Firstly, is losing a stone in a month safe? Yes, losing a stone in a month is a drastic weight loss but if you follow this safe guide, it can be done. Weight loss should be gradual rather than drastic, and always the result of a balanced diet and plenty of exercise.
Follow these simple diet rules for the next four to six weeks and, depending on how strict you are, you could lose a stone in a month and drop a dress size. But of course, it's important to stay healthy, so always see your GP if you have any concerns about a new weight loss plan. Combining our own w&h tips, and tips from qualified nutritionist Kim Pearson, you'll soon see results. You could try a more specific diet plan, like The Cambridge Diet, but this guide is a good all-rounder if you want to shake up your diet and exercise routine.
Along with the healthy foods you should be eating, this plan will keep you hydrated and boost your mood so that you'll want to make it part of your everyday routine.
Got a sweet tooth? No problem - you just need to earn those treats with a little extra effort on the exercise front.
Lose a stone in a month: a step-by-step guide
Swap your morning cereal for a protein-rich breakfast
Protein-rich foods fill us up and keep us satisfied for longer, so aim to include it in all our your meals during the month. Kim says, "Swapping your cereal or toast for a protein based breakfast will help keep you fuller for longer and help to prevent mid morning snacking. One study showed that a high protein breakfast promotes weight loss by regulating our 'appetite' hormones, making us want to eat less later in the day."
Stuck for a recipes? Try our organic egg omelettewith sliced peppers and spinach. Or whizz up aprotein smoothieusing a good quality protein powder, low sugar fruit like berries, a handful of spinach, a tablespoon of flax seeds and some almond milk.
Fill half of your dinner plate with vegetables
Kim advises that "Carbohydrates are converted to sugar in the body and if these sugars aren't used for energy, they're likely to get stored as fat. Avoid foods like white rice, pasta, noodles and bread. Cauliflower rice and courgette spaghetti make great alternatives to your standard rice and pasta."
Try one of our delicious courgette spaghetti recipes.
"At dinner, instead make sure that at least half of your plate includes mostly green veg and other low-carb vegetable options, such as mushrooms or tomatoes."
Get one portion of good fats in all of your meals
Kim admits that it's imperative you eat fat - contrary to what you've been told. "You might think that eating fat leads to gaining weight, but actually the opposite is true. Fat is not only essential for health, but numerous studies have shown that a diet lower in carbs but higher in healthy fats is the best - and quickest - way to lose weight."
So the key point ishealthyfats - so what sort of foods can we find this in?
"Good fats can be found in oily fish, nuts such as walnuts and seeds like flaxseeds and chia seeds. Aim to include a moderate portion of healthy fats at each of your meals during the month", Kim says.
A great way to make sure you're sticking to portion sizes while also getting the nutrients you'll need is through a recipe box subscription. Ones like Simply Cook offer lower calorie alternatives to all your favourite dishes - including pasta, steak and curry. They deliver all the spices, herbs and pastes you'll need to discover new flavours, plus all the recipes, to make an exciting range of lower calorie dishes, straight to your front door.
Only eat three times a day - and don't snack!
Kim says, "Whilst this does depend on the individual, for the average person who isn't following an intensive exercise programme, eating three meals per day, five hours apart is ideal. For example, you might have breakfast at 9am, lunch at 2pm and dinner at 7pm. It's also always a good idea to avoid eating late in the evening.
"I also advise against constant grazing and snacking. It's better to eat a substantial meal at your main meals and then allow time in between meals. This allows your body the opportunity to use up some of your stored fat reserves, rather than purely focussing on ‘easy energy' from the food you've just eaten."
That definitely makes sense to us! This is another way that a recipe box can help, as you can tailor your meals to the foods you like to eat.
Exercise five times a week, doing HIIT and weight training
Kim spoke to some of her qualified, personal trainer colleagues, to suss out what workouts work best for losing weight.
She said, "My personal trainer colleagues like to advise a combination of HIIT (high intensity interval training) as well as weight training for quick weight loss. Training that promotes muscle growth will also help to increase the body's metabolic rate. The more muscle we have, the more calories the body burns even at rest, so it's good for losing weight and maintaining weight loss, to help you keep the extra pounds off."
If you must drink alcohol, opt for lower sugar, dry wines
"Alcoholic drinks can contain a surprising amount of calories and sugar so moderating your alcohol consumption is important for weight loss. Alcohol can also increase your appetite and compromise your willpower when it comes to food choices! So it's generally better to avoid it.
"However, the Government recommends we drink no more than 14 units a week, equivalent to six small glasses of wine, so aim to stick to these guidelines as a maximum. When you do drink, eat food first to reduce alcohol's negative effects and opt for lower sugar, dry wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc."
Drink a pint of water before each meal
We at Woman & Home did some digging, and according to recent studies, gulping down a pint of plain old water could also help towards shifting a pound in one month. A study undertaken by the University of Birmingham monitored 12 adults over 12 weeks. Half of the group were asked to drink 500ml of water before each of their meals, and half weren't. The six that drank water before their meals lost around 2.8 pounds more than those who didn't, which lead to them on average losing around of 9.4 pounds each over the 12 weeks.
Limit yourself to just one treat meal a week
Kim Pearson maintains that we all have to have a treat now and again - just not that often!
She said, "Cutting out everything you love is likely to end up making you miserable. In order for a quick weight loss programme to be effective, it needs to be something you can stick to. Allow yourself one treat meal per week where you can eat whatever you fancy. Or, spread your treats over the week. This might be a small bar of dark (70%) chocolate, or equivalent, every day. Remember though - the more treats you have, the slower the weight loss will be, so don't have them too regularly!"
Watch out for hidden sugars in supposedly healthy foods
"Eating too much sugar is one of the fastest ways to gain weight. If it's not used immediately for energy (like exercise), the body will convert sugar to fat to store for future use", said Kim.
"Obviously biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sweets are high in sugar - but watch out for hidden sugars in cereal bars, stir fry sauces, salad dressings, and even breakfast smoothies. Check the nutrition informationto find out how much sugar is really in your food, and if in doubt, swap it for real fruits, or make your own sauces and salad dressings."
Use MyFitnessPal to keep track of bad behaviours
Kim says, "I recommend using MyFitnessPal to record what you are eating over the month, as this is so useful in identifying unhelpful behaviours, as well as foods you might think are healthy, but might discover aren't."