Whether you’re coming back from vacation, or notice that your jeans are a little tighter than normal, you may be searching for a fast fix to lose those extra few pounds. While it’s easy to be swayed by fad diets, quick promises, and cleanses, it is actually possible to lose 5 pounds in two weeks through healthy eating and exercise.

Most weight loss plans will recommend getting 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, which is generally a good range to aim for whether you plan on losing 5, 15, or 50 pounds. I’m more liberal on calorie amounts or exercise recommendations. To lose 5 pounds, it’s more about cleaning up the diet than making a drastic overhaul. For example, you can forgo the “things you won’t miss” for weight loss without sacrifice: a cheeseburger sans cheese, or a burrito bowl minus the sour cream. Since losing 5 pounds doesn’t require sweeping changes, you can still enjoy your favorite foods with a few small tweaks.

Don’t Go Low-Calorie Crazy
Take care not to go below 1,200 calories per day – this often backfires. Not only do you lose a higher percentage of muscle mass, you’ll be inclined to overeat after you’ve hit your goal weight.

In the meal plan below, you’ll find general recommendations that can be modified depending on your schedule. If your time frame is two weeks, then stick to the meal plan and forgo the treat options. For a more casual approach, even if you include the extra snacks and desserts, you can expect to drop 5 pounds in three weeks.

Lastly, keep up the exercise. Not only does this help with weight loss, but it also helps preserve muscle mass that is essential for a higher resting metabolic weight. For those of you who are new to exercise, try for a caloric burn of roughly 1,500 calories a week, or 215 calories a day. This can be achieved in a number of ways, so find a plan that works for you: walking, jogging, weightlifting, yoga, and even gardening all burn calories. For this stage, it’s more important to do what you love than acutely focus on calorie burn.

The Meal Plan

Calorie count: 1,300 to 1,500 calories per day. That’s roughly 400 calories per meal, with 100 to 200 calorie snacks.

Day 1:

Day 1

Breakfast: Strawberry-mango smoothie

Combine 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup mango chunks, 1 scoop protein powder of choice or 1/2 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt, with 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax seeds. Blend until thick and creamy!

Lunch: 400-calorie salad

Opt for at least two servings of vegetables for this 400-calorie meal. Top with a healthy fat of choice like chia seeds, hemp seeds, or slivered almonds.

Dinner: 500 calories, your choice!

Snack:

Pair 1/2 cup cottage cheese, yogurt, or piece of string cheese with 1 cup fruit of choice.

Day 2:

Day 2

Breakfast: 400 calories, your choice!

Choose something with at least 10 grams of protein for maximum satiety.

Lunch: BLT

Top two slices of whole-grain bread with 1 tsp. mayo, three slices of tomatoes, lettuce, and four slices of cooked turkey bacon. Serve with one apple.

Dinner: PCVF

Protein, carb, vegetable, fat. This meal should include 3 ounces of cooked protein of choice (about the size of your iPhone) along with 1/2 cup grain of choice, 1 to 2 cups of vegetables, and 2 teaspoons oil, dressing, or healthy fat of choice.

Snack: One hundred calories to be combined with a meal or as a snack wherever you like.

Optional snack: Have a 50-calorie treat of choice.

Day 3:

Day 3

Breakfast: Fruit and yogurt bowl

Combine 6 ounces of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt with 1 1/2 cups fruit of choice and 1/4 cup of granola.

Lunch: Hummus wrap

One whole-wheat tortilla with 1 cup chopped vegetables of choice and 1/4 cup hummus. Roll up and enjoy!

Dinner: 500 calories, your choice!

Craving something specific? Enjoy it here.

Snack: One apple with 1 tablespoon nut butter of choice.

 

Optional Snack: Have a 50-calorie treat of choice.

Day 4:

Day 4

Breakfast: Caprese scramble

Whisk together 2 large eggs, 1 large tomato, chopped, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, and a pinch of salt and/or pepper. Scramble over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves just before finished. With 12 grams of protein per serving, this hearty meal will keep you satisfied for hours.

Lunch: 400-calorie salad

Opt for at least two servings of vegetables for this 400-calorie meal. For a light dressing, try a splash of flavored vinegar like balsamic, champagne, or orange muscat.

Dinner: Fish

For a dose of healthy omega-3s, enjoy a 500-calorie dinner of choice that includes a serving of fish. In the mood for sushi? Enjoy one regular tuna roll and one California roll.

Snack: Six ounces of fat-free Greek yogurt.

Optional Snack: Have an 80-calorie snack of choice.

Day 5:

Day 5

Breakfast: 400 calories, your choice!

Aim to get at least one serving of fruit or vegetables in this meal plan.

Lunch: Chicken salad pita

Toss 3 ounces of shredded chicken with 1 1/2 tbsp. light mayo, 1/2 tsp. curry powder, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and/or pepper. Add in 1/2 cup halved red grapes, 1/4 cup chopped celery, and 1 tbsp. slivered almonds. Serve in one whole-wheat pita.

Dinner: 400 calories, your choice!

Your goal: two servings of vegetables.

Snack: Have a 100-calorie treat of choice.

Day 6:

Day 6

Breakfast: Open-faced PB sandwich

Toast one whole-wheat English muffin. Top with 1 tbsp. peanut or almond butter and top with one large peach, thinly sliced.

Lunch: 400-calorie salad

Opt for at least two servings of vegetables for this 400-calorie meal. To keep you energized through the afternoon slump, make sure to include a serving of protein like tofu cubes, beans, or diced chicken.

Dinner: Zucchini Pasta with shrimp

Spiral two large zucchini and toss with 1/8 cup prepared pesto. Serve pasta either as is or warm in a nonstick skillet. Toss with seasoned, cooked shrimp.

Snack: Have 100 calories to be combined with a meal or as a snack, wherever you like.

Optional Snack: Have 3 ounces of white wine with dinner.

Day 7:

Day 7

Breakfast: Egg and veggie scramble

Three egg whites scrambled with 2 cups vegetables of choice. My favorite combo: spinach, red bell pepper, tomato, and mushrooms. Serve with one slice of whole-grain bread or 1 cup fruit.

Lunch: Turkey (or veggie burger) with avocado

Grill a 3-ounce turkey or veggie patty and place it on a whole-grain bun. Top with 1/4 sliced avocado, lettuce, red onion, and tomato.

Dinner: 500 calories, your choice!

Aim for at least one serving of vegetables, one serving of healthy fats, and 3 ounces of cooked protein of choice.

Snack: Have 100 calories, to be combined with a meal or as a snack wherever you like.

Optional snack: Have one piece of light string cheese.

Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero, M.A., R.D., is the author of Delish Knowledge. She’s also a yoga teacher and weight management specialist, with a focus on helping you develop a healthy relationship with your food, to find your “happy weight.” Follow her on Twitter @delishknowledge!