One of the most controversial and misunderstood components of the Atkins diet over the years has been the use of what Dr. Robert C. Atkins described in his books as the “fat fast.” The traditional Atkins fat fast includes 1000-1200 calories daily with upwards of 90% of the caloric intake from dietary fat sources. The “meals” are broken up into 200-250 calorie increments to be consumed every 3-4 hours.
Unlike Atkins Induction where you get 20g carbohydrate mostly from green, leafy and non-starchy veggies and you don’t need to worry yourself with counting calories, the fat fast is for those people who are especially insulin resistant and are having trouble losing weight following Induction. Dr. Atkins recognized that some people needed a little extra boost to get their body into fat-burning mode and the fat fast generally did the trick. However, it was not meant to be stayed on for long than a few days.
But last month I interviewed a physician named Dr. John Salerno who worked with Dr. Atkins for a few years and was a willing disciple of the low-carb way of eating. During that podcast, Dr. Salerno mentioned that he put his patients on his own “fat fast” for upwards of four weeks which immediately caught my attention. His reasoning for it was that it produced quick weight loss so you can transition to eating a regular low-carb plan again and that he didn’t see anything especially dangerous or wrong with utilizing such an approach (in fact, he said during our discussion that he himself has used this to shed a quick 15 pounds).
When I inquired about the details of the Salerno Fat Fast, he was willing to send it to me in a nutshell so I could share it with you. Since I’ve been inundated with requests to see this plan, here it is:
Usual duration is 4 weeks.
Five feedings of 200 calories each containing 90% dietary fat
Sample foods to be consumed on the Salerno Fat Fast
- 1 oz. Macadamia (15 nuts), Brazil (7 nuts), or Walnuts (15 nuts)
- 2 oz. Cream, St. Andre Cheese, or Brie.
- 2.5 oz. Beef (Chuck or Round).
- 3 slices of Fresh Slab Bacon
- 2 Egg yolks mixed with 1 oz. of mayonnaise or mixed with 1/2 a California avocado.
- 2 oz. Sour Cream (not for yeast free diets) mixed with 1 Tbsp. Caviar (This may be served on 3-4 pork rinds).
- 2 Egg yolks mixed with 2 Tbsp. of mayonnaise served on 3-4 pork Rinds.
- 2 oz. chicken, egg, shrimp, salmon, ham or crab mixed with 1 1/2 Tbsp of mayonnaise.
- 1 oz. chicken, egg, shrimp, salmon, ham or crab mixed with 1 tsp. of mayonnaise served in 1/2 a California avocado.
- 2 oz. heavy whipping cream, sweetened with DaVinci syrups. This may be beaten to make a fluffy mousse.
Choose any 5 of the above items to have during the day. The items may be repeated. Space the meals evenly throughout the day. Choose organic/free range produce whenever available. Drink at minimum 8 eight-ounce glasses of filtered water daily.
As you can see, it’s not much different from the Atkins fat fast except for the duration. And I think that’s what most people will find peculiar about Dr. Salerno’s plan more than anything–can you really do this very high-fat, low-carb plan over a four-week period and expect a long-term weight loss solution? It seems that this temporary plan to shed the pounds does nothing to change your overall habits. How is the person who has been on the Salerno Fat Fast supposed to ease back into a regular low-carb diet after eating 1,000 calories for nearly a month? These are my biggest concerns.
Dr. Salerno noted in my interview that it’s okay for the body to go into “starvation” mode for a period of time to bring about the weight loss, but is that truly a healthy way to shed the pounds? Isn’t pushing something like this to overweight and obese patients taking the Atkins concept to an extreme level and further ostracizing the overall message of livin’ la vida low-carb further? I don’t see why a traditional Atkins Induction phase wouldn’t be attempted FIRST to see if weight loss can be produced with that before resorting to a calorie-restricted, fat-based low-carb diet. It’s seems like overkill to me.
And with any weight loss attempt, the real key is keeping the weight off with a long-term solution for making that happen. Sure, this four-week fat fast may melt away upwards of 15-25 pounds in a month, but what is that teaching someone who needs to keep that weight off for good after it is over? One thing I’ve learned in the past five years of eating a healthy low-carb diet is it pays to be consistent with the basics of low-carb living. Straying too far away from the path that got you there is inviting disaster in the form of weight gain and slipping back into some old habits again.
Although it might be motivating to see quick weight loss results on the Salerno Fat Fast, to what end would it accomplish? Are my concerns about this completely unwarranted or do you feel this is merely another way for people to fall into the trap of thinking weight loss can be super-fast and simple? Share your thoughts in the comments section and let’s hear what YOU think.