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You can slim down in one day or one week, but in order to truly adopt a sustainable lifestyle and see long-term changes, give yourself time to adapt to your new routine and stay at a healthy weight range. Registered dietitian Nazirber De La Cruz, RDN, CDN, who specializes in weight management, shared her top recommendations for anyone looking to lose weight over the course of thirty days.

Set Yourself Up for Success
To lose weight, you need to make a plan. Once you’ve committed to dropping the pounds, stock up on healthy produce and create a realistic workout routine. If you’re unable to cook or won’t have time to on certain days, review your options from local food vendors and restaurants near your home or workplace to determine which meals match up with your health and weight-loss goals.

On average, you can expect to lose up to 1-2 pounds a week or 4-8 pounds per month if you adhere to a balanced meal and exercise plan. Weight loss can fluctuate and vary depending on the time of day, your metabolism, and the extent of your lifestyle changes. If you want to start an elimination diet or want to lose more than ten pounds in a month, consider speaking with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a licensed nutritionist, who can help design a program that best suits your needs or guide you through intensive behavioral therapy so you can make healthy and lasting changes.

Eat the Right Foods
De La Cruz recommends seeking out high-quality and minimally-processed foods. She emphasizes eating a diverse diet full of vegetables, protein, and starch. Choose colorful and phytonutrient-rich vegetables, which fight inflammation in the body, one of the most common issues in individuals carrying extra weight. In addition to choosing nutrient-rich foods, make sure to cut back and limit any unhealthy culprits. This often means extras such as artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, alcohol or soft drinks. Finally, remember to stay hydrated throughout the day. De La Cruz suggests drinking “at least two liters per day, especially during the summer months.”

Prep and Log Meals
The more you plan, the more likely you’ll stick to your healthy eating routine. Save time and prepare foods that can be stored in advance, portion out servings, and look up the ingredients you may need for future meals. Make food logging as easy and accessible as possible by setting reminders for the same time each day or using the default Notes app in your smartphone or a specific app designed for journaling or meal planning. You’ll be able to notice any patterns more easily and make adjustments to your diet if necessary.

More: Quiz: Are You Eating as Healthy as You Think You Are?

Get Sweaty
Watching what you eat is only one factor in the weight-loss equation. “Step one of my metabolism-boosting tips is incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine,” says De La Cruz. With HIIT, the impact of your workouts is more important than the frequency. A good rule of thumb is to follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 5 days per week. Overall, aim for at least 150 minutes or 2.5 hours of physical activity each week.

 

Rest and Recover
Scientific studies have correlated sleep with weight loss and the amount and quality of sleep you get can negatively impact how ghrelin, the hormone that controls appetite, is regulated in the body. De La Cruz advises at least seven hours of sleep every night to keep hunger in check.

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