Note: This post is Part 2 of a 6 Part Series on how I lost 60 pounds. You can find a list of all of the posts in this series here. Or, if you want the whole kit and caboodle in one mammoth post, you can click here. (Update as of April 17, 2017: I’ve now lost 70 pounds and am no longer trying to lose weight, just trying to get fitter and stronger).
I’ve lost 60 pounds. It’s an awesome feeling. In Part 1 in this series I wrote about how we become what we think about most of the time. If I wanted to be physically fit and maintain good health, I needed to spend a proportionate amount of time thinking about this topic.
That was step one, a step you may want to skip because you just want a diet or a pill but step one is very important so don’t skip it.
Let’s talk diet.
My starting point was the Slow Carb Diet prescribed by Tim Ferriss in 4-Hour Body. It’s very simple, and the basic rules are:
- Avoid “white” carbs (or anything that can be white).
- Eat the same few meals over and over again.
- Don’t drink calories.
- Don’t eat fruit.
- Take one day off a week and go nuts.
On the Slow Carb Diet I was eating a lot of legumes. The idea with the Slow Carb diet is that you’re eating good carbs that are “slowly” releasing in your body, giving you sustained energy and keeping your body from going into shock mode.
For about two months, every day I ate one egg in the morning with some lentils or black beans and spiced it with a little Tapatio. For lunch I had a few standard meals. A cup of bean soup was one (more on bean soup later). I had my version of a “rice bowl,” but instead of rice I had lentils or beans, some chicken or beef, and some peppers or snap peas, salsa etc.
For dinner I’d have a little beef or chicken and all the veggies I wanted.
I did this very rigidly for about two months before I started experimenting with other things and making the diet my own. Many of the lessons I learned about food in those two months I still use as the foundation for my diet and approach to food.
In those two months, with minimal changes in the amount of exercise, I lost about 30 pounds. Tim Ferriss will say don’t exercise at all, or make zero changes to the amount of exercise you are doing. You want to keep your body from going into panic mode. I think he does that because some people literally do not want to exercise. But I love being outside and being active, so if anything at this point, I was holding myself back in terms of how much I was doing.
This diet worked for me for a few reasons.
- The basic foods I was eating I actually liked.
- You’re allowed to have two glasses of red wine every night.
- I felt like I wasn’t giving up anything because of my Cheat Day.
Cheat Day is fifth item in the 5 basic tenants on the Slow Carb Diet. Take one day off and go nuts. My wife loves danishes. Last summer when we were both going hard core on the Slow Carb Diet, on our Cheat Day I’d go get a dozen donuts for us and the kids to share for breakfast. We’d go get pizza or burgers for lunch. The beer flowed like wine. 🙂 Many people who are long time Slow Carb Dieters will tell you that overtime the craziness of their Cheat Days diminishes. Tim Ferriss says that in his own life it’s about 1 out of 4 Cheat Days that are truly crazy, but there’s still one day every week that he is free to eat whatever he wants. Cheat Days are also important in re-setting your body. You may be tempted to skip your Cheat Day to speed up your results, but your body will benefit long-term from a day of indulgence.
Six days a week I was very rigid, but on my cheat day I went hog wild. I could eat whatever I wanted. Go have a few beers. So I didn’t feel like I was giving anything up, I was just deferring, just waiting till later. It wasn’t “no,” it was “later.”
By eating the same meals over and over, it was easier for me to push a plate of food away before I was finished because the food was boring. If you love food like I do, this may seem like a rather boring way of approaching food. But I always knew that Cheat Day was coming. Then I could eat whatever I wanted.
Over time, as my diet and tastes changed, the “damage” on my Cheat Days was far less.
I stayed on the Slow Carb Diet for about five months. It’s hard to call my diet now a “Slow Carb Diet.” When I re-read the two chapters on the Slow Carb Diet in 4-Hour Body, I realize I’m not doing “that.” But as I said above, I’ve carried the principles with me. I believe in the principles of the Slow Carb diet and use those principles every day. They are my foundation. Think of a pyramid. The bottom third and vegetables, middle third is legumes, top third is meat. If you are serious about losing weight don’t stop at this blog post. Go buy 4-Hour Body and really become an expert on the Slow Carb Diet.
In the next post, Part 3 of how I lost 60 pounds, I’ll talk about my personal tweaks I have made to the Slow Carb Diet. Also, remember that this post is just a very brief introduction to the Slow Carb Diet. 4-Hour Body is practically my Bible when it comes to my health. My friend Greg, who I talk fitness with, told me it was one of the few books he took with him when he and his family moved to Guatemala.