By Dr. Melina Jampolis, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Dr. Melina Jampolis, CNN’s diet and fitness expert, is a physician nutrition specialist and the author of “The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life.”
(CNN) — Q: Is there a safe way to drop weight quickly for spring break?
A: A juice fast or cleanse may help you drop weight quickly, but such measures can leave you tired and flabby. Cleanses lack the nutrients you need, and you may lose muscle as a result of inadequate protein intake.
Instead, here are some tips to help you drop weight quickly while maintaining muscle mass and keeping energy levels high:
Double your vegetable intake and cut carbohydrates in half.
Research shows that dieters lose weight more quickly on a low-carb diet, but generally only for the first six to 12 weeks. So if you want to drop weight quickly, cutting back on starchy carbs — bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, crackers — can help.
Increasing your vegetable intake helps you cut calories without cutting portion sizes, allowing you to feel full on fewer calories.
For a health bonus, cut out sugar and processed grains, as these carbs are the least satisfying and nutritious.
Make workouts more effective.
There are several ways to make workouts more effective. Interval training is a great way to burn more calories as it allows you to up the intensity of your exercise and continue to burn more calories for several hours after your workout.
Intervals involve alternating short sprints with your regular workout pace. For example, if you usually walk, try jogging for 30 seconds, then walking for one minute and repeat 10 times. You can also add a second workout, even if it is just a brisk walk, to boost metabolism and burn more calories.
If you are lifting weights, try limiting the rest time between exercises to keep your heart rate elevated, or do 10 jumping jacks to turn strength training workouts into cardiovascular workouts, too.
Cut liquid calories.
If you are trying to lose weight quickly, liquid calories — including sodas, juice, energy drinks, sweetened water, lattes and alcohol — may interfere.
Research shows that liquids are not as satisfying as solids and people do not eat less if they drink their calories. You don’t have to cut coffee completely, but have a splash of nonfat milk instead of a large latte. Sipping on green tea with a squeeze of fresh lemon is an even better idea, as studies show that the phytonutrients in green tea may help with fat burning, particularly during exercise.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping less than six hours a night may increase hunger and decrease your ability to process carbohydrates, both of which can make weight loss more challenging.
Follow a specific meal plan
Here is a sample menu that I provide patients who are trying to lose weight more quickly.
- 1 egg plus 2 egg whites scrambled with 1 cup of spinach (cooked in 2 teaspoons of olive oil)
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup of green tea with lemon
- 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
- Salad made up of 3 cups or more of greens, 3 ounces of lean protein such as chicken or tuna (no mayo), ½ cup of beans (any kind), colorful vegetables plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of vinegar
- 1 cup of iced green tea with lemon
- Small apple plus ¼ cup of nuts
- 1 cup of green tea with lemon
- 4 ounces of fish
- 2 cups of vegetables (roasted or stir fried in 2 teaspoons of olive oil)
- ½ cup of brown rice or whole wheat pasta (optional)
- 1 ounce of dark chocolate (optional)
Have a great time on spring break!