"How much can I safely dial fat loss up over 6 weeks?" my friend recently asked, showing me a halter swimsuit she bought at for an upcoming vacation.
Once upon a time, "slow and steady" became the fat-loss mantra. It made sense: Losing weight steadily and sensibly means you're more likely to sustain those healthy habits.
Except that mentality never worked for most clients, who became discouraged and slipped back into bad habits when their herculean effort didn't yield impressive results.
When they lost fat quickly, however, these clients remained vigilant to stay the course. Studies later confirmed what I knew all along: Fast fat loss proved better at becoming lasting fat loss.
Along the way, I discovered clients used extreme caloric restriction, "cleanses," and other fad diets to get quick results. When I say "fast fat loss," I'm emphatically not talking about these and other potentially dangerous plans, OK?
That's why I developed my own plan for A-list clients to ditch fat quickly and safely. Employ these 12 strategies and get swimsuit-ready in (almost) no time.
1. Nix gluten
Studies show ditching gluten helps dial down insulin resistance and inflammation, two biggies that create weight loss resistance. Skip the health halo-triggering processed crap; the easiest way to go gluten-free becomes sticking with a whole foods diet, and making sure you follow these steps to avoid wheat withdrawal. After all, you know broccoli and blueberries don't have gluten, right?
2. Double up
On super-busy days, I replace two meals with protein shakes (and incorporate these necessary smoothie ingredients). They're easy, filling, and skyrocket fat loss. Simply blend non-soy, non-dairy, plant- or animal-based protein powder with avocado, kale or other leafy greens, frozen raspberries (if you're doing fruit), freshly ground flaxseed, maybe a tablespoon of almond butter or cacao nibs, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk for a fast meal that keeps you full and focused for hours.
3. Write it down
What you track, you can measure and improve. Studies show folks who keep a food journal double their fat loss. When my personal clients didn't write down what they ate, I threatened to fire them; that's how serious I am about journaling for fat loss.
If a pen and paper isn't your thing, download a smartphone app or even snap a picture to track your meals.
4. Modify intermittent fasting
Going 16 to 18 hours or more without food becomes a challenge, and besides, I want you to eat breakfast within an hour of waking. Try this easier intermittent fasting version: Several times a week, eat a substantial low-sugar impact breakfast and lunch and then skip dinner.
You'll effortlessly create that fat-burning window without starving and other miseries (as long as you know the truth about fasting).
5. Reduce or eliminate fruit
Excess amounts of fructose, the main sugar in fruit, can make you gain weight. To really amp up fat loss, eliminate most fruit – yes, including berries; this is only temporary – and focus on low-fructose fruits like coconut and avocado. It's one of the easiest ways to give up sugar, and you'll see quick results to boot.
6. Go green
Skip the rice, potatoes, and other carbs and double your green vegetables at meals – follow these rules for a low-carb diet. Non-starchy veggies provide more fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants for fewer calories than their starchy competitors.
7. Drink up!
Aim for 64 ounces or more of filtered water daily. Keep a canteen nearby and sip throughout your day to crush hunger and cravings and trick yourself into drinking more water throughout the day, or try these infused water recipes for a flavor boost.
8. Dial up your fiber
Studies show higher-fiber diets make you leaner and fuller. Avocado, legumes, quinoa, nuts, and seeds become my favorite foods to hit your 50-gram daily fiber quota (as are these other ways to sneak fiber into your diet).
9. Crush your appetite with this simple trick
About 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, stir a spoonful of freshly ground flaxseeds or a professional-quality fiber supplement into filtered water. You'll steady blood sugar while regulating hunger and cravings, meaning you'll probably eat less at that meal.
10. Get good sleep
Even a partial night's crappy sleep can knock fat-regulating hormones like insulin out of whack, increasing weight gain in the bargain, so follow these 50 tips for a better night's sleep. Awesome sleep hygiene might include a hot bath, chamomile tea, a good (but not great) novel, and a synergistic professional-quality supplement to help you get 7 to 9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep.
This story original appeared on Rodale Wellness.