The first step in my fitness plan is to begin with 2-2.5 weeks on a Very Low Caloric Diet (VLCD). A VLCD is defined medically as a diet of 800 calories per day or less and is primarily for severely or morbidly obese individuals who must lose or wish to lose large amounts of weight as rapidly as possible in a safe manner.
While I am in no way considered morbidly obese with a 19-20% body fat percentage at 176lbs (I don’t even fall into the overweight range), I’d like to get down into a leaner range of 10-12% BF at a heavier 190-200lbs. Aesthetically, I feel this would be ideal for someone of my height 5’11”, and any heavier wouldn’t look good in suits or other professional attire. Of course this is all speculation, as each person looks different, and I’ll play it by ear as the fitness plan progresses.
The average weight loss on the VLCD program is in the range of 3 to 5 pounds per week, and I’m hoping to stay on the higher end of that range by modifying it slightly with supplements and small workout sessions. Consuming 1,000 calories per day or less has the same effect physiologically as total starvation. I intend to consume roughly 866 kcal a day of high protein/low fat/no carbs, so by strict definition won’t be engaging in a VLCD, however by all practical means it’s the same.
Whatever caloric intake I have will be quickly mobilized for maintenance and important body functions, while whatever else that’s required will be taken from my body’s fat stores as I’ll begin to exploit fat through a process known as ketosis. When the body’s cells can’t find the necessary sugars to keep working, they utilize a different pathway to produce ATP (energy) that breaks down triglycerides into usable components. This is the basis of diets like the Atkins or South Beach diets. However, those diets are flawed in that caloric intake is the major factor in adipose development, and thus by limiting calories to 1000 or less while keeping fats low and altogether eliminating carbs, the VLCD is a sure way of shedding existing body fat.
One of the most difficult things with any diet, and what plagued diets like Dr. Atkins’, is cheating. It’s very difficult to stick to a diet, especially one that forbids entire food categories like carbohydrates. This will likewise be a struggle for a VLCD, however I intend to accomplish this through strict scheduled meals and my body’s own starvation programming. This hard-wired coping mechanism usually kicks in after four to five days, and the appetite will diminish and in most cases completely cease.
These initial four or five days may be the most difficult until the appetite suppression kicks in, and willpower is crucial. I look to combat this through supplementation and a diet comprised of proteins and plenty of water which acts upon the gastric stretch receptors to trigger the brain into thinking it’s full. The water will also have the additional benefit of keeping the kidneys working properly over this initial starvation phase which will only last 12-15 days before I begin to slowly introduce more calories and heavier workouts into my routine until I move into the anabolic phase where caloric intake will be above 3300kcal and consist of proteins, minimal simple lipids, and complex carbohydrates.