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  • VLC to jump start fat burning?

    Hi all,

    I've been working on becoming fat adapted with a more gentle approach for the past few months, but that really just ended in frustration (and no weight loss). I've decided to take a more "balls to the wall" approach to jump-start fat burning by going VLC for a few weeks to force my body to use stored fat. Has anyone tried this approach? Does it work?

    My plan is to eat VLC (around 30g or less) until the energy returns to normal and I don't feel the "hunger"/sugar swings between meals. Hopefully this only takes a few weeks, then I will slowly add carbs back in . I've been eating pretty high protein/ and high fat.

    My ultimate goal is to lose weight (i have about 25 lbs to lose) and regulate hormones (insulin, leptin, etc)

    Is this a good plan? Is it stupid? Any tips would be much appreciated!

  • #2
    Sounds like an excellent idea. Works for me when I wanna lean out. And lots of people here did Steak and Eggs for 4 weeks with no ill effect.

    Its also how most people on Atkins do it. It's called the induction phase. Then you add in a few more carbs and hit the 50-100g/day Mark calls effortless weight loss.

    Read these though so you don't end up posting some silly "VLC ate my children!" thread:

    Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb Pt I » The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

    Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb Pt II » The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

    Remember that you don't have to live this way forever though! And yes if your going to do it for a prolonged time re-feeds (as jakejoh bellow mentions) can be quite beneficial.
    Last edited by Neckhammer; 07-08-2013, 08:02 AM.

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    • #3
      It can be a great way to accelerate fat loss. However, it doesn't work so well for everyone, and I would recommend throwing in a carb refeed once per week if you're going to take this route.
      My nutrition/fitness/critical thinking blog:

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      • #4
        Great idea. I started VLC to control my appetite and stop my constant binging urges, as well as stabilise meal/eating patterns and reset my metabolism (I am just assuming this theory). Did it work? Absolutely, I lost a lot of weight and my eating habits finally stabilised.

        What else? I was losing minerals from my body so rapidly, my electrolytes were imbalanced and my limbs started going numb occasionally. My left arm eventually stopped functioning and my muscles felt weak, I am sure I was experiencing potassium/magnesium depletion. This is just my experience, was it necessary? For a much shorter period of time, yes. I stuck with it for a month when a few days or a week would have still been as effective and optimal; I had only a little fat to lose. It works better for those who obese or extremely overweight and have a lot of fat to lose.

        I don't recommend it for the long term and you should up your carbs gradually. Whether the weight loss is water or fat is debatable. Severe carbohydrate restriction for prolonged periods of time can induce unpleasant health problems, such as constipation, deteriorating thyroid function, insulin resistance, out of whack hormones, low energy. Many others share the same opinion here and Mark only recommends such a low level of carbohydrates for shorter periods of time or for fasting.
        Last edited by Mikee5; 07-08-2013, 08:30 AM.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the helpful replies! I don't plan on doing this forever, just until my body learns to burn stored fat or energy. My plan was a few weeks (2-3) is this long enough to warrant a refeed? What do you consider a "prolonged period"? THanks again!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AMC View Post
            Thanks for the helpful replies! I don't plan on doing this forever, just until my body learns to burn stored fat or energy. My plan was a few weeks (2-3) is this long enough to warrant a refeed? What do you consider a "prolonged period"? THanks again!
            2-3 weeks sounds good, as long as you FEEL good/ok. Don't suffer or torture yourself. If you have a lot of fat to lose, try a month. Just make sure you're getting enough salt (to balance electrolytes) and enough calories. A prolonged period would be a few months or years. That would definitely be dangerous and you'd be jeopardising your health greatly. I'm basing my opinions on my personal experience, reading the experiences of others and extensive research and reading.

            You mentioned a "refeed". By upping carbs I mean increasing your consistent daily intake of carbs, however, refeeds can equally work as well while still eating VLC. I'm talking about 300-400g Primal carbs (ensure a very low fat intake) over a period of a day or two. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're seriously lifting or exercising intensely and it's a little exhausting planning and tracking consistently.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AMC View Post
              Thanks for the helpful replies! I don't plan on doing this forever, just until my body learns to burn stored fat or energy. My plan was a few weeks (2-3) is this long enough to warrant a refeed? What do you consider a "prolonged period"? THanks again!
              Most folk take 6 weeks (sometimes longer.) You don't really need refeeds unless you are doing strenuous exercise.
              Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mikee5 View Post
                2-3 weeks sounds good, as long as you FEEL good/ok. Don't suffer or torture yourself. If you have a lot of fat to lose, try a month. Just make sure you're getting enough salt (to balance electrolytes) and enough calories. A prolonged period would be a few months or years. That would definitely be dangerous and you'd be jeopardising your health greatly. I'm basing my opinions on my personal experience, reading the experiences of others and extensive research and reading.
                VLC/ketosis is NOT dangerous long-term if done properly. Plenty of folk here and on the low carb forums who have been in ketosis for years.

                Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb Pt I » The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.
                Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb Pt II » The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

                Ketosis
                Ketosis

                Ketoadaptation | The poor, misunderstood calorie
                Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
                Pregnancy Nutrition Coaching
                Primal Pregnancy Nutrition Article

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                • #9
                  Just don't wind up like that guy in the other thread who blamed his constipation on Mark.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                    May not be dangerous if done properly for some people, but most people do not do well with it for extended periods of time, especially those with thyroid and other hormonal issues. It might not be terrible for everyone, but it sure can be an unnecessary PITA to constantly maintain the delicate balance of not eating too many grams of carbs OR protein and possibly needing to take extra measures to ensure proper electrolyte balance. Yeah, not always dangerous but not always fun! The point where extra measures need to be taken is the point where you can see how this was meant to be used for short-term survival and not as a constant way of life. There's actually a world of difference between a high-fat diet for ketosis and a low-carb diet; at least a low carb diet allows for virtually unlimited meat to make some more glucose.
                    | My (food) Blog | Follow me on Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter |

                    “It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” - Samuel Adams

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mikee5 View Post
                      Great idea. I started VLC to control my appetite and stop my constant binging urges, as well as stabilise meal/eating patterns and reset my metabolism (I am just assuming this theory). Did it work? Absolutely, I lost a lot of weight and my eating habits finally stabilised.

                      What else? I was losing minerals from my body so rapidly, my electrolytes were imbalanced and my limbs started going numb occasionally. My left arm eventually stopped functioning and my muscles felt weak, I am sure I was experiencing potassium/magnesium depletion. This is just my experience, was it necessary? For a much shorter period of time, yes. I stuck with it for a month when a few days or a week would have still been as effective and optimal; I had only a little fat to lose. It works better for those who obese or extremely overweight and have a lot of fat to lose.

                      I don't recommend it for the long term and you should up your carbs gradually. Whether the weight loss is water or fat is debatable. Severe carbohydrate restriction for prolonged periods of time can induce unpleasant health problems, such as constipation, deteriorating thyroid function, insulin resistance, out of whack hormones, low energy. Many others share the same opinion here and Mark only recommends such a low level of carbohydrates for shorter periods of time or for fasting.
                      Your posts are spot on. Insightful and helpful, IMO.
                      | My (food) Blog | Follow me on Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter |

                      “It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” - Samuel Adams

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                      • #12
                        Here's a novel idea: To jumpstart fat loss, go on a low protein, low fat, high carb diet for 10 days and watch what happens!

                        Here's how: Eat potatoes. Nothing else. No butter. No bacon bits. Just potatoes. Eat until full, but don't stuff yourself.

                        When you are 10 days into it, and 5-10 pounds down, you will see that carbs aren't the enemy and can start eating in a way that doesn't villify any one macronutrient. If you want to completely eliminate something, eliminate sugar, flour and vegetable oil.

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                        • #13
                          Whether Keto is for you or not I have no idea, but I am on keto and if you decide to go that way, these tips might help.

                          1. Broth - have it daily. Being in keto seems to increase the requirements for Potassium, Magnesium and Sodium, and having too little will make you feel like krud.

                          2. Plan your meals - I have a weekly schedule of meals that I just repeat ad nauseam until I get bored, then I rejig it. I find for me it helps, because I don't have to think about food, and trying to decide what I should cook. I look on my board, see what I'm having and whip it up.

                          For Example my current meal plan is:

                          Meal 1 - Liver pate, cucumber slices, bacon. I make little stacks and devour. (I make the pate every Sunday night for the coming week)
                          Meal 2 - Shirataki, beef, bone broth - whip it all up in a stir fry and package it up to have over the next few days.
                          Meal 3 - A small amount of protein (depending on day chicken/beef/pork/fish) and zucchini cooked in a little butter then tossed in miso.

                          The weekend meals are different to weekday, just to keep it interesting..

                          Saturday
                          Meal 1 - Bacon & Eggs
                          Meal 2 - Canned Tuna and BAS
                          Meal 3 - Ox Tail curry with Steamed Potatoes (my carby meal for the week Yay)

                          Sunday
                          Meal 1 - Pork Sausage and Ox Tongue (tossed through last nights left over curry sauce)
                          Meal 2 - Meatza (ground meat cooked as pizza base and then topped with sauce, cheese, mushrooms etc) - my 'fun' meal of the week.

                          3. Drink lots of water - yes I still have to make a conscious effort to do this but it helps.

                          They're probably the 3 biggest things that have helped me. Whichever way you go, good luck
                          I don't believe there is one correct way of eating for everybody, and I don't believe there is one correct way of eating for a person through every stage of their life

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                          • #14
                            I haven't seen much discussion about electrolyte supplementation in or around the "nutritional ketosis" discussions.

                            On another note, a high fat ketogenic diet can be healthy (& may even be "healthier" in certain situations), but the protein restrictions don't go over well with my personal dietary preference.
                            www.caloriesproper.com

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