10 Ways to Lose 2 Pounds a Week

Simple Ways to Lose 2 Pounds Per Week

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If you want to lose weight the healthy way and keep the pounds off for good, you should slim down at a slow and steady rate. Most experts recommend that you lose roughly 1 to 2 pounds per week. So how do you reach that goal? You simply adjust your energy balance to reach the correct calorie deficit.

To lose 1 pound per week, you need to reach a total calorie deficit of 3500 calories per week or 500 calories per day. To lose 2 pounds per week, you need to double that number. So you need to reach a 1000-calorie per day deficit or 7000 calories per week. Sound complicated? It's not too hard, once you get the hang of it. 

Budgeting your calories is like budgeting your money. Mandy Levy explains it perfectly in her hilarious new diet book called Calorie Accounting. "Calories add up to pounds just as spare change adds up to a dollar. A dollar, or one hundred cents, can be distributed in many ways: 100 pennies, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, 4 quarters...and countless combinations thereof. There are just as many ways to distribute your calories." If you can budget your calories to come up "short" by 500-1000 calories each day, you'll lose weight. It's a simple equation, but it's not necessarily easy.

Creative Ways to Reach a Calorie Deficit

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Changing your habits to eat less and move more is hard. That's why many people struggle to lose weight. So, to take some of the guesswork out of the process, Mandy and I put our heads together and came up with 10 simple ways to create a 500-1000 calorie deficit each day.

Each point below contains a creative calorie "budgeting" combination to help you reach your goal. You'll see options for a 500-calorie per day deficit to lose 1 pound per week or a 1000-calorie per day deficit to lose 2 pounds per week. As always, calorie counts are estimates, so your exact numbers may vary. And each activity or food swap must result in a deficit. That means you can't compensate for your diet-friendly behavior with extra food or naptime. But each combination should put you one step closer to reaching your goal.

The Morning Cleanse + Couch Workout

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

"Start your program with a tiny cleanse," suggests Mandy. "On your first day of calorie accounting, swap out your breakfast (250 calories) and your mid-morning snack (150 calories) for two "Evolution Fresh Sweet Greens & Lemon" juices (100 calories each) that you'll find at any Starbucks." Then by noon you will already have reached a 200-calorie deficit. To reach a full 500-calorie deficit, get active when you watch TV in the evening. Believe or not, a super-fun living room workout can burn 300 calories or more.

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

At lunch and dinner, skip the starch. Don't each chips with your sandwich at lunchtime and skip the baked potato with your dinner. The starch itself isn't necessarily a huge calorie expense. A baked potato, for example, only provides 150-200 calories. But the toppings that you add can easily total several hundred more.

The No-Excuses Workout

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

"Go to the gym!" says Mandy. It sounds simple, but we all come up with reasons to avoid it. "Don't make excuses," she says. Mandy suggests that you choose fat-burning cardio exercises that you can quantify so you know exactly how many calories you are burning during your session. Set a goal to burn at least 300 calories. "Time your visit to the gym with your favorite TV show (or TV marathon!) so that when you're running or walking on the treadmill or elliptical, you can just zone out and rack up the miles."

Then instead of rewarding yourself with dessert, skip the sweets and reward yourself with an additional 200 calorie deficit to reach your total 500-calorie deficit for the day.

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

At lunchtime, skip the bread on your sandwich and wrap it in lettuce instead. Iceberg or bib lettuce works well. Some dieters even use a hollowed out cucumber instead of bread. And since you don't have bread, you won't need the usual condiments either. Without bread and mayo, you've cut your lunch total by 250 calories. 

To burn an extra 250 calories, jack up the speed or increase the incline when you're on your  cardio machine at the gym. Just a small adjustment can add up to an extra 200-300 calories during your workout.

Party With Your Pooch

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

Your dog is the perfect weight loss coach. He's always ready to help you burn calories to slim down. To burn 250 calories, take your pooch for a brisk one-hour walk.

Then after your calorie-controlled dinner, enjoy an "imposter" dessert. "One of my favorite desserts is my "Taffy Apple," says Mandy. She combines a 60-calorie Sugar Free Caramel Snack Pack with an 80-calorie crisp Granny Smith apple. "Dip and love," she says. This 140 calorie dessert is nearly 300 calories lighter than a typical bowl of ice cream, so you'll not only reach a 500 calorie deficit, you'll actually exceed it.

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

To turn your dog walking session into a dog workout, take your pooch to the park for a hard-core fitness session with Fido. A simple game of fetch can turn into an interval workout if you both run after the ball and you'll burn mega fat while you have fun.

Saturday Night Savings

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

You can easily save calories when you go out with friends. For a diet-friendly restaurant meal, Mandy suggests that you bring your own...whatever. "Bring your own low-cal salad dressings, condiments, cheeses, and other accouterments out to dinner with you," she says. "You'll save beaucoup calorie bucks. Who cares if you look like Mary Poppins extracting all these treasures from your purse? You're about to be skinny!" And tell the waiter to skip the bread. Without bread or high calorie sauces and dressings, you'll easily save 500 calories (or more!)

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

You can also save mega calories by skipping the booze. In fact, you can easily lose weight if you give up drinking either temporarily or permanently. Each drink contains anywhere from 100-300 calories or more. Add an hour on the dance floor and along with your diet-friendly restaurant meal, you've reached a 1000-calorie deficit for the day.

The Math and Miles Plan

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

One simple way to make sure you are reaching your calorie deficit each day is to calculate your BMR. Your BMR or basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions like breathing. If you eat only that number of calories and then "move" five miles, you should reach a 500-calorie deficit. "Walking to work, running on a treadmill, taking an evening stroll, choosing the stairs, doing housework, chasing after your kids, it all counts," says Mandy.  Get an activity monitor and track movement.  "Five miles is easier to accomplish than you'd think, especially if you're somewhat active already.  This is the healthiest system, and the steady vision to aim for." 

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

If you are already quite active during the day, add more movement. You can turn your housecleaning chores into a workout to tidy up and tone up at the same time. Or turn your evening stroll into an interval walking workout. Intervals are a great way to improve fitness and burn more fat.

Drink Water at Work

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

Drink water instead of typical flavored beverages to save hundreds of calories during the day. Beverages like soda, flavored coffee and even sports beverages are filled with sugar and other fattening ingredients. And some of those drinks contain hundreds of calories. Head to the water cooler instead to reach a 500-calorie deficit. 

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

Burn an extra 500 calories by completing a one-hour stair climbing workout. If that sounds too challenging, don't worry. You don't even need a gym membership to complete this workout. In fact, you can lose weight at work with this simple routine. Just take hourly breaks and walk the stairs for 7-10 minutes. After several sessions, you'll have a full one-hour workout completed. 

Burn Calories With the Kids

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

Got kids at home? Put them to work? Kids love to play games and they love to run around. So put that boundless energy to work. Take the kids to the park for a game of tag. This interval style workout can burn 300-400 calories in an hour.  Then head to the playground equipment for a family-friendly workout to reach your complete 500-calorie deficit.

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

Pack a healthy picnic to bring to the park but keep your calories in control by cutting all of your portions in half. If you do this during two of your meals during the day you can cut another 400-500 calories to reach the calorie deficit you need to lose 2 pounds per week.

Snack Smarter for Weight Loss

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

Calories from daily snacks can total more than the calories you consume at mealtime. Those little nibbles add up! So to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories, replace your snacks with a single serving of a fresh fruit or vegetable. You can also eliminate the snacks altogether. Believe it or not, snacking is not required when you're trying to lose weight. In fact, it can actually cause weight gain in some dieters.

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

Hate hard workouts? No problem! Burn an extra 500 calories with two easier (but longer) workouts during the day. Schedule an early morning walk for an hour in the morning and then again in the evening. Each workout should burn roughly 250 calories.

Use Slimming Smoothies

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500-Calorie Deficit to Lose 1 Pound per Week

Meal replacements are an easy way to cut 500 calories from your daily intake. If you replace one or two meals with a lean smoothie, you should reach your goal. But you have to make a diet-friendly smoothie. That means you don't just throw a bunch of ingredients into the blender and hope for the best. My favorite green smoothie is a great option. It combines spinach, apple, banana and protein powder. It doesn't sound great, but you'll love it.

1000-Calorie Deficit to Lose 2 Pounds per Week

Do mini workouts today to burn another 500 calories. Do four intense 5-minute weight loss workout sessions to burn an extra 400 calories. Just make sure you exercise hard enough to take advantage of the full calorie burn. The bonus is that after this style of workout, you actually burn more calories for the rest of the day because of a metabolism-boosting effect called EPOC.

When in Doubt....

Calorie Accounting/Mandy Levy
Calorie Accounting by Mandy Levy. Christopher Patrick Ernst

Each of these strategies combines an exercise solution with a food strategy to reach your calorie deficit goal. But, let's face it. There will be days when you can't complete both or even one of these specific tasks to reach your weight loss goal. And that's okay. When in doubt, simply eat less. Cut your food portions in half, eliminate sauces and spreads and drink water. These three simple steps will reduce your caloric intake on a daily and weekly basis.

What matters most is consistency. If you have a bad day, laugh it off and get back on track tomorrow. "Dieting sucks—we all know that," says Mandy. "But attitude is everything and success can be a long-ish journey. The least you can do is have a little fun getting there."

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