I must admit I’ve been fighting a losing game against weight my whole life. I have never had more than 10-15 kg extra, and I’m a relatively big guy, but it has been a lifelong obsession of losing that excess weight and getting myself in my best shape – for the sake of self-confidence, most of all.
I’ve never been a fan of diets. As it used to stand in my mind, diet was about reducing food intake indiscriminately, eating small portions and just generally being hungry and miserable all the time. When faced with the decision to lose weight, I’d always opt for exercise, be that swimming, hitting the gym or doing long bicycle rounds when the weather holds.
It never occurred to me that the greatest change was changing what you eat. I discarded such ideas carelessly, considering them some “new age mumbo jumbo”, until I decided to check out what Mr Timothy Ferris had to say. When you look at the title of his book “4h body – an uncommon guide to rapid weight-loss, incredible sex and being superhuman” it sounds pretty much like a science fiction novel, doesn’t it? His style was a tad too flashy, but it did talk about “years of trying and testing” on himself, and I thought: “Well, why the hell not?”
What I found was not only a book containing pieces of advice and misconception-shattering facts, but an interesting read most of all. I will not go into Tim’s advice on sex and physical activity, however, the stuff he puts out when it comes to food is staggering. It is a sort of a compendium of various schools of thought on diets cross-sectioned with Tim’s personal experiences over a period of years he spent experimenting. He tried things and been places many of us will never do or visit, and all that at a relatively young age. The book is full of interesting pieces from the journey so far.
But I am drifting away from the main thing here. Because I liked what I read, I decided to try it out. The idea is simple enough – remove all carbohydrates from your food. This means no sugar, no bread, and no pasta for you. Stick to proteins, especially the ones from vegetables, making the legumes the food of choice, rich in protein and fibres. Legumes are a family that has been with us for ages, and we have all had our share of beans, peas, lentils or horse beans. Also, one very important source of proteins is spinach, and it’s awesome. The other main stay of the diet is meat of all kinds, preferably lean meats, such as chicken or fish, but beef or pork are just as fine.
What I found the hardest to give up was milk, especially in the coffee. It is no secret that milk should be pretty much removed from the diet of grown-up humans (and probably even earlier), especially with some research showing that up to 80% of people are in a lesser or greater degree lactose intolerant. Even if you are tolerant to lactose, milk will still mess up your digestion in one way or another. The good thing is that all types of fermented milk are fine, such as yoghurt or kefir. Unfortunately, only cottage cheese is allowed, the more mature versions of cheese will stop the diet from having the fat-loss effect.
With that out of the way, the rest was easy. The best way to go about it is planning your meals ahead, and keeping mostly with the same foods. If you keep it simple, it will be easier to prepare and the less of a hassle it is, the less you will think about the tasty snacks you keep in your third drawer from the top, just left of the kitchen sink. For me this meant eggs in the morning (if you are afraid of the “bad fats” in the yolk, just remove it), boiled and mashed up with some cottage cheese, or leftovers from yesterdays lentils/spinach lunch. Therefore, lunch houses the lentils/spinach prepared in whichever way you prefer them – while making sure there is no flour in the recipe. Dinners are reserved for fish, usually tuna, a “favourite” protein go-to food, as any start-up body-builder will tell you. You can have more than three meals a day, of course, just make sure to avoid eating bits and pieces all the time. No snacks in between meals – let the body digest the food. And when you’re eating – make sure you’re full to the brim. As long as you’re eating what you should, there is no prescribed amount you should eat. In fact, after some months, as your body has grown used to the diet, you might want to eat more to actually lose more. Yes, it works just like that!
You’ll need to keep off the booze (although occasional glass of dry red wine won’t hurt) because alcohol is just fermented sugar after all. Lots of water is needed, coffee is an awesome fat burner, and tea is good for you too.
The thing that really drove this diet home for me was the fact that every six days there is a very important day called “the binge day”. On this day, you not only can, but should, eat everything you are not allowed on other days. Feed your face with pasta, chocolate, milk, sugary goodness of all kinds and beer! Because you need to restart your organism before it goes lazy. Don’t skip your binge day and don’t cheat, only do it once every six days, not every second day!
Physical activity is optional, you can do some, but it’s not key to the success. If you can, do a set of exercises 5 minutes before the meal (read more in the book on that) followed by a set an hour and a half after the meal. I have found that with zero activity I was losing weight just as fast as when hitting the gym.
In the end, it’s all about decisions you make. If you do start it, finish it. Count your every step and track your progress. No one can help you but yourself, as always.