Weight and fat loss can be achieved using different styles of dieting depending on your personality, eating habit, tendencies as well as how much knowledge you possess about nutrition and dieting itself. Are you a trainee motivated by quick results or are you a person that likes to take it slow and ensure sustainable weight loss?
1. The Shotgunner - Quick Weight Loss
The shotgun method is what I like to call diets that start out with a large calorie deficit, with that deficit decreasing as bodyweight drops. Why did I name this the shotgun method? Because like a shotgun, the initial blast is strong (large calorie deficit - ensures initial weight-loss) and can hurt the person if they're ill-prepared to handle the consequent recoil (junk food temptations, binge eating, etc).
This method works well for people who are motivated by quick results and find it difficult to adhere to a more conservative approach. For example, a person looking to lose a large amount of weight (eg: 30lbs) will start off with a 500+ calorie deficit (daily) and slowly reduce that to a 400, 300, 200 calorie deficit as the weeks progress and as body fat is being lost. As I believe protein intake should stay at an adequate level, most of the reduction from calories should come from partial elimination of carbohydrates and fats.
- Very effective for short term weight loss
- Initial stages can be very motivating for some individuals and help them adhere to future weight loss diets
- Large calorie deficits can be very mentally stressful
- Initial low energy and decreased performance in the gym or at a physical job
- The chance of the rebound effect is much higher, some dieters will use the initial weight loss to justify stuffing their face the following weeks... AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS!
2. The Turtle - Slow And Steady
One of the more popular methods used in the past few years due to increasing research on food intake habits, willpower and weight loss sustainability. In contrast to the "shotgun" method, this style of dieting employs a conservative calorie deficit throughout the entirety of the weight loss period.
The caveat here is that dieters must be aware of their maintenance calories (I've talked about how to find out that number through estimations or tracking right here under section #3: Learn How To Count). So what's a conservative calorie deficit? A daily reduction of 200-300 calories coming from carbohydrates has worked well for me and my clients. Depending on your metabolism, expect to lose about 0.5-1lb per week. Trainees who employ this diet must be persistent and consistent with their calorie intake. If weight loss stagnates, consider increasing the amount of physical activity you do or further increasing the calorie deficit.
- The conservative calorie deficit allows dieters to lose weight without feeling the initial low energy that comes with large calorie deficits
- A small calorie deficit can sometimes be unnoticeable given the composition of your meals are healthy and based around nutritious and satiating, whole-foods.
- Paired with adequate protein intake, this style of dieting ensures maintenance of your hard-gained muscle!
- May not be suitable for beginners new to counting calories and portion controls
- Tests dieter's patience, weight loss may not occur for the first weeks either due to inaccurate tracking or using the wrong maintenance calories as a baseline
The Bottom Line
Both types of dieters can see success as long as they plan out their diet and adhere to it. Don't be quick to dismiss large calorie deficits and diets like the "shotgun method". While it doesn't always fit the modern dieting narrative that everything should be done conservatively to ensure long-term success, I've seen first hand that people can succeed with more daring weight loss methods. Pick the right dieting style that suits your goals and current level of experience with nutrition. Good luck!