Keto. Flexitarian. Paleo. Whole 30. Vegan. There are as many diets in existence as there are dangerous weight loss myths. So which eating style should you choose when you’re on a get-fit-quick and have just 10 days? Turns out, numerous studies have found it essentially doesn’t matter which plan you follow for rapid weight loss, be it low-carb or low-fat, as long as you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning. The key is that it’s sustainable: a strategy that you can keep up for the week and a half—and beyond.
“There should be no amount of time you limit yourself to make a healthy choice,” says Leah Kaufman, RD, owner of Leah Kaufman Nutrition in New York City. Whether you’re losing LBs to improve your heart health or shedding for the wedding, try this totally doable 10-day rapid weight loss plan. You’ll burn fat and feel healthier and more confident.
Day 1: Get Your Mind Right
Set (and write down) reasonable expectations for what you plan to achieve during your challenge. “You can absolutely make a difference in 10 days,” says Brooke Alpert, RD, a dietitian in New York City and the author of The Diet Detox, but don’t expect to shed 20 pounds a la The Biggest Loser. “While actual weight loss will be around three to four pounds, you can really notice the difference in the way your body feels in about a week.”
Day 2: Water Log
All of our RD experts agree: H2O is crucial for weight loss. “Water is so important when trying to lose weight since it helps to you feel full between meals,” says Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition NYC in New York City. Here’s a simple hydration rule of thumb: Shoot to consume half as many ounces of water as your total body weight in pounds. (So if you weigh 180, sip on 90 ounces of water each day.)
Day 3: Stop Counting Calories—Yes, really!
It’s just as important and beneficial (if not more so) to focus on diet quality rather than quantity, says a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Focus on real foods rather than a strict number of calories and you’re more likely to stay slim over the long term. Shapiro recommends these shedding superfoods, in particular:
- Celery, cucumber, and asparagus: “All are natural diuretics, so they will also help to remove fluid from the body.”
- Spinach: “It’s filling since the leafy greens are very high in fiber.”
- Fish or chicken breast: “The ample amount of protein keeps the body busy breaking it down so you stay full longer.”
- Olive oil: “Fat helps food taste better and tames your appetite.”
Day 4: Declare a Dry Week
“Alcohol can influence our food choices and may result in making poor food choices,” Kaufman says. Which is exactly why Alpert recommends this easy-to-remember motto for the rest of the 10-day quick weight loss plan: “Lots of water. No alcohol. Tons of greens and lean proteins.”
Day 5: Examine Your Eats
We’ll focus heavily on the actual meal plan during day nine, but for now, grab a journal. “If I think my jeans are getting a little tight, I write down everything I eat for three days,” Alpert says. “That helps me clean up my choices and also prevents any of those not-worth it bites that do add up over the course of a day.”
The accountability of tracking has been proven to help you lose about five percent more of your body weight compared to those who abstain, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Day 6: Eliminate the Easy Targets
Now that you know that you tend to seek out a brownie at 3 p.m. or down an extra glass of wine with your BFF at happy hour, aim to omit one or two of those triggers from your agenda each day. A few formidable foes to keep an eye on:
- “Processed foods, white carbohydrates, and sweetened drinks cause sugar spikes that can lead to hunger or powerful cravings that can wreck your progress,” Shapiro says.
- “Pass on the fried foods,” Kaufman says, as they’re high in fat, low in nutrition and the excess oil will leave you feeling lethargic.
- “Remove extra sugar from your diet: sugar in your coffee, flavored or sweetened dairy products, basically anytime you sweeten something, stop,” Alpert says.
In fact, by removing added sugars from your diet for just 14 days can help you lose up to a pound a day! For the entire diet—complete with recipes and a grocery guide—check out The 14-Day No Sugar Diet on sale now!
Day 7: Start Smart
Eat the bulk of your calories before 3 p.m. and you’re more likely to be slim than your splurge-at-dinner peers, says an International Journal of Obesity study.
“A healthy jumpstart should always include at least 50 percent fresh vegetables,” Kaufman says. And regardless of which meal packs the most calories, “always make sure to have a lean protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” she adds.
Day 8: Crank Up the Cardio
Supplement your current fitness routine with an extra 20 minutes of biking, rowing, or running each day. “I believe in weight training for overall fitness and health but if I’m trying to shed a few pounds, I’ll up my cardio game for a few weeks,” Shapiro says.
Notice how we didn’t address exercise until later in the program? There’s a reason. “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” Shapiro adds. “I firmly believe weight loss is 80 percent what you put in your mouth. I consider food first then add exercise for the best results.”
Countless studies have found that diet plays a much larger role in weight loss, although 150 minutes of exercise per week is recommended to maintain weight—and more importantly, improve overall physical and mental well-being.
Day 9: Try this One-Day Clean Eating Menu
Rather than a “detox,” follow Shapiro’s deprivation-free meal plan today to jumpstart your metabolism from the moment you wake up.
2 poached eggs on a 2 cups of greens, steamed + 1 cup of coffee and 2 cups of water
1 small piece of fruit + 1 cup of water
A leafy green salad (dressed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar) topped with 4 ounces of chicken and ⅓ cup quinoa + 2 cups of water
1 cup cucumber slices with ¼ cup hummus + 1 cup of green tea
6 ounces of salmon, 2 cups of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, ⅓ cup sweet potato cubes pan-fried in 1 tablespoon olive oil + 2 cups of water
Day 10: Weigh in
According to the National Weight Control Registry, a database that tracks more than 10,000 individuals who have lost over 30 pounds and kept them off for at least one year, 75 percent of the most successful dieters weigh in at least once a week. Now that you’ve reached the end of your 10-day diet pilot, step on the scale and jot down your progress. Ready to continue your progress? Stoke your fat-burning furnace with a copy of The Super Metabolism Diet! With the help of this book, you can quickly and easily turn your metabolism into a fat-melting machine.