Facebook statuses this week are all about dieting. I’m not a fan of any diet, because I think they are all bullshit. Most diet plans are fads and myths. And consuming processed, boxed meals is a fast, easy and somewhat predictive way to find yourself bored and wind up gaining more than you lost in the first place. Just say no.
Over the years, friends have asked me how I lost 40 pounds. I did it by employing this lean protein, low-healthy-carb, all whole food diet and exercised daily, including cardio and light weightlifting. I cheated here and there (chocolate, pasta) and always ALWAYS drank my beloved wine. Seriously, I didn’t deprive myself of cocktails. When I first started eating this way, I was hungry – I won’t lie. I took chewing gum with me everywhere and chain-chewed to combat my hunger. The fact was, it took me 5 years to gain the 40 pounds and in the beginning of my new meal plan, I wasn’t eating enough. Tis true. On top of that, I expected a month of eating less would have me shedding all the weight that I gained over 5 years to just slide off my body lickity banana split. Tis so not true. There is no miracle and it takes commitment, effort, time, planning, proper shopping, preparation, and did I say commitment?
So for those of you who are serious about losing some el-bees, and like to eat real food, continue on.
First, I should start by saying this is not a diet – it’s about eating the right foods at the right time to kick start the metabolism and to use your own body fat as fuel. It really is important to eat – if you don’t, your body will panic and store whatever your feed it into your fat stores, defeating the purpose. If you want to lose that muffin top, be prepared to lose the chocolate and sweets. Sugar and carbs are what keep your pants from buttoning.
When your body is starved of carbohydrates, it turns to fat to fuel itself. During this time, your body enters a stage called Ketosis – this is the stage you want to be in to burn your own body fat. Symptoms of Ketosis include constant thirst, metallic-y/fruity breath, and frequent urination. I encourage you to research Ketosis so you know what to expect. Please note: the first time I had bad carbs (nachos in my case), I got nauseous the next day – I didn’t moderate that plate!
Now, because you’ll be eating less carbs, you will want to take a Multi-Vitamin and consider a complex B Vitamin. I didn’t do this at first, and found myself yawning at about 2p every day. Once I started my yummy gummy B vittles, my energy went back to normal.
Super important here, and especially true when your body enters Ketosis – drink a LOT of water. At home, I flavor my water with those Crystal Light mixes. The first couple weeks I didn’t drink enough water, as I wasn’t used to it – but I gradually worked my way up to this amount. Now I drink two glasses in the morning before work, and about 48 ounces while at work. And then I’m finding I drink another 2 glasses of water throughout the evening even if I’m having a couple Cosmos or glasses of wine.
Meals are balanced between protein and carbs, with smaller portions consumed throughout the day. Depending on your goal and timing, you’ll want between 10-12 proteins and 4-6 carbs. Here’s how you determine the number:
1 count of protein is about 1 ounce
1 counts of carbs is about 1 cup
Proteins are meat, fish, seafood, eggs, cheese (incl cottage, string, greek yogurt), vegetarian (edamame, vegan, tofu) and nuts and seeds (peanut butter = 1 Tbl; nuts = about 10 or 1 Tbl)
So do eat fruits and vegetables – these are good carbs. Do some research on the lowest carb fruits and vegetables – and try to avoid the starchy foods like carrots, beets, corn, green peas, potatoes, etc.
Never eat carbs without a protein. Going to have a cup of mango? Enjoy a string cheese with that!
Now, while it’s critical to have protein when you have carbs, the reverse is not true (you SHOULD and MUST eat proteins alone). The reason you want protein with carbs is because the protein requires fuel to break it down – when consumed alone, proteins will look for carbs to help – if there are none, it knocks on your fat stores door and voila! When you consume carbs alone, the energy in the carbs is used for the immediate processing of the food and whatever is left over gets stored in fat store reserves. Unless you are doing exercise AT THAT MOMENT, don’t eat carbs without something for the excess carb energy to work on. Make sense?
You can have just protein, but for health purposes, don’t do that too often – the body needs balance and taking a multi-vitamin does not replace the good fuel we get from carbs.
Grains and baked goods. You know what these are, bread, bulgar, cake, cereal, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Yes, popcorn should be avoided!
Stay away from butters and sweets (no white or brown sugar, candy, chocolate), unless you want to look like Madonna when she did “Lucky Star”. Just kidding, Madonna is and was fabulous, but the point is that sugar will keep feeding the belly fat.
IS THAT IT?
No, because this is a lean protein, low carb lifestyle, AND you will be drinking a lot of water, salts and spices are totally fine in this plan. In fact, because it’s a lean plan, fats are ok too (not butter, but good oils) including avocado!
And there are free foods!! Lettuces, celery, pickles, ginger, lemons/limes, salsa, mustards, hot sauce, mayo, soy sauce, etc. – all fine and they don’t count toward the target of 10-12 proteins and 4-6 carbs each day.
When planning the meals, consider how much you buy and how you can avoid wasting leftovers by reusing proteins or carbs in other meals.
A tip on portions:
3 ounces of cooked meat = size of a deck of playing cards
3 ounces of cooked fish = size of a checkbook
1 ounce of deli meat = size of compact disc
1 ounce of cheese = size of two dice
Here’s a sample weekly plan (M-F only) so you get the idea. If you give this a try for a few weeks, let me know how it goes – good luck!