Posted On 19 Nov 2011
Liquid diet weight loss can be a good way to break through a weight loss plateau.
Normally, it’s best to avoid any kind of temporary diet. Sometimes, though, an effective short-term tactic can contribute to long-term success.
Our bodies have set points around which our weight stabilizes. Is there an effective way to drop below such a set point quickly?
In fact, I did it myself the week before last. My liquid diet weight loss in one week was just under 6 pounds!
I’m 65 years old, which is relevant because it’s typical to see an age-related decline in metabolic rate. I did that with no physical exercise whatsoever. I averaged only about 5 hours sleep per night, too, which is relevant because getting sufficient sleep is an aid to weight loss. Nor did the weight quickly rebound to the previous set point when I resumed eating normally.
Those results surprised me. Not that I was adverse to it, but I wasn’t even trying to lose weight!
What happened was that I attended a week-long Zen training. There were about 55 other people there. It’s done mostly in silence. It involves a minimum of 10 hours daily of formal meditation. My purpose was simply to improve my practice.
All practitioners are advised to go on a temporary starvation diet as well as to get less sleep than normal.
Wanting to lose as little lean muscle as possible, I wanted to ensure that I was at least getting sufficient protein daily. With permission, I took with me a supply of ready-to-drink protein shakes. They were the source of my liquid diet weight loss.
The retreat lasted from one Saturday afternoon until the next. I had only two small normal meals during the week.
Breakfast on Sunday morning is required so that everyone gets an assigned seat in the dining hall. I had at that breakfast about a cup of plain yogurt, 5 prunes, and a cup of tea.
I also ate a similar breakfast on Wednesday morning. Actually, it was even larger because it also included a blueberry muffin with butter.
The reason I ate breakfast Wednesday was in an effort to prevent my body from going into starvation mode. One reason why starvation diets don’t work is because, in response to them, our bodies soon drop their metabolic rates to save energy.
The way to lose fat is to increase your metabolic rate—not decrease it. So, eating Wednesday’s breakfast was a deliberate attempt to prevent my body from decreasing its metabolic rate.
Other than those two small meals, I relied solely on (lukewarm!) protein shakes. I had 5 on Sunday and Wednesday. I had 6 on the other days, which was one about every 3 or 4 waking hours.
Here’s the food counts for one day of 6 shakes: 1020 calories, 1800 mg sodium, 2160 mg potassium, 30 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 12 g (net) carbs, and 150 g protein. They provided 24 g of dietary fiber.
Using the standard set by the World Health Organization, that’s obviously a starvation diet. (The standard is 2300 calories for men and 2100 calories for women.)
In addition, I had my usual dietary supplements — including fish oil, which raised the daily grams of fat to over 32.
Again, my liquid diet weight loss for the week was just under 6 pounds and I was very sedentary.
I ended the week in a deep state of ketosis, which means that my body was burning fat rather than sugar. That’s because my carbohydrate intake was so low. (When digested, all carbohydrates become sugar.)
Here’s an important point: I never once had any food cravings. That’s probably because my daily protein intake was sufficient. Similarly, I never had any headaches or digestive problems.
Please do not try to emulate my liquid diet weight loss without the advanced blessing of your physician or other licensed medical professional. After all, it’s obviously not a natural diet, which is one our ancestors from tens of thousands of years ago could have used.
On the other hand, it’s undoubtedly true that our ancestors occasionally experienced starvation diets or brief periods of famine. If you are healthy, there’s no reason to think that occasional periods of liquid diet weight loss would be harmful to your health.
In fact, fasting is a traditional aid to flourishing spiritually. Because it undermines physical well-being, however, I never recommend fasting.
Done properly, there’s nothing wrong with liquid diet weight loss in the short-term. Here are six suggestions for doing it properly.
First, keep daily protein intake sufficient. Your intake will be sufficient if the number of grams of protein you ingest are about equal to the number of your lean body mass in pounds.
Second, keep your net daily grams of carbohydrate intake low (preferably below 15).
Third, use supplements, especially fish oil, as normal.
Fourth, drink plenty of water—at least 2 or 3 quarts daily.
Fifth, in order to prevent your body from decreasing its metabolic rate, don’t go for more than about 3 to 6 days without a significant spike in both calories and carbohydrates.
[Why? After about a week, your leptin levels will drop by half. This will slow your metabolism and fat loss. A one-day spike will restore them to normal so that fat loss can continue. In other words, this will prevent your body from going into starvation mode.]
Sixth, exercise is optional, but, if you really want to make fast progress, do some.
So, if you follow these suggestions, especially if you would like to lose weight and are stuck on a plateau, liquid diet weight loss should work at least as well for you as it did for me.
After you have reached your desired percentage of body fat, using such a liquid diet one or two days weekly should make it much easier to maintain your fat loss. This is important because it’s more difficult to sustain weight loss than it is to lose it initially.
Also, if you would like to try the same ready-to-drink protein shakes I used, contact me. (You can simply use the comments section below to contact me. Only I read them. Be sure to include your contact information, which, of course, I won’t publish.) I’ll give you the brand name and tell you how to obtain them; they are available online and only online. The flavor I used was chocolate fudge, but they come in several other flavors including strawberry.