I love my wife. One of the many things I love about her is how she can seem to find anything on the internet. What I mean is that if you tell her to find something, and it exists, she’ll find it. Well, Saturday morning, she sent me a thing about something called the Military Diet.
Being a veteran, and looking to lose weight, she thought I’d find it interesting. In and of itself, I do. It gives me a golden opportunity to discuss fad diets.
Most likely, you’ve heard of at least one fad diet somewhere along the way. The Grapefruit Diet, The Blood Type Diet, the Werewolf Diet (no, I’m not making that one up, as awesome as it sounds), The Cookie Diet (one I’ve at least considered just as an excuse to eat cookies) and numerous others like the Military Diet. They all pop onto the scene and promise weight loss.
Sure enough, someone tries it and it works!
Those folks tell everyone they know how much it works, and more people try it. And make no mistake, they work…at first.
Most of these diets, like the Military Diet, aren’t realistic diets for long term health and some are downright dangerous.
How most of these work is that they restrict what you eat to almost insane levels — and occasionally cross the sanity line — and spur up a sudden loss of weight. They restrict calories, some as low as 500 calories per day, which will produce weight loss, but they cause other problems.
You see, the problem with extreme caloric restrictions is that your body has evolved in a world where famine was common. Even today, there’s famine throughout the world, and our bodies are designed to deal with it. One of the mechanisms it uses is storing fat during times of plenty (which I talked about on my own blog last week), but another one is far more applicable to this discussion, and that is how extreme caloric shortages will trigger your metabolism to slow down.
If you’re trying to lose weight, that is a very, very bad thing.
A slow metabolism means that it’ll be harder to burn through fat for one thing, and it also means that your body will retain fat more easily as your body tries to prepare for the next famine.
Now this isn’t a permanent situation for most folks, but it’s a pain in the butt for a time as your body sorts itself out and often you end up weighing more than you did to start with. If weight loss is your goal, the problem with this is obvious.
The truth of the matter is that there is no fast track. While shows like The Biggest Loser may show contestants losing massive amounts of weight per week, that’s not reasonable for most individuals. For one, the contestants are often so massively obese that even a drop of 30 or more lbs in a single week isn’t quite the same thing as someone like me losing that much weight at once.
If you want to lose weight, slow and steady is the mantra you need to adopt. A good, safe target is two or three pounds per week.
Which, coincidentally was how much lower the scale was for me last week.
Since we’re now talking about me and my own journey, I have to say I was somewhat surprised by dropping two pounds. The only real change at that point was eating more home cooked meals, and that really does make a difference. I consider myself a home chef wannabe, and that means I use little in the way processed foods. This may have contributed to actually losing weight, though it wasn’t really supposed to.
Now, a confession. My desire to eat more protein hasn’t gone quite like I hoped. I really have to make it a point to eat more often (confusing for someone trying to lose weight, but it’s true) and most especially eat breakfast. Protein, protein, protein is still a goal.
However, now it’s time to make the big change.
Carbohydrates. As I was discussed over at my blog a short time ago, carbs are really the problem for most folks. As I said on the first post I linked to, the human body runs on carbs, so cutting those will let your body convert from carb burning to fat burning. This is called ketosis and it’s a real thing. Embrace the science and stuff.
Unfortunately for me, that means it’s time to strict up. For example, I had brown rice last night. I served it with a measuring cup so I would know exactly how much I had on my plate.
Now, I suspect some of you are thinking, “How sustainable is eating like this?” I mean, measuring out your food gets old pretty quickly. The thing is, I’m not planning on measuring everything out indefinitely.
Going forward, starches will get measures for a little while until I can eyeball it accurately. I suck and judging measurements, so I’ll measure my food until I’ve got a better eye for that sort of thing. I’ll probably do the same for vegetables too, just to be safe.
A rule of thumb a lot of people use — and it’s not a bad one — is to use servings the size of your fist. That is, roughly, a cup of food. Unfortunately for me, I have small hands and don’t trust that in my case.
Next week, I’ll discuss my macros. “Macros” means my macronutrient breakdown. Macronutrients are things like protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals you get. Those are important too, but a topic for another day.
Of course, if there’s something else you want to see, let me know and I’ll see what I can do about talking on the subject. If I don’t know anything about it, I can find out pretty quickly.
Now, I’d like to say congratulations to my friend Robin who just competed in her first figure competition. She looked amazing and everyone at the Knighton household is damn proud of her!