20 lbs of fat loss in 2 weeks! This is often a situation that many procrastinate their training and find themselves in.
The body is an adaptation machine. It will do anything that you ask of it, but will quickly find ways to enhance survivability. If your goal is to lose a significant amount of fat in a short period of time, chances are highly likely that much of the weight that you end up losing will actually come from muscle. In the long run, this creates multiple negative adaptations that then have to be fixed and often take longer than that 2 week cut in order to repair.
One common adaptation is that the body will increase its efficiency and require less calories to accomplish a task, such as running or even just sitting and therefore tends to store those calories more efficiently. Think of it this way, when you go for long periods of time without eating, the body wants to hold on to what little caloric input it receives, in order to help you survive more easily while waiting for your next meal.
Cultures that survive through hunting and gathering as we did tens of thousands of years ago, have been studied and it has actually been found that many of these people have very similar caloric expenditures to us, even though they tend to be significantly more active.
Further, muscle tissue is difficult enough to build, that when we drop calories so significantly, our body takes from this precious, costly tissue first. This makes it even more difficult to lose fat down the line since our primary metabolic tissue is now reduced. To make matters worse, it can often be challenging to rebuild the body’s natural metabolic levels when such severe calorie restrictions are implemented. Many bodybuilders for example go through extreme weight cuts for competition and after each show, tend to have a more difficult time cutting weight for subsequent shows. Sometimes these people start their first cut between 1,800 and 2,500 calories, but by their third show, have to drop their calories down to 1,000 to 1,400 calories. Some people can take over a year to rebuild their metabolism and return to normal functioning levels.
In this fat loss example, slow and steady wins the race, especially if you can lose weight and maintain high caloric intakes. I know I hate to be hungry for too long!
This rule doesn’t just apply for cutting fat though. When using an athlete for example, if my athlete’s goals are to increase their vertical jump, making sure that all of the right pieces are in place, including exercises, health, body fat level, strength, and limb strength discrepancies are as ideal as possible, will help create those sustained levels of growth throughout their career.
When focusing solely on power for example, some rapid games can be made, however, if not done in the right order and all of the other pieces are not in place, results can stall out quickly and that human adaptation machine can quickly take over. Just as with calories, attempting to jump too much without creating a stable strength base, will reduce future positive adaptations to that type of stimulus and can reduce results in the future.
It is vital that every part of your health and fitness be taken into consideration and implemented systematically. That is what a good coach will do in order to reduce your likelihood of failure and to help you achieve the goals that you would like to reach. Just make sure to give them more than two weeks to help you achieve those goals!