Rapid, safe fat loss tips?
April 12, 2009 4:32 PM   Subscribe

I would like to lose a lot of fat in a short period of time. Help me do so safely and effectively!

My circumstances have aligned such that I have a great window of opportunity to work out hard and eat well for the next few weeks, and I also have a social event in about two weeks, by which time I would like to be substantially less fat. I'd love to literally melt off as much fat as possible in that time.

I don't really care about my weight, per se; if putting on more muscle will help me burn fat faster, I'm fine with adding pounds of muscle mass. What I do want to do is take as much advantage of my circumstances as possible to lose the fat that I've accumulated since becoming an undergraduate.

I'm willing to work extremely hard and, quite frankly, to be constantly sore and exhausted for the next two weeks. I'm also willing to radically alter my diet for that time. However, I don't want to do any permanent damage. I understand that, ideally, losing fat should be a gradual process, but my current circumstances make it far more likely that I'll be able to focus and work intensely on this goal for two weeks, as opposed to sticking with a slow plan. I hope that this effort can jump-start a more long-term fat reduction effort, but right now "sprint" is preferable to "marathon." I'm familiar with general weight loss techniques; I'm looking for advice geared towards rapid, short-term results.

Relevant details: I'm 27, male, in good health other than being too fat (my BMI is borderline obese, and my doctor agrees that I should make some efforts in this area). I'm medically approved for any kind of physical activity.
posted by philosophygeek to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If you lose weight at a healthy rate, you're only going to lose a pound a week.
posted by kldickson at 4:34 PM on April 12, 2009

If you are borderline obese, you could ask your doctor for a short-term prescription of an appetite suppressant such as phentermine: it works, it will get you motivated to keep up the good work once you see the results, and it would be perfectly safe under your doctor's supervision. There are other ways to obtain it, too.

Other than that, there's a wealth of information on healthy, effective weight loss under the weightloss tag.
posted by halogen at 4:40 PM on April 12, 2009

The General Motors diet and the Scarsdale Diet are both good for rapid weight loss over a week or two. They're both very low carb, high protein, low fat diets that are effective in the short term. I can usually drop 7 lbs in a week on either diet and 10lbs over two weeks.
posted by essexjan at 4:40 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you have the hours, spend them in the gym Biggest Loser style. Work out for 4 to 6 hours a day and make healthy choices at every meal. Eat mostly plants and lean protein. You may not lose a ton but you'll probably feel better for your event. At the end of the two weeks keep going with a moderate exercise plan and a healthy diet.
posted by Fairchild at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2009

My guess is that a PSMF (protein sparing modified fast; you basically eat protein, green veggies, and maybe fish oil caps) would be the most effective weight to drop a lot of fat quickly without losing much muscle mass. People debate how healthy it is, so I'd suggest googling PSMF and making your own decision about whether the risk it worth it to you or not.

Since you're overweight, you can almost certainly lose 10+ pounds in two weeks by almost entirely eliminating carbohydrates & sodium; however, you'll lose water weight from this, and it will come back as soon as you start eating carbs & sodium again. IANAD and I don't know if this has any harmful effects.

Both of these suggestions speak more to "effective" than to "safe." Take care of yourself- remember than losing weight too quickly frequently leads to putting it back on even more quickly.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:06 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Other threads mention "The Hacker's Diet" as a recommendation. You may take or leave that - but in terms of planning a diet I would recommend you use their online tool to help you make some concrete estimates (create an account and then use the "Diet Calculator" utility. This lets you specify a diet dictated by an end weight, a daily calorie deficit, or an end date for example.

My BMI is similar to yours. I am planning to get it to 25 by a diet that gives me a daily defect of about 750 calories. With luck I should be there by November. If you want to get there faster then you could probably aim for a daily deficit of up to 1,000 calories - equivalent to 2lbs loss per week. Some of this loss can be achieved through your exercise program.
posted by rongorongo at 5:06 PM on April 12, 2009

You can lose more then a pound a week, for sure. You have to keep dieting and exercising when you get to your 'target' weight though, but by then you should be used to it.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 PM on April 12, 2009

The answer to your question is that you have the wrong goal. Losing weight "fast" is not a good idea. Work out hard, eat really well, and you'll probably lose at most 3-5 pounds by the time your event comes around, but that's good. Anything you lost beyond that would be unhealthy and there would be about a 100% chance of you gaining it back, plus a little.
posted by crapples at 6:37 PM on April 12, 2009

(not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, nor qualified to give professional medical advice, but I do try to keep up-to-date with sports nutrition journals, and I stayed at a holiday inn express last night)

Insectosaurus pretty much nailed it with the PSMF. To save you some googling, the two most popular are the Velocity Diet (NSFpeople-who-are-allergic-to-blatant-product-pushing) and Lyle Mcdonald's Rapid Fat Loss.

If you've really got as much free time as you suggest, two-a-day training would probably be beneficial, with interval aerobic training in one session and low-rest-period weight training in the other.

To be completely honest: this will be hellaciously difficult and require ungodly amounts of willpower. And you'll almost certainly experience some pretty bad moodswings, too. And most of the weight/size you'll lose will be from reduced water retention, which is all going to come rushing back in a day or two after your event. But, still, there's a decent chance you'll be noticeably skinnier in two weeks, especially if you aren't training very much or managing your diet particularly well right now.

But for god's sake, afterward, please come back and post a question asking how to lose weight in a sane manner.
posted by oostevo at 6:56 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

You've got the time? good. Stretch three workouts through the day, as far apart as possible. IEach one will ramp your metabolism up, then drop off slowly; you want to take advantage of these dropoffs. Get an hour in each time, and mix it up - run, swim, ride, lift. If you start to drag, don't starve yourself.

I dropped eight honest pounds (fourteen with water loss) in three weeks last year doing this: one hour swim in the morning, 45 min run at lunch, two hour bike ride after work.
posted by notsnot at 8:28 PM on April 12, 2009

I would definitely recommend the Velocity 3.0 diet.

It's a temporary, short term diet made for extreme fat loss while maintaining healthy muscle.

Buy alternates for all of the recommended supplements and you will save quite a bit of money.

Basically: You have 5 protein shakes a day with water, and you may have flax seeds or fiber tablets. Take a multivitamin and fish oil. Drink tons of water.

Once a week you eat a meal with lean protein i.e. chicken breast and leafy greens.

Within two weeks you will be impressively lighter. Within four you will be amazed.

You do a full body workout (less than 1 hr) 3x a week, and do as much walking in your day to day activities as possible. After workouts you have some sugar.

The people who made this are smart/know what they're talking about and are highly respected in the bodybuilding/training field.

MeMail me for more info, I could talk about this all day.
posted by bradly at 8:50 PM on April 12, 2009 [7 favorites]

If you lose weight at a healthy rate, you're only going to lose a pound a week.

kldickson, that's fine, generic, one-size-fits-all long-term advice for the uninformed & unguided.

philosophygeek is looking for a short-term solution, and more extreme results are definitely possible without (excessive) long-term health risks.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:34 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd love to literally melt off as much fat as possible in that time

Wouldn't we all.

I'm a fat guy. I've been a much less fat guy. I got there by exercising regularly and increasing the variety of foods I ate. I got rich and sedentary and let it creep back on again. Now that I'm older and fat enough that the exercise forms I used last time cause me pain and bodily damage, Ive tried various food-intake-modifying methods for getting thinner again. None of them work worth crap. I've become convinced that concentrating on food is absolutely the wrong approach to fat reduction, and that exercise is absolutely key. So, exercise as much as you can without hurting yourself - if you're going to do it intensively, then probably one day on, one day off is a good starting plan.
posted by flabdablet at 10:40 PM on April 12, 2009

If you do a PSMF, throw in bouillon once or twice a day for electrolyte balance.
posted by jgirl at 5:41 PM on April 13, 2009

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