Tim Ferriss: The Human Experiment Blog Dedicated to Uncommon People and Unlimited Lifestyles

February 11, 2007

Losing 10 lbs. of Fat in 2 Weeks? It’s as Easy as 1-2-3 — Take the 1-2-3 Challenge

Filed under: Physical Performance,Weekly Tips and Tricks — timferriss @ 3:26 am

I recently visited the helpful Mutual Improvement Blog, where I came across a post on health, diet, and exercise goals. It was a good list insofar as it contained the steps most people have been taught are necessary to be “healthy”. The problem with becoming healthy is that it is made to be COMPLICATED by everyone who purports to be an expert. You can’t sell magazines month after month unless there is constantly something new and sophisticated.

Here was my response to the author’s good, but overwhelmingly long for anyone changing life-long habits, list:

I think I can help simplify this a bit. Two-second background: I help design training and nutritional programs for Olympic athletes, around 30 world records thus far. The most impressive specimens, all of which have less than 6% bodyfat, do the following three things:

1. Consume 1 gram of lean protein (chicken, fish, or micellar casein powder preferred) per lb. of lean bodyweight (subtract your fat) per day. Some split this into three meals and two shakes. I prefer four meals (9am, 1pm, 5pm, 9pm) and one shake after exercise. A piece of animal about the size of your palm (similar to a hamburger patty) is around 30 grams.

2. Carry a Nalgene bottle full of water with you at all times. As soon as you drink it all, fill it again. This will help your liver to oxidize fats and eliminate waste products that cause skin problems.

3. Resistance train with free weights or machines 2-4 times per week. I prefer machines for safety and ease-of-use. I only spend 30 minutes twice per week in the gym if I’m not competing. You don’t need any more than one set to failure (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down rep cadence) with the following exercises: leg press, overhead press, seated row, bench press, back extension, abdominals, calf raises. This workout will last you less than 15 minutes. Finish with 10 minutes on a stationary bike to minimize soreness the following day.

That’s it.

If you only do these three things for two weeks, you will lose a massive amount of bodyfat and improve cardio-muscular function, increase bone density, decrease cholesterol, and build smoother, cleaner skin. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Last recommendations, have the same professional at a gym measure your bodyfat every month, and have your physician draw blood for comprehensive blood tests every 6 months (you’ll have to pay $100-400, depending on what you want tested).

Have fun, get lean, and get simple.


  1. Great post. However I have a question about “consume 1 gram of lean protein”. Is that all the food that one should consume? Is this diet only for 2 weeks or something more permanent?

    Comment by Sudarshan — February 18, 2007 @ 6:21 am

  2. Can you elaborate on the 1g of lean protein per pound of lean bodyweight, please? Does this mean 1g of lean protein per lean pound and nothing else at all? I guess you get some fat with the lean protein, but is that all? Supposing I weigh 100 pounds and am 18% bodyfat, does this mean I can only eat 82 grams (or 328 calories) per day? Or are other calories allowed? Clearly I’d lose weight under this regime given it is big time caloric restriction…

    Comment by Ryan McIntyre — February 26, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  3. Thanks for the same question, which I should have answered in the original post.

    The 1g/protein per lb. of lean mass is just the protein requirement. I generally don’t limit caloric restriction with athletes or myself. The protein (especially if your breakfast consists of at least 30% protein) will act as a mild appetite suppressant. To those trying to minimize bodyfat, as I am doing at the moment, I recommend avoiding starches (potatoes, rice, bread, etc.) and fruits, but consuming as much as you want of vegetables and legumes (dal, lentils, etc.) or beans. If you are looking for significant muscle gain, a bit more insulin release is helpful, so rice would be a larger element.

    It will take a week or so to adjust to the diet, especially if you eat out (hint: most places will give you more vegetables in place of rice, bread, etc.). I’ll often do Mexican but avoid the tortillas and rice, leaving me with lean meat of some type, black or pinto beans, and assorted vegetables.

    These 3 guidelines are my permanent diet guidelines, but I recommend people commit to two weeks as an experiment. For most, the prospect of permanent diet change is too frightening to accept off-the-bat.

    Hope this helps!

    Comment by timferriss — March 1, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  4. […] Since protein is often mentioned in connection with weight loss, I’ve decided to start eating a bit more. Lately I’ve been drinking a glass of chocolate milk for breakfast (since it’s reasonably high on both nutrition and “fullness factor” even with all that sugar). I really enjoy it, taste-wise, and it keeps me surprisingly full for hours. […]

    Pingback by Protein drinks for non-diehards // Open Source Diet — March 25, 2007 @ 9:11 am

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