My extremish diet log

I’ve somewhat spontaneously decided to go on a somewhat extreme diet. I thought I might start a thread to track my progress if anyone is interested, and answer questions/offer advice, as I’m fairly knowledgable in nutrition and excercise topics, and I’ve accomplished fairly remarkable feats in that area before.

About 6 years ago, I was 17, I weighed somewhere in the area of 370 pounds at 6’2 or so. Pretty bad. I decided to do something about it - although for strange reasons, I didn’t care about the weight so much in and of itself. I learned about nutrition (and physiology to a degree) and decided that low carbing would be the best route to take.

It was, certainly. I enjoyed success beyond what most people even believe, but I had to work my ass off (literally, I suppose) for it. I lost about 150 pounds in the first 6 to 7 months. Not only did I lose that, but I was working out pretty strenuously and gained a lot of muscle during this time, so I effectively lost more fat than that. In the next 3 months I lost another 50, and I was pretty much in great shape. I still had a bit of a gut, but I had a lot of strength and endurance.

Long story short, it didn’t do much of anything to improve the quality of my life, so I stopped doing it. I meant to work out more to maintain being in decent shape, but I ended up getting one long-healing nasty injury after another for the next few years, and here I am, back up to roughly where I was before, at about 365.

I’ve decided to lose a bunch of it. Why? I’m not really sure, to be honest. I don’t care a whole lot about the weight - I’d like to be less out of shape, certainly, but it isn’t a huge motivator for me. My best guess is that I’m doing it for the goal, to have something to work towards that’s somehow meaningful, and for the routine. Weird reasons, indeed, but it has helped to improve my general mood thus far, so I’m going with it.

When I did this before, I severely restricted my carbs with no deviations (I never splurged once in the first 7 months or so, nor did I ever miss excercise. After that, I developed, IIRC, a one weekend a month splurge policy to help with my sanity.)

I ate as much as I felt like eating (your body is better at telling you when you’re actually hungry when you’re low carbing, because you don’t get blood sugar crash based cravings), and so my caloric intake was pretty high during that whole period.

This time around, I’m going to see if I can do the same thing, only more intense (yeah - 30 pounds a month is no longer sufficiently intense for me). I’m going to follow the same nutritional guidelines, generally… only I’m going to eat less. I’ve been eating an average of 900 calories a day for the last 5 days, and I’m hoping to drop that a bit lower when my body is in full lipolysis and the cravings go down.

I’m going to try to work out every day to the point of near exhaustion. I’m limited in what I can do now, because I’m so out of shape, so I’ve been doing a swimming routine I designed about a year ago.

My cardiovascular health is pretty poor, and so normal lap swimming with interrupted breathing leaves me depleted of oxygen and needing rest pretty quickly. So I developed a fairly strenuous excercise that allowed normal breathing - basically, I tread water with my legs (upright) while I quickly move about 6 feet back and forth with alternating modified breast strokes and back strokes. I do this after a few laps of other strokes, so my heart rate is up, and this keeps it going pretty well. I use long, inefficient strokes that tax the muscles in my arms pretty intensely. Because of the switch in directions and the long strokes, it works the upper abs and lower back muscles quite well, too. Until I get into better shape, doing this constantly for 30-40 minutes is better than having to rest all the time during laps due to oxygen depletion.

Within a week or two, I should be feeling good enough to integrate strength training excercises.

My concern is, of course, being able to maintain good health conducive to muscle growth on such a low calorie diet. What I do eat is very nutrient rich, and full of protein… eggs will become a staple of my diet, along with non-starchy vegetables.

My goal is to lose between 40-50 pounds per month. Sounds really ambitious, I know, but if I’m going to do something, I want to kick the hell out of it. I lost 30 pounds a month consuming many more calories, so I think it’s possible. My concern is that my body will kick over into a starvation metabolism because of the low calorie intake and that will inhibit my weight loss. Well, we’ll have to see, I suppose.

Anyway, if anyone has any questions about my experience, plans, or knowledge, feel free to ask.

Dude, what you are proposing is scary. The first diet you did was scary enough, and now you want to live on 900 calories a day? Isn’t this similar to what the prisoners in German Concentration Camps went through?

Don’t know if it works the same for humans, but cats can actually go into liver failure if they lose weight too quickly. Hepatic lipidosis (which I am probably misspelling).

I hope someone with more nutritional knowledge than me comes along.

Wow, your diet seems extreme, but my question is about your experiences with excess skin. With losing that much weight that fast I’m wondering if you rapidly gain a lot of loose skin with your diet/exercise regime over if you exercised and lost over a slower pace?

No, I didn’t have any really noticible loose skin, actually. But, I was 17… and I’d imagine that’s a factor.

I don’t anticipate it to be very unhealthy. I’m eating few calories, but what I’m eating is very nutritionally dense. It’s quite a bit different than a starvation situation.

As for the first diet being “scary enough” - not at all. My doctor was opposed to me doing it, but ran all the tests she wanted, and couldn’t do anything but agree that it was very healthy. My triglycerides were cut by 90%, my cholesterol went from… I can’t recall, over 400 I believe, to perfect, just about every testable aspect of my metabolism and body was improved.

There’s a lot of ignorance out there about low carbing, but it’s extremely healthy when done correctly.

Absolutely, but 900 calories a day just isn’t correct. You’re not going to build muscle on that intake. You’re not even going to be particularly successful at retaining what muscle you have.

Are you saying that independent of protein intake?

Let me clarify: For someone who has little excess fat, 900 calories is steep. But I weigh 360 friggin pounds. My body will have plenty of energy to work with, I won’t be starving to death. With fat as the fuel source, the dietary protein can work to be used to build muscle.

One of the biggest factors affecting your metabolic rate is your caloric. Eat less = burn less. Read all about it here.

A high protein intake will mitigate the risk somewhat, but on a very low calorie diet, metabolically active tissue (muscle) will be shed in favor of food stores (fat).

If you’re starting out at 350, you’re in this for the long haul, like it or not. Find something more sustainable and run with it.

A high protein intake will mitigate the risk somewhat, but on a very low calorie diet, metabolically active tissue (muscle) will be shed in favor of food stores (fat).


I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Are you saying that muscle tissue will be consumed for energy before fat?

Nah, I’ve done this before and I could do it again. I’m not really interested in a solution that takes years to implement.

A successful diet should not be one that you need to continually repeat over and over again to lose the same amount of weight. And the successful weight loss plans are the ones that take the time.

Extreme calorie restriction, rapid weight loss, extremely limited carbs combined with a heavy exercise programme etc are all basically non-sustainable, and won’t train you out of the habits that have got you into the position in the first place. The fact that you don’t really seem to be aware of the impact of this diet above should also be a red flag.

I think you need to do a lot more reading on the topic, condsult a nutritionist, and accept that significant weight loss is going to be a very gradual process, and it needs to be, for both long term success and also to avoid damaging your internal organs: from the American Heart Association :

The American Dietetic Association is probably a good place to start; in this paper on weight management it emphasises the importance of sustainable and enjoyable eating practices and daily physical activity:

Re the proposed intake of calories:

Can you really say you can maintain this diet programme forever? I would assume not, in which case as mentioned above, you are unlikely to be able to sustain the results.

Good for you for losing the weight before–and good for going for it again.

There are a lot of ways that being less heavy will improve your existence. It makes it much easier to fit in seats, especially on airplanes. It is easier, and often cheaper, to buy clothes. Having more stamina means that you have more control over what you decide to do–your body doesn’t make the choice as often. While eating is a fun thing, it is nice not to be beholden to eating at frequent intervals, so you are freer to do things.

Also, you are still young, but as you age, and have illnesses and injuries, having less weight to get around will be a very wonderful benefit.

Finally, exercises in willpower are often desirable–if you can subdue yourself, you have real power. You sound like someone who will listen to your body, too, and not make yourself continue through dizziness or other signs that something ain’t right. You collected the facts and made a decision. As long as you continue to collect facts, you will do fine.

I need to weigh in on this (pun intended)

I’m fresh out ouf gastric bypass surgery, so I can claim some expertise. IANARegistered Dietician.

Currently, I’m eating about 600 calories a day, but that is medically supervised. I have to balance this with a daily minimum of 80 grams of digestible protein a day, calcium supplements, and vitamins. Plus a whole lotta exercise.

Senor, what you propose to do is at best perpetuating the yoyo diet, and at worst, extremely dangerous. If you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have regular labwork, lack of protein and/or a B12 deficiency can kill you via heart failure.

What’s wrong with Atkins or South Beach? Not fast enough? As badly as those diets are panned in some corners of the medical arena, they are both quite balanced in the dietary requirements.

I’ll lose about 50 lbs in my first 3 months, but that will slow down to a more normal 4-6 lbs monthly soon enough. Are you diabetic? The oral meds and insulin both will make weight loss nearly impossible.

Is bypass surgery out of the question, for that matter?

But the question is, are you interested in a diet that works for the rest of your life? Because even if you lose all the weight with the approach you are describing (which I definitely DO NOT agree with), what do you do when it is gone? You have to plan for the maintenance phase. Can you see starving yourself for the rest of your life? Otherwise, you will end up exactly where you were before.




Glad to hear your surgery went well. I’m in month 7 of mine - all systems are go here, too.

Congratulations :slight_smile:


I agree with the first part, but not with the second. I’ll maintain the loss this time, most likely, as my motivations and expectations are different than the first time around.

No, certainly this isn’t maintainable. This is for weight loss. After the bulk of the weight loss is accomplished, I can switch to something that is sustainable. My problem hasn’t been eating too much (although I’m sure I do sometimes) as much as my level of activity. I plan to maintain this with regular excercise, combined with relatively normal eating. Maintaining is significantly easier than losing 40 pounds a month, and much more sustainable.

Thanks for the links.

Yeah, there are a ton of little inconveniences to being blubbery. I appreciate this post, actually - I’ve been looking for more reasons to solidify my motivation.

Yes, I will listen to my body. And when you’re free of the cycle of blood sugar spikes and lows, your body is more able to clearly tell you what it needs. It might sound silly, but I’ve been able to nail down certain hunger feelings to needing certain groups of vitamins or minerals. At the very least, your hunger state is a lot more stable. I expect to feel healthier due to my previous experience doing this than I do normally - better endurance, better immune system, more energy, other stuff - and if that turns out not to be the case then I will modify my diet until my body is healthy.

Nah, I didn’t work hard enough to maintain it last time for a few reasons… but this time around I’ve learned from that and I plan to excercise more whether I’m dieting or not, which should keep me in reasonable shape.

I’m making sure to get plenty of both. I’m getting at least 80 grams of protein per day, and plenty of b12.

Not familiar with South Beach, but what I’m doing is a more extreme form of Atkins, more or less. And no - not fast enough or requiring enough sacrifice. That’s strange, I know.

Nope, insulin free.

Yeah, pretty much. I have objections to it that I don’t really want to get into in this thread… and more importantly, I’m doing this more for the amount of hard work than the weight loss itself. I know that sounds strange.

As I said, the weight loss diet won’t have anything to do with the maintenance diet. I mean, think about it. If I have the will power to restrict my eating so much every day for months with no deviation, and excercising every day to a point of near-exhaustion, do you really think I lack the willpower to enforce a much less extreme maintenance diet? I got fat again for reasons other than lack of willpower.

So, what are your plans to maintain?

It seems logical that weight loss should be as simple as calories in vs. calories out. In my experience, there are other factors involved which must also be considered.

Will you lose weight on a 900 calorie a day diet? Yes, for some time. Will you be able to maintain that weight loss? Possibly, but not likely.

Right now, you have a certain percentage of muscle and fat. The muscle you currently have consume more calories at rest than fat, even when you are just sitting around. Let’s say (and I’m just making this number up) you currently have 70% muscle. With your weight, height, gender, age and activity level, you need 3500 calories to maintain your current weight (making up the number to use as an example).

You begin your extreme weight loss plan and the number on the scale goes down. You lose water, some fat and because your caloric intake is so low, your body begins to produce starvation hormones to save you from dying of starvation. Your body begins to consume muscle (the less muscle you have, the less calories you need to live, the more likely you will survive a famine).

So, you rapidly lose 30 lbs and you now have 65% muscle (all numbers just used for illustration purposes). Since you now have less muscle, you only need 3300 calories to maintain your current weight.

See, what starving can do? You lose weight, YES, but you lose muscle and damage your metabolism so that if you “stop dieting” you actually need fewer calories to live - this is one of the reasons why people lose weight and then gain it back and gain back more weight on top of it.

Starving can also lead to binging, since the will to restrict calories is less strong than the body’s desire to live.

The body’s attempts to save itself from starvation are pretty cool, it’s what saved your ancestors during bad harvests and wagon trains west.

You have to ask yourself - do you want to lose weight for a day or do you want to lose weight forever. Last July, I decided I wanted to be healthier. I was 34 years old, 192 lbs, 5’7". I totally changed how I eat, but I did it in a way that is sustainable. I basically stopped eating so much processed sugar, really limited booze, avoided fast food and made a big effort every day to get my 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruit. I ditched empty “white” carbs for complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole wheat/whole grains, sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans). I also added 5 days of 45 minutes of exercise a week. Once I really got started and did some research, I never went below 1600 calories. In fact, I hit a plateau at 140 lbs for 12 weeks. I broke the plateau by increasing my calories to 1800, I lost 3 more lbs. I’m currently 2 lbs from my goal weight of 135 and I feel really good about it. I’m eating around 1800-1900 calories a day.

Over a year, I’ve lost around 60 lbs. I was very very very careful not to damage my metabolism. I want to maintain at 2200 calories, not 1200 calories. I didn’t want to be at my goal weight for just a day - I want to live at my goal weight for my life.

Sure, it took a whole year, but the year passed and now I look great and have tons of energy and I never binged over the course of the year.

I just read your posts and I feel sad for you - you are setting yourself up for failure. Losing weight this year was both the easiest and the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I know it can be done correctly. Anything this important is worth doing right.

This is my biggest concern. Do you happen to have a good place I can find good information about “starvation hormones”?

Do you have a cite for this? I know during actual starvation (no eating) the body will eat muscle to free protein required for various things - but does the body still eat muscle even in the presence of high dietary protein just to cut down on calorie use? Seems a bit hard to believe.

I’d imagine I can test this through strength training and making consistent progress, right? That is, if I can bench press 100 more pounds in a month than I can now, that pretty much discounts this idea.

I doubt my ancestors weighed 350+. Won’t the readily available amount of energy I have mitigate any starvation modes?

IANAD, dietician, nurse, etc.

However, I have to say, loosing 40 lbs a month actually seems like a pretty good way to fuck yourself up, in a big, bad way. I don’t have any sort of numbers, but loosing more than 10% of your body weight in a month, for more than one month, could probably cause hypokalemia, which, of course, can kill you (even if it takes 15 years).

I hope you’re seeing a Dr. through all this.