An Aggressive Dieting Approach to Use After a Period of High Calorie Eating

Most people, myself included, spend about 3-4 weeks eating higher calories than normal during the holidays.

I am not just talking about on the actual day of the holiday. I had at least 10-12 days in December where I really just sat back and enjoyed a large quantity of really good food. Don’t feel bad if you did the same. This is what December is all about.

Heck, if I could go back in time I would probably try and eat a little more of my Aunt’s cookies on Christmas. You live once and in my opinion, this is the time to reflect and enjoy good friends, family, and great food. So let’s talk about a strategy to lose body fat in a short time frame.

Holiday Eating

[No worries if you gained a bit of fat in November and December. It just meant you stopped and smelled the roses a bit. Now it is time to step away from the roses and obliterate that body fat.]

Your Body is Primed for an Aggressive Diet After the Holidays

When you diet for prolonged periods of time your Leptin levels drop as does your thyroid hormone concentrations. Leptin drops to preserve your body fat when calories dip too low for extended periods of time…it is part of the survival mechanism in the human body.

When Leptin is low you can still lose body fat, but it can make things tough.

High Leptin Levels = Easy Fat Loss

After a period of higher calorie eating…Leptin levels are high. I am guessing a lot of people have high Leptin levels after the holiday. In addition to that, I am also guessing that very few people are over-trained in late December.

To me, this creates the perfect condition for an aggressive diet to work wonders. The body can handle a week or two of low calorie dieting.

A Diet Burst of 7-10 Days Can Work Wonders

I want to give credit where credit is due. Lyle McDonald wrote a book about scientific crash dieting called “The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook”…and this is where I learned about the idea of short bursts of low calorie dieting.

You can get your calories down to a low level with great results as long as you don’t do this for long periods of time…7-10 days (14 days max). I only recommend doing this 1-2 times per year.

So What is Does an Aggressive Diet Look Like?

Remember this is only to be done for 7-10 days…so keep this in mind when reading this.

1) A Low Calorie Protein Source
2) Green Vegetables (Lettuce, Broccoli, etc.)
3) A Multi-Vitamin
4) Plenty of water

The key is to get just enough protein to insure no muscle loss and green veggies that don’t really add calories. Aim for a daily intake of roughly 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. Go a little higher if you are exceptionally active.

The goal is to keep these calories as low as possible while meeting your protein requirements and adding in green vegetables to fill the stomach a bit.

It is possible to lose 10-20 pounds in 10 days as well as 5-6 pound of body fat.

10 Days of Nothing but Chicken Salad & Chicken Soup

I have done this crash diet on a few occasions and I have lived on a 10 day diet of nothing but 3-4 chicken breasts per day either cut up into a salad or in chicken broth with veggies as a soup.

I used rice vinegar as my salad dressing. This is really a bland approach and you can add more variety, but I like to keep it as simple as possible.

You Can’t Train Hard During These 10 Days

A word of warning: This diet works best if you drop your cardio and just focus on a few resistance workouts during this 10 day period. Believe me, you will not have the energy to do cardio with this level of calorie deficit.

Even if you are tough enough to hit cardio during this 10 day period, resist the urge…it is counterproductive to the way the diet works.

This Type of Diet is Tough and Makes You Crabby!

Makes no mistake about it…this is a brutally tough diet and will make you grumpy. I am a calm and nice person most of the time, but tend to lose patience towards the end of this diet.

You Can Be A Little Less Aggressive and Push This to 14 Days

An alternative to Lyle McDonald’s approach is to add in a few more calories each day and extending the diet by a few days. This will work, but probably not at the same level as the more aggressive approach.

Note: Lyle McDonald is the master of this type of dieting. This is a VERY brief overview of how this diet works. I wanted to post this, because I believe that right after the holidays is when this diet will work best.

For more info…just go over to his site:

One Last Thing: You can use the principles outlined here to come up with your own strategic approach. Maybe you are slightly aggressive with your diet, but nothing this extreme.

There are many variations using this same idea that work very well.

60 thoughts on “An Aggressive Dieting Approach to Use After a Period of High Calorie Eating”

  1. I really enjoyed the post.
    I loved it but I like to take once in awhile some alcoholic aperitifs, what can I take if any? Wine, whiskey? Give me a hint. Because very annoying and not have a social life.
    I appreciate if you can answer my question.

  2. How should I know how much carbohydrates, proteins and fat I need to eat? I am getting confused about this…

  3. After a 2 week eating binge, I find it very hard to return to pre-binge eating levels. Returning to work after the holiday break is usually a big help.

  4. Hi Rusty,

    I am really ineterested in trying this out. I just wanted to know if I had to do strength training over these 10-14 days as I am actually someone who tends to build on muscle very fast and I do recall you mentioning in some post that cardio and intervals is the way to go for ladies especially if they are looking to lose fat. So basically I am confused. What is your take on this? How do you think I should go about my workout routine?

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Y’know, people think Lyle McDonald invented protein-sparing modified fasts, but Dr Michael Eades (1/2 of the “Protein Power” duo) wrote a great book about the technique 20 years ago. McDonald’s approach is sort of a dumbed-down version with an ephedra stack added.

    Eades’ book is called “Thin SO Fast” and it’s widely (and cheaply) available used. Worth picking up.

  6. Hi Rusty,

    I really think this is an awesome site you put together!!! I have to lose a lot of weight and was wanting to do this aggressive diet. I was wondering if you thought it would work if i do it for five days and then do two “moderate” treat days. I was thinking of doing this repeatedly until I am at my desired weight. What do you think?

    Thanks a bunch!, Nonni

  7. Hey Rusty,

    Just found the site and love it! A few nit-pick questions on maximizing the body chemistry advantages of ESE type IF.

    During the post holiday aggresive phase of this IF strategy, does it matter what you eat for dinner if you keep the caleries low? For example, if want to eat some cheese with my tossed tuna and spinach salad for about 800-1000 cals, will that stall my fat processing?

    I don’t want to do without my morning coffee, with a pink packet and a slug of fat-free half anf half. Will this spike my insulin during a fasting day and again minimize my fat burning chemistry?

    It seems like your limiting carbs by your food choices during this phase, is this by design or just a function of picking low calerie, nutrient dense foods? What about fruit? or higher fat content foods?

    Thanks, Pops

  8. Hey Rusty,
    Thanks for all of the great information and also the help over at BS. I have always had a pretty easy time dropping weight whenever I work at it, even though I am now 41. I still seem to be able to control my eating although the holidays are very tempting to eat like a maniac. Ever since trying out eat-stop-eat, I pretty much eat whatever I want and as long as I don’t get too far off track, the fasting gets me right back to where I want to be. Thanks for turning me on to ESE. I have been reading Visual Impact and as usual with all of your stuff, find it to have some great info! Look forward to learning from you in the future.

  9. 10 to 12 days of bad eating and then switching back to healthy eating can actually do wonders by tricking your metabolism a bit. Ever notice sometimes even though you ate a lot of crap and you still look leaner and bigger in the mirror?

  10. Hello Rusty

    Ive added a comment on this blog but for some reason it seems missing… hehe 🙂

    Hope you are well – just came from my South African holiday and it was amazing…. And yes – lots of eating.. not good hehe!

    I have a question to ask…

    This approach seems great and im starting today with my very low cals… and probably not going to do cardio during this time. But after this period, if I do about 5 days at BMR of 1400 cals per day will my leptin levels return to normal again by this time?
    Because what I want to do is: my 7 days of very low cal and then 5 days of BMR to get leptin levels normal again before I start another cycle of 7 days low cals? Will this work or not? Or would I need more days for my Leptin to return to normal?

    Also when im doing the 1400cals per day – I would be exercising so do I need to increase my cals by about 600 – since that’s how much I burn roughly during my gym session?

    Thank you so much for your info… ive looked online for the answer but cant really get a definite one.

    You’re a star dude 🙂
    Have a good day!


  11. rusty if you were trying to reduce your muscle size (not fat but muscle) would you still keep the 3-4 meals of protein and veg only a day? would this type of plan be the most beneficial when muscle reduction is a goal?

    I know overall decrease in calories and training style will lead to muscle loss but would the macro nutrients still be best to come from protein in a deficit?

  12. Great Blog!! Awesome practical advice too. I have recommended this to a lot of my patients too. Love the philosphy of low rep / high wt as well as static holds. Caloric restriction /ESE makes a TON of sense as well. It doesn’t make sense to wear your joints out w high rep /high sets year after year. I’ve had so many patients and friends who have chronic joint problems as a result. That is one reason i find the static hold concept so appealing. Our bodies have to last a lifetime. Keep up the awesome’s refreshing to see someone “buck the mainstream of thought” as well. Good luck and as always..Go Seahawks!!!!

  13. Hey Rusty, thanks for the advice. I’ve listen to the audio recording that you and John Barban made a while back about eating less to reach your goal weight and I wanted to ask you a question but I didn’t know where I could send you an email. But this post seemed similar to what you guys were talking about. Lol. I have been eating less for about 5 weeks now, and I lost some weight in my first week. Around 3lbs. and in my second week 2lbs. But in the last 3 weeks, only 2lbs. I haven’t change how I eaten in that time. I don’t have access to a gym, but I’ve been doing body weight exercises and walking in my neighborhood, especially when my dog needs to go outside. Do I need to have a day where I need to eat more in order for my body to reactivate my weight loss? I read something about leptins. Something about when its low your body holds on to everything it has cause it feels like it starving right? Please help. I mean if you lost 25lbs in what 70 days and I only lost 7lbs in 5 weeks, I must be doing not right. I’m still 20 to 25lbs overweight and I know I need to get closer to my goal weight before I bring up the intensity. Please help me again. Lol. I would really like to feel comfortable in my body and stop staring at love handles and man boobs.

  14. Rusty,

    I remember seeing an interesting article where (or maybe you wrote that in the comments) you said that your father lost weight by skipping breakfast or something like that. That was very interesting because you explained that there are many variations of the same principle that work. But I can’t find anymore that post where you said that thing about your father.

    Can you please tell me the title of the post or repeat the anecdote?

  15. rusty this post is great! just what i needed. i have a question for you,

    im 5″3, 120lbs

    i started eating 1200 calories on Monday. I workout about 4-5 days per week.. burning at least 300cals. I also walk to and from work every day.. the distance is about half a mile each way.

    my question: should I be eating the cals I burn through exercise or no?

  16. Okay…I will do my best to spend an hour to see how many questions I can answer…here goes 🙂


    For one month…you should try to hit the gym 4-5 times per week. Possibly spend the first 7 days on this aggressive diet to get things started. If you want to know what sort of workout, possibly download Vacation Body Blueprint and use one of the aggressive strategies for 4-6 weeks. Just make sure you back off after that.


    Option #1 is too aggressive. You could possibly get away with low calories like that for 7-10 days, but then you would need to be back to normal for a while. Why not aim for eating less calories, but also do one fast per week. ESE works extremely well as long as the one meal at night on the day of fasting isn’t too big. As far as cycling the diet…when you go this drastic it takes more than a cheat day to reset your metabolism back to normal. You can do the cheat technique on a less extreme diet like “Cheat Your Way Thin”…but this is a bit more intense.


    Carbs slow me down as well. Typically when my body gets in fat burning mode, it is more sensitive to carbs like this.


    I can’t help but try to lighten up the mood with the occasional cheesy movie clip or comment. You can get away with that diet the next 10 days, no problem. The 4 weeks after that might be a little aggressive, but could work. The key will be to monitor the way you feel and what is happening on the scale. I would probably advise you to eat at least 3-5 days right at your BMR, before cutting it back for 4 weeks. Just to be safe.


    Don’t torture yourself to get Jessica Alba lean…I guess it depends upon which Jessica Alba we are talking about. I think she looks best in that corny movie with Paul Walker…”Into the Blue”. After this movie she got too lean in my opinion. It is best to be slim (but still look natural). It is just my opinion, but I guarantee you that most people would agree. As far as calories per day? Look up what your BMR is online…Google it. Start by eating your daily calorie amount exactly at your BMR, but with exercise. Weigh yourself and adjust either up or down from there. There are simply too many variables for me to give you an exact answer.


    The good thing about having a lot of weight to lose is that you should see results pretty quickly. I actually don’t think you will need to get extreme and you will still see results. That being said…you can get a jump start on weight loss by eating like this for a week. After that just concentrate on a weekly calorie deficit…some days will be over your maintenance calories and some days will be over, but aim for a deficit over time. The easiest way I have found to do this is with Eat Stop Eat.


    Nuts are pretty calorie dense. So not a great option if you are aiming for a large calorie deficit on a diet like this. They are a great food choice when eating a normal diet. I eat a few different types of nuts each week. Cashews are my favorite.


    Both Boca Burgers and protein shakes would be a good choice. Are you Vegan? If not, veggies with eggs would be good for some meals as well.


    This should be an easy fix…especially since training arms on the same say as shoulders works well. So do a reduced routine on your Back, Chest, and Leg day, but add more volume on Shoulder & arm day. Perhaps you will include HIIT on your reduced day (Back, Chest, Legs)…but don’t do cardio at all on your Shoulders and Arms day. Instead, you could do many more sets and reps with shoulders and arms. You will need to do higher volume of sets and don’t be afraid to increase the reps, reduce the rest periods on muscles that are particularly stubborn to growth.


    One way you can insure victory would be to diet down hard. Download my free report “Vacation Body Blueprint”, but add a twist to it. Once you get really pretty low in body fat levels…about 3 weeks out…take creatine daily with water. You will increase the volume of your muscles a bit while still reducing your body fat levels. This should easily help you reach a lower body fat percentage.


    There won’t be muscle loss in such a short time frame. This is something the supplement companies want people to believe. The other weight loss comes from glycogen stored within the muscle cells, and water. The water and muscle volume will decrease temporarily and will come back within a few days of eating correctly, but the body fat will not. So 3-4 days after this diet is when your body will look the best. At that point it is nearly 100% fat loss.


    I can’t even pretend to know much about hormone replacement therapy, but I am betting a knowledgeable reader in this subject will comment and offer some great advice. I believe that you will burn body fat much in the same way as everyone else as long as you are taking the proper hormones. Again…this is just my best guess…I can’t see why the physiological processes involved would change.


    To get the Abs to pop out really well you have to be at a low body fat percentage, but just as important is to not retain water. The guys you see in fitness magazines with sharp abs use strategies to reduce water retention as well as have low body fat levels. I already have an article on that, but could do another. I touch on this a bit in Vacation Body Blueprint as well.


    Thanks for the kind words. I did that you linked to my site as well (always appreciated). I am glad you are getting such awesome results! All of the little things you mentioned add up to the ideal condition to losing body fat. Many people use just 1-2 effective methods but never really understand the true power of synergy by implementing all of the things you mentioned. You are easily going to be able to get as lean as you desire following the plan you outlined. It is as great feeling, isn’t it?


    If you are constantly cold (and that is something new as a result of a new diet or workout program)…then you may need to “reset” your metabolism a bit. I don’t know if you want to go as low as 500 calories per day. Possibly for just 7 days…and not again for 6 months (or more). To be honest, since you are colder than normal…you should probably take a more gradual approach. Are you do a Warrior Style fast, where you don’t eat until dinner every day…or an ESE style fast where you don’t eat until dinner just 1-2 times per week. I personally get much better results with ESE.


    When I was in the working world and running a men’s suit store, I used to work out at 6:30-7:30 and eat a decent sized dinner at 8:30. I was able to get really lean following this plan. This late meal will have little negative impact on fat loss, since your body is depleted of carbs and is ready to soak up a bit more excess carbs than normal. Most people need to avoid eating late, because they aren’t in this condition. If you work out at night this works fine…no need to stress. As far as spreading out the meals, anything will work. I tend to coach people to eat their largest meal an hour after training, but this is just a rule-of-thumb. Everyone is different.


    Thanks for providing answers…it is always appreciated…especially since you give out such great advice!


    I don’t think you would necessarily want to throw in an ESE style fast unless you mess up on one of the days. It is such a brutal diet, that I am not sure you will want to make it more challenging.


    Of course it is worth living! Your body is such a small part of who you are. I do focus a lot on body fat levels, fitness, diet, etc…because that is the topic of this blog…but I think it is just a small part of a bigger picture. I am the first person to say that looks are WAY over-rated in our society. I do enjoy helping people look better because it can help improve self-esteem, but that is just one small part of life. That being said…I bet you can look pretty close to the way you want to look if you work at it.


    You will gain back the water weight, but should not gain back the fat if you stick to a smart diet and exercise program going forward.


    Yeah…this is an extreme low carb, low cal diet. Like you said, people need to eat well even after the diet. In my experience people think the diet is done and then go back to the way they were eating before (which put on the extra pounds in the first place). The best way to use this diet is a head-start on a long term strategic diet plan.


  17. To me, this seems like a slightly healthier version of the Atkins Diet. This is low-carb at its best.

    People certainly will lose a ton of weight restricting carbs like this, but it is necessary to be especially careful when re-incorporating them back into your diet.

    I’ve seen many a dieter lose a boat-load of weight by dropping the carbs only to lose it back the second they start eating them again.

  18. Hi, everyone. Just wondering about something. If you do this type of dieting and then return to a more normal way of eating, won’t you gain some weight back? I only gained a couple of pounds over the holidays, but still have ten to lose total. I just don’t want to be tempted to eat that way long term to maintain the weight loss. Any advice would be great! Thanks!

  19. It definitely is worth living. That’s why I gave you the link to Dave Kekich’s newsletter.

    I also highly recommend reading (many times) his credo and listening to this talk with him here:

    In the coming years science will find solutions for your problems. Your job now is to stay as healthy as possible until those solutions arrive.

    In the meantime, you can, albeit slowly, get closer and closer to your ideal body.

    I also recommend listening to the nutrition podcasts by John Barban:

    This will give you a perspective on things and also maybe give you an idea how to find a way to eat less that works for you (this is the key to weight loss). Fasting is not necessary.

    Hope that helps,


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