In 2006 I made some minor changes to my diet that led to some greater than expected weight loss given my size. To give you some context, I weighed 227 pounds with a 17.4% body fat. So I had a bit of weight to lose but by no means was I fat. After 6 months of this small change to my diet, I hit a low of 181 pounds with 11.2% body fat. I wanted to give my 46 pound loss that context because while 46 pounds is good in 6 months, someone who has a higher body fat than me would probably have even more drastic results than I given that they have more fat to lose.
Diets, calorie counting and over-exercising do not work. During this time I still had no guilt over enjoying bacon or a burger or pizza and I did not increase my exercise routine. I do about 45 minutes to an hour of working out (running, cycling, weight training) 5 times a week before, during and after my change so keep that in mind as that may have contributed to the affects I saw after changing my diet. Maybe it helped to speed up my metabolism. But the point is I did not burn more calories by increasing exercise when I made this dietary change.
The key to weight loss success is controlling your body's chemical reactions. I've read up a lot on this and could go on for ages but I'll limit the "science" part of this article to this paragraph and let you do your own research on some of the terms I use below if you wish. You want to be able to control and regulate when the body releases insulin. You want to keep insulin levels low in order to release glucagon, which is a hormone in the body that promotes fat burning as it takes fat and readies it for use as energy. But at the same time you want to be able to have insulin available to you in order to suppress cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone in the body that slows metabolism and eats up muscle.
So what were my relatively simple changes to my diet that led to tremendous weight loss? 1. I ate a lot of spinach 2. I pretty much eliminated all sugars and most starches for dinner time and beyond as later on in the evening is when the benefits of having insulin to suppress cortisol diminishes and you want to be able to release glucagon to promote fat burning.
When we talk about carbs, we want slow burning carbs that take a lot of energy to burn, but more importantly, control insulin levels. Spinach and similar dark leafy greens (not iceberg lettuce) are actually the slowest burning carbs out of anything so they are by far the best source. And what I like about spinach over similar dark green vegetables like broccoli is that it has a tolerable taste and texture when its fresh. During the morning and afternoon you have a lot more leeway when you are talking about carbs. Oatmeal, fruit and brown rice are my most recommended picks. I would say to you avoid the candy bars, but if you must have one, have it in the morning or early afternoon when your body's chemical balance won't go out of whack like it would in the evening.
While I had to control my chocolate and ice cream cravings during this time; burgers, pizza, bacon and all that other high-fat, high-protein salty stuff were not cut at all. So I guess I am promoting a pseudo-Atkins diet, but I view my weight loss success in spite of these delicious items, not because of them. I'm not an angel when it comes to diet or caloric intake and the amount of calories I consumed did not change during this time.
Even so, I managed to lose weight. Not by limiting my calories or going hungry or even limiting the amount of fat I ate. I did it by controlling my body's chemical reactions to maximize metabolic burn. All it takes is a couple servings of spinach a day and avoiding sugars at dinner time and later. Think about that before you watch your next commercial of a skinny woman enjoying Vanilla Almond Special K or Activia yogurt as an evening snack. You're probably just as good off with some potato chips or buttered popcorn at 3 times the calories and less of the insulin spike (not that I'm promoting those items when you make the change, I'm just saying).
Four years later I sit at 219 pounds with a 13.4% body fat. So understand that while I have put much of the weight back on, I intended it to be that way through muscle. I went in for a physical and my nurse stated I have twice the amount of good cholesterol needed. My chances of getting heart disease are well less than 1%. I wanted to share my story because while I am not a bodybuilder, I am definitely fit and happy with my body. My exercise routine is moderate and my diet is controlled but not restrictive. It is certainly doable by anyone with a day job like me. I just came back from my mom's place after having her lasagne today for dinner. I ate a bacon double cheeseburger yesterday. But on the flip side I had oatmeal for breakfast both days, had a hearty bowl of spinach with my meal tonight and I could probably count on one hand the amount of cans of pop I have consumed this year.
You don't have to do what they do on Biggest Loser to lose weight. You just have to educate yourself on how your body works and what you have to do to maximize your weight loss potential while minimizing disruptive changes to your lifestyle. I hope this article set you in the right direction.
Refer to my workout articles if you are interested in:
How to build big Biceps
How to build big Triceps
How to build big Forearms
How to build big Shoulders
How to build a big Chest
How to build a big Back
How to build big Legs
How to build big Calves
My Workout Routine
More workout advice:
Are Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells suitable for you?