Depending on your size and the amount of body fat you have, you can expect to lose 6 to 20 pounds of body weight in the first 3-4 weeks of any properly designed nutrition program. Beyond this, a reasonable goal is to try to lose 2 pounds per week for the rest of the time. This means that a realistic weight loss goal is between 30 and 40 pounds over a 3-4 month period. More than this in this time period is rare and dangerous and should only be attempted with close medical supervision. If you are 100 lbs. losing, for example, normally cannot be achieved in a 12-16 week program; you will need more than one nutrition program to reach this goal. If you need more than one diet program, don’t plan on doing one after another, as you will have diminishing returns. Taking a short 1-2 week break between programs is recommended, but the point is, if you have to lose more than 10-15 pounds, you can expect to suffer through dieting for months. Staying as mentally fresh as possible throughout your plan will be imperative to staying on track.
Considering the time it takes to produce fat loss results on a diet, it’s smart to start easy and practice steps to prevent burnout. Even if you are very excited about starting your new diet, avoid the cold turkey method of diving right in and trying to stick with your plan from the start. If you’ve got 12 tough weeks ahead of you, starting too strict too early causes most to start to wind down long before the end from hunger and mental stress. If you’ve been overweight for a long time or have more than 30 pounds of body fat to lose, neglecting can be dangerous. Cutting calories too much, eating completely clean, and / or exercising excessively when you’ve never done this (or haven’t in a long time) can release toxins stored in body fat. This can make you sick and even cause harm if done too quickly. Dieters who have excessive amounts of body fat should be put into their program to avoid poisoning their body with the rapid dumping of toxins that can occur when starting a diet that is too strict. An example of this is when an obese person begins a drastic 85% raw diet, drastically switching from highly processed foods to almost nothing but raw vegetables. Few can do this without getting sick. This is not recommended as the result can be very dangerous.
They say you have to do the same for 21 days before it becomes a habit. Once you’ve hit the 3-week mark on your diet, there will be numerous procedures that have become a habit, making it so much easier to stay on track in the long run. The trick is to adopt healthy nutrition habits so that it is not so difficult to get sick or mentally collapse before you hit the 21-day habit zone. The best way to do this is to take the first ten days or even 2-3 weeks of your program and stick with it halfway through, gradually tightening up until you are soon doing everything according to the book. This can be done in several ways. One way is to practice several days of strict dieting followed by a day or two off the diet. Start the first week with just dieting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and take the rest of the days off. In the second week, try to diet strictly for Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday off, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sunday off. Diet for week three throughout the week and take a half day of the diet on Saturday as a reward. The fourth week should be a strict diet for the rest of the program.
Another way to get into a prolonged weight loss program is the elimination method. This is probably the most common and possibly the safest method of starting a diet, especially if you have a large amount of weight to lose. Instead of mixing strict days with days off in the first 2-3 weeks, take this time to eliminate bad foods and replace them with good ones. For example, for the first week, instead of a strict portion-controlled diet, eat the way you have; however, eliminate all processed sugar and bread; replace only with clean, complex starches like brown rice, yams / sweet potatoes, oats, and legumes. Replace all your fluids with water and increase the amount of water you drink to at least 64 ounces / day, but up to nearly a gallon / day if you exercise hard enough to sweat. If you eat out, you’re choosing plain chicken breasts, lean steak, plain potatoes, and salads for week one. In the second week, all meals away from home are replaced with pre-planned home-cooked meals only, with each meal containing the correct amount of protein, but still without calorie restriction. The third week begins with calorie restricted meals and strict diet until the end of the program.
In addition to making your diet easier, it’s also a good idea to get into your exercise program. For the amount of exercise needed to effectively burn body fat, jumping head first can also produce adverse effects. Juggling strength training and as much cardio work as possible is like suddenly taking on a second job that can easily overwhelm you, especially if you’re new to the gym. As with your nutrition program, take the first 1-2 weeks to begin your exercise program. If strength training isn’t something you’re used to, start out moderately with low volume for the first few sessions. If you don’t, muscle pain can be overwhelming, discouraging, and needs to be watched closely or overtraining will be difficult to avoid. Get a certain number of cardio hours a week and increase over time. For example, in the first week do three 30-minute cardio sessions. In the second week, do two sessions of 40 minutes and one of 30 minutes, continuing to increase the number of sessions and the duration of time increasing up to 5-6 hours of cardio / week (or whatever your effective volume of work is).
Another reason neglecting your nutrition program is a bad idea is because of the undue mental stress it adds. Success in most weight loss plans is due to being consistent with your regimen over a period of time. Being absolutely ruthless and strict for 12 harsh weeks will cause any professional to collapse mentally without some kind of at least temporary relief. Taking a few weeks to get into your program helps reduce the mental stress of dieting for long periods of time. Taking time to prepare for the diet also helps tremendously with this type of stress. For best results, stick to your diet as strictly as possible during the week, but reward yourself with a cheat meal on the weekend. This gives you something to work on, look forward to, and satisfy your cravings. It also gives your mind a break and will renew your enthusiasm for starting over next week. Instead of always trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel, eat one meal at a time, one day at a time, and focus on making each one perfect. Focusing on perfecting the process rather than just the product will keep your mind busy stringing together a string of numerous small wins. Soon enough time will have passed for habits to develop and results to show.