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The SUPER SHRED Concept
For many years I have been asked by tens of thousands of people, "How can I lose weight quickly?" For as long as I can remember, my answer was consistent. "Losing weight too quickly can be dangerous. It's best to lose it slow and steady so that you can keep it off longer."
Given the relevant science, I always accepted the conventional wisdom of steady weight loss being more beneficial than rapid weight-loss strategies. But I still wanted to explore whether it was actually possible to lose weight quickly and in a safe manner. I finally concluded that the answer is yes, but only after taking a step back to first understand why weight-loss experts continuously caution against the rapid weight-loss approach.
Programs that have promised fast weight loss have for the most part been extreme and unhealthy. They propose either a severe restriction in calories; unregulated, non-FDA-approved supplements to help boost the metabolism; or eating plans that call for eliminating entire food categories. These programs have been successful for many, but the harm they can potentially do to the body can outweigh the potential benefits that one achieves with the weight loss. What good is losing 15 pounds quickly if it means you are damaging your kidneys? What good is losing 20 pounds if it means you are going to gain it all back and then some in three weeks once you stop whatever plan it is that you're following?
SUPER SHRED is specifically designed to be a short-term rapid-weight-loss plan. It is not meant for the long term. Instead, it is what I call destination dieting. You have a cruise to get ready for in two months? You have a reunion to attend in six weeks? You need to look your best at a wedding in four weeks? SUPER SHRED is your secret weapon to help deliver the results you want. But remember, secret weapons are best used only when the stakes are high. You have plenty of other weapons in your arsenal, but when you really need to deliver that knockout blow, then you call on your secret weapon. The element of surprise that is so critical on the battlefield is also critical in the weight-loss battle. If you overuse the same weapon, your enemy knows what to expect and can defend against it better, and eventually the weapon becomes less effective. Overusing SUPER SHRED can have the same impact on the effectiveness of the plan, which is why you should use it in short bursts.
The original plan, outlined in SHRED: The Revolutionary Diet, is meant to be the plan you can follow for the long term. It's a practical, inexpensive, straightforward program that delivers amazing results. In six weeks, the average person loses 4 inches and two sizes. People who have followed the original SHRED plan have mixed it up with SUPER SHRED to give themselves a boost. The results have been amazing, with the average weight loss each week being just over 5 pounds.
SUPER SHRED is a four-week program that is constructed in a way that will deliver the best results. There is flexibility built into the plan, but it's important to do your best to follow it as written. Our time to deliver is short, so that means there's little time to deviate and recover. This makes every day important, and it makes it necessary for you to plan, prepare, and execute as efficiently as possible. If you're going to do SUPER SHRED, make sure you have time to do it and that you're not trying to do it when you're distracted or not in control of your food environment. For best results, follow the program when you can give it all of the mental and physical attention it deserves and needs.
Weight loss in general is not easy. It requires lifestyle changes and breaking bad habits that have spun you and your scale out of control. It's easy to want the quick fix, but you have to be willing to put in the work that's necessary to achieve the results. SUPER SHRED is not a tough program, but it can be demanding, and it's purposely built this way. If your body is not challenged, then it will not transform. SUPER SHRED will push you, but it will not overwhelm you. You will get as much out of it as you put into it, so your expectations should match the level of intensity at which you choose to do the plan.
As with any weight-loss plan, the amount of weight people lose will vary. Our tests have shown that the average weight loss in four weeks is 20 pounds. But you have to understand the context of these results. Some people lost less, some people lost more. No two people lose weight in the same way or at the same pace. Some will lose pounds first, while others will lose inches first. Some lose them both at the same time. We are all made differently and respond differently to diets. Never compare yourself to someone else or you will set yourself up for disappointment. You are your own comparison and that's what you should be thinking as you begin SUPER SHRED. Think about how you have lost weight in the past and then compare your results on SUPER SHRED with those experiences.
How much weight you lose in these four weeks will depend on a lot of variables. There are many medical conditions—for example, hypothyroidism—that can slow or impede weight loss. There are many classes of medications—for example, steroids or drugs to control blood pressure—that have a side effect of weight gain, and this means they can impair your ability to lose weight. It also matters how much weight you really need to lose and how close you are to your target weight. Someone who has only 20 pounds to lose is most likely not going to lose it as fast as someone who needs to lose 60 pounds. It's a generally recognized axiom of weight loss that the closer you are to your target weight, the more difficult it is to lose the weight. Don't take it personally. It's just the way our bodies work. What you need to understand is that the body becomes comfortable and doesn't want to release those last 15 or 20 pounds, so it puts up a fight not to let them go. This doesn't mean you can't lose them, but it does mean you have to be focused and determined and work hard to win.
There are many strategies at work in SUPER SHRED, but the three that are most critical are negative energy balance, calorie disruption, and sliding nutrient density. While each one alone can bring success when it comes to weight loss, I have merged all three into one program so that you can draw from the entire group and achieve maximal results.
Negative Energy Balance
Negative energy balance is an extremely important concept when it comes to weight loss and it's especially important in SUPER SHRED. The concept is rather simple. Energy balance describes the relationship between the calories that are consumed through food and drink (energy in) and calories that the body uses throughout the day during all activities (energy out). This relationship determines whether one maintains weight, loses weight, or gains weight.
Negative energy balance means that the energy you consume is less than the energy you expend. When your body is in this state, it is looking for energy, because it's not getting enough in food and drinks. The body has three major sources of energy—carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Your body also tends to use those sources in that particular order. Fat is a great source of energy, which is why we need it to live. When we consume more energy than we actually burn off, the body stores this energy in our fat cells. When the body needs energy to perform activities such as exercising, putting away dishes, or eating, it will use the energy found in carbohydrates first, but this runs out pretty quickly. The body will then go into the fat cells to get the energy that it has been storing. Proteins are the last to be tapped.
SUPER SHRED puts your body in a state of negative energy balance so that you will go into your fat stores for the energy, thus reducing the amount of fat while at the same time losing pounds. Exercise is critical during this four-week program, because it will create the demand for energy and thus the need to burn fat to get this energy. The calories you consume each day have been particularly measured so that your body will achieve this state of negative energy balance. You won't need to count calories during the entire program, as I have done all of that for you, but you will need to pay attention to the instructions regarding sizing and portions of food and drinks.
It is common knowledge by now that in order to lose weight, the calories coming in must be fewer than the calories going out. Emerging research, however, has added some new twists to this old truth. Scientists have been taking a closer look at important issues such as metabolism, calorie consumption, and fasting. As you can imagine with new concepts, not everyone is in agreement, but there is enough preliminary evidence to elicit serious interest from major research institutes.
Intermittent fasting is a concept in which one fasts on a given number of days. The basic strategy calls for alternating days where you eat "normally" with days in which your calorie consumption is not completely eliminated but severely restricted. For example, you might eat 2,500 calories five days in a row, then eat 700 calories a day for the next two days. These two days are called your fasting days. Some small studies have shown that this can be as effective as or more effective than counting calories every day to lose weight. But the research shows that there are more benefits than just what you record on the scale. Some of the evidence has shown that blood pressure is reduced, levels of sugars and fats in circulation are improved, and inflammation—an indicator of heart disease risk—can be limited.
Despite the need for larger and longer studies, intermittent fasting remains a potentially promising concept that could yield big weight-loss results. SUPER SHRED employs an aspect of intermittent fasting that I call calorie disruption. The reduction of calories is not as severe as you will find in typical intermittent-fasting regimens, but the daily calories are meticulously planned so that you do experience abrupt shifts in the amount you consume. This is represented particularly by the SUPER SHREDDER days. Each week there is a day in which the amount of calories you consume will be quite different from what you have consumed earlier in the week and what you will consume later in the week. It's very important during these days to stick to the plan and make sure you eat all of your snacks and meals that day. This is a day that you will be particularly challenged, but if you plan correctly and remember what this day represents, then you will be fine. Most important is the psychological aspect to the SUPER SHREDDER day. Having a positive attitude is critical. You must remember that it is only 24 hours, and you can do anything for 24 hours.
Beyond the SUPER SHREDDER day, your calories are on a roller coaster between meals and even between the non–SUPER SHREDDER days. Once again, you won't be counting calories, but the foods, beverages, and portion sizes I have selected will keep challenging your body with their variety and thus have an impact on your metabolism. The ability to alter your metabolism through food choices and to match this alteration with the exercise program can make a huge difference in the results that you eventually achieve.
In the original SHRED program, calories were altered from week to week, but SUPER SHRED has more dramatic alterations. The rises and dips and turns in this program constantly challenge you and make your body search for new stability. The trick, however, is that this stability is rarely if ever achieved, thus leading to a state of instability that consequently causes you to need more calories and effectively burn more fat.
Sliding Nutrient Density
Most people are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Entire books have been written about whether a diet dominated by plants or meat is healthier. While meat in moderation and cooked in a healthy way can contribute important nutrients to your diet, a plant-based diet remains the healthiest eating style with regard to disease prevention, a longer life span, and weight loss.
Nutrient density is the quantity of nutrients you get for the number of calories contained in that food or beverage. The ideal situation is to get the most nutrients for the fewest calories. In other words, nutrient-dense foods give you the biggest nutritional bang for your calorie buck. SUPER SHRED works because it provides you with tremendous nutrient density and it does so by sliding the cuisine away from heavy meats, cream sauces, and carbohydrate-rich foods that provide only some nutrients but at the cost of a lot of calories. Instead, the ratio is changed in the SUPER SHRED plan so that you are loading up on healthy nutrients but minimizing the amount of calories you consume.
You can have vegetables, meat, and fish; however, the way the daily menus are constructed, the majority of your choices in the later part of each day will be plant-based instead of meat-based. In other words, this is an omnivore's diet with a lot of nutrient density, but it tilts toward the plant aspect, thus loading you up on all kinds of disease fighters such as antioxidants and fiber. This strategy also means that you will be reducing the number of calories you consume through the day, with your earlier meals typically being heavier than those that come later in the day. This is important, because as we become less active later in the day and have less time to burn off calories, we want to make sure the foods we consume also contain fewer calories.
Eating meat or fish is not mandatory in SUPER SHRED. Vegetarians of all types can have great success with this program. Simply make the necessary substitutions where you need to in the daily menus, and you will be completely fine.
SUPER SHRED Weeks
There are four weeks of SUPER SHRED, and each one can stand on its own. Each week, however, does weave into the larger plan, so the weeks work on a progressive strategy. Each week has a different theme and purpose. The four weeks symbolize what is happening during SUPER SHRED—losing weight F-A-S-T.
Foundation is the first week. Because we have only four weeks to attain the desired results, it's important to jump right in. This is the easiest of the weeks and it sets a good foundation for you to successfully complete the rest of the program. You will understand the importance of meal timing and preparation and how to pace yourself so that your exercise and eating are synchronized to give you the results you desire. Most people lose 5 pounds this week; some lose even more. Results do, however, vary and depend on a host of factors.
Accelerate is the second week, and it looks and feels different from Foundation week. This week is specifically designed to push you. Most people see a dramatic slowdown during the second week of any weight-loss program. To help you avoid such a plateau, this week is designed to help you accelerate through the natural slowdown. You might not lose as much weight as you did during the first week, but you will keep losing and avoid the second-week blues. The push in this week is critical, since at its completion you will be halfway through the program.
Shape is the third week of the program and carries this name because this is the week in which your body's metamorphosis really takes shape and you and others will start to notice a distinct difference. You will see changes in the shape of your body and the fit of your clothes, and the acknowledgment from others that you are losing weight becomes frequent and gratifying. This is absolutely the toughest week of the program. This is the week you will experience true calorie disruption. This week is specifically designed to be challenging but not overwhelming. You will get through these seven days, and after doing so, you will gain a greater confidence and respect for what you are actually capable of doing once you put your mind and body to it.
Tenacious is the fourth and last week of SUPER SHRED. It's not the easiest week of the plan, but it's not the most difficult, either. Coming after the highly challenging week 3, this week will seem practical and quite doable. This week is called Tenacious because it's important that you remain determined and stubborn to close out the program. Temptations must be resisted during this final stretch, and at this point you should be on top of your game. You know what it takes to make it through a week of SUPER SHRED, so now it's time to employ all that you have learned and developed in this last push toward your goal. Nothing can stop you when you're tenacious!
Copyright © 2013 by by Ian K. Smith, M.D.