Whats the fastest way to lose body fat in a short period of time?
The fastest way to drop body fat in a very short period of time is through the elimination of all carbohydrates.
Need to drop down a dress size by Saturday?
Look good for the beach next week?
Any time a deadline is quickly approaching where we need to look a little better, cutting out bread, pasta, rice and potatoes is the standard advice.
For short periods of time, this works great.
If you’re at all familiar with what we do at Ultimate Performance, you’ll know we’re fans of the ‘two-week low-carb boot camp’ to kick-start the transformation process.
Why a Low Carb Boot Camp?
There’s no better feeling than knowing your diet is working. By going low carb for two weeks, you’ll drop anywhere from 2-4% body fat. This initial hit of fat loss is great for motivation, building excitement and creating a focus for the weeks ahead.
Simple to Follow
For our clients, the key to adherence is simplicity. A low carbohydrate plan, to begin with, is very easy to prepare and follow. If you’re stuck travelling or on the go, knowing you just need to pick up some meat and greens from your local M&S can make life much easier.
When your protein intake increases, one of the first things you’ll notice is reduced hunger and cravings. The increased fullness from more protein in the diet will keep you on track and prevent any immediate dietary deviations.
Another reason for fewer cravings is the shift in the balance of gut bacteria. The foods you continuously eat are the ones your gut bacteria will make you crave. If we start eating a lot of vegetables, you’ll start feeding the good bacteria in your gut, thus reducing the cravings for junk. This shift isn’t immediate but coupled with the simultaneous elimination of all processed foods, it happens quickly.
Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Small bouts of low carbohydrate eating can have a beneficial effect on our insulin sensitivity so that when we do re-introduce carbohydrates later in the diet, we handle them more efficiently.
To keep it really simple, here are the five rules of the initial boot camp phase:
1. Have a protein goal
- For men, aim for 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight
- For women, aim for 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
2. Eliminate all carbohydrates
- This includes bread, pasta’s, rice, potatoes, fruit, cakes etc…
3. Eat an abundance of green, leafy vegetables
- Think broccoli, kale, spinach
4. Add healthy fats to the diet
- A good aim is 0.5 gram per pound of bodyweight
- Think avocados, walnuts, salmon
5. Stay hydrated
- Aim for 3 to 4 litres of water a day
What to Expect?
It’s very rare that we have a client who doesn’t feel great during the boot camp.
When you take into account that most of our clients are coming from a typical Western diet high in processed carbohydrates, low in protein and phytonutrients, it’s not surprising.
Feedback we typically get from clients is:
- More focus
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Increased satiety – zero cravings!
So Where Do People Go Wrong?
The number one reason people fail on low carbohydrate diets is they go low fat as well, turning it into a very low-calorie diet.
When you make this mistake, you’re essentially running on fumes. This is when you hear of people feeling flat, lethargic and ravenous, later culminating in a binge-fest that offsets all their hard work.
It’s important therefore to include some red meat, oily fish, healthy oils, avocados and nuts into your diet when you eliminate carbohydrates.
Who Wouldn’t See The Benefit?
The boot camp is so successful because of its ability to simplify nutrition for people who otherwise aren’t very passionate or educated in it.
It’s not a magic pill yet what it provides is the ability to get a client immediately compliant by making the plan really easy whilst delivering a very quick initial hit of fat loss.
That being said, if we have clients who have a strong education of nutrition, and know how to manipulate macro-nutrients in their diet (this is more commonly seen with our online clients, as opposed to our in-person clients), we may skip the boot camp. Instead, we’ll start with a regular calorie deficit including a balance of macronutrients, and progress from there.
Both work, but it’s important to know where you are at the beginning of your journey to determine the optimal starting point.
What To Do After?
After the two weeks are up, the direction you take after is dependent on various factors such as your body fat levels, muscle mass, and psychology. Here are a few of the options we use:
Add Carbs In Post Workout
This is probably the most common recommendation. Starting the re-introduction of carbohydrates around the workout perimeter is the most optimal time, given the heightened sensitivity of your muscle cells to glucose uptake.
To begin with, add 40-60g of starchy carbohydrates to your post workout meal in the form of oats, rice or sweet potatoes.
Add Carbs Once A Week
The second option is for those on the higher end of the body fat scale. You may want to start by adding carbohydrates once a week in a meal such as chicken and baked potato, or sushi.
As you get leaner over time, you can add more carbohydrates.
What’s worth noting in both of the above recommendations is that when you do add carbs, you’ll need to keep an eye on fat intake. Generally speaking, as you add more carbs into the diet, you should reduce your fat intake to maintain a calorie deficit.
Continue With Low Carb
This last option is for those who actually prefer to stick to low carbohydrate dieting, and feel great whilst doing so.
As long as they’re still losing body fat, high in energy, getting stronger in the gym and sleeping well, continuing with low carb eating is a viable option.
With these people, using carbs when they need it (if any of those indicators above drop) as opposed to the more structured approach is the way to go.
Long Term, Low Carb?
An easy trap to fall into is thinking the success of the boot camp will continue forever, inevitably demonising carbohydrates as the enemy.
This isn’t true. Carbs are not the devil, too many calories are!
In fact, staying low carb for too long may have negative effects. Thyroid output, cortisol and testosterone levels can become problematic if you’re left on low carbs, in the long run, making body re-composition difficult.
What dieting to optimise body composition is all about is finding the perfect diet for the individual. For many, based on our experience with 1000s of clients, starting a transformation with a low carbohydrate stint works great.
The direction we take from there depends on the individual. Some people function better on low carb, whereas other people will struggle (think poor gym performance, ‘flat appearance’) in the absence of any rice in their diet.
The key is finding the diet which matches your own individual needs. One of the advantages of the boot camp is that it can help steer you towards finding this, especially when you begin experimenting after the two-week phase.