I had a 11.2 pound weight loss in 2 weeks following a smart but tough diet that focused on reducing fat and carb intake to zero. To compensate and minimize the loss of muscle mass, I drastically increased my protein intake. I 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 the same way I approached muscle gain. I thought a 2-3 pound muscle gain in a month would be great. After all, at that rate you would have theoretically gained over 24lbs of muscle in 1 year. That would be significant.
Similarly, despite the stories of people losing 100-200 pounds in 1 year, I believed that a weight loss of 1 pound a week was good. This steady loss could add up to more than 50 pounds in a year. That would or could be life changing.
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 nearly diabetic was a terrible position to be in. And turning 60 in just a few months only increased the urgency to get my weight under control.
With that frame of mind, I basically went on a “starvation” diet that Rusty Moore likes to call “Crash Dieting Accurately.” The essence of this approach is to eliminate fats and carbohydrates. It is a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. But the key to surviving this diet is to dramatically increase your protein intake. It becomes a high-protein, low-fat, low-carb diet.
You eat the absolute minimum to maintain muscle and discard everything else. If you’re eating carbs and fat, then that’s what your body is burning, not stored fat cells. By cutting fats and carbohydrates to the bare minimum, you’re getting out of the way of your body as it depletes stored fat to use for fuel.
I ate about 180 to 200 grams of protein a day. A couple of days, that was down to maybe 150 grams. Using the 200 gram high, that would equate to 800 calories. The fats and carbohydrates he ate never exceeded 200 calories a day. So the most I ate in this period was 1,000 calories, and most days it was well below that.
Most calorie calculators would put the calorie maintenance number for a 5-foot-8-inch man weighing 195 pounds at around 2400 calories. Using the 1,000 calorie intake number, he theoretically was 1,400 calories short. Over a 14-day period, my total low 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 the math brings it all to 4,091 calories per pound.
Theoretically, I lost 5 pounds of fat. Add the water weight loss and the 11.2 pound drop is reasonable. This is what happens when you drive your daily caloric intake below your maintenance levels. Taking only 35% to 40% of your daily needs is extreme.
Eating much less means no complex starchy carbohydrates like grains, rice, or pasta. It also means no carbohydrate dense foods like potatoes, nuts, etc. The fruits are also out. The 9 calories per gram of fat is clearly ruled out.
For two weeks, I ate boneless, skinless chicken breast, tuna packed in water, and all sorts of stringy greens 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 foods I ate. I also drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day. I liberally used protein powder to increase my protein intake.
This is an enormously difficult approach. 14 days of baked chicken breast and tuna salad is not easy. Even with the plethora of fat-free dressings and dipping 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 the 99% lean ground turkey was a good choice.
But really, the most helpful thing was my perspective. This diet, as difficult as it has been or may be, is only something that a person in a developed nation can undertake. For many people living 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 the subsequent diet: the diet. How I eat now will determine if those 11 lost pounds will find their way back to me. To keep those pounds off, I go through this phase where I’m eating just below my maintenance caloric level while still minimizing fat. So essentially, I am now on a high carb, modest protein, low fat diet.
By low, I mean fat below 10%. FDA recommends 30%. 30% of daily caloric intake from fat is equivalent to about 55 to 65 grams of fat. A cup of white rice contains about 0.5 grams of fat or less. Following the FDA guidelines would be the equivalent of eating about 120 cups of white rice. That is not happening.
Although I am not a dietitian 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.
So, for the next 2 weeks, I will spend time eating pasta, rice, nuts, cereal, sherbet, and other delicious carbohydrate-rich foods that have little or no fat. After the 2 weeks, I will do this crash diet again with precision. I will alternate until I reach my goal of 160 pounds. A 5ft 8in 60 year old man weighing 160lbs with blood pressure in the 120/70 range with manageable blood sugar works for me.