Just to “weigh in” here (OH HA HA):
This year I lost 15 pounds of post-baby fat (which was all I had to lose) within about 2 months. Went from 26% bodyfat down to about 22%. My waist went from about 31" (mommy belly!) down to 27" which is what it was in high school… 14 years ago.
Here’s what worked for me.
Diet: I ate ultra-low-carb (about 30g of carbs per day) for 6 days and then had a carb binge on the 7th day. This is similar to Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Body diet, however I didn’t eat beans. I went totally paleo and didn’t eat any of the “safe starches”. I also didn’t go totally calorie-crazy on the 7th day; I just chose foods that spike insulin with a hefty glucose load, like stone fruits, bananas, medjool dates, yams, and so on.
As for diet-tracking: DO IT. Even if only for 2 or 3 weeks. You will learn a hell of a lot about the content of the various foods you eat and are attracted to, and that’s supremely valuable information. You’ll start seeing patterns in your cravings (“I always seem to want something sweet around 9pm…”)
Most people also find that just by knowing they have to record everything they eat, they decide to eat less, or eat simpler things, and they stop “picking” at random foods (which can really up the caloric total at the end of the day). Having to record “4 M&Ms” along with lunch is just kinda annoying.
I have been using MyNetDiary.com for the past year and totally love it. LiveStrong.com is so bad, it’s hilarious. They are essentially a Google-bait content farm at this point. SparkPeople is too feature-laden and flashy and who needs their stupid SparkPoints anyway. FitDay lacks too much in their database.
With MyNetDiary.com, you do have to watch out for the user-submitted entries, but the official database usually has what you need; just be careful which ones you select. Their iPhone app is the best I’ve tried (and I’ve tried them all at this point), which syncs with the website. It also lets you record what TIMES you ate things, which I find to be indispensable information when I’m really trying to hone in on a dietary problem.
The above tips will get you pretty far when you’re starting out, but here’s what you do if you don’t see any progress:
- Start weighing EVERYTHING you eat (I use a cheap digital scale you can get for about $20 on Amazon). Record every ingredient in grams in your food log. (You’ll be surprised sometimes, e.g. a measured cup of oats may turn out to weigh 225g instead of the 200g you expected.)
- If weighing what you eat makes it hard to eat out, and you’re not making progress, STOP EATING OUT.
- Avoid sugar as much as possible, but ESPECIALLY just after waking up. Try to make it to noon before eating anything sugary or starchy. Eat pure protein and fat instead. (Protein shakes become very useful for busy mornings.)
- Exercise: the absolute least you can do which does provide metabolic enhancement is a 5-minute Tabata workout (Google it). But if you have 20 minutes per day to use, do INTENSE strength training with very little rest every other day. This will get you 80% of the results that people who train 4+ hours a week often still don’t see (because they’re DOIN IT WRONG).
The above is what worked for me. I’m still doing everything I just talked about – especially the exercise, because it’s FUN and effective – and I’m at about 21% bodyfat, which I really like.
Your Mileage May Vary.