Can you safely fast-track weight loss?

The Bottom Line

As I expected, none of the quick fixes had strong scientific backing. So I turned to my friend Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., chair of the University of Vermont’s Nutrition & Food Sciences Department and author of The EatingWell Diet (The Countryman Press, 2007). “The best way to give yourself a jump-start,” she said, “is to create rules that add structure to your diet.” Jean suggested dialing down calories but still eating a balanced diet of real foods. Normally she would say not to drop below 1,200 calories per day, but for a quick fix, you could shave off a few more—going absolutely no lower than 800—for up to 3 days (no longer). She also recommends getting enough protein to prevent muscle loss and curb hunger. (That’s easy: most adults need about a third of a gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. For a 150-pound person that’s 50 grams—the amount, roughly, in 10 ounces of chicken breast.)

Now when I need to lose a few pounds, I cut my calorie intake to about 1,000, well below my usual. I also add a two-mile morning jog (in addition to my usual noontime exercise class). These changes help me feel more in control and, before I know it, the unwanted pounds come off. It ’s not “10 pounds in 10 days” but it does the trick for me.

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