Is It A Good Idea To Do A 2 Week Aggressive Cut?
August 8th 2019
With so many popular diets, food fascinations, and extreme eating trends in the present food culture, it is normal to be curious about what exactly is happening to someone and their body’s physiology during the process of a food trend. Most shredding techniques or cutting calories have been known to be very strenuous and difficult to keep up with consistently. The most well-known diets or aggressive calorie cutting methods are seen in intermittent fasting, the ketogenic diet, and in solely liquid diets. It is important to consider the health risks and safety precautions when observing these diets because many people truly just follow the trend and do not research the change in diet enough to know about potential problems. That also includes what happens to the body physically. Recently, I have seen many friends of mine trying out these new diets and have garnered some curiosity towards the subject myself. However, my real question is are the mechanisms and biological changes occurring in the diets doing more harm than help? Let us take a look. Furthermore, I am not a certified physician, dietician, or nutritionist; I highly do recommend seeking out additional information regarding a change in lifestyle diets from a certified health care professional.
However, I am someone who has tried different eating styles and habits over the last six years. I have tried a partial carnivore diet, which helped me lose weight. I have tried intermittent fasting, which produced both results. I have done carb backloading, which was a very interesting experiment. So, I will go over what it means to do a two week aggressive cut and why you should not cut a drastic amount of calories in a short time.
What Defines a Two-Week Aggressive Cut?
A 2-week aggressive cut is generally defined as cutting as many calories as possible so that the body will experience a calorie deficit. This means that you would have to be eating less or absorbing fewer calories than your body can burn (also known as your basal metabolic rate). So for two weeks, you will be trying to lose as much body weight or “fat” as you can.
The basal metabolic rate is how many calories your body burns per hour or per day. The dangerous part about this is that if you are not properly trained or are not the size of a massive, Olympic weightlifter, then this is not the diet for you. It takes a lot of time and a gradual effort to have a human body perform as efficiently as high-level weightlifters where these types of diets work in their favor. Some people will utilize carbohydrate cycling where they will have an extremely low carbohydrate diet with daily, strenuous cardio, along with other supplements. Most of the plans for an aggressive 2-week calorie cut does not even discuss the importance of life-sustaining fluids like water, or even what type of carbohydrates you should eat. For example, a study conducted in 1958 about “Water Exchange in Men on a Restricted Water Intake and a Low Calorie Carbohydrate Diet Accompanied by Physical Work” had 3-week study on 12 soldiers where water intake was restricted to 900-1800 milliliters per day and food consumption was restricted to 1000 calories per day. The men also ate, worked, and slept in 78-degree weather and 40-45% humidity, which adds additional environmental stressors on the soldiers’ bodies. One group of soldiers had water intake restricted to 900 ml, and the other group was restricted to 1800 ml. It was found that “the first group lost an average of 0.25 kg per day…a figure that does not differ significantly from the other group of soldiers” (Grande et. al 1958).
The search for the perfect body and other physical aesthetics has made modern society eager to find the latest and greatest methods towards that goal. Most people in today’s world are hooked on the idea of social acceptance in our culture. When eager individuals first begin these diets with the need to be physically fit and thin, there is typically an exaggerated misinterpretation of what their fitness goals are. Kelly D. Brownell, a clinical psychologist at Duke University had discovered that two widespread assumptions are common among individuals like this. “One is that the body is infinitely malleable and that with the right combination of diet and exercise, every person can reach the ideal. The second is that vast rewards await the person who attains the ideal” (Brownell 1991). However, when analyzing these statements, it is obvious that genetics or other biological factors could influence one’s body shape and weight. Thus, there are limits to how much a person’s physical features may change over time. It was also found that the rewards of being perceived as physically attractive by others were less than one would typically expect.
Not only do individuals not receive the expected amount of personal satisfaction from being viewed as attractive or thin, but most of these diets and aggressive 2-week cutting plans also defer those with poor motivation skills. It can be very challenging to stay consistent and be excited about the food you are eating if there are little options to choose from. Where is the enjoyment of eating a meal that does not excite you visibly?
The Physiological Processes That Occur During Hunger and Fullness
The human body regulates the feeling of hunger using a couple of hormones known as Ghrelin and Leptin. If you have ever heard a rumbling coming from your stomach, you can believe that is the hormone Ghrelin. It works to stimulate appetite and prepares the body to consume food products. While traveling through the bloodstream from the stomach, it meets the anterior pituitary of the brain where it begins the process. On the other hand, Leptin induces the feeling of satiety or feeling full after a big meal. So, when you go to a buffet or eat something very filling like pasta or a burger and fries, you experience Leptin which suppresses your appetites and indicates for you to stop eating. When someone pursues an exaggerated calorie deficit diet or a ketogenic diet, the body obtains a surplus of ghrelin which induces hunger. The issue with this is that this hunger induces weight loss, but at a rapidly, dangerous rate. In a 2-week span, it can be harmful to the body in terms of glycogen depletion which is essential to fuel the human body.
Health Associated Risks and Safety Concerns Regarding Extreme Calorie Deficit Diets
There are numerous health risks associated with intense dieting and calorie deficit programs in order to achieve one’s dream body. In a meta-analysis conducted by Rutgers University called “Relation of Dieting and Voluntary Weight Loss to Psychological Functioning and Binge Eating” it was discovered that “dieting is linked to the development and maintenance of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa” (Wilson 1993). Among the demographic who pursues such dieting and calorie cutting includes women, and young teenagers, which further contributes to the development of eating disorders. Cognitively, it was found that people set unrealistic, dietary restraints that induce a sense of deprivation and increase loss of self-control from the victim. Ultimately, this leads to an “all or nothing” cognitive mechanism that leads a person to fail to maintain control, abandons to regulate their food intake and calorie consumption, and results in overeating. Another article by Telch and Agras that compared two diets either a VLCD (very-low-calorie diets) (400 kcal/d) or balanced diet (1000 to 1500 kcal/d) and concluded that after the VLCD ended and that group was introduced to food, 30% who were known as non-binge eaters before treatment had reported numerous binge-eating episodes after. Furthermore, self-initiated dieting that included a rapid approach had a strong correlation with feelings of failure, lowered self-esteem, and depressive symptoms.
Alternatives to the Aggressive 2-Week Cut
While a 2-week aggressive cut might not be the best method to get lean, toned muscles, there are other tips and alternatives that could be helpful. Here are a few healthy eating habits that are related to weight loss.
- Caloric deficit is key. Before you even read any of the bullets below, you need to realize that the only way for you to lose weight effectively is by maintaining a caloric deficit. Yes, you will feel hungry. Yes, it will be hard but it is a small price to pay for a very big reward in the end.
- Drink PLENTY of Water. Drinking a huge, glass of water is not only a great way to make you feel full, but it is also helping you stay hydrated throughout the day and has been known to keep skin moisturized and healthy!
- Grocery Shop with The Right Mindset. When you're picking up the weekly grocery, be sure to shop with healthy food products in mind! This includes lean proteins like chicken or fish, fresh vegetables, and clean greens.
- Eat Regular Meals. I cannot stress enough about the importance of eating regularly scheduled meals. Setting a schedule to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner helps keep calories consistent and establishes a routine.
- Eat Slowly and Enjoy The Food Your Consuming. Enjoying a meal with friends, family, or just a long day at work should be a pleasant activity. By eating slowly and actually savoring the flavors and taste of the food you’re eating, you will be more satisfied with your food experience and feel full faster.
- Make Your Plate Aesthetically Pleasing to The Eye. Again, visuals are everything. If you have a plate that’s full of grays and beiges are you really going to think that is appetizing and delicious? Try to make your plate look full, but vibrant with color too! Camera eats first right?
- Cut back on Sugar and Carbohydrates. This one is pretty simple. By decreasing the number of sugary items like donuts, or other sweets it will assist in reducing your appetite, cause your insulin levels to decrease, and leave you eating until fullness, not restricted by calorie counts and starvation.
- Focus on Emphasizing Protein and Vegetables. Eating protein and vegetables daily will greatly boost metabolism. Having a surplus of protein in your daily diet has also shown to reduce those hunger cravings and make you feel fuller.
- No Junk Food. No explanation needed for this one.
- Exercise and Lift Weights 3-4 Times Per Week. This one is HUGE and can impact your body’s shape and size immensely! By exercising, the human body burns calories which stimulate the increase of your metabolism, thus increasing your basal metabolic rate. It has been shown in numerous research studies that lifting weights will not only help you burn a few calories during the workout itself, but also prolong the calorie burning effect for a number of hours after your workout.
- Make A Plan That Accelerates GRADUALLY. Last but not least, construct a plan! This should be a plan that you feel confident about and one that you know you can stick to. Take the time and research about certain foods and exercising tips to become educated! Reading this article is one step closer to that goal!
Let us wrap it up
Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself on why 2-week aggressive calorie cutting is not the best method to getting that summer body. I hope that with these alternatives, you can find the right plan for you! Now grab that beach towel and flip flops and get to the beach!
Brownell, Kelly D. (1991). “Dieting and the Search for the Perfect Body: Where Physiology and Culture Collide.” Behavior Therapy 22(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(05)80239-4.
“ExRx.Net: Training Principles.” Accessed June 30, 2019. https://exrx.net/ExInfo/TrainingPrinciples.
Grande, F., Taylor H., Anderson J., Buskirk E., Keys A. (1958). “Water Exchange in Men on a Restricted Water Intake and a Low Calorie Carbohydrate Diet Accompanied by Physical Work” Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, University of Minnesota. Minneapolis. Minnesota 3(12), 202-210
“How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science.” Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-weight-as-fast-as-possible#section3.
Telch, Christy F., and W. Stewart Agras. (1993). The Effects of a Very Low Calorie Diet on Binge Eating.” Behavior Therapy 24(2) 93–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(05)80262-X.