Protein is more satiating than fat or carbohydrates, which is why increasing your intake could help you lose weight more quickly. A safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week; lose any more than that and you risk nutritional deficiencies, dehydration and gallstones. Still, you can lose up to 8 pounds in one month by reducing your calorie intake and slightly increasing your protein intake. Adding in exercise will help you tone up as you lose fat.
Reduce your caloric intake to encourage weight loss. Burning 500 calories more than you consume each day will encourage weight loss of 1 pound per week. Burning 1,000 calories more than you consume each day will encourage weight loss of 2 pounds per week. How many calories you need will depend on your age, sex and activity level. According to Estimated Energy Requirements from the Institute of Medicine, a moderately active female age 19 to 50 needs 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day to maintain her weight, while a moderately active man in the same age group needs 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day. Subtract 500 to 1,000 calories from those numbers to get a rough estimate of the calories you need for weight loss.
Increase the amount of protein in your diet. In a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in July 2005, participants who ate a diet composed of 50 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent fat and 30 percent protein consumed 441 fewer calories per day than those eating a diet consisting of 50 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent fat and only 15 percent protein. They also lost 11 pounds of body weight and over 8 pounds of fat mass during the 12-week study. The publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" recommends a protein intake of 10 percent to 35 percent of calories for adults. If protein currently makes up 20 percent of your calories, try upping it to 30 percent.
Choose lean sources of protein to limit your intake of saturated fat, an excess of which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Lean protein sources are also lower in calories to help you control your calorie intake. Good sources include chicken breast, low-fat tofu, beans, egg whites and low-fat cottage cheese. Include fish in your diet regularly -- while some fish, like salmon, contain significant amounts of fat, they're still low in saturated fat and instead contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Reduce or eliminate unhealthy, low-nutrient and high-calorie foods such as candy, cake, cookies, soda and ice cream. Also limit your intake of refined-grain foods, such as white rice, white bread and white pasta. These foods are low in fiber and quickly converted to glucose, while any excess is stored as fat. In a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in November 2003, a diet high in refined grains was positively associated with weight gain, while a diet high in fiber-rich whole grains was inversely associated with weight gain.
Increase your intake of nonstarchy vegetables such as leafy greens, bell peppers and carrots. These foods are low in calories but high in nutrients. They're also high in fiber, which helps fill you up and keeps you feeling full for longer after a meal. This can help you control your calorie intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a low-energy-dense diet rich in high-fiber, low-calorie foods for weight loss.
Eat healthy fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, in moderation. Healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats are still high in calories, but they are nutritious sources of fats that you need for absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, K and D and for forming healthy cells. Choose these fats over saturated and trans fats. A study published in "Diabetes Care" in July 2014 found that polyunsaturated fats encourage increases in lean muscle tissue, while saturated fats promote more visceral fat -- the type of fat found primarily in your belly.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management, and Satiety
- Nutrition.gov: Inerested in Losing Weight?
- NHS Choices: Should You Lose Weight Fast?
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A High-Protein Diet Induces Sustained Reductions in Appetite, Ad Libitum Caloric Intake, and Body Weight Despite Compensatory Changes in Diurnal Plasma Leptin and Ghrelin Concentrations
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Mayo Clinic: Low-Carb Diet: Can It Help You Lose Weight?
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Relation Between Changes in Intakes of Dietary Fiber and Grain Products and Changes in Weight and Development of Obesity Among Middle-Aged Women
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Linus Pauling Institute: What's Good About Dietary Fat?
- Diabetes: Overfeeding Polyunsaturated and Saturated Fat Causes Distinct Effects on Liver and Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans