Whether you gained 20 pounds over the years or in a few short months, getting motivated is the best step you can take. Losing weight isn’t just about looking how you want, but it’s also about retraining yourself with healthier habits. That way, you don’t gain that weight back.
With all the distractions in life, it can sometimes feel impossible to lose weight. That’s why we’re here to give you a guide on how to lose 20 pounds. We’ll give you some general advice for anyone looking to lose weight and then go into some specific strategies.
How to Lose Weight Effectively and Safely
One of the vital factors in successful weight loss is having a plan. Plans help you stay motivated while also increasing your accountability with yourself. Aside from planning, you’ll need to set goals and formulate a healthy eating regimen.
Have Realistic Goals
You already have a fundamental goal for your weight loss—you’d like to lose around 20 pounds. That’s a great place to start because it’s a realistic goal that most people can achieve.
For most people, it’s safe to lose between one and two pounds a week. So, if you want to lose 20 pounds, it’ll take between two to four months to lose the weight at a safe pace.
In general, your end goal shouldn’t focus solely on weight. Although losing weight can be a confidence boost, you should focus your goals on attaining better health and losing bad habits that caused the weight gain to begin or persist.
Build a Plan
Once you set your goals, you can build a plan to attain them. For most women, an intake of 1800 calories is healthy, but it won’t result in any weight loss. Of course, women of different sizes need different numbers of calories.
People need to reduce their caloric intake by 500 to 750 calories to lose between one and two pounds a week. For an average woman who eats about 1800 calories, that means eating around 1100 to 1300 calories per day.
You should never reduce your food intake to less than 800 calories because it can result in unhealthy weight loss. Unhealthy weight loss can have negative consequences, such as muscle loss, unwanted changes in metabolism, gallstones, and fatigue.
Weight loss isn’t only about reducing calories. It’s also about increasing movement. Physical activity of all kinds, whether walking, running, or high-impact sports, will help you lose weight faster.
You should exercise four times a week for at least 30 minutes to lose weight. Exercising every second day will increase the number of calories burned while giving your body time to recover. We’ll go into more workout options in our tips for losing weight.
Create Healthy Eating Patterns
Eating healthy takes a little bit of work, especially when you’re at the supermarket. Choosing which proteins and vegetables to fit into your diet can be a challenge, especially when you’re focused on weight loss.
We’ll get into which foods are best for you when you want to lose weight soon, but for now, let’s go through healthy eating patterns. If you consume 1200 calories per day, there are multiple ways to space out your meals for less hunger and more results. You could eat:
- Two 600-calorie meals
- Two 500-calorie meals and a 200-calorie snack
- Three 400-calories meals
- Four 300-calorie meals
- Four 250-calorie meals and a 200-calorie snack
- Six 200-calorie snacks
If you’re still feeling hungry after eating 1200 calories, you can reduce your hunger by eating healthy snacks that include low-starch veggies and lean proteins. These energy sources are lower in calories than other options, but they’re enough to get you over the hump.
How to Lose 20 Pounds: 11 Tips for a Healthy Weight Loss
Losing weight isn’t just a one-step deal. You’re going to have to work at this by changing some of your habits and analyzing which habits contributed the most to weight gain or your inability to lose weight. Let’s go through the best tips we’ve picked up for how to lose 20 pounds.
Increase Physical Activity
Increasing your physical activity while reducing caloric intake is the best way to lose weight. Choosing the proper workout is essential, but you need to increase your physical activity more than anything.
Aside from working out, try to walk more in a day. Studies have shown that people who walk 10,000 steps a day have better physical and mental health results. If you aren’t getting 10,000 steps a day in, increase how much you walk. Remember, intense workouts aren’t the only way to burn calories.
If you already walk 10,000 steps a day, you can set up a workout schedule to increase your physical activity even more.
Set Up a Workout Based on Cardio
The best exercises for weight loss are cardio activities. Although you shouldn’t avoid strength-based exercises, cardio burns the most calories in the shortest amount of time. If you’re someone who wants to know how to lose 20 pounds, cardio is for you.
The point of cardio exercises is to increase your heart rate. When your heart rate is up, your body uses more energy. That energy comes from the food you eat. By eating healthier and increasing your cardio, you’ll burn more calories.
The most popular cardio exercise is running, but there’s more than just running. Aside from running, you can:
- Jump rope
- Stair climb
- Martial arts
As you can tell, not all of these exercises require going to the gym. You can lose weight at home without the need to go to the gym as long as you stick to a workout plan.
Read Food Labels to Gauge Calorie Levels
When you start a diet, you need to be wary of what foods you eat. If you haven’t started already, the best place to start is the nutritional labels on packaged foods. These labels will give you insights into your available calories when you restrict your food intake.
For a woman who eats 1200 calories a day, there are only so many options for good quality food. And when you add unhealthy snacks or meals into the mix, you’ll be left with even fewer calories.
Here are some examples that describe how many calories are in a cup:
- Campbell’s Tomato Soup: 180 calories
- Tostitos Tortilla Chips: 293 calories
- Cheerios (no milk): 100 calories
- Planters Roasted Salted Peanuts: 854 calories
- Ritz Crackers: 216 calories
As you can tell, different packaged products can vary widely in the number of calories they provide. Always read the labels so you can be aware of how many calories you’re eating.
Eat Less Starchy Vegetables
If a vegetable has a lot of starch in it, that’s a sign it’s filled with carbohydrates (carbs). Carbs are useful, and you still need them in your diet, but eating too many carbs is an easy way to eat more calories than you need.
Start by cutting out vegetables that have a lot of starch in them. You don’t need to get rid of them fully, but you should do your best to eat less. Vegetables with a lot of carbs include:
- Other root vegetables
And Eat More Fiber
Instead of eating those starchy vegetables, consider switching them for veggies that have fewer carbs and, therefore, calories. These veggies have a wider array of nutrients and fewer calories in a cup.
Often, these veggies will also be higher in fiber than veggies that are high in starch. Fiber can help you lose weight by helping you feel full longer while also giving you other positive effects such as lower blood pressure and healthier stomach functions.
Let’s go through some common veggies you can cook that have fewer calories and more fiber. You can find the calories of most foods on the USDA website. In a cup of each of these raw vegetables, there are:
- Spinach: 7 calories
- Broccoli: 31 calories
- Brussel sprouts: 38 calories
- Lettuce: 5 calories
- White mushrooms: 16 calories
- Cucumbers: 16 calories
- Bell peppers: 60 calories
- Asparagus: 27 calories
- Green beans: 31 calories
- Onions: 46 calories
Increase Water Intake
Increasing your water consumption isn’t just good for your skin and overall health, but it can also help you lose weight. The first way water helps is by keeping you full. By drinking enough water, you won’t feel hungry as quickly or as often.
Water also helps by removing waste from your system. One way your body removes waste is through the urinary tract. Water helps keep that process moving smoothly. Without water, it would be impossible for your body to burn fat and thus lose weight.
Keep to a Sleep Schedule
Sleep is more important than you think. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have the time to repair itself. Not sleeping is also a major cause of overeating because staying up late increases your hunger.
Sticking to a sleep schedule is essential to maintaining proper eating habits. Not sleeping regularly also messes with your metabolism. It can lead to changes in your circadian rhythm, which can ultimately lead to weight gain.
Eat Lean Proteins and Healthier Fats
Making sure you eat healthy foods goes beyond vegetables. Choosing the right proteins and fats is one of the most important aspects of your diet because these foods contain significantly more calories than veggies.
Lean proteins include white fish, legumes, skinless poultry, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, extra lean beef, and egg whites. These foods have adequate levels of protein without too many extra calories.
There are also fats most dieticians consider healthier than animal fat. No more than 10% of your calories should come from fats. You should see them as flavoring agents, cooking materials, or the occasional snack. Some of the best fats to use in your meals include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butter
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish, such as salmon
Keep Track of Your Progress and Stay Accountable
You may not want to weigh yourself, but sadly it’s a fundamental way to keep track of your progress. But don’t be upset by any number you see on the scale. Your goal is to feel healthier and become more active, so absolute numbers don’t matter too much.
What does matter is how well your workout and diet are going. You should start by weighing yourself on the first day of your weight loss journey. Mark that weight down because it’s the number you should compare yourself to.
After that, weigh yourself regularly. That could be once a day or once every three days, but make sure to keep it consistent. If you notice yourself plateauing, try to recognize which aspects of your plan aren’t working and change them.
Get Rid of Problem Foods
There are several foods everyone has that they can’t seem to avoid. For some people, that’s burgers and fries, while for others, it’s alcohol. The problem with these foods and drinks is the number of calories.
In some cases, the number of calories these foods have is shocking. Here are some common foods and drinks with their calories:
- Alcoholic beverages (spirits): 50-100 calories per ounce
- Soda: 125-200 calories per can
- Rice: 206 calories per cup
- Bacon: 43 calories per slice
- Bagel: 300 calories per bagel
- Cheddar cheese: 531 calories per cup
Don’t Eat Out Often—Or at All
Eating out is a great way to lose track of the calories you’re consuming. Menus don’t have nutritional labels, so you don’t know how many calories you’re eating. It’s easy to eat an 800-calories meal without realizing it.
One of the best things you can do is avoid eating out. If eating out is an aspect of your life you find important, try limiting the number of times you eat out in a week. You can also choose healthier options, such as plant-based alternatives or health food restaurants.
How to Lose 20 Pounds: Start Your Journey Today!
The best time to start losing weight was yesterday, but the second best time is now! Now that you have some strategies for how to lose 20 pounds, you can start making a plan today.
Remember, losing weight is never just about the number. It’s about feeling healthier and more confident in your body. And even if you’re feeling down about starting a diet or making some unsatisfactory progress, know that you’ll get through it if you continue working hard!