Four weeks is long enough to help you lose weight safely. Setting a deadline can keep you stay disciplined as you try to reach your target weight. This timeframe can help you develop healthy habits, while seeing the results of your efforts without feeling extremely deprived.
Of course, there are many factors that determine how much weight you can drop in four weeks, such as lifestyle and eating habits. Here are effective tips to help you drop the unwanted kilos in no time:
- How To Lose Weight In 4 Weeks
- The Best 4-Week Diet Plan
- Choose Your Own Diet Adventure—3 Fitness Goals, 3 Meal Plans!
How To Lose Weight In 4 Weeks
1. Stick to losing 1-2 kilograms per week
A healthy weight loss means dropping one and a maximum of two kilograms week. It is considered safe, and helps improve your chances of maintaining a healthy weight in the long term. Drastically losing weight is unsafe, and may only cause your body to store more fat and lose muscle mass.
One kilogram of body fat is equivalent to around 7,700 calories. You have to burn or decrease your calorie intake by 1100 calories a day in order to lose one kilogram per week. You have to double this effort to bring your weight down to two kilograms each week, so you can see how shooting for anything more than 2 kilograms per week really is asking for quick-fix measures.
2. Never starve yourself. Stay satiated.
An effective way to lose weight is to stay full throughout the day. If you must eat five or six times a day, instead of just three, then do it. Eating small meals that contain 200 calories every three to four hours can help prevent hunger, and keep your motivation intact. In addition, stuffing yourself with low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables will allow you to eat more and stay satiated.
3. Combine cardio and resistance exercises
Torching 500 calories a day with exercise will help you lose around 2 kilograms per month alone. Exercises, like strength training, can also boost your lean muscle mass and keep your metabolism in top shape, which also increases fat burning. It is important to mix cardio exercises and strength training to prevent plateau and promote continuous fat burn. An hour of cycling, running, swimming, or resistance training can help you burn up to 500 calories, and a typically EFM workout will torch 500 calories in more like 45 minutes – nice!
4. Monitor your activities
Keeping track of your daily activities will help you see how much more you can lose and where to cut down. It will also help you determine your progress and stay motivated. You can do this using pen and paper, or download mobile apps for easier monitoring. You have to keep track of your calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, water intake, and physical activities.
5. Eat plenty of lean proteins and vegetables
Avoid pork and beef for the meantime and go for learner options, such as fish and chicken. Fish is particularly helpful in providing fatty acids to your body and give it the beneficial oils for better health. Vegetables are nutritious, and do not contain plenty of calories. Green leafy ones, in particular, are packed with all the vitamins and minerals, and can keep you feel full for longer.
6. Reduce daily calorie intake by 500 calories
Taking out 500 calories from your daily consumption is an effective way to lose weight. Eating fewer calories every day may sound overwhelming, but many people consume a great deal of calories more than they know. Note down your calorie intake, and see which foods you can eliminate.
It is also important to monitor your portions, and make sure that you are not eating more than what your body needs. Remove refined sugar and processed carbs, while increasing your fibre and water intake because sometimes a glass of water alone can offset the need to snack on junk food for 30 minutes or more – enough time for the craving to pass.
7. Cut The Junk
Get rid of junk food completely. A person following a healthy diet can sometimes fall of the wagon and eat junk, but it will not cause any significant repercussions. However, if you have only four weeks to drop the weight, then junk food must be avoided at all cost.
You have to keep yourself away from fatty, greasy, and sugary foods as they can only make you gain more weight. Anything that is fried, buttered, chocolate, or sugar-preserved is a no-go. In addition, make sure to read the labels. “Healthy” snacks like granola bars and yogurt can be packed with sugar without you knowing.
8. Drink only water
Water contains zero calories and can help you feel full for longer. It flushes out the toxins from your body, allowing you to lose weight easily. Moreover, hydrating well can make your skin glow and youthful. It also keeps your body energised throughout the day. If you need a flavored drink, you can consider infusing fruits into your water or choose unsweetened tea.
The Best 4-Week Diet Plan
If you’re looking to make a change for the better in the short space of a month, there are plenty of diet plans on offer. But while a month is a small amount of time in terms of changing your body, it can seem like an age when dealing with onerous eating rules. To see which change to the diet would prove the most effective and achievable, five writers at Coach’s sister title Men’s Fitness agreed to act as guinea pigs (which of course means the results were skewed by their individual choices – ahem, guy who drank 15 pints a week – so your experience may vary).
The writers tried a high-protein diet, eating nothing but whole foods, consuming nine portions of fruit and veg a day (not the official UK government guidelines, but recommended by many nutrition experts), cutting out alcohol, and the 5:2 intermittent fasting plan.
At the start and end of their 28-day stint, each writer underwent biometric tests at innovative data-based gym Speedflex, measuring weight, body fat, visceral fat, muscle mass, cholesterol and other key health indicators.
Not to spoil the suprise, but by far and away the biggest change was seen in the guy who cut out alcohol – his weight and visceral fat went down, while his body fat plummeted – and the experience seemed to scar him far less than his fellow dieters. He was never irritable from a lack of food or cramming foodstuffs down his gullet to make a daily target. That said, adherents to some of the other plans did see improvements by the end of the four weeks. Apart from the poor soul on the 5:2 diet. He put on weight.
The Diet: 2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight a day
Almost every nutritionist we speak to recommends getting at least 2g of protein for every kilo of bodyweight if you’re an active adult. For me, this meant 150g a day, which I thought wouldn’t be too much bother. That was until I realised that even with a generous breakfast of eggs, a lunch of chicken and dinner of beef mince I rarely got above 100g.
I continued to do five training sessions a week (three strength, two cardio), and kept track of my protein intake with the MyFitnessPal app. To keep costs down I bought in bulk from musclefood.com.
How I found it Even by increasing the amount of meat and shakes I was consuming, I still wasn’t getting enough protein so I had to look for other ways to hit my target. I swapped toast for porridge and biscuits for bananas slathered in peanut butter, and bulked up stews with high-protein pulses. But I was still short and ended up having to down a litre of milk before bed some nights.
After a week, I was so fed up I switched back to two shakes (BSN Syntha-6, which contains 22g of protein per shake) a day. The amount of food I was consuming meant I went to bed every night feeling horribly bloated.
The results In four weeks I gained 1.2kg of body mass, up from 76.3kg to 77.5kg, half of which was muscle. The good fats in the cashews, almonds and brazil nuts improved my HDL (“good”) cholesterol from 1.72mmol/L to 1.79mmol/L while cutting my “bad” LDL from 1.81mmol/L to so low it was unreadable. My body fat rose slightly from 8.6% to 8.8% and bone mineral content also improved. All in all, pretty impressive.
What I learned I’ve always struggled to gain weight regardless of how much I train, and these results clearly show it was my diet rather than my gym efforts that had been letting me down. I don’t want to depend on protein shakes, not least because of the cost, but I’ll certainly include protein-rich foods like nuts, almond butter and pulses on my shopping list from now on.–Sam Rider
The Diet: Nothing but whole foods
When I asked nutritionist Scott Baptie for advice on how to manage a whole foods diet, he recommended I eat foods made of one ingredient only, which meant they couldn’t have been tampered with. He also advised cutting out man-made protein powders (I could take creatine to boost my ability to handle intense workouts) and suggested taking vitamin D, cod liver oil and a multivitamin so I wasn’t left deficient in essential nutrients.
How I found it A royal pain in the arse. I mainly grab food on the go and discovered that pretty much all packaged cooked meats contain sugar, salt and other extras. I ended up eating only at dedicated whole-food cafés or being restricted to greens and raw salmon or crab when buying from supermarkets. Steering clear of booze wasn’t too bad, though, since I had lots of races on.
An average day would involve three eggs and salmon for breakfast, fruit and nuts for a morning snack, mackerel salad for lunch, porridge with peanut butter and banana for an afternoon snack, chicken breast, spinach and broccoli with olive oil for dinner and yoghurt with honey and creatine as a late-night snack. Oh, and five coffees a day with honey.
The results I went from 10.1% to 9.4% body fat and 34cm² to 31cm² visceral fat (the nasty kind around your organs that can cause osteoporosis, colon cancer and diabetes) and increased muscle mass from 44.6kg to 45kg while my overall weight dropped slightly. My HDL cholesterol went up from 0.82mmol/L to 1.46 mmol/L, while my LDL cholesterol remained safely low. The only minor negative was that the mineral content of my bones decreased slightly, possibly because my diet wasn’t varied enough.
What I learned I wasn’t eating nearly as healthily as I thought before I started the diet. My training didn’t change, I got the same amount of sleep and my stress levels stayed consistently high, so it’s clear my diet led to the physical changes. If I want to live a long, active life I should more or less stick to this regime, but to do so I need to plan my diet to guarantee I get all the nutrients I need and don’t get bored.–Nick Hutchings
The Diet: Nine portions of veg and fruit a day
Thanks to the Department of Health’s five-a-day campaign, there’s a common misconception that eating five portions of fruit and veg each day will deliver all the nutrients you need to live a long, healthy life. But Jacqui London of the British Dietetic Association says that’s the bare minimum if you want to stay healthy. “Many studies recommend seven portions for women and nine for men,” she says. “The government went with five because it thought no one would achieve nine.”
Other countries are more ambitious. Advice in France and Canada is to eat ten portions, while the Japanese government recommends 17. I thought I might struggle with that but was pretty sure I could hack nine. Most experts say that at least two-thirds of your daily intake should be from vegetables, with a substantial amount being leafy greens because of their superior heart-protecting, cancer-fighting properties. So that meant six vegetable portions and three pieces of fruit a day.
How I found it After three days of not getting enough fruit and veg during the day and having to gulp down a mountain of the stuff at 11pm, I realised I couldn’t do this unplanned. I needed to have one portion of veg with breakfast, two with lunch, two with dinner and one as a snack every day. Fruit I did in one go for breakfast. But no matter how I tweaked my diet, munching through six lots of vegetables a day wasn’t easy.
The results Mixed. The bad: my weight increased by a kilogram, my body fat went up by one percentage point and I lost almost half a kilo of muscle. The good: my bone mineral level climbed from 4.31 to 4.35, my glucose level fell from 5.22mmol/L to 4.86mmol/L and my HDL cholesterol rose from 0.81mmol/L to 1mmol/L. I didn’t really change my training much, but because of a busy social schedule I was drinking up to 15 pints a week, which probably skewed the results. A lot.
What I learned In order to stick to nine portions a day I’d need to hire a chef and nutritionist, neither of which I can afford. But I can definitely get more green veg in by thinking of it as valid snacking fare – raw broccoli with chilli sauce is delicious.–James Young
The Diet: No alcohol
Booze. It’s one of the biggest killers of man on the planet. According to the Office of National Statistics, it was directly responsible for 8,748 deaths in the UK in 2011. So it’s pretty terrifying that we – and I include myself here – are absolutely reliant on it in so many different situations, from oiling the cogs of romance to making Saturday nights in front of The X Factor a trifle less dreary.
So what could I expect if I cut it out for 28 days? “Your body composition should change substantially,” explained Speedflex physiologist and trainer Luke Copeland. “Alcohol is packed with fattening sugars and decreases testosterone, so by cutting it out you should lose fat and be able to go harder in the gym.” And because it’s a depressant, I should also be happier.
How I found it Being out with a bunch of mates who are all knocking back the pints while you’re on tap water and the occasional Coke is no fun, despite your potential physiological gains. And for four weeks that was the story of my weekends. As a big Welsh rugby fan, it was worst when the national team were playing. Nonetheless, I tapped into deep reserves of willpower I wasn’t sure I had and stayed off the beer – and when not around drinkers I did feel happier, cleaner and stronger.
The strangest thing about the challenge was finishing. I thought I’d immediately want to go to the pub but for a few days I stayed booze-free, worrying that if I got back on it I’d immediately turn into a depressed bloater.
The results My muscle mass increased by almost a kilo, from 34.8kg to 35.7kg, without me changing my training. My weight went down by 300g, my body fat dropped by a whopping six percentage points – from 19.1% to 13% – and visceral fat fell from 58.9cm² to 50.3cm². With less boozy sugar in my system, my glucose also dropped (from 6.72mmol/L to 4.71mmol/L), meaning my risk of diabetes also fell. The only less positive stat was that my HDL cholesterol dropped a bit from 0.82 mmol/L to 0.72 mmol/L, which could have been because I had less oily fish and nuts during the fix. Still, ridiculously good results from a relatively minor lifestyle change.
What I learned If my results were anything to go by, anyone who wants to be healthier should swear off alcohol for good. You might find ditching booze impossible but even cutting back a bit will make you stronger, sharper and manlier. Do it now.–Richard Jordan
The Diet: 5:2 intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting, or eating lots for certain periods of the day or week, then eating nothing for others, is all the rage. After some research, I decided to try the current darling of the IF dieting world, the 5:2. This meant I could eat what I wanted for five days of the week but had to limit myself to 600 calories on each of the remaining two.
How I found it The first week went OK because I was on holiday and designated the two days I was flying for fasting. All I had on both days was a three-egg omelette with spinach (470 calories), a banana (90 calories) and a white coffee (20 calories). I felt a bit hungry but basically fine.
That changed the moment I got back to work. Suddenly a mere 600 calories seemed like hardly any food at all and left me feeling ravenous and virtually delirious. I had to dramatically change what I was doing on fasting days to cope. I stopped training, stacked up my easiest work tasks, skipped breakfast and snacked on salad throughout the day. This kept some of the pangs at bay and meant I could “reward” myself with a dinner of smoked mackerel and green veg when I got home.
The results At the start of my challenge my body fat was 13.7% and my visceral fat 41.4cm². I assumed they’d fall, but my body fat increased to 14.2% and visceral fat to 44.3cm², while my weight increased by almost 1kg. I think this was because the only way I could get through the fasting days was to reward myself on the normal days with carby treats. The rules of 5:2 say you can eat what you like on non-fasting days, but it’s clearly best not to take this literally.
What I learned The thinking behind intermittent fasting is that it’s easier to incorporate into your everyday life than traditional diets and eating substantially less for two of every seven days will help you lose weight. But it all falls down if you don’t eat sensibly on the days you aren’t fasting. If you’re anything like me, you’re better off improving your existing diet rather than trying something as radical and pitfall-ridden as this.–Max Anderton
Choose Your Own Diet Adventure—3 Fitness Goals, 3 Meal Plans!
Are you a diet schizophrenic? One week you’re trying to lean out, and the next, you’re trying to bulk. I have one thing to say to you: Let the madness END!
Pick one goal and stick with it. Want to build lean muscle? Reveal that sought-after six-pack? Make the major leagues? Train for that goal, supplement for that goal, and don’t forget to eat for that goal.
Nutrition is often left behind due to lack of knowledge, busy schedules, and the deer-in-the-headlights stare when you’re standing in the kitchen. What you need is a personal chef. But if you’re anything like the rest of us, that’s outside of your budget and out of the question.
Instead, you get this! Three complete daily meal plans for you and two friends. Why do I say for you and your friends? Because you should choose one goal and stick with it until you see the results you’re looking for.
But practically everyone knows someone else who wants to build muscle, lose fat, or improve at a sport. With one meal plan for each goal, you can share your new “personal online chef” with friends and get instant accountability for staying on track with your nutrition.
Goal No. 1: Cut Down Body Fat and Rock That Bikini
Meal plan number 1 is designed to help your metabolism burn, baby, burn … like a disco inferno—but a healthy disco inferno that won’t rob you of hard-earned muscle tone and leave you stringy or skinny-fat.
But this plan is not just for ladies wanting to turn heads at the beach. Guys, if you’re ready to go through a cutting phase, this meal plan can work for you too. Just remember to adjust the meals and calories to fit your needs according to height, current weight, and training intensity.
This meal plan is hardcore awesome because it doesn’t just help you burn fat but also fuels your workouts. You should be lifting weights 3-5 days a week and also doing 2-3 additional cardio sessions—HIIT is recommended. You should be eating every 2-3 hours.
The calorie ratio here is appropriate for a person weighing 150 pounds. You’ll notice there’s a ton of protein, and that’s because we want you to preserve lean muscle. Some women might think they can cut out the extra protein in order to lose fat faster—WRONG!
Protein is your key to losing fat and achieving that fit, sexy body like pro-bikini champ Amanda Latona or world-famous cover model and Bodybuilding.com spokesmodel Jamie Eason. Plus, protein keeps you fuller longer, making those long dieting days easier to endure.
If you weigh less than 150 pounds, reduce the calories of this meal plan-take out more carbs than protein, though, keeping the protein ratio high. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, eat a bit more to fuel your body. Increasing protein and a bit of healthy fats is a great way to do this.
- Calories: 1852
- Fats: 48.5g
- Protein: 169g
- Carbs: 193g
Meal 1Oats 1/4 cupEgg Whites 6Olive Oil (tbsp) 1Salsa 1Orange 1 Meal 2Greek Yogurt 3/4 cupBlueberries 1/2 cup Meal 3 Grilled Chicken 3 oz Brown Rice 1 cup Broccoli 1 Pre-workout and Post-Workout Protein Powder 1 scoop Oats 1/4 cup Meal 4 Salmon 4 oz Asparagus 6 stalks Sesame Seeds 1 tsp Meal 5 Cottage Cheese 1/4 cup Peanut Butter 1 tbsp
Goal No. 2: Build Lean Muscle to Make the Cover of Iron Man Magazine
I call this the “clean gains” meal plan. Yes, this one will probably appeal more to males, which is why the calorie and nutrient ratio is designed for a 180-pounder. This diet works best when you eat every 2-3 hours and work out 4-5 times a week-but not those sissy 15-20-rep-range sessions. We’re talking Dorian Yates-style, murdering-your-muscles-type workouts.
But you can leave these words at the door: huge, jacked, massive, behemoth-like, etc. No, this meal plan is geared toward keeping your body fat low while you build a solid physique like the guys you see on the cover of Iron Man-much like the BodySpace spokesmodels Ben Booker and Steve Cook.
Here’s a note for women: Don’t be afraid to try this meal plan! If you’ve been working out for a while, doing mostly cardio, don’t you think it’s time to push your physique to the next level? The hottest bodies out there weren’t crafted on the treadmill: they’re sculpted with iron through weight training. You won’t get bulky on a meal plan like this. Granted, you probably won’t lose fat, but you’ll be able to fuel hardcore workouts and chisel out a toned, shapely physique.
As before, if you weigh more or less than 180 pounds, tailor the calories and nutrients to fit your specific needs. But remember, this meal plan is meant to be slightly more than you need so that your muscles can take that fuel, rebuild, and grow.
- Calories: 3149
- Fats: 84g
- Protein: 290g
- Carbs: 308g
Meal 1 Ezekiel Bread 2 slice Peanut Butter 2 tbsp Eggs 1 Olive Oil 1/2 tbsp Strawberries 1 cup Meal 2 Tuna 1 can Pita Bread 1 Vegetables 1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette 1 tbsp Meal 3 Grilled Chicken 4 oz Quinoa 1/2 cup Green Beans 1 cup Almonds 10 Pre-Workout Meal Protein Powder 1 scoop Oats 1/2 cup Banana 1 Post-Workout Meal Protein Powder 2 scoops Bagel 1 Jam 1 tbp Meal 4 Tilapia 6 oz Brown Rice 1 cup Sesame Seeds 1 tsp Broccoli 1 cup Carrots 1/2 cup Meal 5 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Flaxseeds 2 tbsp
Goal No. 3: Improve Your Game and Lean Out for the Season
The last meal plan is designed for athletes. Whether you’re dream is to go pro or improve your hops for a local 3-on-3 basketball tournament, you’re going to need a special meal plan.
You should be training in the weight room, practicing sports-specific skills, and being in the game to top it off. You’re going to need a lot of fuel, especially a boost of carbs, to keep up, keep recovering, and lean out to look your best.
Men and women can follow a similar meal plan to support athletic performance as well as healthy fat loss. The calorie count and nutrient break down is appropriate for a 150-pound athlete performing six to eight total training and workout sessions per week. As always, adjust your caloric intake if you weigh more or less than 150 pounds.
- Calories: 2232
- Fats: 41.5g
- Protein: 177.5 g
- Carbs: 287 g
Meal 1 Egg Whites 6 Olive Oil 1/2 tbsp Oats 1/2 cup Blueberries 1 cup Strawberries 1/2 cup Meal 2 Cereal 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt 3/4 cup Banana 1 Meal 3 Turkey 3 oz Wild Rice 1 cup Green Beans 1 cup Almonds 10 Apple 1 Pre-Workout Protein Powder 1 scoop Oats 1/4 cup Blueberries 1 cup Post-Workout Protein Powder 1 scoop Waxy Maize 1 scoop Oats 1/4 cup Meal 4 Salmon 3 oz Cauliflower 1 cup Broccoli 1 cup Sweet Potato 1 Meal 5 Cottage Cheese 1/2 cup Pistachios 20
So next time you’re feeling confused as to what you should eat to achieve your goals, refer to the above meal plans for a quick guide. You can use the calorie counts, measurements, and meal frequency as a base and then fill out the menu with your favorite healthy foods.
Read a lot of food labels and nutrition facts to make sure you keep the ideal ratio of clean proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. And share the wealth! If you know someone struggling to come up with a nutrition plan for their fat loss, muscle building, or improving at a sport goal, you can be their diet lifesaver!