As you know, I am going through the intense phase of my 2021 Body Transformation at the moment – I use my proprietary approach, but since I am curious to try new things and I keep reviewing various diets, I decided to introduce some of them into my routine. I tried fasting for 3 days, and since I am approaching the end of the phase 1 of my transformation, I felt that it would make sense to try very low-calorie diet (VLCD) for 15 days. Fifteen days is my typical timeline for diets (check out my report on Intermittent Fasting without calorie restriction). I’ve just completed this trial and I am delighted to share my feelings and thoughts on that.
Was it difficult to follow?
Kinda. To tell you the whole truth, I started this trial spontaneously, and I had an idea of sticking to less than 500 kcal per day, but just within the first couple of days it became evident that it’s too restrictive – I wouldn’t even meet my goal protein intake with just boneless, skinless chicken breasts let alone making it a sustainable approach. So, I increased the caloric limit to 800 kcal per day and that made much more sense. And then the idea of making a trial of VLCD for 15 days was born as 800 kcal/day is the definition of VLCD . Following that diet was much easier – I even had some ice cream on one of the days and some pizza on another, and I still remained within the set parameters.
How did I feel physically?
Initially I felt terrible – really, I felt tired, sluggish, sleepy, light-headed at times and for the first time in my life, I felt cold! I would work on my papers in my perfectly airconditioned office and felt like I’m freezing. Surprisingly, at some point midway, I adjusted to the diet and stopped feeling cold and was less tired. I even managed to have my full workouts done properly and I kept doing my 10K steps a day (check out my Million Steps Journey), so things got much better. Also, I must note that I sustained a minor injury on day 14. It was just a wear-and-tear kind of injury, but I think it has something to do with the nutrition.
What about cognition and emotions?
These were a complete mess for the first week – I felt sluggish, tired, sleepy, hungry all the time. I caught myself watching cooking shows all night as I couldn’t sleep, so hungry I was. Surprisingly, it all stopped after day 8 when I allowed myself to have a huge ice cream. I was on my mission not to do anything like that, but somehow my GPS created a route that went straight to my favorite ice cream place (Tom’s Dairy Place in Etobicoke) and I had some cash on me (they only accept cash there), so I gave myself permission to enjoy it. And I did love it! Somehow after that, I felt much better for the remainder of the 15-day term. I also had some pizza – I craved it big time and I was hoping to have it on July 1st, the day when the Phase 1 is over, but the Universe clearly wanted me to have it earlier. We had a farewell lunch for one of my colleagues – pizza was served, and I couldn’t resist it. That was two days ago, and it didn’t affect my weight loss trajectory at all.
How effective was it?
Speaking of weight loss – I have lost 17.9 lb over the course of these 15 days, which is my personal record. My typical amount is 15 pounds, and this time I definitely did better than before – I’ve lost 6.8 lb in the first night and then 2 more pounds the day after, so 8.7 lb in the first 2 days, which is a typical amount for me when I start an extreme diet. I’ve lost 10.4 pounds on day 4, 15.1 on day 9 and 17.9 in total on day 15. That sounds like a great result, and it is, but I would like to compare it to my regular 15-day dieting trials (Figure 1).
Figure 1. VLCD and 5 other 15-day weight loss trials.
As you can see, I normally lose several pounds in the first couple of days, it’s just “water weight”. Then, I continue losing weight and normally I lose somewhere in the vicinity of 15 pounds in 15 days, I’ve even made a video on that 3 years ago. So, this time I did slightly better, which was predictable as my caloric deficit was greater than usual. But was it worth it?
I’ve lost a substantial amount of weight in a short period of time (17.9 lb in 15 days), slightly more than usual, but given the physiological and psychological effects of that and a significant decrease in quality of life, I don’t think that this diet is sustainable. I also don’t feel like it’s worth doing it this way – I would be much better off just creating a smaller, but meaningful caloric deficit and losing the same amount of weight in a slightly longer period of time while still enjoying my life and being able to function and train properly.
I am happy that this trial is over, but I will still continue with similar level of caloric intake as I am on a good streak right now and I just have 4 days left before the end of the phase 1 of my 2021 Body Transformation Journey – I will report the results of it within a week, so stay tuned and subscribe to my newsletter as well as to my YouTube channel, hit the notification bell, leave comments, make suggestions… All kinds of constructive interactions are welcome.
1. Parretti HM, Jebb SA, Johns DJ, Lewis AL, Christian-Brown AM, Aveyard P: Clinical effectiveness of very-low-energy diets in the management of weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews 2016, 17(3):225-234.