T Nation

Doing VLCD to Jumpstart Weight Loss?

I’m 6’0, 232 pounds, not much muscle. I would be classified as obese. I have a 30 day supply of phentermine, and I’m wanting to eat 800 calories a day, with a cheat day or 2 per week. Is this reasonable? Last year I was 280 pounds, I did this but with exercise, and no cheat meals, and I lost 30 pounds in a month, I eventually stopped when I got to around 212, because I was taking alot of trips and eating out/drinking beer. I want to get back on track, and get the most out of this bottle of phentermine, because he won’t prescribe me more after this. (yes I’m aware phentermine is dangerous). After this month, I want to get on a healthy sustainable diet, and build muscle, since at the end of this 30 days I’ll have been on TRT for 8 weeks, and hopefully in prime condition to recover and build. Thoughts on this? And the reason I’m choosing this type. Of diet, is because it worked for me before. I know I could go to the gym now, but I want to get a bit more fit, so I’ve got a bit more self confidence at the gym.

Your approach might leave you lighter on the scale, but might also cost you muscle in the process.

I don’t think that it is. That level of calorie restriction is extreme, and unwarranted. This is not a healthy way to work towards your goals. I know from experience that weight loss is an emotional issue, in that when we decide to improve our fitness we want it done yesterday. I’d urge you to consider a more modest approach but in the light of this

I’m not sure you are open to receiving that input.

It takes longer than eight weeks to dial in TRT, it’s not a panacea. I’d say you are in prime condition now to recover, build, and lose fat all at the same time.

1 Like

And I want front-clasp bras to be women’s only option. But that’s not realistic either.

You’re not in a position to have a weekly built-in cheat meal, let alone a cheat day, let alone two cheat days. You’re looking for shortcuts left and right, between the phen and the VLCD and whatever else is going on. Knock it off.

You got results before when you buckled down and put in the work. You’re entirely capable of doing that again. You’ll get better results setting aside the phen for down the road when you’re closer to whatever your goal actually is. Don’t use it to “jumpstart”, save it for a plateau-breaker.


@Chris_Colucci s post made me observe that I forgot to put something into words that I intended two

@kgoggs look at this statement. The difference between a cheat day and two cheat days is huge, and you are being very cavalier about it. That’s double the amount. DOUBLE!

Successful fat loss, as in losing it and keeping it off, I’d argue is far more likely to occur when going down the beaten, dull, path. You know, the one where you asked someone how they lost all of that fat and nothing in their response is surprising. The short cut approaches might get you to your goal weight quicker, but that isn’t the finish line. The game isn’t won, yet.

I personally don’t want cheat days, but I’ve read that cheat days help your metabolism out. I would much rather eat 800 everyday, and run every day.

Get fit to run, don’t run to get fit. You’ll wreck havoc on your joints if you start running while overweight.

1 Like

No this is too much. It’s the same thing I keep telling my friend who, mind you, isn’t losing weight.

I was 6"1 250 pounds so I know what being fat is. At first just training hard 3-4 times a week, plus a little bit of cardio, and just not eating shit with one cheat a week (and the unfortunately quite often at the time night drinking out) brought me to 190 in a year, while getting more muscular and strong. It could have been faster or better but I wasn’t ready for the sacrifice.

I’m just telling you building good healthy habits, and being patient yields way more reward in the long term

I was a similar weight, at a similar height last August (2018). I was down to a considerably stronger 180lbs by January 2019.

I echo @aldebaran, @Allberg and @Chris_Colucci who all have experience in this process. Steady, habit forming changes are key to long term success. My focus was on slowly changing bad habits into good. My mindset has been that my physique will reflect the average of how I’ve treated it over the last 5 years.


This is one of those times when a little information can be a dangerous thing.

Properly planned cheat meals can sometimes be used as part of a long-term fat loss plan to manipulate hormone levels, metabolism, etc. Full-on cheat days are relatively less common but, again, might be worked into a 12, 16, or 20+ week fat loss phase depending on progress.

A VLCD is a short-term plan by design, entirely setup to get results with drastic calorie reduction before the body catches on and those hormone/metabolism manipulations are necessary. Have one or two cheat days per week when you’re doing a four week plan means you’re only really sticking to the diet about 80% of the time. That’s obviously going to lead to subpar results.

Super-low calories combined with a ton of exercise is a very bad plan. This explains why:

Research PSMF.

Funny, I was reading through this thinking PSMF, PSMF, PSMF.

I would never advocate making up 800 kcals with any macro ratio except PSMF.

1 Like

I want to specify that in the context of hormonal and metabolic changes, it’s been proven that a single meal doesn’t have any impact. In fact, 48 hours of overfeeding carbs has been shown to be the minimum required to achieve any meaningful changes.

A single cheat meal can have its merits, namely the psychological ones. I am convinced it can fill some glycogen back in, which might be useful in the short term. If there aren’t too many fats combined with too many carbs in the meal, it’s also unlikely to have a negative impact as a good chunk of those calories would be lost as heat. This is only true if we’re talking about one meal though.

My advice to the OP is the following:

  1. Don’t do extreme diets when you have a lot of weight to lose. You might see faster weight loss initially, but this approach will likely hurt you in the long term. You might think you’re kickstarting fat loss but really, you’re just putting yourself in a place to abandon your plan as soon as you are done with the “extreme phase.” What will you do after a month or two of starving yourself? Will you move to a more moderate approach (which will result in less fat loss and demotivation), or will you start binging and gaining all the pounds back?

  2. Don’t even think about cheat meals, cheat days, cheat anything. You need to earn them first. Consider a two-day refeed (REFEED, not all-out binge) after at least 5 weeks of consistent dieting. Consistent to me means 100% adherence. If you are a grown up adult there is no reason why you can’t adhere to your diet if you are serious about it.

  3. Don’t kill yourself with cardio. You’ll need more as the months go on so start easy. Walk 30-60 minutes twice a week and go from there. That one times I did cardio for 30 minutes every day, after a week my calves, shins, and ankles were so stiff I could barely walk. Then after another week I started having severe quad cramps and I couldn’t even walk.

Be in for the long run. The greatest fat loss I saw was achieved when I adhered to a plan for 2 months straight with no deviation whatsoever. It was boring, tiring, depressing, and I ate the same exact five meals everyday for 8 weeks. I was dead inside by the time I got to the last week and likely couldn’t have gone on for one more day. But the plan was sustainable over the pre-determined 2 months period, because I did get to the end of it.

Do you have to do the same? Hell no. Did it work for me? Hell yes.

The winning approach for you will most likely be something that stays true to the same principle as those of my plan, just a lot easier and less restrictive in the beginning.

That is absolutely untrue. It has not been proven. You might’ve seen research about some 48-hour minimum, but there has been plenty of research showing the hormonal and metabolic influence of 24-hour overfeeding periods (basically, a cheat day). Increased calorie burn the day after, improve thyroid function, improved leptin levels, the whole nine.

In real world terms, having a single cheat meal does create a “cheat day” and will initiate the same physiological and psychological benefits as long as the day’s total calorie intake is sufficiently excessive. A cheat meal also a more controllable way to introduce the technique with minimal stress to the dieter.

It’s generally more effective to tell a client “Hey, tomorrow you can have anything you want for dinner, and grab some dessert, too” instead of “Hey, tomorrow eat whatever you want from morning to night”. It’s not hard at all to hit 1,500+ calories in a single meal, especially for someone who’s been on-point with their diet, so the end result is the same.

If memory serves me, it’s also been concluded that the changes that take place after 24 hours of overeating are short-lived and not very influential.

In any case, your logic goes like this:

(1) A single cheat meal makes a cheat day and (2) a cheat day is effective in improving those parameters, therefore (3) a cheat meal is as effective as overfeeding over 48 hours in terms of those benefits.

(1) this is false due to the definition of a cheat day or refeed day. They are not the same as “a day where you eat at a surplus.” So yeah, a cheat meal will likely put you into a state of caloric surplus in an uncontrolled environment, but that doesn’t make it a cheat day or refeed day.

(2) I responded to this in the first part of the post. In any instance, even if this were true, (1) is still false so the whole premise is, since it’s a conjunction of two claims.

(3) this is a logical fallacy called the domino effect. My counterargument is that, following your logic, a sufficiently large cheat meal can make for TWO cheat days if calories aren’t controlled. Then does a single meal equal two days of overfeeding?

The point of the researches made about this topic was to prove that, when it comes to hormonal and metabolic changes, total calories weren’t the only thing that mattered but also the length of the period of overfeeding. That’s why a single meal doesn’t have the same effect of a whole day, and a whole day doesn’t have the same effect of two days, even when calories are equated.

Nope, that has not been concluded. There’s, at worst, research coming to mixed conclusions.

Yes, for all practical purposes.

Yes, that’s what some research and real world experience has shown.

::screeching brakes:: No. You’re the one who brought up the 48-hour concept initially. I’m unfamiliar with whatever research that’s referring to. I’m simply saying that a cheat meal/cheat day can be sufficient for stimulating the metabolism, boosting fat loss hormones, and improving fat loss results.

That would depend on your definition of a cheat/refeed day. There’s no universal definition, so people sometimes misinterpret what’s meant by them. All I stated in the very beginning was, “Properly planned cheat meals can sometimes be used as part of a long-term fat loss plan.”

“Properly planned” being the key words there, but no detail was asked or offered because it’s dependent on many variables (the dieter’s current size and bodyfat, current nutrition plan, results seen so far, training, etc.)

Right… and research has shown benefits from an overfeeding period of one 24-hour day. Whether that overfeeding comes from adding 600 calories to three meals over the course of a day or adding 1,800 calories to one meal is, in the real world, irrelevant.

Again, you brought up the two day thing. I still don’t know exactly what it’s talking about, but I do know that there are studies contradicting it, so it’s best not to treat it like a mandatory principle.

I always think study wars are kinda lame because there’s always going to be info supporting both sides of any given argument (which is why talking in absolutes is dangerous). But for information’s sake, these are a few supporting a 24-hour period of overfeeding:

1 Like