A lot of guys on a new weight loss program don’t realize that weight loss can be very hard on the body and mind if not done correctly. Furthermore, some weight loss programs can actually sabotage the very goals of losing weight that you’re trying to achieve.
This is the reason I put together a list of three items that show the “right way” to lose weight according to the latest research:
1) Maintain Adequate Calorie Levels. Be cautious about cutting calories too fast and too deep: it can whack your testosterone. The body goes into “starvation mode” and that includes starving your system of precious hormones such as testosterone. For example, after just a few days of fasting, you testosterone levels can lower by a third or more.  Not only does dropping calories too fast whack your total testosterone, but it also raises SHBG.  SHBG is Serum Hormone-Binding Globulin, a protein that binds to the lion’s share of your testosterone. The little bit left over, around 2% of the total, is what your body can actually use since it is bioavailable. So, if you increase SHBG through dieting – and incresing SHBG is a problem for aging males anyway – more testosterone is bound leaving you with less free testosterone. So how many calories should you cut? Well, one study found that subjects that lowered caloric intake by 15% did not experience a loss in total testosterone.  Again, it is better to lose weight gradually, relying on exercise and a balanced diet than the typical crash and burn programs that so many people engage in. And, if you will follow the Low Fat (or Ornish) Diet, you can lose weight and barely cut back on calories at all, thus avoiding a nasty fall in total and free testosterone.
2) Avoid Low Carb (Atkins) Diets. If you want to put on muscle, carbohydrates have been found to be just as critical to muscle growth and recovery as protein.  Those with adequate carbohydrates had much improved protein synthesis over low carb study participants and protein synthesis is critical for rebuilding muscle tissue. (See my page on other Potential Dangers of Low Carb or Atkins Diet for more information.)
3) Consume High Protein Levels. When dieting, you may want to consider very high protein levels in order to keep your muscle mass. Of course, one of the curses of dropping pounds is that you drop muscle along with fat. (This can be exacerbated by #1 as well.) One 2010 study found that consuming about 35% of calories, or 2.3 g/kg of body weight, signficantly protected male dieters from muscle loss when compared to participants consuming the more traditional 1.0 g/kg of protein (15% of calories).  The latter, 1.0 g/kg, is the minimum that you’ll see most bodybuilding and weight training sites recommend for muscle building. Consuming 35% of calories from protein is a very high level indeed, but maintaining muscle is crucial, since if you lose muscle it is much harder to maintain your weight post-diet. Why? Muscle is a much more efficient fat-burner.
2) J of Clin Endocrinology & Metabolism,May 1997,82(5):1543-8
4) Nov. 6, 2007, presentations, American Heart Association annual meeting, Orlando, Fla
5) Nutritional Reviews, 2008, 66:506-516
6) Journal of Exercise Physiology, 2009, 12(6): 33-39, “Dietary Carbohydrate and Protein Manipulation and Exercise Recovery in Novice Weight-Lifters”
7) Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Feb 2010, 42(2):326-337, “Increased Protein Intake Reduces Lean Body Mass Loss during Weight Loss in Athletes”