Study: Cutting Carbs 2 Days A Week Could Be Enough To Lose Weight

Not everyone has the self-control to downsize their bellies by cutting bread completely out of their lives, but they might not need to. According to a British study, avoiding carbs just two days a week could be all dieters need to do to lose weight.

MSNBC reports the study, which was presented at a breast cancer symposium in Texas, found that women who ditched carbs and dieted heavily two days a week dropped nearly twice the weight of counterparts who stuck to 1,500-calorie-per-day diets.

In addition to avoiding carbs those two days per week, the first group took in only 650 calories on their hard-core diet days. Menus on those dark days included one piece of fruit, as well as a selection of veggies and nuts.

It’s a good idea to consult a medical professional before embarking on a new diet.

Cutting carbs just 2 days a week can spur weight loss [MSNBC]

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  1. Rainicorn with baby bats says:

    That diet sounds like shit. 650 cals? No way I’d even be able to operate.
    I do the 1200/day and exercise 4-5 days a week when I want to seriously lose weight.

    • Firevine says:

      Ms. Firevine’s mom is doing that HCG nonsense. It’s TOTALLY not the 500 calories a day, it’s the pregnant lady pee. Totally. No way I could operate on that. We tried the 17 day diet thing, which sounded reasonable, and even the 1600 calories and low carb made me feel like walking death.

      • drizzt380 says:

        Man, I guess I’m just lucky. I cut down to 1600 calories a day last February and after a couple weeks my body just adjusted. I don’t even have to count my calories anymore.

    • jefeloco says:

      If it helps, a 10 ounce ribeye only has about 300 calories prepared.

      I have stuck to approximately 1800 calories a day for the last year and have lost 71 lbs now. I eat whatever I want as long as I stuck to somewhere around 1700-1900 calories, with one or two cheat days a week. Admittedly I still only eat around 2000-2100 calories on my cheat days. I have found that drinking about a half gallon of water a day and modest exercise are really all I need to round it all out.

      The ever present tip of eating a decent portion and then giving yourself 15-20 minutes for your “full” light to come on before considering seconds really helps too when you’re at a family dinner with copious amount of salty and tasty edibles.

    • Ihmhi says:

      I know this is a late reply and all, but maybe someone in the future will see this. d:

      If you’re really overweight, you diet to lose weight of course. But then you have to *maintain* that weight. Maybe you eat a little more, but the important part of a diet is to actually reach a point of stability.

  2. Sengfall says:

    I know it’s cool and scientific to try and figure out ways to trick our bodies, but I think the main problem with obesity is not that we don’t have enough cool body hacks; instead it’s due to the fact that we fail to use common sense when putting food inside ourselves.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      A lot of the rules that apply here are just basic common sense things like avoiding sweets and snacks between meals.

      Targeting some carbs is an easy thing to do because it’s something you likely won’t miss. Sure you might have some impression of “depriving yourself” but your body won’t really miss it. It will just be a few less empty calories.

      Targeting the carbs is a good way to indirectly target junk food.

    • OnePumpChump says:

      And we fail to use common sense when selecting modes of transportation, when deciding where to live, when zoning, when allocating transportation funds, when designing buildings…

      What I’m saying is, America is DESIGNED to make people fat.

  3. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    This is stupid – your body needs a baseline amount of energy no matter what. You’ll do more harm to your organs and be less likely to KEEP the weight off if you do extreme measures like this.

    I would suggest following a plan like http://whole9life.com/2011/10/whole-30-v5/ which gets you eating real food, in reasonable portions for 30 days. Just from eating what they say and not eating what they say not to eat, you’ll cut carbs.

    Here are some easy substitutions:

    Instead of pancakes, have bacon (yes real bacon) and eggs.

    Instead of a sandwich for lunch, have a salad with chicken, veggies, eggs, and more bacon! (go light on the salad dressing or use olive oil and vinegar)

    Instead of a pizza for dinner, have a steak, with broccoli. If you want to get really epic, put a fried egg on top of that steak.

    Very few carbs, and you’ll be lucky if you don’t feel overstuffed from all that food. The key is REAL FOOD, EAT MEAT, EAT REASONABLE PORTIONS.

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      I support your bacon diet, but I would recommend replacing more items with bacon. Instead of milk in your cereal, use bacon. Instead of socks, use bacon. And remember to get 8 hours of bacon every night.

    • Sengfall says:

      I’m pretty everyone would be ready to kill someone after a day of eating only 650 calories. If this happened on a large scale, we could have angry mobs of dieters on our hands.

      • CrankyOwl says:

        I dunno, they’d probably be too weak from lack of calories to kill anybody. If you pelted them with carrot sticks & broccoli they’d probably fall over.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Don’t listen to these scientists, listen to Oranges!!

    • denros says:

      Without reading that link, I have used carb cycling diets before to great effect (i.e. lost significant amounts of fat while GAINING muscle), namely the anabolic diet. It’s not for everyone, but It’s pretty well established that cutting carbs is an effective way to lose fat.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Just be sensible with the bacon. While it is delicious, it is also filled with sodium. You need some salt in your diet, but too much is a bad thing. :(

      • Chmeeee says:

        Salt is not necessarily bad for you unless you have a condition which is affected by it (i.e. hypertension).

  4. synimatik says:

    yeah, I’m pretty sure I take in 650 calories in one part of one meal. So, no.

  5. chefboyardee says:

    I can’t wait to see how many people take this as an excuse to eat absolute crap 5 days a week. Sadly, I doubt that’s how it works.

  6. GMFish says:

    Before we get into a huge debate about carbs versus fat, eating fat does not make you fat.

    • Sengfall says:

      I never really paid much attention to either side of the carb/fat debate, but this is a pretty interesting article. i’m about half way through the 22 pages :P

    • qwickone says:

      +1 The right fats in the right quantities contributes to weight loss! It was like magic for me when I learned this. The weight fell off.

      • chatterboxwriting says:

        Same here. I really started dropping weight when I added almonds to my daily diet. My stepmother-in-law used to squawk about how almonds are bad because they have a lot of fat. Then I read a study linking nut consumption (almonds and walnuts) with smaller waist sizes/lower weights. I started eating 1 oz. per day and, as I mentioned in another thread, I have dropped 3.1 inches off my waist and lost almost 25 pounds.

        • Firevine says:

          Oh, wow. Good job! I am trying to lose a few pounds, and my woman has been fussing at me about how much peanut butter, walnuts, almonds, and avocado I eat because “it’s so fatty”. She keeps doing these fad diets and it ain’t working. We’ve both gained since we got together, but I’ve gained much, much less.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    They must have been positively starving those two days.

    • Firethorn says:

      They’re probably hungry, but consider this:
      They feed big cats in zoos every other day. Why? To keep them satiated and lazy, because in the wild, the cats will laze around for around 3 days before bothering to hunt, and have no problems(when healthy) going a week between feedings.

      Humans are adapted to eat more often, yes, but we’re in some ways even more adapted to starvation conditions. Basically, you can toss the body a screwball on the diet every so often and it’ll just shrug and hope tomorrow is better. Which, under this plan, it is. I don’t get *really* hungry if I don’t eat a certain number of calories until the next day.

      I’m all for studies like this – look at the horrible disservice done to us by the idea of the ‘low fat diet’. That’s caused more fatties than most other things. It’s cheap carbs we have to be wary about, more so than the fat.

  8. Rebecca K-S says:

    This sounds like a super awesome plan.

  9. majortom1981 says:

    what ever happened to exercise ?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      My doctor told me flat out the way to lose weight was through diet. Exercise of course helps, and it’s important in order to stay healthy, but he was adamant that diet was the key.

      • dolemite says:

        I have the complete opposite philosophy. If you exercise correctly, you can basically eat anything you want and you will lose weight. Why? Because dieting simply limits calories and slows down your metabolism. Working out turns your body into a 24/7 turbocharged calorie burning engine. Even if you only work out 30 min a day, the muscle you build is going to tear through calories, even when you are watching tv. I’d much rather put in 30-60 min of work and be able to eat enjoyable things than nibble on celery and water in misery, hungry all the time.

        • obits3 says:

          You are both correct. The key no matter what is the create a calorie deficit. It really doesn’t matter how you do it as long as the deficit is not so big as to cause a starvation response.

          Personally, my health philosophy is focused on feeling good while losing weight. I tend see it as 50% getting good sleep, 40% portion control and avoiding junk food, and 10% exersize to keep your body feeling good.

          I’ve lost most of my weight without much exersize, but some exersize (think 2-3 times a week) is nessasary to keep your body running property.

      • Slaughterhouse5 says:

        There’s an old expression that muscles are made in the gym and abs are made in the kitchen. That being said, the body has a very limited ability to use carbs for fuel. An excess of carbs will require the body to clear sugar from the bloodstream. This storage mechanism, after glycogen stores are topped up, is to preferentially store as fat.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        If you don’t exercise, dieting will send your body into panic mode and your metabolism will crash. You will feel crappier and it will be harder to get the weight off because your body is fighting the process.

        Exercise among other things elevates your body’s burn rate.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        This.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      You have to do an incredible amount of exercise to cut out the same number of calories as if you just stop drinking a couple of sodas a day, or if you just stop eating dessert. I added exercise to my 1200 calorie a day regiment this summer, and it added nothing to my weight loss except the one week I exercised 12 hours. Yes, 12 hours. That only netted me 1 extra lb. or so.

  10. XianZomby says:

    Exercising at least two days a week will also help you lose weight.

    I guess it’s easier to feel like you’re doing something about your weight problem by not doing something (eating) then it is to do something about your weight problem by doing something (exercising).

    • obits3 says:

      The problem for many people is that they will exersize those two days a week and then also inclrease their calorie intake on those days (create zero deficit). Then they wonder why they see no results.

    • Nick Wright says:

      Succinctly put.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Really? B/c this spring/summer I exercised 8 hours a week on average and lost no more weight than when I was just dieting. Did I feel better? Yes. But it wasn’t some miracle weight loss cure. I did this from March to September and ate 1200 calories a day and lost a whopping 20 lbs. I lose the same amount on average just eating the 1200 calories and going about my day.

  11. chatterboxwriting says:

    I wish there were more studies that focused on practical steps everyone can take to lose weight. Eating 650 calories in a day is ridiculous and probably dangerous. Also, I hate this low-carb craze. Sure, if you eat low-carb for a while, you’ll lose weight. You’ll also gain it back the second you start eating carbs again.

    My daily plan is 50 percent carbs/30 percent protein/20 percent fat. I eat a variety of foods, but I don’t focus on their carb content. I look for non-processed foods with a lot of vitamins and minerals. I eat about 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day. I think the key is eliminating the *right* high-carb foods. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that cutting cakes and cookies will help, but too many people won’t even eat a piece of fruit or a starchy vegetable because they think carbs are all bad. Just by eliminating fast food and sugared drinks, sticking to a certain number of calories per day, and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, I’ve lost 23.8 pounds and 3.1 inches off my waist in 10 weeks. My cholesterol dropped 20 points within three weeks of making these changes. I really hope to start teaching this stuff once I’ve lost all the weight and kept it off. So many people are sucked into thinking that they need to follow some complicated diet, but it’s not necessary (unless you have a condition that affects your metabolism).

    • qwickone says:

      +1 Did the same thing. I didn’t have much weight to lose, but it was rapid once I changed to this diet. 2 lbs in a week is a lot for someone around 130 – I’m used to 0.5 lb per week. I maintained the diet, but now my body maintains the weight (which is where I want to be).

      The best diet I’ve ever done (and am still on it) is the Diet Solution Plan (DSP) which mostly talks about proportions of food in relation to what else you’re eating rather than how much you actually eat.

      /I have no affiliation with this program, I just tried it and it’s been very effective, healthy, and easy to maintain.

      • chatterboxwriting says:

        Good job! I have a lot to lose — I used to very thin, but I had back surgery four times and then I was diagnosed with lupus, so I put on a lot of weight during the times I was unable to move around. I want to lose a total of 130 pounds, so I’m getting there. It’s just going to take a while.

    • zippy says:

      It’s really only dangerous if you do it on a sustained everyday basis. Two days a week of 650 calories doesn’t sound dangerous to me, especially if the calories that are eaten are well chosen for nutrition.

      My best guess on why this works is that sustained calorie restriction (1200 or 1500) just gets the body to cut back expenditure to match, making it hard to lose weight. Most people don’t realize that the body has lots of tricks to be able to adjust to food intake, everything from getting more efficient at pulling calories out of food in the digestive system, to base metabolic changes, to behavioral changes to cope with the reduced intake. Periodic calorie restriction doesn’t trigger the same metabolic cutback.

    • amgriffin says:

      I have to ask, if you go off your diet plan and eat like you did before, don’t you gain weight too? Low carb diets are diets like diets are diets and have the failings of all diets. You lose weight on a diet. You gain weight when you stop dieting.

      • Firethorn says:

        Probably true, but you can be on a ‘diet’ for many things – most do it for weight loss, some do it for weight gain, but most everybody should be on at least a maintenance diet.

        One of the things I’m constantly working on is getting into the idea that I’m going to be ‘on a diet’ for the rest of my life. Sure, once I’m to my target weight I’ll be able to eat ~800 more calories a day, but I’m still going to have to track my weight, food, and exercise.

        Consider the ‘Original’ low-carb diet: The Atkins diet. Not the original, but the first really famous one. It has, from memory, 3-4 phases:
        1. Shock – eliminate almost ALL carbs. 2 Weeks.
        2. Fast weight loss – add some carbs back in, but still highly, highly regulated
        3. Long term weight loss – more carbs back in, monitoring to keep carbs within limits to maintain weight loss
        4. Maintenance – you’re at your target, increase carbs a bit more(within limits), keeping an eye on weight*, intake, and such to keep you around your target.

        *or waist size, body fat percent, whatever you want to track.

      • chatterboxwriting says:

        Point taken. The thing is, I am not dieting. I am engaging in a healthy lifestyle. I don’t plan to stop doing it. I am eating in a sustainable way — not following a crash diet or starving myself. I typically start the day with a 400-calorie breakfast. I might have one scrambled egg with a fat-free yogurt and a few almonds sprinkled in the yogurt. Lunch is a salad with a bit of cheese and nuts for fat/protein/fiber. If I want a snack, I try to have a little protein and fat instead of just carbs. Dinner is something like broiled chicken with a salad and a side (braised cauliflower is delicious!). I am not hungry at all because I have enough protein and fiber at each meal to keep me satisfied. I don’t drink soda, tea, coffee, or any drink that has calories in it. I drink almost all water with a diet soda maybe once/week for something different.

        I do eat off-plan once a week or so, as I don’t want to live a life where I can never again eat a brownie. I’ve had a slice of cake at a wedding or gone out for a steak dinner or had the chicken tender basket at Friendly’s. The difference is, I consider those treats now. I used to eat like that ALL the time. I’m embarrassed to even think about how much fast food I used to eat every week.

    • Firethorn says:

      I think that there’s plenty of studies on ‘practical steps everyone can take’, you don’t need more studies on that. What you need are advertising campaigns. This study is more valuable in the sense that it identifies another tweak of the human metabolism/mental system that could be exploited to allow more people to lose weight. Different people respond differently to the same diet, so it’s best to have multiple options. Eventually we’ll want something better than a ‘try it and see’ approach. Heck, with some people pretty much any diet will work, as long as you change it every month or so, instead of slacking for a month and gaining the weight back.

      Low carb works for many people, not all. All of the serious low-carb diet books I’ve read or at least browsed say that low-carb is a permanent diet, not just for weight loss.

      Personally, my diet plan is balanced calories – equal amounts from carbs, protein, and fat. A second is that I try to avoid drinking my calories – those calories don’t satisfy my hunger, I should actually eat them. IE no soda, and actual fruit instead of juice. Only exception is the occasional protein shake because it can be tough meeting my protein goals. I’m working out heavy, so I need the protein.

      I also try to work out 7 days a week for at least half an hour. Every day is 30 minutes of cardio, MWF are weight lifting days(in addition), and THS are ‘heavy cardio’ where I might do an hour.

      I’m averaging 2.5 pounds a week this way, 3.5 pounds when I actually get all the workouts in. With holiday season and parties, I’ve violated my own rules enough to reduce my loss some – some drinking, days without workouts, etc…

    • ashmelev says:

      20 point drop in cholesterol is within the margin of error. You can do 10 tests back to back on the same blood sample and the results may differ, if I remember correctly, but 40 points or so.

  12. sbdray says:

    I agree that you need both exercise and a sensible diet to lose weight. Instead of totally cutting out carbs, opt for good carbs: brown rice instead of white, whole grain breads, avoid foods with enriched wheat flour, look at the sugar content on nutrition labels, avoid high fructose corn syrup. As for exercise, any amount per day is better than nothing. Try to get in some cardio.

  13. sjackson12 says:

    I’m not giving up my peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

  14. MrObvious says:

    Carbs are not the enemy. Eating too many of them (or too much of anything) sure

  15. shelman23 says:

    It’s all about the calories, not what they are of!
    The way I lost 37 lbs in 11 weeks.
    Progresso light soup (chicken noodle) 140 calories for the entire can.
    Salads replacing Ranch (which I love) with some light Italian.
    Lean Gourmet microwave meals.
    I still ate Pizza once a week too. You have to give yourself 1 day a week to eat the things you really love or you’ll never make it.
    Of course biking helped drop 20 of those Lbs at least.

  16. Nick Wright says:

    I don’t know why carbs get the headline here. 650 calories is a really significant drop.

    I’ve lost 42 pounds keeping to 1700 calories a day (I’m a 6 foot tall guy.) When you hit a weight loss plateau, it’s time to start mixing it up between having high calorie days and low calorie days. Their 650 days are just their low days. Do this study with a normal amount of carbs and you’d likely get the same results.

  17. kataisa says:

    Cut out all soda pop and you’ll easily lose 10 pounds or more, depending on how much soda you drink. It’s nothing but empty calories and sugar, even the “0 calorie” diet sodas contain sugar and other chemicals that will make you bloated.

    Soda not only gives you a pot-belly but it also rots your bones, that’s why osteoporosis is a big problem in this country. Drinking milk won’t stop osteoporosis, but cutting out soda pop will.

    • Firethorn says:

      Incorrect on the sugar. However, there is evidence that the artificial sweeteners used in sodas combined with the other chemicals can actually increase hunger, so you end up eating the difference anyways.

  18. smo0 says:

    Um, you do realize that carbs are in nearly everything. On top of which, if you eat less than your recommended caloric intake – you can throw your body in starvation mode… and you’ll end up gaining more weight.

    Just limit your intake of carbs to earlier in the day – after a work out… there are tons of weight loss examples and advice to follow that isn’t out of the park or going to kill you over time.

    Furthermore, if you have weight issues – contact a nutritionist and your doctor… there could be more going on.
    Also.. food allergy tests… nothing like switching to a soy diet and find out you’re allergic to soy…

  19. dwtomek says:

    Personal Anecdote Reveals: No matter how hard you try, you can’t trick the fat into leaving.

  20. AngryK9 says:

    Don’t forget exercise. You need to get off your butt and do something too, not lay there all day like a bump on a pickle.

  21. tooluser says:

    Does no one know or care to discuss the function of the endocrine system in weight loss?

  22. MECmouse says:

    A diet is what you eat. You either have a good diet or a bad diet — it is not something you ‘go on’ but something you have to change FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

    It’s called the food pyramid and NOT the new one. Get out of the drive through and go home and cook.

    You’ll not only lose weight but you will save a ton of money.