The Two-Day-A-Week Diet

Steven Sisskind, M.D. August 27, 2013 Articles Print This Post Print This Post
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I’m always skeptical when I hear something that says you can get better results with less effort.

It is usually just a fad, or there is “hidden effort” somewhere…

So when I came across a British study finding women who dieted only two days a week lost almost twice as much body fat as those dieting seven days a week, I shook my head.1

After all, if you’re dieting seven days a week, it makes sense that you’d lose more than you would if dieting only two, right?

Study Says Dieting Two Days is Better Than Seven Days a Week

Researchers followed 115 women for four months. For the first phase, the women were divided into three groups:

Group #1 was put on a low-calorie, Mediterranean-type diet, eating 1,500 calories a day.

Group #2 was put on the same Mediterranean-type diet, but with no calorie restrictions for five days a week. During the other two days they were told to keep carbs under 40 grams and calories to about 600.

Group #3 had the same rules as Group #2 (two days of carbs under 40 grams) but no calorie restrictions for all seven days.

Less than 1/3rd The Dieting Leads to Twice the Fat Loss…

At the end of three months, all three groups lost the same amount of weight … up to 11 pounds. But Groups #2 and #3 (the groups who only dieted for two days) lost twice as much body fat —over 8 pounds compared to only 4 for Group #1.

That means that Group #1 lost more lean muscle, not a good thing. Lean muscle not only makes you stronger and more toned, but also torches more calories 24/7. Yes, even when you’re not at the gym.

What’s more, the women in the second two groups also showed improvements in their insulin sensitivity, a possible reason for their fat-busting success.

What I find most interesting is that Groups #2 and #3 lost the same amount of fat, despite the fact that Group #3 was not subject to calorie restrictions on their low carbohydrate days… (remember Group #2 could only eat 600 calories on their low carbohydrate days).

In fact, Group #3 was not subject to any calorie restriction… at all. They simply ate low carb for two days out of the week.

But Could They Maintain These Fat Loss Results?

Maintaining your weight loss is just as important as losing it in the first place

Maintaining your weight loss is just as important as losing it in the first placeDuring the fourth month, all the women followed the same diet plans as before. With one change: The two low-carb groups cut carbs only one day a week instead of the two they had before.

That was enough for all the groups to not only prevent weight regain, but also for the second two groups to maintain their improved insulin sensitivity.

Not a bad maintenance plan!

Can You Lose Fat Going Low Carb Twice a Week?

Would you like to try Group #3′s plan and lose fat by going low carb for only two days a week?

If so, we are going to give you some help below. And I would love it if you would email me your results or post your results in the comments box.

The idea is that you follow the Mediterranean diet or our Fast Start Program (they are very similar except that on the Mediterranean diet you would not have a “cheat day”) five days a week, and then for two days a week you will eat fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates a day.

Just to be clear, if you use our Fast Start Program for this program… You do NOT get to have a cheat day!

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Find out if eating low carb diet twice a week will shave off some weight.

Find out if eating low carb diet twice a week will shave off some weight.So you know what you are getting to, it may help if you understand the plan you would be following for five days a week.

A Mediterranean-type diet plan, which all the women were told to follow, is a heart-healthy plan that focuses on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grain cereals, olive oil, fish, and seafood.

It stresses a moderate intake of dairy products, poultry, eggs, and lean red meat and processed meat. Remember, Groups #2 and #3 followed this diet plan—with plenty of carbs—five days a week.

For your low-carb days … you will follow this plan but limit your carbohydrates to 40 grams.

To give you an idea of how the Group #3 women ate on their carb-restricted days, here’s a sample menu plan that provides about 40 grams of carbs:

Breakfast

  • 3 egg white omelet
  • 1/2 cup cooked mushrooms
  • 3 avocado slices
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese

Lunch

  • Turkey Salad
  • Mixed greens
  • 2 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • 4 ounces turkey breast
  • 1 cup low-fat navy bean soup

Afternoon Snack

  • Nutty Vanilla Smoothie
  • Vanilla RealMeal GF™ (1/2 serving or 1 scoop)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 cup celery sticks
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese

Dinner

  • 6 ounces salmon
  • 1/2 cup cooked cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup steamed carrots with basil and black olives
  • Mixed green salad
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Not hard to follow two days a week!

Again, I would love to know if you are going to give this a try. I am very interested
in your results. Please email us if you want any support and I would love to hear what you think in the comment box below.

SteveSisskind_sig
Steven Sisskind, M.D.

50 comments

juanita - March 13, 2016 Reply

so just to understand this I can eat mashed potatoes with beef roast and peas on my five days and then eat less then 40 g carbs for two days, and so on for a month

Dr. Steve Sisskind - March 18, 2016 Reply

Hi Juanita,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! Yes, you can have your beef roast paired with mashed potatoes and peas, so long as these too are within reasonable portions. You can choose either consecutive days or have your low carb days in intervals within the week. You can try the diet for a month but I do recommend you make it a little longer to see true results. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Stephanie Dodge - March 12, 2016 Reply

What is WLF diet. Low fat?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - March 17, 2016 Reply

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! The RealDose diet is low in saturated fats. The overall diet strategy that we recommend is based on a Mediterranean-style plan, which is low in saturated fats. This heart-healthy approach emphasizes consuming healthy fats, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and lean protein along with whole grains and fruits. Our approach goes one step further to better support your weight loss efforts by focusing on foods that fortify your body against chronic, low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress and environmental toxins and avoiding those that can contribute to inflammation. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

Carol - March 11, 2016 Reply

What are you supposed to eat the other 5 days? Since having chemo after 2 bouts of breast cancer, I really don’t like fish or salmon anymore, and I only like dark meat chicken and turkey. Can dark meat chicken or turkey be substituted for the fish in your recipes?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - March 17, 2016 Reply

Hi Carol,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! Yes, you can substitute fish or salmon with any dark lean meat of your choosing. Normally, I would recommend lean white meat but do understand how difficult it can be to get your appetite back after such a rigorous treatment. That said, I would also like to add that you first speak with your personal doctor before making any drastic changes in your diet so as to proceed safely in your journey to better health. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

Ron - March 2, 2016 Reply

Dear Dr S : I find the two day a week diet very interesting and I plan to give it a try. (moderate to active 70 year old male) I would love to hear your ideas about simple cleanses

Dr. Steve Sisskind - March 10, 2016 Reply

Hi Ron,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I do encourage you to give the 2 Day a Week Diet a try. It works for all ages and can be easily adapted to any current eating plan. As for cleanses, I do find that the simple cleanses are not only easy to follow but are effective by themselves. If you have not been on any cleanse before, I do suggest the Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon and honey cleanse. It really helps with movement and you feel lighter the next morning. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

rose - February 29, 2016 Reply

That sounds wonderful , do you have any vegetarian alternatives?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - March 2, 2016 Reply

Hi Rose,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! You can make adjustments to your meals by using beans, lentils, nuts or protein packed vegetables where appropriate. However, for a more comprehensive list, you may want to search for vegetarian option or recipes for the Mediterranean Diet online. Also, the diet’s main goal is to add more fiber and nutrients from plants and substituting meat with protein rich vegetables will do. You may also want to add more whole grains and nuts to your diet to get added Omega 3. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

Candis - February 27, 2016 Reply

For the afternoon snack, do I choose one of the items?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - March 2, 2016 Reply

Hi Candis,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I am deeply sorry for the confusion about the afternoon snack as it was meant to be one smoothie recipe. However, you may choose to have them individually if you feel like having a lighter fare. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

Shell in San Diego - October 11, 2015 Reply

I’m going to try it. I eat basically med anyway, but LOVE my carbs =) Is there a reason the omelet doesn’t include the yolk? It doesn’t have carbs does it?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 12, 2015 Reply

Hi Shell,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! Eggs in general contain a very minimal amount of carbohydrates and are not an issue at all. However, eggs yolks are high in cholesterol which is why we recommend only egg whites in most omelette recipes. I do hope you enjoy the diet and let us know how it works for you! Have a healthy day!

Orla - October 9, 2015 Reply

I do low carb 24/7 but the weight is not moving! Are you saying it is better to only do 2 days a week?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 12, 2015 Reply

Hi Orla,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I cannot conclusively say whether going Low Carb is better for you, per se. But, I do encourage you to give it a try. It might just be the change you need to get back on track to weight loss. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Brenda - October 8, 2015 Reply

This sounds interesting. I do not like mushrooms, feta, or avocado. Do you have any other suggestions, please?

Thank you!

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 9, 2015 Reply

Hi Brenda,

Thank you for writing in! In some recipes, you can easily take out the ingredients you do not like and substitute them with either low fat cheese, nuts, and other fruits (pears, apple..for example) where possible. I would be glad to find more recipes for you and please stay tuned in my upcoming posts. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Inarah - October 8, 2015 Reply

Do you think these results are possible with a well balanced Paleo diet too? BTW, you’re WLF helped me loose 25lbs! Thanks for that!

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 9, 2015 Reply

Hi Inarah,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! Wow, congratulations on the weight loss! Losing 25 pounds is no easy feat and I applaud your success. Yes, I am confident that a well balanced Paleo Diet will give you great results as well. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

sue taylor - October 8, 2015 Reply

Now you have my attention. I’m going to start today!

Bacon Fan - October 7, 2015 Reply

I find this very interesting and am inclined to give it a try. Would you think that the Mediterranean approach (as opposed to other forms of non-junk-food eating) is essential, even on the low-carb days?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 8, 2015 Reply

Hi Bacon Fan,

Thank you for writing in! Yes, the Mediterranean approach is the perfect diet to have when going on your Low Carb Days. Have a healthy day!

Rebecca Moss - October 7, 2015 Reply

Would love to try, but could you supply a vegan carb-counted alternative for the 2 days? I have a British friend who did the Group #2 plan and it worked wonderfully well!

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I will try my best to look up vegan recipes but for the meantime, I do encourage you to checkout the many Mediterranean Diet sites online. They not only have vegan recipes but also the corresponding calorie count for each meal. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Jennifer - October 7, 2015 Reply

Thanks! I am going to give it a go!

Kaz - October 6, 2015 Reply

Interesting information. I was very keen to give it a try but no good as I am a vegetarian.

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Kaz,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! You can easily substitute any of the meat portions with tofu or your choice of protein. You can also increase your intake of protein rich vegetables such as lentils and beans to help. That said, the Mediterranean Diet is very versatile and a lot of changes can be made to accommodate the vegan diet. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Stacia - October 6, 2015 Reply

I love all the food your allowed to eat in this diet… I hope I can eat that much in one serving… that’s my problem… I stay in starvation mode and my body packs on fat… Giving this 2 day diet a shot… I’ll keep you posted… ;p

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Stacia,

Thank you for writing in! You can adjust the size of the portions to one which you are comfortable of eating. Just be sure to decrease the size. I look forward to hearing of your progress! Make it a healthy day!

Sandy - October 6, 2015 Reply

I will try this as I’m starting to gain back hard list pounds and I am scared of regaining it all. Thanks

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Sandy,

Thank you for writing in! I am glad that you are giving it a try and hope it works well for you! If you have any questions about the diet, please do not hesitate to write us back. Have a healthy day!

Karen - October 6, 2015 Reply

How would a vegan accomplish this?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Karen,

Thank you for writing in and for posting your concerns! You can easily substitute the meat options with your choice of vegetable based protein. Also, you can either opt for beans, lentils and other high protein vegetables (when suited) to ensure you get adequate amounts of protein in your diet. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

jean - October 6, 2015 Reply

I am allergic to nuts. What can I substitute for the nuts?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Jean,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! You can use either lentils or beans, depending on the recipe. Also, you can take them out completely in most salad recipes. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Lesleyann - October 6, 2015 Reply

a little unsure about some of your dishes…..navy bean salad??? Can you have chicken instead of Turkey?? I am going to give it a go!!!!

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Lesleyann,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I completely understand your apprehension with navy bean salad and you can simply substitute that with a similar salad to complete your meal plan. And yes, chicken breast is a great substitute for turkey. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

katy - October 6, 2015 Reply

Should the 2 low-carb days be consecutive?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Katy,

Thank you for writing in and for posting your question! It does not have to be two days consecutively but you could do that if you wanted. Most folks who have been on the diet have spaced out their Low Carb days throughout the week and have had great results. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

Teri Low - October 6, 2015 Reply

Going to try this!

Jantina - October 6, 2015 Reply

I like this plan a lot … do you think it will be alright to add it on to a gluten free diet. I am trying to figure out upset tummy issues and symptoms that seem to point to Gluten issues. Not sure though. I wonder if trying more than one thing at once will make it harder to figure out the real problem.

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Jantina,

Thank you for writing in and posting your concerns! The Mediterranean Diet is a great plan to have if you are planning to go gluten free. However, as you are constantly monitoring your meals and the ingredients due to tummy issues, I do ask that you first speak with your personal doctor before getting started. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

boyer - October 6, 2015 Reply

What if you dislike some things in each meal

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Boyer,

Thank you for writing in and for posting! You can easily substitute or completely take out some of the ingredients in the meal plans. To know more of possible substitutions, I do encourage you to checkout the Mediterranean Diet plans available online. Hope these help! Have a healthy day!

Paul - October 6, 2015 Reply

So the two low carb days are back to back or it doesn’t matter?

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Paul,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns! You do not have to do the days back to back, just spaced out evenly throughout the week. Have a healthy day!

Erin - October 6, 2015 Reply

Are you supposed to eat everything listed under the menu selections for each meal, or just a selection of them? It seems like a lot of food.

Dr. Steve Sisskind - October 7, 2015 Reply

Hi Erin,

Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! You can choose to either cut back the portions to your preferred size or take out some of the dishes in the meal plans. However, I do recommend that you stick to the plan as closely as possible to get good results. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

joyce - September 23, 2015 Reply

Thank
you for the great info 🙂

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