At the end of 2015 I noticed some problems.
– I was overweight by about 10-20 pounds.
– I had high blood pressure that was getting dangerously high
– I felt like shit all the time
– Whether or not I got sick, I freqeuntly felt unwell
– I have always snored but recordings indicate it had gotten worse, plus my dad had developed sleep apnea and genetics indicate that’s where I’ll head if I don’t fix it.
– I didn’t like how I physically looked
– I was spending too much money on food
– Physical activity I used to do with little problem left me breathing hard
– I’m getting old, to a point where I need to be mindful that my body won’t just bounce back from neglect and that it’s only going to get more difficult
– I’ve always wanted to look better than I do.
– I have a busy lifestyle and can’t afford to get sick or slow down further
So what did I do?
– I actively started tracking everything I eat on a spreadsheet and total the calories and macros.
– I used that same workbook to plan future meals.
– I set a firm goal to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year. I weighed 185 so I want to get to 160.
– I set a soft goal to eat no more than 2300 calories a day.
– I avoided alcohol except for special occasions.
– I set a soft goal of no more than 200 grams of carbohydrates a day.
– I set a firmer goal of 120 grams or more of protein, preferably one gram per pound of lean body mass (140-145 pounds for me, so 140g).
– I set a goal of 4500mg of potassium a day. Your body needs potassium and we typically don’t get close to enough.
– I adopted Leangains style intermittent fasting, where I eat all the day’s food in a 4-10 hour window, and seek at some point to go 14-16 hours without a meal.
– I don’t drink coffee after 2pm on back to back days. If I do it one day I make sure not to do it the next.
– I shop for and eat potatoes, spinach, egg whites and chicken.
– I cook meals at home whenever it works with my schedule.
– I don’t buy/eat any food I cannot accurately log on my spreadsheet.
– I’ve lost 9 pounds and counting.
– I feel a lot better. I have a lot more energy.
– Eating actually got easier with all the tracking, since planning meals around my schedule reduces the need for impulse decisions, and IF means I typically skip breakfast.
– I’ve cut my food and discretionary spending by 1/3, even while ordering out a bunch.
Would I specifically recommend anything to people who want to improve their diet and lose weight?
– At the very least, consider Leangains style intermittent fasting. Fasting over 12 hours fires up regenerative hormonal processes that will help rebuild your body and burn extra fat.
– Start cooking with coconut oil instead of butter or any other oils. The MCT fats and anti-fungal properties are super good for your digestive system and heart health. One tablespoon is usually all you need on the stovetop.
– If you’ve got to use any other oil, I’d recommend pressed sesame oil. Good taste and devoid of a lot of the bad shit in other oils. You can even pour a raw tablespoon into dishes and eat it as is.
– Honestly, if you can log your food, you should. Start a log. Take a week to figure out how much you eat, and then do a diet with 500 fewer calories a day than usual.
– Generally drink nothing except water, coffee and tea. Save alcohol for one night a week at most.
– If nothing else, eat a lot of protein. Protein is a key rebuilding block for our bodies and we often don’t get enough of it. Beef (lean cuts), chicken thighs/breasts, pork loin.
– If you’re a vegan, learn to love lentils, spinach, rice and beans. They are the four richest animal-free protein sources. Nuts are okay, but many people’s bodies don’t react well to them (mine doesn’t), and they’re more fat than protein anyway.
– Don’t eliminate carbs, but certainly eat less of them. I set a range of 100-200 grams a day. Most people eat several hundred grams a day. Unused carbs get stored as fat. At the same time, your body’s organs need carbs to function well. Don’t eliminate them, but set a bar of about 100-200 grams a day and stick to it.
– Don’t worry so much about how much dietary fat you’re taking in. A lot of ‘fatty’ foods are bad because they contain excess carbs or an excessive number of calories in general, and seem bad because people who eat them tend not to eat other healthy foods that your body needs, hence the health problems. If you’re eating a balanced diet and not too many calories, you can eat a lot of dietary fat and be just fine.
– If you’re not already walking at least 30 minutes a day, you should start.
– If you already walk 30+ minutes a day, I’d make a point to walk an extra 20-30 minutes, or take up a basic exercise program.
I could recommend a lot else, but that’s probably more than enough.