I’m always skeptical when I hear something that says you can get better results with less effort.
It is usually just a fad, or there is “hidden effort” somewhere…
So when I came across a British study finding women who dieted only two days a week lost almost twice as much body fat as those dieting seven days a week, I shook my head.1
After all, if you’re dieting seven days a week, it makes sense that you’d lose more than you would if dieting only two, right?
Study Says Dieting Two Days is Better Than Seven Days a Week
Researchers followed 115 women for four months. For the first phase, the women were divided into three groups:
Group #1 was put on a low-calorie, Mediterranean-type diet, eating 1,500 calories a day.
Group #2 was put on the same Mediterranean-type diet, but with no calorie restrictions for five days a week. During the other two days they were told to keep carbs under 40 grams and calories to about 600.
Group #3 had the same rules as Group #2 (two days of carbs under 40 grams) but no calorie restrictions for all seven days.
Less than 1/3rd The Dieting Leads to Twice the Fat Loss…
At the end of three months, all three groups lost the same amount of weight … up to 11 pounds. But Groups #2 and #3 (the groups who only dieted for two days) lost twice as much body fat —over 8 pounds compared to only 4 for Group #1.
That means that Group #1 lost more lean muscle, not a good thing. Lean muscle not only makes you stronger and more toned, but also torches more calories 24/7. Yes, even when you’re not at the gym.
What’s more, the women in the second two groups also showed improvements in their insulin sensitivity, a possible reason for their fat-busting success.
What I find most interesting is that Groups #2 and #3 lost the same amount of fat, despite the fact that Group #3 was not subject to calorie restrictions on their low carbohydrate days… (remember Group #2 could only eat 600 calories on their low carbohydrate days).
In fact, Group #3 was not subject to any calorie restriction… at all. They simply ate low carb for two days out of the week.
But Could They Maintain These Fat Loss Results?
During the fourth month, all the women followed the same diet plans as before. With one change: The two low-carb groups cut carbs only one day a week instead of the two they had before.
That was enough for all the groups to not only prevent weight regain, but also for the second two groups to maintain their improved insulin sensitivity.
Not a bad maintenance plan!
Can You Lose Fat Going Low Carb Twice a Week?
Would you like to try Group #3′s plan and lose fat by going low carb for only two days a week?
If so, we are going to give you some help below. And I would love it if you would email me your results or post your results in the comments box.
The idea is that you follow the Mediterranean diet or our Fast Start Program (they are very similar except that on the Mediterranean diet you would not have a “cheat day”) five days a week, and then for two days a week you will eat fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates a day.
Just to be clear, if you use our Fast Start Program for this program… You do NOT get to have a cheat day!
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
So you know what you are getting to, it may help if you understand the plan you would be following for five days a week.
A Mediterranean-type diet plan, which all the women were told to follow, is a heart-healthy plan that focuses on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grain cereals, olive oil, fish, and seafood.
It stresses a moderate intake of dairy products, poultry, eggs, and lean red meat and processed meat. Remember, Groups #2 and #3 followed this diet plan—with plenty of carbs—five days a week.
For your low-carb days … you will follow this plan but limit your carbohydrates to 40 grams.
To give you an idea of how the Group #3 women ate on their carb-restricted days, here’s a sample menu plan that provides about 40 grams of carbs:
3 egg white omelet
1/2 cup cooked mushrooms
3 avocado slices
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar dressing
4 ounces turkey breast
1 cup low-fat navy bean soup
Nutty Vanilla Smoothie
1 tablespoon almond butter
4 ice cubes
1 cup celery sticks
1 tablespoon cream cheese
6 ounces salmon
1/2 cup cooked cauliflower
1/2 cup steamed carrots with basil and black olives
1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar dressing
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Not hard to follow two days a week!
Again, I would love to know if you are going to give this a try. I am very interested in your results. Please email us if you want any support and I would love to hear what you think in the comment box below.
Steven Sisskind, M.D.
1. Harvie M, Wright C, Pegington M, et al. The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight women. Br J Nutr. 2013 Apr 16:1-14. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23591120.