Lose Weight While Eating Healthy

Example of a typical lunch or dinner
Typical lunch or dinner. Pictured: Grilled tuna (protein), black beans (carb), steamed broccoli & grilled asparagus (vegetables).

Slow Carb Diet.

Lean protein, vegetables and beans. Six days a week. On the seventh day, you eat the junk you’ve been craving.

I like this diet because:

  • It’s a healthy, balanced diet consisting of whole foods.
  • It doesn’t require that you buy any “products”.
  • It doesn’t add cost to your monthly food budget, and could in fact reduce it.

The Plan

Sunday – Friday: Eat only Beans, lean protien, and low-sugar vegetables (every meal). Eat as much as you want as often as you want. Drink anything you want, as long as it doesn’t contain sugar / sweeteners.

Saturday: Pig out! Eat & drink anything you want. Pizza, BBQ, beer, soda, chocolate, etc. Doesn’t have to be Saturday, as long as you pick the same day every week.

“Pig-out day” is very important. Your body is hardwired for survival so it closely monitors calorie intake and adjusts metabolism accordingly. You need to let your body know that it doesn’t have to reduce it’s metabolism due to a scarcity of calories by showing it some carbs once a week. Doing so will keep the metabolism high so you can continue to enjoy that 6 or so pound-a-week fat burn. Also, it gives you something fun to look forward to as a reward for all the discipline you showed the previous six days.

Ingredients for each meal

Beans: Red, black, pinto, lentils, chickpeas, etc. This is where your carbs will come from. Use canned beans for convenience (no sugary baked beans), use dry beans to save money. You will eat these to power you through your day *instead* of bread, pasta, french fries, etc.
Lean Protien: Turkey, fish, chicken breasts, steaks, egg whites, etc. Nothing fried, breaded or processed. If you’re a vegetarion, simply substitute whatever you’ve been using for a protein source as long as it isn’t breaded or fried.
Vegetables: Low-sugar vegetables. Leafy greens, asparagus, peas, broccoli, etc. No potatoes. No breaded or fried anything.

Condiments: I used lots of lemon and lime juice, hot sauce, salsa and salt & pepper. Anything you want that doesn’t contain sugar / sweetener (EG: Ketchup, BBQ sauce). I also cook onions, garlic, carrots and celery with my beans to keep the flavor scale above bland-o.

Example Meals

Breakfast: Egg whites, black beans and fire-roasted tomato salsa (I like Arriba and Jardine’s brands of salsa.).
Lunch and Dinner: Grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli, grilled tuna and black beans.

At the beginning of this diet you’ll be hungry all the time due to the rapid fat burn, so make sure you prepare enough food that you can eat as often as you want.

If you’re eating tuna, thaw an entire package of tuna filets and grill all of them at the same time. Strip steaks, same thing – buy more than one meal’s worth and grill them in bulk, then store whatever you don’t eat in the fridge so you can just grab it.

Same with the beans and vegetables. Steam a whole head of broccoli, prepare an entire bag of beans; or just buy canned beans. Not baked beans. 😉 .

I got the idea for this weight loss diet from Tim Ferris here and he does a more thorough job of explaining it. Plus there are currently thousands of comments below the article containing additional helpful info. I’m simply summarizing my version of it after having done successfully it myself a few times over the past two years.

Give it a try!

Here’s a anecdotal story from my personal experience to illustrate how powerful this diet is. My wife and I were going to Hawaii with her family and I didn’t want high noon photos of me to be all cellulos-ey, so I started doing this diet plus working out regularly a month before we left. My goal was to be as lean and ripped as possible by the time we hit the beach.

By the time we went to Hawaii I was pretty happy with my “beach body”. Food was included in our vacation package (cruise) so I of course gained weight that week but didn’t care, I ate everything and loved it. When we returned from vacation it was easy for me to fall back into the diet routine I had established, minus the exercise (yes, I got lazy). However, due to the diet I still continued to lose fat.

I should mention that I don’t care about how much I *weigh*. I monitor comfort; Do my pants cut into the front of my torso when I sit down? No? Great. So I don’t often weigh myself. It wasn’t until my wife & friends started saying I was too skinny that I stepped onto the scale. I had dropped from pre-vacation 175 to 143 over the span of around three months.

That number scared me, I hadn’t realized how ‘light’ I had gotten. So I stopped. I’m back up to around 160 now.

I’m only sharing this story to emphasize the power of this diet. If you have discipline and follow it, you will burn fat pretty quickly. Once you’ve done it for a couple of weeks it becomes “normal” and you go on autopilot. Just don’t go overboard.

Make your own paradise

A few years ago, while my wife and I were on vacation in Hawaii, we happened upon a beautiful little produce stand that sold smoothies made with organic fruit grown on-site (Laulima Farms in Hana, Maui). We spent some time hanging out there, talking to the people who worked on the farm and to the locals who stopped by.

I really fell in love with the place. I was enamored with the fact that they grew their own food, and that it was organic; that they made it fresh to-order for anyone who stopped by; in a blender powered by a bicycle! And on and on.

Over the years I’ve thought about that place and how fortunate those people were to be a part of it. Eventually I decided that instead of being envious of how good they had it, I would do whatever I could to make my home my own personal paradise.

I realized that back on that island farm, the fruit didn’t magically appear. The bamboo produce stand with hand-painted signs didn’t either. Ditto for the bike-powered blender. Those things took time and effort to plan, grow, build and refine.

So we started building our own paradise with small luxuries; a small bed for herbs in our back yard. A potted basil plant in the kitchen. Having fresh herbs literally footsteps away from your food prep area is great! It makes me smile every time I snip a handful of herbs for a meal or gently touch the leaves just to release their fresh fragrance.

Every year we improve upon our paradise plan, or attempt to and learn from our setbacks. The fruits of our labor are here to greet us every day. It’s nice to think about it that way instead of always wishing I were a long flight and a hemisphere away from my every day life.

Tomato Soup Recipe

Ingredients

6 medium tomatos (you can use canned as well). Note: I’m skipping the step of de-skinning the tomatoes because the I’m eventually going add them to our blender which will make skins and seeds smooth.
extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 stalks of celery, chopped. Note: I’m only rough chopping everything because . Since these ingredients will end up being made smooth, I’m saving time on the cutting board by not dicing/mincing.
2 or 3 carrots, chopped.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, skinned and chopped
1.5 cups of chicken broth or bullion. My wife made some chicken curry soup with root vegetables the day before I executed this recipe, so I was lucky to have “real” broth.
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half (optional; we had some in the fridge so I threw it in)

Nice to have

Sourdough bread. With crispy, crunchy crust. I want some right now.

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Quarter the tomatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Place them in the oven to roast for 15 to 20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat up some olive oil in a saucepan and throw in the chopped celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.

Add the roasted tomatoes, chicken broth and butter. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Spoon the ingredients from your saucepan into a food processor container. You will have to do it in two rounds because there won’t be enough room in your bin for everything at once. Fill the food processor container to about halfway full and run it on high until the soup looks smooth.

Pour the pureed batch into a saucepan and add the remaining chunky ingredients to the blender bin. Add the handful of fresh basil leaves and creme to the bin and puree it all together.

Vegetables on deck for chopping
We like to keep potted basil on the windowsill so it's always handy.
Quartered tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil are ready for the oven.
Softening up the vegetables while the tomatoes roast in the oven.
Added roasted tomatoes from the oven to the saucepan to simmer.
This is what it looks like after everything has been pureed together in the Vitamix blender. Ready for a sprinkle of ground pepper and a slice of sourdough bread!

Watermelon Juice


We have a small family, so the general life cycle of a harvested watermelon from that garden has been: We eat half of it on the same day it is picked, store the rest in the fridge & it occupies valuable casserole-sized space for an eternity.

Also, every time I eat one I think: If only I could skip the seed picking and just drink the juice. Love the juice!

The combination of lack of storage space, hatred of waste and love of the idea of drinking watermelon juice gave me the motivation I needed to try an experiment.

We had recently received our new Vitamix blender. I decided to see if it was capable of crushing up all the watermelon seeds to a point that they were ‘drinkable’. It did.

The seeds gave the juice a slight bitter taste, but the overall taste was great. Our four year old also enjoyed it enough to ask for a second glass.

Watermelon Seeds

Before making it, I did some quick research to make sure that the seeds weren’t harmful and was happy to find that they are in fact nutritive. Watermelon seeds contain Zinc, an anti-oxidant which may protect against accelerated aging, and are high in protien (~30%). According to the USDA, there are 28.3 g of protein in 100 g of dried watermelon seeds. That’s amounts to around 1 cup of kernels (dried).

In some African and Asian cultures they are consumed as a snack.

How to make watermelon juice

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 small Watermelon. Makes about 30 ounces, almost 4 servings.
  • Knife
  • Blender
  • Cheesecloth (to strain out the seeds if you don’t have a “superblender” like a Vitamix that can pulverize them)

Of course you could also grow or buy the seedless variety of watermelon.

Instructions

  • Halve a small watermelon and drop chunks of it, minus the rind, into the bin.
  • Put the lid on (duh).
  • Start the blender in Variable mode, low speed.
  • Slowly turn the speed dial up to max (10).
  • Flip the switch from Variable to High.
  • Let it run for a 1 minute, 30 seconds to give it time to atomize the seeds.
  • Pour over ice, or blend ice in with it.

Enjoy!

Night Running

The days are getting shorter, so my evening runs are getting darker each time. We live in the country, there are no street lights along my running route. In this area, one must rely on retina-rods and moonlight.

Last night as I was running along the side of the empty road, I heard voices ahead of me. My eyes focused on a gray blob about twenty yards ahead. I continued to  jog towards it, expecting people to eventually materialize.

A smaller shape broke off from the main blob and sped towards me. Some kind of animal. A big dog. It ran directly at me, jumped up, and went for my face. I used my forearm to block it. I staggered sideways into the ditch by the side of the road, tripped and landed in the grass. Big dog licked my neck.

I was was disoriented. It was all darkness, fur and licks. Now people were yelling close to me. The owners. They pulled the dog off; a big, friendly Golden Retriever. I got up, we exchanged “Sorry” and “I’m Oks” and “hahahas” and continued on our paths in opposite directions.

The moral of the story is this: If you have a plan, as I have since I was 7 years old, for what you will do when you get attacked by a dog; it probably won’t work.

Watermelon Harvest

Checking out a watermelon
Is it ripe?

We grew watermelon on a whim this year for the first time. Because the seeds were given to us, we had no idea how big they were supposed to get or what they would look like when ripe.

Our son’s excitement was the catalyst to try one out. The process of selecting the one we were going to pick, feeling how heavy it was in our hands once we picked it, and the anticipation of what we would find when we sliced into it made for a really fun experience.

The biggest payoff was, of course, the eating of the watermelon; it tasted fantastic. They contain so much juice that I’m looking forward to figuring out how to extract the juice directly. Cheesecloth is on the ‘to buy’ list.

Freshly picked watermelon
The watermelon was too heavy for a 4 year to carry, despite his best efforts.