How to Lose 20 Pounds in 2 Weeks
1 Changing What You Eat
2 Changing How You Eat
3 Changing Your Lifestyle
- Show 1 more…
Tips and Warnings
Co-authored by Pouya Shafipour, MD, MS
Last Updated: June 8, 2021 References Approved
It’s extremely difficult to lose 20 pounds in two short weeks, and losing that much weight that quickly is often not safe. Surgery and weight loss pills are among the options many people use to drop such a large amount of weight so quickly, but making changes to your diet and lifestyle can help with your weight loss goals and is a healthier long term option when done the right way. It is important to note that a diet that drops so much weight is highly unconventional, though, and you should talk over your plans with a doctor before continuing.
Changing What You Eat
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Switch to drinking only water. Water flushes out your system, removing unneeded toxins, making it easier to lose weight. Moreover, water is free of calories, making it a much better choice than sugary drinks. In fact, if you can limit yourself to only water, your odds of losing the weight will increase. If you need something flavored from time to time, choose unsweetened tea.
This should be 24/7, apart from right before a workout. Then you can feel free to chug a cup of black coffee (or with a splash of skim milk). The caffeine blast is reported to give you a kick, making you work out a little bit harder.
It turns out drinking water can up your metabolism, too, in addition to making you feel full. Recent studies show that drinking two glasses of cold water can up your metabolism about 40% for 15-20 minutes. Participants in these weight loss studies reportedly lost 15 pounds in three months, largely by drinking only water.
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Cut junk food from your diet. Cut it out completely. Someone following a standard diet can usually afford to fall off the junk food wagon once or twice without suffering major repercussions. For more extreme, short-term weight loss goals (like this one), however, junk food must be completely avoided.
Stay away from greasy, fatty foods as well as those with a high sugar content. Anything battered, fried, covered in chocolate, packaged, or loaded up and preserved with sugar is a no-go.
Be sure to read your labels. Even things like yogurt and granola bars can be powerhouses of sugar. While many people think of these as healthy, they’re actually not.
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Cut out the white carbs. Everything from pasta to cookies is full of simple carbohydrates that are actually sugars in disguise. These little villains spike our insulin levels, upping our fat stores, and ultimately increase our body weight. To lower the spike, cut out the processed carbs – that means white rice, bread, and potatoes, in addition to cookies, cakes, donuts, chips, pretzels, and ice cream.
You may be better off cutting out carbs in general. Let’s face it: 20 pounds in 2 weeks is a tall order. To put your body in ketosis, where it’s feeding off your fat stores and not your glycogen stores (because those have been depleted), you’ll have to go completely low or no carb. In addition to no sweets, you’ll have to cut out starchy vegetables (potatoes, squash, carrots), whole grains (including quinoa and brown rice) and sugary fruits, like bananas, oranges, and apples.
What’s more, being hungry makes the temptation to cave to your old habits all the more powerful. Consistently eating good-for-you, healthy foods keeps the other cravings at bay. When you’re more full, you make better decisions.
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Munch on “negative calorie” foods. Whether or not negative calorie foods are truly negative is up for debate. As the theory goes, some foods take so much energy to digest that eating them actually burns more calories than the foods contain. Even if you do not burn calories eating these foods, though, you will not gain many calories from them, either.
In the way of vegetables, eat more asparagus, beet root, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, garlic, green beans, lettuce, onion, radish, spinach, turnip, and zucchini.
As for fruits, gravitate toward blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, grapefruit, honeydew, lemons, limes, oranges, mangoes, papayas, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, tangerines, and watermelon.
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Choose leaner proteins and load up on vegetables. Instead of beef and pork, opt for leaner meats like chicken or fish. Consuming fish is especially helpful because the fatty acids in fish give your body the beneficial oils it needs, and may help subdue the urge to consume greasy or fattening foods.
And as for vegetables, go for it. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner – pile ’em on. They’re nutritious, generally not full of calories or sugars (again, no potatoes), and keep you full. They’re the shortest track to losing weight there is.
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Consider a fad diet very carefully. The fact of the matter is that in the short term, fad diets can work. If you’re looking to lose weight very quickly and don’t care if you gain it back, then a fad diet could be okay for you in this situation. Just realize that, in general, they’re not healthy and their effects do not last for long.
One of the most common fad diets right now is juicing. Another contender is the Master Cleanse diet – both of which are liquid-based diets. These offer quick results, but are hard to adhere to and are not wise to stay on for long. If you’re desperate, look into them, but take their advice with a grain of salt.
Changing How You Eat
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Be sure to still eat all your meals. While you may feel tempted to skip breakfast or spend a day fasting, you should resist the urge to do so. Prolonged fasting can cause muscle loss and other health problems, but it can also make it more difficult for your body to lose weight. When the human body does not receive enough nutrition, it automatically starts conserving calories by burning them at a slower rate. You may experience significant weight loss after the first few days, but by the end of the two weeks, you will probably gain a good portion of it back.
The exception to this is if you’re on a highly-regimented intermittent fasting plan. This is where you don’t eat anywhere from eight to twenty-four hours and then eat planned amounts of calories (often more) thereafter. While this can be effective, do this only with the approval of your physician. If you don’t do it correctly, you could actually increase your body’s tendency to store fat.
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Don’t eat after a specific time of day. Many people find success with a timed plan. That is, they decide that they won’t eat after a certain time, usually somewhere around 7 to 8 pm. Nighttime eating is generally the worst for most people, as the TV is on and friends are habitually munching, too. This can be emotionally difficult, but it can pay off.
You may need to be reasonable with yourself. Have this rule for only five or six days out of the week. Give yourself some wiggle room to go out with friends – but that doesn’t mean you can go crazy. Stick to a glass of red wine and a few bites – don’t eat the entire buffet.
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Budget your calories. The idea that it’s all about calories is slowly becoming old school. The fact of the matter is that everybody’s body is different and not all calories are made the same. What’s more, counting calories sucks. That being said, they’re a good general guideline. For the purposes of this diet, budget your calories throughout the day. If you’ve done really, really great, have that piece of dark chocolate or that extra half a chicken breast. Don’t go overboard, but keep yourself from feeling deprived.
You’ll want to balance the calories you burn with the calories you consume. In other words, the more you work out, the more you can eat. Weight loss generally occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. On average (again, on average), a person needs to burn 3,500 calories more than he or she consumes to lose 1 lb (450 g). To lose 20 pounds (9 kg) in two weeks, you will need to lose a little under 1.5 lbs (675 g) every day. That means burning a little over 5,000 calories more than you consume each day. Yep, a very, very tall order.
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Master portion control. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about how much you eat. Even the healthiest of foods need to be eaten in moderation. Start by using smaller plates and smaller eating utensils and don’t go back for seconds. Adhere to the serving sizes listed on the nutrition labels and look up anything you’re unsure about.
Snacking is where portion control gets iffy. To avoid that handful of nuts turning into the entire bag, measure out your snacks beforehand. Then when you’re hungry, you grab a little baggie or container that’s the right serving size and that’s that. You know exactly how much you’re eating.
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Consider having a cheating session. Intermittent fasting and calorie cycling is becoming more and more popular. These practices maintain that sometimes a lot of calories is a good thing, as it keeps your body from down regulating (where you stop burning calories). One week through your diet, consider having a little fun with your eating – it may help keep your diet on the right track.
If this diet were to last longer, you might want to devote an entire day to eating. Eating whatever the heck you want. However, it may be best to limit yourself to an hour or two during this fourteen-day period. So for 60 minutes one day this week, go to town. But beyond that, you have to get back to your plan.
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Eat more often. Make sure to read that third word – eat more often, not eat more. Think of it this way: if you only have 5 pieces of celery you can eat in a day (not recommended; just an example), you don’t want to eat them all for breakfast. You want to space them out to keep from being hungry. Along the same lines, you’re likely not eating a lot in these two weeks. So eat less, but eat less more often. It’ll keep your stomach from thinking it’s hungry.
Many healthy diets advocate snacking and for good reason – it keeps your metabolism up and it prevents you from gorging yourself later. Make your meals smaller so you can fit in a few extra calories for snack time. In two weeks, your body and your motivation will thank you for it.
Changing Your Lifestyle
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Start cooking. The only way to truly control every nutrient and calorie that goes into your body is to cook for yourself. Though every restaurant nowadays tends to have healthier options, you can never be sure what’s in that salad dressing or what type of oil they use for their vegetables. You’ll be better off cooking for yourself and being able to exercise complete control over every bite you intake.
This way you can use healthier oils, like olive oil, less butter, less sugar, less salt (a big culprit when it comes to bloating) and control your portion sizes, too. And what’s even better? It stretches your wallet further, too.
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Keep track of your eating and exercising. If this were a permanent lifestyle change, keeping track might just be demotivating. But since this is only for 14 days, it’s totally doable. Keeping track can help you see where you’re likely to flub up, see where you have a little wiggle room, and help you see all the progress you’ve made – which is an awesome feeling. It’s proof of a job well done.
This can be done with an old school pen and paper like with a food diary, or you could get technological and download one of the plethora of weight loss apps available. Many help you count calories, carbs, fats, and protein and take into account exercise, too.
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Make a commitment. It sounds obvious, but one of the most important things you can do to guarantee weight loss success is to commit to your goal. This is especially important for a short-term diet like this. You cannot afford to have an “off” day when you slack on your diet or exercise regimen. Once you decide to go this route, you must be committed to seeing it through.
It’ll be easier if you tell other people about your plan, or if you have other people to do it with you. They can hold you accountable, you can eat healthy and exercise together, and you can complain about it together, too.
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Get several hours of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. The best way to burn calories is through exercise. If your body is already familiar with moderate physical activity, you might be able to take things up a notch by alternating moderate and vigorous activity throughout your day. On the other hand, if you are unaccustomed to much physical activity, you should only stick to moderate exercise. Either way, make sure to take plenty of breaks and to re-hydrate yourself with plenty of water consistently.
Vigorous activity burns between 400 and 600 calories per hour, and examples include running, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, basketball, and heavy weightlifting or yard work.
Moderate activity burns between 200 and 400 calories per hour and includes hiking, light yard work, dancing, golf, slow bicycling, and slow walking. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 2-3 times a week.
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Take little opportunities to exercise, too. If you’re watching your favorite program and the commercials come on, pop on down to the floor for a few push ups. While you’re putting away dishes, get to dancing. Lunge your way down the hallway. Sounds silly, but these little bits add up, leading to increased muscle tone and a slimmer waistline.
Even if your schedule is ridiculous, find ways to kill two birds with one stone. Take the dog for a walk the long way around the block, park far away from the shopping center doors, clean your house vigorously, or wash your car yourself. Life in general is an opportunity for exercise.
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Get a full night’s sleep. The human body cannot function properly without sleep. Sleep gives the body a chance to rest, restoring it to peak operating conditions and thereby making it easier for the body to burn calories and drop weight. In order to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, you should make sure to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
It’s more than just good sense, it actually regulates your hormones and can prevent hunger. So not only does it burn calories and keep you from eating, but it can keep you from eating even while you’re awake.
Foods and Drinks to Eat and Avoid
Food and Drinks to Avoid while Dieting
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Plan your meals.
Keep thinking of what you would look like
Have pictures to motivate you while you exercise.
Exercise when you are most alert!
You can buy or download mobile phone applications that help you keep track of your water intake, monitor your exercise and log meals. This will help keep you focused on your weight loss goals and help you find areas in your diet and activity level that you can improve upon
Put up pictures of celebrities or models that have your ideal body type in cabinets, the fridge, and even on containers of junk food. This way, whenever you reach for that bag of chips in the snack cabinet, you’ll see pictures of thinner people, thus making you want to put the chips down and get a glass of water.
Cardio is a great form of exercise. Running or dancing for a few hours a day will do miracles.
In order for the effects to show through, you need to be getting plenty of exercise. It may seem hard at first, but once you get out there and just do it, it’s not as bad as it seems.
Take progression pictures as you go along. It may not seem like a big change to you when you look at yourself in a mirror, but when you look at the pictures and compare them, you can see the difference.
Talk to a doctor or personal trainer for additional ideas about how to drop this much weight in such a short amount of time. There are various diet supplements on the market, and a weight loss professional will be able to tell you if you could benefit from such supplements or if a particular remedy is even effective at all.
Don’t starve yourself because that makes your body weak and as soon as you start eating again you will pick up weight like crazy! So stick to a healthy diet. You have to eat in order to lose.
Inform someone else of your plans. Perhaps ask them to work out and/or follow the plan with you. This seems dumb, but human pride will make you more likely to follow through.
Losing weight can be hard, but don’t stop trying, I’ve lost 4 pounds in a week by running with my dog twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes.
When craving something sugary, drink a bottle of water and go for a walk. If you’re still craving the sugar, have a stick of gum and imagine yourself at your ideal weight.
Don’t skip meals, you’ll lose weight but once you begin to eat normally again, you’ll gain even more than what you began with.
Don’t ever give up. You can do anything you want.
Try your hardest and don’t give up! You will get discouraged at times but you can do it!
Drink green tea with a spoon of honey in morning instead of drinking any hot drink
Make sure to do exercise. Some simple ones you can use to get started are planks, side planks, and sit-ups.
If you want to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, give high-intensity-interval-training a try. While you’ll have to do it for a longer time than normal per day since your goal is pretty steep, it actually has been found to burn more calories. To start, exercise for 30 seconds with a simple-but-effective exercise like burpees, mountain climbers, or running in place. Then, rest for 15. Repeat the process as many times as you’d like with different exercises.