Lose 30 pounds in 30 days…

by West Conner · 3 comments

...and other lies you've heard to get your money.

thinmantrapped-217x300I can't count the number of questions I've gotten from people asking me about weight loss.

"Have you heard of the HGC diet?"

"My doctor wants to put me on HCG for weight loss. Does that work?"

"I'm paying for a program that guarantees me I will lose 30 pounds in 30 days."

"Do you know about [insert worthless supplement here] for weight loss. Dr. Oz says it works."

The answers are yes, yes, good luck, and the worst place for medical advice if from daytime TV.

Over the years, my tolerance for these questions has gotten lower and lower.  People don't want to think for themselves.  They want to take a pill, do a shot, or starve themselves for a month and expect miracles.  It took you how long to gain this weight?  Do you really expect your body to just drop this excess body fat quickly and easily?  Let's do some simple math along this journey of understanding.

One pound of fat is approximately 3,500 calories of energy.  Now, don't email me with your Googled "facts" about it actually being 3,472 or 3,725, or whatever other number you find, it doesn't matter.  We're doing simple math here.  The amount of energy in a pound of muscle, or lean tissue, is a bit more complicated.  For this discussion, we're going with 600 calories worth of energy in a pound of muscle.  Muscle contains a significant amount of water and carbohydrates along with the actual muscle tissue.  Again, don't email me with your Googled numbers.

So, back to math.  You are going to starve yourself with 500 calories a day for a month?   You're going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days you say?  OK, maybe so, but where is that weight coming from?

Just to survive, your body uses about one calories per minute just to perform basic metabolic functions.  Your heart beats, your digestive tract moves, and your brain thinks (hopefully) without you paying attention to them.  There are 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day; 60x24=1,440 calories a day just to survive.  Now, getting off your couch and going to the refrigerator expends some energy also.  We'll just round everything up to 1,500 calories a day that a person expends for the sake of this article.

1,500 calories a day x 30 days = 45,000 calories that your body needs to survive and maintain for this month.

If you are going to eat 500 calories a day for 30 days, that's 15,000 calories that you'll consume...you need 45,000 calories.  You are running about a 30,000 calorie deficit.  "So all these extra calories are coming from my fat, great!!!!"  Not so fast.

When your body goes into starvation mode, it will use about 60% of it's needed calories from lean tissue and about 40% from fat stores.  Eating 500 calories a day puts you into starvation mode in a couple of days.

Now, let's take that 30,000 calorie deficit, and multiply it by the 40% that will be used from fat stores.  This gives us 12,000 calories used from fat.  The remainder of the calories, 18,000 of them, will come from your lean tissue or muscle.  Following so far?

Since there are 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat, 12,000 / 3,500 = only 3.42 pounds of fat lost during your starvation diet.  But wait, it gets worse.

There are about 600 calories worth of energy in that pound of muscle you have.  18,000 calories were burned using muscle or about 30 pounds of muscle!!!!

That sounds worse than it is because muscle is about 75% water.  75% of 30 pounds is 22.5 pounds of water lost and "only" 7.5 pounds of muscle lost.  Phew.

You will lose twice the amount of muscle and lean tissue than fat using this ridiculous weight loss method.

You can lose 30 pounds in 30 days.  You will lose about 67% water, 22% muscle, and 11% body fat.  Guess what happens when you start eating in your normal fashion again?  Your body will suck up water like no tomorrow.  Since it was in starvation mode, it will store body fat faster than ever because it "thinks" you are going to need it for energy.  You may gain a pound or two of lean tissue back also if you exercise at all.  When, not if, but when you gain this weight back, your final body composition will have a higher percentage of body fat than before and therefor use less energy daily to survive.  This means you will continue to store more fat than before.

"What about you saying that the HCG diet works?"

Oh, yes it does work for weight loss.  To answer that question, just re-read this entire posting and add "HCG diet."  It's the same concept.

To effectively lose body fat, you have to have a sensible eating plan.  Most people respond well to a 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbohydrate, and 1/3 fat calorie diet.  This is just the start.  Your hormones and thyroid, especially for women, have to be balanced for your body to drop this excess energy in the form of fat.  If you are constantly under stress, the excess cortisol is going to make it almost impossible to drop body fat.  Exercise is an absolute must to move your blood and get muscles burning fuel.

The purpose of this article is not to teach you the proper way to lose body fat while sparing your lean muscle.  The purpose is to show you the wrong way to try and lose body fat.  You will lose weight during a starvation diet, that's for certain.  Unfortunately, nearly 90% of that weight will not be from fat and you will gain every ounce of it back when you begin eating normally again.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Emilia January 25, 2017 at 6:44 PM

The fact that you mentioned “starvation mode” at all proves you know little about actual physiology. “Starvation mode” is simply a slight slowdown of the metabolism. It also take about 45 days for it to even begin to happen. It can also be incredibly easily avoided by strength training. It doesn’t cause any kind of rapid fat collection afterwards, either. It’s water weight. Slowly increasing calories back to maintenance solves this problem, as does drinking more water and keeping salt and caffeine out of your diet.

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Tricia February 22, 2017 at 9:39 AM

Good, someone who knows this shit. Suppliments, water, protein smoothies, juicing. All good ways to lose weight quickly. “Fat, sick and nearly dead” that documentary changed my life. I rebooted my metabolism and git rid of my cravings for shit food. Giving me the ability to ear clean without continuously sabotaging myself by binging and purging. This article is complete horseshit.

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Debbie February 13, 2015 at 8:26 AM

Thanks for breaking it down and making it simple. I want to “blame” everything else for my weight issues, when in fact, deep down, I know that “I” am the one to blame.

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