend you read my article on how much water to drink a day. Also, keep an eye on the color of your urine. It should be light and yellow, not dark or brownish. That is a clear sign of dehydration.

Key Point: Dehydration causes your body to hold onto water since there isn’t adequate amounts being consumed. Make sure to drink the right amount of water every day.

#2. Manage Your Salt Intake

Your body requires salt (sodium) to function, but too much salt in your diet can lead to water retention. This is especially true if you are already dehydrated. (8)

You may think that avoiding the salt shaker is enough to avoid too much salt, but did you know the majority of the salt in your diet often comes from processed foods?

Processed meats, frozen meals, canned foods, and packaged snacks are some of the most common sources of excess sodium, so avoid them if you’re trying to lose water weight fast.

Key Point: Too much salt may cause your body to retain water resulting in bloating and swelling.

#3. Exercise

Lose Water Weight with Exercise

When it comes to reducing water weight fast, exercise is one of the best and most effective ways available. Exercising causes your body to sweat, which directly reduces the amount of fluids in your body. (9)

It also helps reduce the swelling in your skin so you don’t look so bloated and puffy. (10)

Try to do cardio or aerobic exercises which elevate your heart rate and cause your body to sweat more. Steam rooms and saunas are also good ways to get your sweat going as well. (11)

Key Point: Exercise helps your body naturally control fluid levels. Even a short sweat session can help decrease bloating and improve water weight loss.

#4. Get More Sleep

When it come to your health, sleep is almost as important as diet and exercise.

Studies have shown that adequate sleep is essential for maintaining proper body hydration levels and to reduce water retention. (12)

Try to get a good night’s sleep if you want to reduce water weight. For most people that is around 7-9 hours. Turn off all electronic screens at least 30 minutes prior to your planned sleep time for a deeper more restful night’s sleep. (13)

Key Point: Getting enough sleep is essential if you want to reduce water weight. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.

#5. Cut Out Processed Food

One of the main sources of sodium in our diets comes from processed foods. Most processed meats, prepackaged snacks, frozen dinners, and canned foods are high in sodium.

At Lose Weight by Eating, we advocate clean eating, which means your food comes from a natural source without additives or preservatives.

Eating whole foods that are not processed or minimally processed, as close to their natural form as possible, will help you lose water weight quickly and it tastes better, too!

Key Point: Cutting out processed food and eating whole, natural foods will help you reduce water weight and enable you to lose more weight in the long term.

#6. Eat More Potassium

Lose Water Weight with PotassiumThere are certain foods that act as natural diuretics and help your body fight water bloat.

In particular, foods that contain a lot of potassium, an essential mineral, are known to regulate water retention. Not enough potassium in your diet may cause unnecessary fluid retention. (14)

The following are foods that are high in potassium: Acorn squash, apricots, artichokes, avocado, bananas, cantaloupe, carrots, dates, dried beans, kiwi, lentils, mango, oranges, peas, papaya, tomatoes, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables.

Key Point: Eat more potassium rich foods to help your body release excess water.

#7. Cut Out The Carbs

Did you know that the carbohydrates stored in your muscles and liver include excess water?

When you eat carbohydrates, your body uses some as energy right away and converts the rest into glycogen. As your body stores glycogen, it also brings water with it. For every gram of glycogen you store, 3 – 4 grams of water may be stored along with it. (15)

High carb foods like bread, pasta, pastries, rice, crackers, tortillas, bagels, muffins, sweetened beverages and desserts all affect your body the same way.

A low carb diet forces your body to rely on the glycogen stores in your body, which helps rid your body of excess water weight.

Key Point: Reducing carbs from your diet can help you lose water weight since it forces your body to rely on the stored glycogen in your body.

#8. Eat More Fiber

Water Weight Fiber

Fiber helps remove waste, excessive nutrients and water from your body. If your diet is low in fiber, you may be retaining extra water weight.

Your body does not digest fiber, and so it passes through your intestines without breaking down. Since fiber absorbs a large amount of water as it moves through your intestines, it helps reduce water weight.

The daily recommendation for fiber is 38 g for men and 25 g for women. For those over 50, men only need 30 g of fiber per day, and women 21 g.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereal, pasta, legumes, nuts and seeds are all good sources of fiber.

Key Point: Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help you increase your fiber intake and reduce excess water weight by relieving bloating from constipation

Conclusion of How to Lose Water Weight

When it comes to how to lose water weight fast, it’s important to figure out why you’re retaining water in the first place and address that problem.

It may be due to too much salt in your diet, not enough exercise, too much stress, or a generally poor diet full of processed foods.

If you’re not losing water weight after making healthy lifestyle changes, it may be due to a medical condition, and you should see a doctor immediately.

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13 Easy Ways to Lose Water Weight (Fast and Safely)

The human body contains around 60% water, which plays a key role in all aspects of life (1).

However, excess water retention (edema) is a common side effect of chronic inflammation (2).

Also known as fluid retention, edema can be caused by food intolerances, poor diet, toxin exposure and diseases like kidney failure.

Women may also experience water retention during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.

For most people, excess water weight is not a serious health issue. However, it can still negatively impact your appearance and quality of life.

Here are 13 ways to reduce water weight fast and safely.

1. Exercise on a Regular Basis

Exercise may be one of the best ways to reduce water weight in the short-term. Any form of it increases sweat, which means you will lose water.

The average fluid loss during 1 hour of exercise is anywhere between 16–64 oz (0.5–2 liters) per hour, depending on factors such as heat and clothing (345).

During exercise, your body also shifts a lot of water into your muscles.

This can help reduce water outside of the cell and decrease the “soft” look people report from excessive water retention (6).

However, you still need to drink plenty of water during your training session.

Another good option to increase sweat and water loss is the sauna, which you could add in after your gym session.

BOTTOM LINE:Regular exercise can help you maintain a natural balance of body fluids and sweat out excess stored water.

2. Sleep More

Research on sleep highlights that it’s just as important as diet and exercise (789).

Sleep may also affect the sympathetic renal nerves in the kidneys, which regulate sodium and water balance (10).

One study found that when you sleep, your body acts like a plumbing system and flushes “toxins” out of the brain (11).

Adequate sleep may also help your body control hydration levels and minimize water retention.

Aim to get a healthy amount of sleep per night, which for most individuals will be around 7–9 hours.

BOTTOM LINE:A good night’s sleep may help your body manage its fluid and sodium balance and lead to reduced water weight in the long-term.

3. Stress Less

Long-term stress can increase the hormone cortisol, which directly influences fluid retention and water weight (12).

This may occur because stress and cortisol increase a hormone that controls water balance in the body, known as the antidiuretic hormone or ADH (13).

ADH works by sending signals to the kidneys, telling them how much water to pump back into the body (12).

If you control your stress levels, you will maintain a normal level of ADH and cortisol, which is important for fluid balance and long-term health and disease risk (513).

BOTTOM LINE:Stress increases cortisol and antidiuretic hormone, which directly affect your body’s water balance.

4. Take Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals with an electric charge, such as magnesium and potassium. They play important roles in your body, including regulating water balance (14).

When electrolyte levels become too low or too high, they can cause shifts in fluid balance. This may lead to increased water weight (14).

You should tailor your electrolyte intake to your water intake. If you drink large amounts of water, you may need more electrolytes (15).

If you exercise daily or live in a humid or hot environment, you may need additional electrolytes to replace those lost with sweat (16).

In contrast, large amounts of electrolytes from supplements or salty foods, coupled with a low water intake, can have the opposite effect and increase water weight.

BOTTOM LINE:Electrolytes control water balance and cell hydration. Electrolyte supplements can be beneficial if you drink a lot of water, exercise a lot, live in a hot climate or do not eat salty foods.

5. Manage Salt Intake

Sodium, which you obtain daily from salt, is one of the most common electrolytes in the human body.

It plays a major role in hydration levels. If levels are too low or too high, it will lead to imbalances within the body and therefore fluid retention.

A high salt intake, usually due to a diet with lots of processed foods, may increase water retention. This is particularly true if coupled with low water intake and no exercise (17181920).

However, this does seem to depend on the individual’s current daily sodium intake and blood levels.

One study tested this and found that you may only store excess water if you drastically increase or change your habitual daily intake (21).

BOTTOM LINE:Salt or sodium plays a key role in fluid balance. Try to avoid extreme changes, such as excessive salt intake or the elimination of salt.

6. Take a Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium is another key electrolyte and mineral. It has recently become a very popular supplement for health and sports performance.

Research regarding magnesium has been extensive and shows that it has over 600 roles within the human body (22).

A lot of the evidence is in females, showing that magnesium can reduce water weight and premenstrual symptoms (PMS) (2324).

These changes may occur because magnesium plays an integrative role with other electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.

Together, they help control your body’s water balance.

BOTTOM LINE:Magnesium intake should be optimized, as it plays a key role in hydration levels and body water content.

7. Take a Dandelion Supplement

The dandelion herb, Taraxacum officinale, is used in alternative medicine to treat water retention (25).

In recent years, it has also become popular among bodybuilders and athletes who need to drop water for aesthetic purposes or to meet a weight category.

Dandelion supplements may help you lose water weight by signaling the kidneys to expel more urine and additional salt or sodium.

In human studies, dandelion intake increases the frequency of urination over a 5-hour period (26).

However, even though it’s already in popular use, more research is definitely required on dandelion supplements.

BOTTOM LINE:Dandelion is a popular herb often used by bodybuilders and athletes who need to lose water weight.

8. Drink More Water

Interestingly, being well-hydrated can actually reduce water retention (27).

Your body is always trying to achieve a healthy balance, so if you are constantly dehydrated your body tends to retain more water in an attempt to prevent water levels from becoming too low.

Achieving an optimal daily water intake can also be important for liver and kidney health, which may reduce water retention in the long-term (2829).

The benefits of drinking more water don’t stop there. Other research shows that it’s also important for health, fat loss, brain function and more (3031323334).

As always, achieving a balance is optimal. If you drink excessive amounts of fluid you may actually increase your water weight.

Simply drink when you’re thirsty and stop when you feel well-hydrated. You should also drink slightly more in hot environments or when exercising.

You can also monitor your urine color to assess hydration. It should be light yellow or fairly clear, which is a good indicator that you are well-hydrated.

BOTTOM LINE:Dehydration or over-hydration can lead to water retention. Make sure to drink balanced amounts of water each day.

9. Focus on These Foods

There are several foods that you may wish to include in your diet to combat water retention.

Potassium-rich foods are often recommended, as potassium can help balance sodium levels and increase urine production, helping you drop excess water (35).

Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, bananasavocados, tomatoes and yogurt or other dairy products are all healthy and potassium-rich.

Magnesium supplements or magnesium-rich foods are also recommended. These include dark chocolate, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

The following foods and herbs are often recommended to drop water weight in alternative medicine, with some clinical evidence supporting their use:

Along with trying these foods, you may also wish to limit or temporarily remove foods that cause bloating or any intolerances.

These include highly processed foods, foods with lots of fiber and sometimes beans and dairy. You can also try sticking to low-FODMAP foods for a while to see if that helps.

BOTTOM LINE:Certain foods and herbs can act as diuretics and reduce water retention. Combine them with easily digestible foods that don’t cause bloating or intolerances.

10. Cut Carbs

Cutting carbs is a common strategy to quickly drop excess water. Carbs are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, but glycogen also pulls water inside along with it.

For every gram of glycogen you store, 3–4 grams (0.11–0.14 oz) of water may be stored with it. This explains why people experience immediate weight loss when switching to a low-carb diet, which reduces glycogen stores.

Carbs also lead to a rise in the hormone insulin, which can cause an increase in sodium retention and re-absorption of water in the kidneys (4445).

Low-carb diets lead to a drop in insulin levels, which then leads to a loss of sodium and water from the kidneys.

In contrast, if you are on a low-carb diet or dieting in general, then a high-carb meal may pull excess body fluid into your muscles and increase water weight.

It may also provide a visual difference, increasing water in the muscles but helping you drop excess water under the skin (46).

Try altering your carb intake and see what works best for you.

BOTTOM LINE:A low-carb diet can cause a rapid decrease in water weight because of reduced glycogen stores and lower insulin levels.

11. Take Caffeine Supplements or Drink Tea and Coffee

Tea and coffee are well-known diuretics that are primarily effective due to their high caffeine content.

Caffeine has been shown to increase short-term urine output and decrease water weight slightly (4748).

In one study, a glass of water with or without caffeine was provided to participants in doses of 2 mg/lb (4.5 mg/kg) of body weight.

When combining caffeine with water, participants’ urine volume significantly increased (49).

That being said, even though caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, it does not lead to dehydration in habitual consumers.

BOTTOM LINE:Moderate amounts of caffeine from coffee, tea or caffeine supplements may help you drop excess water.

12. Change Your Habits

One of the best changes you can make is to reduce your intake of processed foods and excessive salt consumption.

Also, avoid sitting all day or for long periods, which can reduce your blood circulation. Physical activity can improve circulation and help you sweat out excess water (50).

Certain medications may also cause water retention, so check with your doctor or medical practitioner if you take medication daily and hold onto too much water (50).

Paying attention to the foods you eat, and making sure they’re not causing you digestive issues or inflammation, is also advised (50).

Finally, over or under consumption of water, alcohol, minerals, caffeine and salt can all cause water retention. Find a healthy, normal balance.

BOTTOM LINE:Check your diet for excessive processed foods, salt, caffeine and alcohol consumption.

13. Consider Prescription Water Pills

Prescription diuretics and water pills are sometimes prescribed to treat excess water retention (51).

They work by activating your kidneys to flush out excess water and salt through urine.

These diuretic pills are often prescribed to those with heart or lung issues and to help with blood pressure, prevent fluid buildup and reduce swelling.

It’s important to note the difference between prescription diuretics and over-the-counter or online water pills.

Prescription pills have been clinically tested for long-term safety, whereas over-the-counter pills may lack clinical research and have not always been tested for safety.

Either type may help combat medically diagnosed edema or excess water weight.

Speak to your doctor before trying these.

BOTTOM LINE:When looking into diuretic medication or pills, consult with a medical practitioner and take prescribed drugs under supervision.

Take Home Message

If the problem persists, seems severe or increases suddenly, then it is always best to seek medical attention.

In some cases, excess water retention can be caused by a serious medical condition.

At the end of the day, the best way to combat excess water weight is to identify and treat the cause.

This may be excess salt intake, lack of electrolytes, inactivity, excess stress or the regular consumption of processed and inflammatory foods.

Some of these are also among the main things associated with poor health and disease, which may be even bigger reasons to avoid them.

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9 Popular Weight Loss Diets Reviewed by Science

There are many weight loss diets out there.

Some focus on reducing your appetite, while others focus on restricting calories, carbs or fat.

Since all of them claim to be “the best” diet, it can be hard to know which ones are worth trying.

The truth is that no one diet is best for everyone, and what works for you may not work for someone else.

This article reviews the 9 most popular weight loss diets and the science behind them.

1. The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet claims that modern humans should eat the same foods that their hunter-gatherer ancestors ate — the way humans were genetically designed to eat before agriculture developed.

The theory is that most modern diseases can be linked to the Western diet and the consumption of grains, dairy and processed foods.

While it’s debatable that this diet is comprised of the same foods your ancestors ate, it is linked to several impressive health benefits.

How it works: The paleo diet emphasizes whole foods, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, while avoiding processed foods, sugar, dairy and grains.Some more flexible versions of the paleo diet also allow for dairy like cheese and butter, as well as tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Weight loss: Several studies have shown that the paleo diet can lead to significant weight loss and reduced waist size ( 1234).In studies, paleo dieters have also been shown to automatically eat much fewer carbs, more protein and 300–900 fewer calories per day (1234).

Other benefits: The diet seems effective at reducing risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol, blood sugar, blood triglycerides and blood pressure ( 567).The downside: The paleo diet eliminates whole grains, legumes and dairy. Therefore, it unnecessarily eliminates several healthy and nutritious food groups.

BOTTOM LINE:The paleo diet is based on eating whole foods and avoiding grains and dairy. It has several health benefits, including weight loss.

2. The Vegan Diet

The vegan diet was created by a group of vegetarians who also chose not to consume dairy, eggs or any other animal products.

The vegan way of life attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty for ethical, environmental or health reasons.

How it works: Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism.In addition to eliminating meat, it eliminates dairy, eggs and animal-derived products, such as gelatin, honey, albumin, whey, casein and some forms of vitamin D3.

Weight loss: A vegan diet seems to be very effective at helping people lose weight, often without counting calories. This may be explained by its very low fat and high fiber content, which makes you feel fuller for longer.Vegan diets have consistently been linked with lower body weight and body mass index (BMI), compared to other diets (89101112).

One study showed that a vegan diet helped participants lose 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg) more than a control diet over 18 weeks. The vegan group was allowed to eat until fullness, but the control group had to restrict calories (13).

However, vegan diets are not more effective for weight loss than other diets when matched for calories (14).

Other benefits: Plant-based diets have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and premature death ( 1516171819).Limiting processed meat may also reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dying from heart disease or cancer (2021222324).

The downside: Vegan diets eliminate animal foods completely, so they may be low in several nutrients. This includes vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids ( 2526272829).

BOTTOM LINE:Vegan diets exclude all animal products and animal-derived ingredients. They may cause weight loss due to lower calorie intake and may also reduce the risk of several diseases.

3. Low-Carb Diets

Low-carb diets have been popular for many decades, especially for weight loss.

There are several types of low-carb diets, but all of them involve limiting carb intake to 20–150 grams of net carbs per day.

The primary aim of the diet is to force the body to use more fats for fuel, instead of using carbs as a main source of energy.

How it works: Low-carb diets are based on eating unlimited amounts of protein and fat, while severely limiting your carb intake.When carb intake is very low, fatty acids are moved into the blood and transported to the liver, where some of them are turned into ketones.

The body can then use fatty acids and ketones in the absence of carbs as its primary energy source.

Weight loss: Numerous studies show low-carb diets are extremely helpful for weight loss, especially in overweight and obese individuals ( 3031323334).Low-carb diets seem to be very effective at reducing dangerous belly fat, which can become lodged around your organs (3536).

People on very low-carb diets commonly reach a state called ketosis. Many studies have found that ketogenic diets lead to more than twice the weight loss of a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet (35373839).

Other benefits: Low-carb diets tend to reduce your appetite and make you feel less hungry, leading to an automatic reduction in calorie intake ( 4041).Furthermore, low-carb diets may benefit many major disease risk factors, such as blood triglycerides, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, insulin levels and blood pressure (3442434445).

The downside: Low-carb diets do not suit everyone. Some may feel great on them, while others will feel miserable.Some people may experience an increase in LDL, the “bad” cholesterol (46).

In extremely rare cases, very low-carb diets can cause a serious condition called ketoacidosis. This condition seems to be more common in lactating women and can be fatal if left untreated (47484950).

However, low-carb diets are safe for the majority of people.

BOTTOM LINE:Low-carb diets severely limit the intake of carbs and push the body to use fat for fuel. They are extremely helpful with weight loss and are linked with many other benefits for overall health.

4. The Dukan Diet

The Dukan diet is a high-protein, low-carb weight loss diet.

It’s a low-calorie diet and can be split into four phases — two weight loss phases and two maintenance phases.

How long you stay in each phase depends on how much weight you need to lose. Each phase has its own dietary pattern.

How it works: The weight loss phases are primarily based on eating unlimited high-protein foods and mandatory oat bran.The other phases involve adding non-starchy vegetables at first, then some carbs and fat. Later on, there will be fewer and fewer “pure protein days” to maintain your new weight.

Weight loss: One study showed that women following the Dukan diet ate about 1,000 calories and 100 grams of protein per day and lost an average of 33 lbs (15 kg) in 8–10 weeks ( 51).Also, many other studies have shown that high-protein, low-carb diets can have major weight loss benefits (52535455).

These include a higher metabolic rate, a decrease in the hunger hormone ghrelin and an increase in the fullness hormones GLP-1, PYY and CCK (56575859).

Other benefits: There are no recorded benefits of the Dukan diet in scientific literature.The downside: There is very little quality research available on the Dukan diet.The Dukan diet limits both fat and carbs — a strategy not based on science. On the contrary, consuming fat as part of a high-protein diet seems to increase metabolic rate, compared with both low-carb and low-fat diets (60).

Also, fast weight loss achieved by severe calorie restriction tends to cause significant muscle loss along with the fat loss (61).

The loss of muscle mass and severe calorie restriction may also cause the body to conserve energy, making it very easy to regain the weight after losing it (62636465).

BOTTOM LINE:The Dukan diet has not been tested in quality human studies. The diet may cause weight loss, but it also may slow down your metabolism and make you lose muscle mass along with fat mass.

5. The Ultra Low-Fat Diet

An ultra low-fat diet restricts the consumption of fat to under 10% of consumed calories.

Generally, a low-fat diet provides around 30% of its calories as fat.

Many studies have shown that this diet is ineffective for weight loss in the long term.

Proponents of the ultra low-fat diet claim that traditional low-fat diets are not low-fat enough and fat intakes needs to stay under 10% of total calories to produce health benefits and weight loss.

How it works: An ultra low-fat diet contains 10% or fewer calories from fat. The diet is mostly plant-based and has a limited intake of animal products ( 66).Therefore, it’s generally very high in carbs (80%) and low in protein (10%).

Weight loss: This diet has been shown to be very successful for weight loss among obese individuals. In one study, obese individuals lost an average of 140 lbs (63 kg) on an ultra low-fat diet termed the rice diet ( 67).Another 8-week study with a diet containing 7–14% fat showed an average weight loss of 14.8 lbs (6.7 kg) (68).

Other benefits: Studies have shown that ultra low-fat diets can improve several risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and markers of inflammation (697071727374).Surprisingly, this high-carb, low-fat diet can also lead to significant improvements in type 2 diabetics (75767778).

Furthermore, it may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves in the eyes (7980).

The downside: The fat restriction may cause problems in the long-term, as fat has many important roles in the body. These include helping build cell membranes and hormones and helping the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.Moreover, an ultra low-fat diet limits the intake of many healthy foods, lacks variety and is extremely hard to stick to.

BOTTOM LINE:An ultra low-fat diet contains less than 10% of its calories from fat. It can cause significant weight loss and may also have impressive benefits for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

6. The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is the most well-known low-carb weight loss diet.

Its proponents state that you can lose weight by eating as much protein and fat as you like, as long as you avoid carbs.

The main reason why low-carb diets are so effective for weight loss is that they reduce your appetite.

This causes you to eat fewer calories without having to think about it (3240).

How it works: The Atkins diet is split into four phases. It starts with an induction phase, during which you eat under 20 grams of carbs per day for two weeks.The other phases involve slowly reintroducing healthy carbs back into your diet as you approach your goal weight.

Weight loss: The Atkins diet has been studied extensively and shown to lead to faster weight loss than low-fat diets ( 5281).Other studies have shown that low-carb diets are very helpful with weight loss. They are especially successful in reducing belly fat, the most dangerous fat that lodges itself in the abdominal cavity (30313233343536).

Other benefits: Numerous studies show low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet, may reduce many risk factors for disease, including blood triglycerides, cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin and blood pressure ( 3442434445).Compared to other weight loss diets, low-carb diets also show greater improvements for blood sugar, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and other health markers (5281).

The downside: Same as with other very low-carb diets (see chapter 3), the Atkins diet is safe and healthy for most people but may cause problems in rare cases.

BOTTOM LINE:The Atkins diet is a low-carb weight loss diet. It’s effective for weight loss but also has benefits for many other risk factors for disease.

7. The HCG Diet

The HCG diet is an extreme weight loss diet claiming to cause very fast weight loss of up to 1–2 lbs (0.45–1 kg) per day.

Its proponents claim it will boost metabolism and help you lose large amounts of fat, all without ever being hungry (8283).

HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone that’s present at high levels during early pregnancy.

It tells a woman’s body it’s pregnant and maintains the production of hormones that are important for fetal development. It has also been used to treat fertility issues (84).

How it works: The diet is split into three phases. The first phase lasts two days. This is when you begin taking HCG supplements.The second phase is the weight loss phase, during which you follow an ultra low-calorie diet of only 500 calories per day, along with HCG supplement drops, pellets, injections or sprays. The weight loss phase is prescribed for 3–6 weeks at a time.

The third phase is when you stop taking HCG and slowly increase your food intake.

Weight loss: The HCG diet does cause weight loss, but multiple studies have concluded that the weight loss is due to the ultra low-calorie diet alone — not the HCG hormone ( 828586,87).Furthermore, HCG was not found to reduce hunger.

Other benefits: Aside from weight loss, there are no documented benefits of the HCG diet.The downside: Like most other ultra low-calorie diets, the HCG diet may cause muscle loss, which results in a reduced ability to burn calories ( 61).Such severe calorie restriction further reduces the number of calories the body burns. This is because the body thinks it’s starving and therefore attempts to preserve energy (63).

In addition, most HCG products on the market are scams and don’t contain any HCG. Only injections are able to raise blood levels of the hormone.

Moreover, the diet has many side effects, including headaches, fatigue and depression. There is also one report of a woman developing blood clots, most likely caused by the diet (83).

The FDA does not approve this diet, labeling it dangerous, illegal and fraudulent (88).

BOTTOM LINE:The HCG diet is a fast weight loss diet. It’s not based on any scientific evidence and may reduce metabolic rate and cause muscle loss, headaches, fatigue and depression.

8. The Zone Diet

The zone diet is a low-glycemic load diet on which you limit carbs to 35–45% of daily calories and protein and fat to 30% each (89).

It recommends eating only carbs with a low glycemic load.

The glycemic load (GL) of a food is an estimate of how much a food will raise your blood glucose levels after eating it. It takes into account how many carbs are in the food and how much that amount will raise your blood glucose levels.

The Zone diet was initially developed to reduce diet-induced inflammation, cause weight loss and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases (89).

How it works: The Zone diet recommends balancing each meal with one-third protein, two-thirds colorful fruits and veggies and a dash of fat, namely monounsaturated oil such as olive oil, avocado or almonds.It also says to limit the intake of high-GL carbs, such as bananas, rice and potatoes.

Weight loss: Studies on the effects of a low-glycemic load diet on weight loss are rather inconsistent. Some studies say the diet promotes weight loss and reduces appetite, while others only show a small weight loss, compared to other weight loss diets ( 90919293).Other benefits: The greatest benefit of this diet is a reduction in risk factors for heart disease, such as reduced cholesterol and triglycerides ( 9294959697).One study also showed that the Zone diet may improve blood sugar control, reduce waist circumference and reduce systematic inflammation in overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes (98).

The downside: There are not many issues with this diet. The only thing to criticize is that it limits the consumption of some healthy carb sources, such as bananas and potatoes.

BOTTOM LINE:The Zone diet is a low-glycemic load diet. Studies on its weight loss benefits are inconsistent, but the diet improves many important health markers and reduces the risk of heart disease.

9. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.

Rather than restricting the foods you eat, it states when you should eat them.

Therefore, it can be seen as more of an eating pattern than a diet.

The most popular ways to do intermittent fasting are:

  • The 16/8 method: Involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, subsequently fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
  • The eat-stop-eat method: Involves 24-hour fasts once or twice per week on non-consecutive days.
  • The 5:2 diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, you restrict your intake to 500–600 calories. On the five remaining days, you eat like normal.
  • The warrior diet: Eat small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and one huge meal at night, basically fasting during the day and feasting at night within a 4-hour window.

How it works: Intermittent fasting is commonly used for weight loss because it leads to relatively easy calorie restriction.It can make you eat fewer calories overall, as long as you don’t overcompensate by eating much more during the eating periods.

Weight loss: Intermittent fasting is generally very successful for weight loss. It has been shown to cause weight loss of 3–8% over a period of 3–24 weeks, which is a lot compared to most weight loss studies ( 99100).In addition to causing less muscle loss than standard calorie restriction, it may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14% in the short-term (99101102103).

Other benefits: Intermittent fasting may reduce markers of inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood triglycerides and blood sugar levels ( 104105106107).Furthermore, intermittent fasting has been linked to increased levels of human growth hormone, improved insulin sensitivity, improved cellular repair and altered gene expressions (108109110111112).

Animal studies also suggest that it may help new brain cells grow, lengthen lifespan and protect against Alzheimer’s disease and cancer (113114115116).

The downside: Although intermittent fasting is safe for well-nourished and healthy people, it does not suit everyone.Some studies have shown it’s not as beneficial for women as it is for men (117118).

In addition, some people should avoid fasting. This includes those sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels, pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, teenagers, children and people who are malnourished, underweight or nutrient deficient.

BOTTOM LINE:Intermittent fasting cycles between fasting and eating in various patterns. It is very effective for weight loss and has been linked to numerous health benefits.

Take Home Message

There is no such thing as a “best” weight loss diet.

Different diets work for different people, and you should pick a way of eating that suits your lifestyle and your taste preferences.

The best diet for you is the one you can actually stick to in the long-term.

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How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science

There are many ways to lose a lot of weight fast.

However, most of them will make you hungry and unsatisfied.

If you don’t have iron willpower, then hunger will cause you to give up on these plans quickly.

The plan outlined here will:

  • Reduce your appetite significantly.
  • Make you lose weight quickly, without hunger.
  • Improve your metabolic health at the same time.

Here is a simple 3-step plan to lose weight fast.

1. Cut Back on Sugars and Starches

The most important part is to cut back on sugars and starches (carbs).

These are the foods that stimulate secretion of insulin the most. If you didn’t know already, insulin is the main fat storage hormone in the body.

When insulin goes down, fat has an easier time getting out of the fat stores and the body starts burning fats instead of carbs.

Another benefit of lowering insulin is that your kidneys shed excess sodium and water out of your body, which reduces bloat and unnecessary water weight (12).

It is not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (sometimes more) in the first week of eating this way, both body fat and water weight.

This is a graph from a study comparing low-carb and low-fat diets in overweight/obese women (3).

The low-carb group is eating until fullness, while the low-fat group is calorie restricted and hungry.

Cut the carbs, lower your insulin and you will start to eat less calories automatically and without hunger (4).

Put simply, lowering your insulin puts fat loss on “autopilot.

BOTTOM LINE:Removing sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet will lower your insulin levels, kill your appetite and make you lose weight without hunger.

2. Eat Protein, Fat and Vegetables

Each one of your meals should include a protein source, a fat source and low-carb vegetables. Constructing your meals in this way will automatically bring your carb intake into the recommended range of 20-50 grams per day.

Protein Sources:

  • Meat – Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon, etc.
  • Fish and Seafood – Salmon, trout, shrimps, lobsters, etc.
  • Eggs – Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.

The importance of eating plenty of protein can not be overstated.

This has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day (567).

High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce desire for late-night snacking by half, and make you so full that you automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day… just by adding protein to your diet (89).

When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients. Period.

Low-Carb Vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Full list here.

Don’t be afraid to load your plate with these low-carb vegetables. You can eat massive amounts of them without going over 20-50 net carbs per day.

A diet based on meat and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. There is no physiological need for grains in the diet.

Fat Sources:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Butter
  • Tallow

Eat 2-3 meals per day. If you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, add a 4th meal.

Don’t be afraid of eating fat, trying to do both low-carb AND low-fat at the same time is a recipe for failure. It will make you feel miserable and abandon the plan.

The best cooking fat to use is coconut oil. It is rich in fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are more fulfilling than others and can boost metabolism slightly (1011).

There is no reason to fear these natural fats, new studies show that saturated fat doesn’t raise your heart disease risk at all (1213).

To see how you can assemble your meals, check out this low carb meal plan and this list of 101 low carb recipes.

BOTTOM LINE:Assemble each meal out of a protein source, a fat source and a low-carb vegetable. This will put you into the 20-50 gram carb range and drastically lower your insulin levels.

3. Lift Weights 3 Times Per Week

You don’t need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it is recommended.

The best option is to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Do a warm up, lift weights, then stretch.

If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice.

By lifting weights, you will burn a few calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight (1415).

Studies on low-carb diets show that you can even gain a bit of muscle while losing significant amounts of body fat (16).

If lifting weights is not an option for you, then doing some easier cardio workouts like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice.

BOTTOM LINE:It is best to do some sort of resistance training like weight lifting. If that is not an option, cardio workouts work too.

Optional – Do a “Carb Re-feed” Once Per Week

You can take one day “off” per week where you eat more carbs. Many people prefer Saturday.

It is important to try to stick to healthier carb sources like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits, etc.

But only this one higher carb day, if you start doing it more often than once per week then you’re not going to see much success on this plan.

If you must have a cheat meal and eat something unhealthy, then do it on this day.

Be aware that cheat meals or carb refeeds are NOT necessary, but they can up-regulate some fat burning hormones like leptin and thyroid hormones (1718).

You will gain some weight during your re-feed day, but most of it will be water weight and you will lose it again in the next 1-2 days.

BOTTOM LINE:Having one day of the week where you eat more carbs is perfectly acceptable, although not necessary.

What About Calories and Portion Control?

It is NOT necessary to count calories as long as you keep the carbs very low and stick to protein, fat and low-carb vegetables.

However, if you really want to, then use this calculator.

Enter your details, then pick the number from either the “Lose Weight” or the “Lose Weight Fast” section – depending on how fast you want to lose.

There are many great tools you can use to track the amount of calories you are eating. Here is a list of 5 calorie counters that are free and easy to use.

The main goal is to keep carbs under 20-50 grams per day and get the rest of your calories from protein and fat.

BOTTOM LINE:It is not necessary to count calories to lose weight on this plan. It is most important to strictly keep your carbs in the 20-50 gram range.

10 Weight Loss Tips to Make Things Easier (and Faster)

Here are 10 more tips to lose weight even faster:

  1. Eat a high-protein breakfast. Eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day (192021).
  2. Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. These are the most fattening things you can put into your body, and avoiding them can help you lose weight (2223).
  3. Drink water a half hour before meals. One study showed that drinking water a half hour before meals increased weight loss by 44% over 3 months (24).
  4. Choose weight loss-friendly foods (see list). Certain foods are very useful for losing fat. Here is a list of the 20 most weight loss-friendly foods on earth.
  5. Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may reduce fat, especially in the belly area. Fiber supplements like glucomannan can also help (252627).
  6. Drink coffee or tea. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, then drink as much as you want as the caffeine in them can boost your metabolism by 3-11% (282930).
  7. Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Base most of your diet on whole foods. They are healthier, more filling and much less likely to cause overeating.
  8. Eat your food slowly. Fast eaters gain more weight over time. Eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones (313233).
  9. Use smaller plates. Studies show that people automatically eat less when they use smaller plates. Strange, but it works (34).
  10. Get a good night’s sleep, every night. Poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for weight gain, so taking care of your sleep is important (3536).

Even more tips here: 30 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Naturally (Backed by Science).

BOTTOM LINE:It is most important to stick to the three rules, but there are a few other things you can do to speed things up.

How Fast You Will Lose (and Other Benefits)

Obese vs thin woman

You can expect to lose 5-10 pounds of weight (sometimes more) in the first week, then consistent weight loss after that.

I can personally lose 3-4 lbs per week for a few weeks when I do this strictly.

If you’re new to dieting, then things will probably happen quickly. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you will lose it.

For the first few days, you might feel a bit strange. Your body has been burning carbs for all these years, it can take time for it to get used to burning fat instead.

It is called the “low carb flu” and is usually over within a few days. For me it takes 3. Adding some sodium to your diet can help with this, such as dissolving a bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and drinking it.

After that, most people report feeling very good, positive and energetic. At this point you will officially have become a “fat burning beast.”

Despite the decades of anti-fat hysteria, the low-carb diet also improves your health in many other ways:

  • Blood Sugar tends to go way down on low-carb diets (3738).
  • Triglycerides tend to go down (3940).
  • Small, dense LDL (the bad) Cholesterol goes down (4142).
  • HDL (the good) cholesterol goes up (43).
  • Blood pressure improves significantly (4445).
  • To top it all off, low-carb diets appear to be easier to follow than low-fat diets.

BOTTOM LINE:You can expect to lose a lot of weight, but it depends on the person how quickly it will happen. Low-carb diets also improve your health in many other ways.

You Don’t Need to Starve Yourself to Lose Weight

If you have a medical condition then talk to your doctor before making changes because this plan can reduce your need for medication.

By reducing carbs and lowering insulin levels, you change the hormonal environment and make your body and brain “want” to lose weight.

This leads to drastically reduced appetite and hunger, eliminating the main reason that most people fail with conventional weight loss methods.

This is proven to make you lose about 2-3 times as much weight as a typical low-fat, calorie restricted diet (464748).

Another great benefit for the impatient folks is that the initial drop in water weight can lead to a big difference on the scale as early as the next morning.

Here are a few examples of low-carb meals that are simple, delicious and can be prepared in under 10 minutes: 7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in 10 Minutes or Less.

On this plan, you can eat good food until fullness and still lose a ton of fat. Welcome to paradise.

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