Fifty days is long enough to make virtually any change you want. According to self-help guru Tony Robbins, it's twice the time you need to turn a new way of doing things into a fully encoded habit. When it comes to weight loss, it's not only enough time to lose a significant amount of weight - it's enough time to change the practices that got you overweight in the first place.
A 50 day diet plan practices three separate stages. You begin with a rigorous "kick start" for 10 days, during which you show yourself what you're capable of and enjoy some early successes. For the next 40 days, you maintain a slower rate of weight loss - a level health counselor Maya Paul describes as healthy and sustainable long term. Once your 50 days are over, you will still observe a maintenance plan: a course of eating that will help you keep the weight off now that you've lost it.
The purpose of a kick start is to help you change your diet paradigm. By spending 10 days in this stage, you not only convince yourself that you can succeed, but you make the remaining stages seem easy by comparison. During your kick start phase, you will cut your calorie intake by 700 to 1,000 per day, so long as you eat a minimum of 1,000 calories. This is too much to cut out for long-term plans, but most people can do it for a week and a half. When cutting out these calories, it's best to target high-calorie, low-value foods like sweets and refined grains. Fill up on vegetables, and take a multivitamin to fill in any dietary holes. By the end of your kick start, you will already have lost between two and four pounds.
Forty days is too long to engage in crash or gimmick diet. Most people can't, and most bodies start to break down even if the mind can make them do it. During this stage, you will aim to cut out between 300 and 500 calories from your usual diet, for a total of one to two pounds of weight loss per week. In most cases, the extra food as compared to your first ten days will make this period feel easy. Observe the same calorie-cutting practices you did during the kick start, only not as rigorously. Celebrity personal trainer Bill Phillips recommends two practices to help keep you on track as the days drag on. Weigh yourself once per week to monitor your progress, and track your weight and meals in a journal. Phillips also recommends rewarding yourself when you reach certain benchmarks: a small celebration for every pound you lose or every consecutive day without cheating.
A maintenance phase is a vital part of any healthy diet plan. In too many cases, people successfully reach their goal weight, then return to old habits and put the weight right back on. In many cases they are at or over their original weight within a year. Once you've finished your 50 day diet plan, it's all right to allow yourself treats and indulgences you've been missing for more than three months. However, your best practice will be to split the difference between stage two and your former eating habits. When before you had ice cream every night, now you might have it twice a week.
- "Unlimited Power"; Tony Robbins; 1988
- HelpGuide: Healthy Weight Loss and Dieting
- "Body for Life"; Bill Phillips; 1998