I lost 11.2 pounds in 2 weeks by following a smart but tough diet that focused on reducing my fat and carbohydrate intake to zero. To compensate for and minimize the loss of muscle mass, I dramatically increased my protein intake. He was eating about 1 gram of protein per body weight.
I started on April 18, 2021 and finished on May 1, 2021. My starting weight was 194.4 pounds. Two weeks later, he weighed 183.2 pounds.
In general, I have always approached weight loss in much the same way as I did with gaining muscle mass. I thought a 2-3 pound muscle gain in a month would be great. After all, at that rate, in theory, you would have gained more than 24 pounds of muscle in 1 year. That would be significant.
Similarly, despite the stories of people losing 100 to 200 pounds in 1 year, I believed that a weight loss of 1 pound per week was good. This constant loss could add up to more than 50 pounds in one year. That would or could change life.
Although I still believe in the slow and steady approach, I felt that weighing 195 pounds at a height of 5 feet 8 inches with high blood pressure and being a borderline diabetic was a terrible position. And turning 60 in a few months only added to the urge to control my weight.
With that state of mind, I basically went on a “starvation” diet that Rusty Moore likes to call a “crash diet precisely”. The essence of this approach is to eliminate fat and carbohydrates. It is a diet low in fat and carbohydrates. But the key to surviving this diet is to dramatically increase your protein intake. It becomes a high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate diet.
You eat the bare minimum to hold on to your muscles and discard everything else. If you are eating carbohydrates and fat, then that is what your body is burning, not the stored fat cells. By reducing fats and carbohydrates to a minimum, you are getting out of the way of your body as you deplete stored fat to use for fuel.
I ate about 180 to 200 grams of protein a day. A couple of days, that dropped to about 150 grams. Using the maximum of 200 grams, that would equal 800 calories. The fats and carbohydrates I ate never exceeded 200 calories a day. So the most I ate in this period was 1,000 calories, most days well below that.
Most calorie calculators would put the calorie maintenance number for a 5-foot-8-inch man weighing 195 pounds at around 2,400 calories. Using the 1,000 calorie intake number, I theoretically had 1,400 calories under. Over a 14-day period, my low total number was 19,600 calories.
19,600 calories equals about 4.8 pounds of fat. 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, therefore 1 kilogram of fat equals 9,000 calories. 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds and math brings it all to 4,091 calories per pound.
Theoretically, I lost 5 pounds of fat. Add water to lose weight and the 11.2 pound drop is reasonable. This is what happens when you lower your daily caloric intake below your maintenance levels. Consuming only 35% to 40% of your daily needs is extreme.
Eating much less means there are no complex starchy carbohydrates like grains, rice, or pasta. It also means that there are no carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes, nuts, etc. Fruits are also out. The 9 calories per gram of fat are clearly out.
For two weeks, I ate boneless, skinless chicken breast, water-packed tuna, and all kinds of stringy vegetables like celery, spinach, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and lettuce. A cup of broccoli has 30 calories and 0.34 grams of fat. A stick of celery has 6 calories and 0.7 grams of fat. I would take 3 or 4 sticks a day.
Chicken bone broth has 45 calories and 0.4 grams of fat. I would look for 0 grams of fat or at least less than 1 gram for all the food I ate. I also drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day. I generously used protein powder to increase my protein intake.
This is an enormously difficult approach. 14 days of baked tuna and chicken breast salad is not easy. Even with the plethora of fat-free dressings and sauces available, 14 days is a long time. Still, there were and are other options that can help. For example, nonfat Greek yogurt and other types of yogurt mixes helped. Also 99% fat free ground turkey was a good choice.
But really, the most helpful thing was my perspective. This diet, however difficult or difficult it may be, is just something that one person in a developed nation can undertake. For many people who live with real hunger, this diet would be a cornucopia of food. In that sense, I had nothing to complain about.
Perhaps the key to this approach being successful is diet after diet. The way I eat now will determine if those 11 pounds lost will come back to me. To keep those pounds off, I’m going through this phase where I’m eating just below my maintenance calorie level while still minimizing fat. Basically I am now on a high carb, modest protein, low fat diet.
By low, I mean fats below 10%. The FDA recommends 30%. 30% of your daily caloric intake from fat equals approximately 55 to 65 grams of fat. One cup of white rice contains about 0.5 grams of fat or less. Following the FDA guidelines is equivalent to eating about 120 cups of white rice. That is not happening.
Although I am not a dietician or nutritionist, I believe that eating fat makes you fat. Sure, at some point, excess carbs or protein will turn into fat, but I guess the body prefers to use carbs for energy and protein to build muscle. And the body stores fat. I have enough fat storage.
Therefore, for the next 2 weeks, I will spend time eating pasta, rice, nuts, cereals, sorbet, and other deliciously high carbohydrate foods that have little or no fat. After 2 weeks, I’ll be back on this crash diet with precision. I will alternate until I reach my goal of 160 pounds. A 60 year old man standing 5 feet 8 inches weighing 160 pounds with blood pressure in the 120/70 range with a manageable blood sugar level works for me.