8 Week Diet Plan To Lose 20 Pounds

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8 Week Diet Plan To Lose 20 Pounds sounds hard but doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require discipline and commitment. And while I’m not going to promise you that a healthy diet and consistent exercise are easy – they definitely are worth it. After following this 8 week diet plan, you’ll drop unwanted pounds with ease.

How to Lose 20 Pounds in 8 Weeks

Chicken and Veggie Dinner

A healthy meal of lean protein and vegetables.

Weight loss requires hard work — no matter of how quickly you try to lose the weight. A weight loss of 20 pounds in eight weeks is exceptionally aggressive and requires extreme dedication and effort. Even if you can safely create the calorie deficit necessary to lose a little more than 3 pounds per week, consider that you’re setting yourself up for unsustainable deprivation and quick regain of any lost weight. Be sure to get the okay from your doctor before beginning a diet and exercise program.

The Calorie Deficit to Lose 20 Pounds

To lose 20 pounds, you must burn 87,500 calories more than you consume, since one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. To achieve this in eight weeks, you’ll need to — on average — create a deficit of 1,562 calories every day.

For many people, this isn’t a realistic goal. People of average size who are moderately active burn between 1,800 and 2,800 calories a day. If you are on the very upper end of that range, you could reduce your intake by 1,562 calories daily and still get the minimal 1,200 calories required for nutritional adequacy. But if you’re on the lower end of the caloric intake, then a 1,562 calorie deficit puts you below the minimum required calorie intake.

Diets that allow you fewer than 1,200 calories a day often lead to feelings of extreme deprivation, and they may stall your metabolism and may result in a loss of valuable muscle. To determine your daily calorie burn, consult with your doctor or use an online calculator that takes into account your size, age, gender and activity level.

Exercise to Boost Your Burn

If you can’t trim 1,562 calories safely every day, then you could burn more calories through physical activity. Most people can safely trim 500 calories from their diet per day to yield a pound of weight loss per week. That leaves more than 1,000 calories extra you need to burn daily.

To burn that much, a 185-pound person would need to work on the step mill machine for almost 2 hours, ride the stationary cycle at a moderate intensity for a little more than 1 1/2 hours, walk at a brisk pace of 3.5 mph for nearly 3 hours or run at 6 mph for about 1 1/4 hours.

Although cardiovascular workouts help you burn calories, strength-training builds muscle to make you more efficient at burning fat calories all day long. Train all the major muscle groups at least twice a week to help prevent your body from burning muscle tissue, as you restrict calories to lose weight. Muscle tissue gives you a leaner, more-taut appearance and contributes to a higher metabolism. If your body has a greater proportion of muscle mass, it will burn more calories at rest.

Strategies for a 20-Pound Loss

If you’re determined to try to reach your 20-pound loss in eight weeks, you’ll likely be restricted to consuming between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day. These calories must come from nutrient-rich sources such as vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy products and unsaturated fats. You have little room for the empty calories found in sugar, or in saturated or trans fats, and in refined grains. Your day’s worth of calories come from approximately 3 to 5 ounces of grains — an ounce equals 1 slice of whole-wheat bread or 1/2 cup of whole-grain pasta; 2 cups of green, watery vegetables; 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit; 5 ounces of lean protein — such as skinless chicken or flank steak; 3 cups of low-fat, unsweetened dairy; and 5 teaspoons of oil, which is found in nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish.

A sample meal plan might include one egg, a cup of skim milk and a slice of whole grain toast with an apple for breakfast; a salad made with 1 1/2 cups of vegetables with 2 ounces of chicken breast, a teaspoon of olive oil and a cup of plain yogurt, with 1/2 cup of berries at lunch; and for dinner, 2 ounces of baked white fish with, 1/2 cup cooked spinach, 1 cup of wild rice and 1/2 cup of broccoli. For snacks, have a cup of skim milk and a scant handful of nuts or cut-up vegetables.

Set a Realistic, Achievable Goal for 8 Weeks

If you can create the 1,562-calorie deficit daily via meal restriction and exercise, then the 20 pounds might come off in eight weeks. Note, though, that as you lose weight, your metabolism slows a bit, because it’s fueling a smaller body. As you get closer to your goal, you may need to increase your exercise even more and eat even less. Eating more than the 1,200-calorie-per-day minimum, though, is still necessary to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Consider why you have set yourself such an aggressive goal and whether it’s something you can truly achieve in eight weeks. Often, weight lost quickly can reappear just as quickly. Be honest with yourself about your ability to sustain such a high volume of exercise. If you’re just starting to be physically active, you’ll risk injury by adding so much exercise volume all at once, instead of gradually working up to it.

If losing the weight puts you at a calorie intake that is low — between 1,200 and 1,400 per day — you may also find yourself feeling fatigued, weak and irritable, and possibly too tired to exercise. When you cut too many calories all at once, you set yourself up for feelings of extreme deprivation that can lead to binges — which set you back from your 20-pound weight-loss goal.

The 8 week diet plan

During the 7-day week, pick from one these options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As you need to make sure your total calories consumed does not exceed your calorie deficit number every day, we’ve added the calorie values to each meal. 

Meal plans for weeks 1 and 2

Breakfast 

  • Porridge with raspberries (109 calories)
  • Overnight oats with raspberries (196 calories)
  • Poached eggs on toast (189 calories)
  • Mixed berry and yogurt smoothie (89 calories)
  • Bananad and honey (99 calories)

Lunch

  • Quorn lunch bowl (161 calories)
  • Green miso noodle bowl (198 calories)
  • Mediterranean vegetable chilli (190 calories)
  • Pork pittas with mango and pomegranate salsa (222 calories)
  • Tuna and red pesto pasta (370 calories)

Dinner

  • Wholewheat spaghetti with roasted vegetables(opens in new tab) (400 calories)
  • Wild mushroom risotto (317 calories)
  • One-pot tuna puttanesca(429 calories)
  • Lemon chicken and rice stir-fry (204 calories)
  • Chinese vegetable chow-mein (170 cals)

Snacks

  • Medium apple with 2tbsp peanut butter (283 calories)
  • Energy balls (106 calories)
  • Banana smoothie (165 calories)
  • Red pepper hummus (128 calories per portion) with 4 x cracked black pepper Rivita crackers (136 calories)
  • Baked chickpeas (71 calories)

Exercise 

The National Activity Guidelines give a great breakdown of what your exercise plan over the 2 months could look like. But to get started, PT Claire says, “In terms of a basic plan for weight loss, I’d suggest a full-body programme as follows, which can be progressed by splitting it into separate upper and lower-body sessions so that the person is doing more exercises per muscle group. Cardiovascular (CV) training can be progressed by lengthening the time, intensity or even starting to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT).”

Here’s an example of a full-body programme you could try:

Meal plans for weeks 3 and 4

Breakfast 

  • Strawberry and rhubarb breakfast bars (388 calories)
  • Scrambled eggs and mushrooms (91 calories)
  • Boiled egg with toast soldiers (285 calories)
  • Alpen No Added Sugar cereal (199 calories)
  • Kiwi, Greek yogurt and blueberries (95 calories)

Lunch

  • Spring vegetable soup(opens in new tab) (130 calories)
  • Chicken pittas (176 calories)
  • Winter root vegetable tagine (353 calories)
  • Vegetable tortilla (390 calories)
  • Rainbow cabbage salad (129 calories)

Dinner

  • Smoked salmon stir-fry (429 calories)
  • Roast lamb with potatoes and rosemary (381 calories)
  • Cheese and tomato bake (481 calories)
  • Sausage, mushroom and bean stew (440 calories) – swap out the sausage for a non-meat version to make this dish vegan.
  • Split pea and vegetable curry (300 calories)

Snacks

  • Homemade cheese straws (40 calories each)
  • Quick pizza (218 calories)
  • Super greens dip (62 calories) with 4 x cracked black pepper Rivita crackers (136 calories)
  • Spicy baked chickpeas (70 cals)

Exercise

The national Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults and older adults (aged 19 and over) aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (including swimming, brisk walking and cycling) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week (including running and sports) or a combination of both.

Claire says that building strength over the 8-week period is also essential, “to keep muscles, bones and joints strong and minimise sedentary time (e.g. hours glued to your desk) by breaking up periods of inactivity. Doing all of this will most certainly help you to lose weight over a two-month period.” 

Meal plans for weeks 5 and 6

Breakfast 

  • Spinach omelette – 1 medium egg, 60g of spinach (94 calories)
  • Two crumpets with butter (183 calories)
  • Blueberry bircher museli – 5g Bircher muesli, 1/2tsp cinnamon, 15ml unsweetened apple juice, 10-12 blueberries (105 calories)
  • Grapefruit, satsuma and pomegranate (75 calories)
  • Mixed spice museli (424 calories)

Lunch

  • Tarka dahl (137 calories)
  • Sweet potato pasta (198 calories)
  • Baked stuffed peppers (240 calories)
  • Minestrone soup recipe (190 calories)
  • Leek and potato soup (140 calories)

Dinner

  • Salmon and potato salad (470 calories)
  • Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes (473 calories)
  • Steak with reduced fat chips (425 calories)
  • Tuna and tomato calzone (410 calories)
  • Lean lamb chop with couscous (560 calories)

Snacks

  • Energy balls (106 calories)
  • Banana smoothie (165 calories)
  • Super greens dip (62 calories) with 4 x cracked black pepper Rivita crackers (136 calories)
  • Spicy baked chickpeas (70 cals)

Exercise

Once you’ve got the cardio and beginners’ strength training under your belt, Claire says, “try to do functional functional exercises which help with active daily living as well as compound exercises that work multiple joints and muscle groups – examples are squats, lunges and press-ups.

“You can get your daily steps by walking instead of driving and taking the stairs instead of using the lift. Keep things simple and take things one at a time to create the habit, then move onto the next stage.”

Meal plans for weeks 7 and 8

Breakfast 

  • Bran Flakes with skimmed milk (166 calories)
  • 1/2 grapefruit and 1 toasted teacake (216 calories)
  • 2 slices of toast with 100g grilled tomatoes (125 calories)
  • Boiled egg with toast soldiers (285 calories)
  • Banana smoothie (165 calories)

These are just examples of some low-calorie breakfast ideas, with plenty more out there.

Lunch

  • Pitta pesto pizza (500 calories)
  • Salmon and scrambled egg bagels (639 calories)
  • Tuna and red pesto pasta (370 calories)
  • Mixed bean salad (180 calories)
  • Bacon and broccoli pasta salad (340 calories)

Dinner

  • Chicken stir fry (various)
  • Honey and mustard marinated road salmon (438 calories)
  • Cheese and tomato bake (481 calories)
  • Sausage, mushroom and bean stew (440 calories) – swap out the sausage for a non-meat version to make this dish vegan.
  • Wild mushroom risotto (317 calories)

Snacks

  • Protein bar (around 300 calories)
  • Energy balls (106 calories)
  • Banana smoothie (165 calories)
  • Super greens dip (62 calories) with 4 x cracked black pepper Rivita crackers (136 calories)
  • Spicy baked chickpeas (70 cals)

Exercise

Follow the exercise plan for how to lose 2 stone as per other weeks.

As Claire says, “The best thing to do is to take baby steps because a drastic change will possibly lead to a return to an unhealthy lifestyle. By taking it one step at a time, you will ensure that your new normal is sustainable.”

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