I get a lot of emails from people who want to learn how to get in shape in a month. And this is never an easy problem to answer, simply because the answer may be different for each person.
Being in shape can mean something different to everyone. To one person, being in shape may mean being 6% body fat with veins in your abs. While someone else may see it as just looking good in clothes and not being overweight.
So trying to find a universal answer to this question is quite a tall task.
Some people may only need to lose a couple pounds so that they can see their cuts better. Or maybe they just need to cut water weight so that they can have the dried look for a photo shoot or vacation. And then some people are very out of shape and they want to lose as many pounds as possible. But most people who ask this question, want to lose fat as quickly and efficiently as possible, and the answer to this problem is a protein sparing modified fast.
Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF)
A protein sparing modified fast (PSMF) is basically a very low calorie, ketogenic diet. The goal of this diet is to do exactly what the name implies… lose as much fat as possible while sparing muscle (protein). You are essentially eating only enough calories (and the right kind of calories) to sustain your muscle mass while dropping fat as quickly as possible.
This type of diet is not easy to follow and should not be done for long periods of time but it works amazingly well if followed correctly. In fact, many doctors will put severely overweight patients on a PSMF to help them drop the fat fast.
The concept behind the diet is simple. Your body has a preferred pecking order of fuel… Carbs, then fat, then finally protein. The goal is to deplete your body of carb sources so that you will go into ketosis and use mainly fat for fuel. But unlike a normal ketogenic diet, which can be sustainable for a long time, this is an extremely low calorie keto diet, designed to shred fat as quickly as possible. You are essentially eating only lean protein sources and a small amount of essential fats, causing your body to use your fat stores as fuel. Normally, eating such a low calorie diet would cause losses in muscle mass as well, but because your protein intake is high, you are providing your body with the protein it needs through food and it will not have to take the protein from your muscles.
How to Set Up the Diet
This diet is relatively simple to set up. You will be eating only lean protein sources (chicken breast, egg whites, lean beef, etc.), some fibrous vegetables, taking a fish oil supplement for your fats, and a multi-vitamin.You should strive to get around 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound and take 10 grams of fish oil per day. You can have all of the fibrous vegetables you want (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc.). So you’re only going to be eating around 800-1000 calories a day. The protein is to spare your muscle and the fish oil and multi-vitamins are to provide you with the essential fats, vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to function properly.
How Long Should I Stay on the Diet?
Now this is the part that gets a little tricky. As a rule, the leaner you are, the less time you should stay on the diet. Leaner individuals will also need more refeeds while on the diet as well. If you’re 15% bodyfat or lower, you probably shouldn’t go more than 7-10 days without a refeed. If you’re above 15% bodyfat, you can probably go about 2 weeks.
As for the length of the diet, people who are leaner than 15% bodyfat probably shouldn’t do it for more than 3-4 weeks. People above 15% can go a little longer, maybe 2 months. Just listen to your body. If you start feeling very run down and normal tasks seem very hard on you, give yourself a break. Also, if you start to plateau and the weight isn’t coming off anymore, its probably time for a break.
What do I do when the diet is over?
Once the diet is over, you’re going to want to return back to your maintenance calories for a while. It can be very tempting to go on an all out binge but that would be the worst thing you can do. Your metabolism will have taken a hit from eating such a low amount of calories for so long and a binge would just turn all of those extra calories into fat. Be smart about it! You suffered through the worst part, not make sure you didn’t do it for nothing!
Having Trouble Figuring out the Diet?
Lyle McDonald wrote a very good book called the Rapid Fatloss Handbook. Its all about taking a scientific approach to a crash diet using a PSMF. Its a very good read and I recommend it if you want to learn how to get in shape in a month.
Check it out here >>