I wanted to provide an update on my current diet. I’m stuck at 199. For reasons I explained in this post, I think it is important that I share not only when things are going well, but when they aren’t.
Using a high volume peasant diet with lots of potatoes, I was able to go from 222 to 199 without experiencing hunger. I go into detail on this approach in the post How I Used the Peasant Diet to Lean Out. Then a month ago, I posted High Volume or High Protein Foods For Fat Loss and More Thoughts on High Volume or High Protein For Fat Loss. The short version is I explained why at this stage in my diet I felt I needed to shift to a higher protein diet and focus less on high volume.
So far it hasn’t worked.
I suspect that my ideal weight range is somewhere between 185 and 200 (my height is 6′ 2.5). I want to get leaner now to discover what weight is best for me. Abs are great, but once you get over 40 your face can become gaunt at low body fat levels. I want to find the best balance.
Some people do not understand the massive differences a small amount of weight loss has as you get close to hitting your ideal weight. I found an excellent example on Instagram.
UPDATE Jan 2021: The photo has been removed from Instagram. I wish I had taken a screenshot.
Jeffrey is my height (6 ‘ 2). It is amazing that there is only 7 pounds difference between the first photo and the 2nd. My guess is he also regained lost muscle as he got back in shape. Regardless, this is an excellent and motivating transformation.
I wish his facial expression in the first photo was the same as the other two, but you can see his face looks slightly better in the middle photo, whereas his abs look best in the third photo. If he were 10 or 20 years old, I suspect the difference in the face at the two lower body fat levels would be more pronounced.
I’m close to photo 2, but not quite there yet.
My Troubles With High Protein
I’ll start with the good news. The good news is that even though I switched up my diet, I was able to hold all my losses for a month. I didn’t gain weight. I just bounced between 196 and 200. The downside is that so far the higher protein diet is less effective for me. Two things I’ve noticed:
- I get more hungry earlier in the day.
- I crave ice cream and other calorie-dense foods much more. (roasted almonds is one example)
Is this common? If I eat a huge bowl of cold boiled potatoes, I’m done. If I eat an equally caloric amount of lean chicken, I want dessert.
Photo by State Library Victoria
I am just going to assume that eating a higher protein diet consistently is something that just takes practice and I’ll get better at it. My new plan is to focus on protein earlier in the day and then finish with volume. That might control the sweet cravings.
If you have any wisdom, drop a comment below.
Sep 29, 2017 — 6:53 pm
I’m 5’11 and my body really likes me to be 185, whereas I want to be 175. Just eating intuitively the past 3 years, not “dieting,” but being mindful, I have maintained right at 185. Several potato hacks during these last 3 years always result in weight loss, but a slow creep back to 185.
In the past, I tinkered with many different styles of eating, IF, keto, LC, etc… When eating ad libitum whole-food, I tend to eat about 50-60% of my calories as fat. I have a fondness for dairy and fattier cuts of meat as well as using olive and coconut oil for cooking and salads. I’ve always eaten about a pound of meat a day, getting ~200g protein daily and 2500-3000 calories. So, I guess the ratio I gravitate to is about 200g carbs, 200g protein, and 150g fat.
Since about the 15th of September, I switched to a diet that gives me roughly 500g carbs, 150g protein, and 20-40g fat. Most of the protein is from the beans and other veggies, most of the fat is from meat and plants…no oils, dairy. My meat intake has been on the order of 4oz or less daily.
The result of just two weeks eating like this is a feeling of satiety like never before and a weight loss of 6 pounds and counting. Sort of like a half-assed potato hack in terms of weight loss, or very much like what I and others experience on “Potatoes by Day.”
My menu has been very satisfying and healthy: Breakfast – oatmeal with honey&cinnamon, several pieces of fruit. Lunch – Beans&Rice, piles of steamed veggies, salad, fruit. Dinner – Potatoes, veggies, vegetable juice from my juicer, smoothies of fruit and berries, and a few scraps of meat (chicken, venison, salmon).
I am quite surprised at how fast you get 40g of fat even when avoiding all fat. I’m surprised how much protein is in plants. I’m surprised how warm, energetic, and full I feel after eating massive amounts of carbs.
The drawbacks of eating like this are that it’s very hard to stick with when you eat out and I really miss dairy.
The big plusses are that I can drink a couple beers and not mess up my macros, I really like popcorn and rice cakes, and it helps me to eat more veggies and grains which I often neglect.
I think I’ll keep going until Christmas just to see where I end up. I’ve talked to quite a few others who have gone this route with great results, but never tried it myself in earnest. Some would call it High Carb/Low Fat, but you could just as easily call it “Vegan-lite,” lol. If I’m not mistaken, this is almost exactly the diet that Jack Lalanne ate during his final 40-50 years. He told everyone he was a vegetarian, but he also ate chicken and fish.
Just finished dinner: Huge bowl of rice covered in a ladle of chili made with beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, and very lean buffalo burger. I may have another bowl, and then a couple bananas. Figs if I get the munchies later.
Anyhow, that’s what I’m up to now.
Sep 29, 2017 — 10:51 pm
Off topic …. I’m so glad you started posting again. I’m reading paleo/primal/ nutritional & fitness blogs since over 10 yrs now. Mark Sisson’s and your’s are my staple diet every morning with my coffee. Thanks a lot and please keep it up.
Sep 30, 2017 — 6:46 am
I find it interesting that you would assume “that eating a higher protein diet consistently is something that just takes practice and I’ll get better at”. I would assume that you were mistaken to think you needed to change what was already working so well – just a thought….
Sep 30, 2017 — 7:03 am
@Tim – My inner peasant very much likes your approach. Back in the day, a lot of people abandoned the low-fat diet, but their reasons were flawed. They used too many processed foods to meet their ratios and didn’t eat enough whole foods. The pressure cooker is a godsend for legumes.
@Roland – Thank you.
@Norlee – Did you see my posts on the P-Ratio or the comments by Ondrej?
The short version is that although what I was doing clearly was working and would likely continue to work, as I approached my goal, a higher percentage of the weight loss would come from muscle and not fat. This is not much of a concern at the start of a diet, but it becomes more important near the end. Preserving muscle is more important to me than hitting a number on the scale. Protein becomes more important at lower body fat levels.
Sep 30, 2017 — 7:11 am
Thanks so much for your transparency. It’s always good to see your thought process at work and evolving, especially when you hit a plateau or challenge. It sounds as though you have been stuck at around 199 for a month or so. Could it be that a “whoosh” is just around the corner for you or, in your experience would it have happened by now?
Sep 30, 2017 — 7:29 am
@Geoff – Possibly, but the whoosh usually happens within a few days. I’ve been 199 and holding for almost a month. Besides transparency, I’m hoping this blog post helps recenter my focus as I head into October, which is going to be a tough month to stay active here in Seattle.
Oct 1, 2017 — 1:23 pm
Eat real foods and fast on the order of 16 to 20 hours per day (with the occasional extended fast and or PSMF) has been how I’ve maintained my leanness for the past 7 years and counting. I have access to a DEXA scan, so I know my weight is lean and consistent.
Performance and blood lipids are great as well, all on 30 minutes of structured training per week.
I used to track lots of things, but I don’t really track anything anymore beyond hours fasted and the length of my training. Given starting my business and training upwards of 80 sessions per week, I simply can’t be bothered.
Dr. G. Moore
Oct 1, 2017 — 4:01 pm
“Eat real foods and fast on the order of 16 to 20 hours per day (with the occasional extended fast…)” Skyler Tanner
I want to buy this guy a bottle of Highland Park.
In 20 words or so, he has provided a complete distillation. It’s what I have been doing for almost 15 years.
“In the past, I tinkered with many different styles of eating, IF, keto, LC, etc…”
It appears he hasn’t “tinkered” enough.
There sure as hell isn’t anything “peasant” about Steele. He eats more in a day than a peasant would in a week. Hell, he eats more in a day than I eat in a week. BTW, I’m a chiseled 160 pounds. Height = 6 feet.
500 grams of CHO = 2 1/2 cups of sugar.
Glycation? An undeniable connection between metabolic disease and orthopedic issues… the less sugar and carbohydrates you consume, the better joints and tendons feel. That’s why fat asses have zero functional capacity/mobility.
If we look at the endogenously produced AGEs we can see that the preponderance of their formation is a result of glucose and especially fructose metabolism.
That equates to pain, injury susceptibility, and eventually chronically destroyed tissues.
Molecular products resulting from glycation demonstrably interfere with both collagen structure and function. Collagen makes up a significant percentage of our joints and connective tissues. It is not a great leap to postulate that disrupted collagen can lead to the above described problems.
The corollary to Price’s thesis-observations was that those populations that relied largely on starches (particularly grains) suffered tooth decay, degenerative arthritis, etc, etc. —– Your search for the optimal eating plan need go no further than to study Price’s book — even looking at the pictures is an education.
I’m not against moderate CHO a few times a week. And maintaining the right protein-to-CHO ratio the rest of the week.
A moderate amount of starch — about 100-150 grams every 3 to 7 days. I refer to this as my upcycle.
And I’m not strictly low carb. Higher CHOs a few times a week → to make sure your insulin function is working (metabolic flexibility) → a dietary stress (hormesis) that upregulates insulin (keeping the metabolism working in both directions). Too low carb might make you a little glucose intolerant, and more difficult for your metabolism to adapt when you do get a CHO meal.
You can get away with eating more carbohydrates when you are fasting because you are depleting liver glycogen.
If your muscle glycogen is full (because you haven’t exercised), and your liver glycogen is full because you haven’t been fasting, and then you eat CHOs on top of that, you undergo de novo lipogenesis where you convert all this stuff to triglycerides, and they get stored as visceral fat, and that is really the start of all your problems.
After a workout (deplete muscle glycogen), you can eat more CHO in the post workout phase without injuring yourself. But you don’t have to because you can replenish glycogen with lactate and glycerol from stored fat.
If you fast all day long and deplete liver glycogen you could eat more CHO in your eating window with suffering as much damage. You can get away with more CHO in a post-fasted state.
Optimize the diet for nutrient density instead of energy density: consuming foods high in vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. The greater the nutrient density of your food, the less you need to eat to satisfy your nutritional needs…
Protein is the most essential nutrient. CHOs exist only to provide energy. Added fat only provides extra energy.
Oct 1, 2017 — 4:29 pm
Thanks, Dr. Moore.
I have certainly done my share of endless tinkering over the years, and believe tracking certain lynchpin variables has utility, but far too often people mistake signal for noise in everything from workouts to diet to lifestyle.
I find De Vany suffers a little Dunning-Kreuger due to his great genes, but the article that was written about him at PaleoFX still sums it up nicely: “I’m the unquantified self.”
If your added effort and attention doesn’t yield a measurable increase in a result that you can be sure isn’t noise, it’s not worth it.
Oct 2, 2017 — 12:44 am
Something I know nate miyaki recommends is escalating carb intake at night . So lean protein based meals throughout the day and feast on lean protein and whole food carbs at night. This may control your cravings. It worked for me
Oct 2, 2017 — 8:58 am
@SKylar – 16-20 hours is too much for me on a daily basis, due to my high coffee consumption. However, I can shoot for 14 or 15 hours. That might be enough. Now I average 13.
@Matt – After I published, I started thinking along the same lines. I’ll use the “protein early” in combo with a shorter eating window.
Oct 2, 2017 — 9:36 am
I guess I’m more “Mid-Victorian” than peasant, lol (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672390/)
“Analysis of the mid-Victorian period in the U.K. reveals that life expectancy at age 5 was as good or better than exists today, and the incidence of degenerative disease was 10% of ours. Their levels of physical activity and hence calorific intakes were approximately twice ours. They had relatively little access to alcohol and tobacco; and due to their correspondingly high intake of fruits, whole grains, oily fish and vegetables, they consumed levels of micro- and phytonutrients at approximately ten times the levels considered normal today.”
“The working class diet was rich in seasonal vegetables and fruits; with consumption of fruits and vegetables amounting to eight to 10 portions per day. This far exceeds the current national average of around three portions, and the government-recommended five-a-day. The mid-Victorian diet also contained significantly more nuts, legumes, whole grains and omega three fatty acids than the modern diet. Much meat consumed was offal, which has a higher micronutrient density than the skeletal muscle we largely eat today . Prior to the introduction of margarine in the late Victorian period, dietary intakes of trans fats were very low. There were very few processed foods and therefore little hidden salt, other than in bread (Recipes suggest that significantly less salt was then added to meals. At table, salt was not usually sprinkled on a serving but piled at the side of the plate, allowing consumers to regulate consumption in a more controlled way.). The mid-Victorian diet had a lower calorific density and a higher nutrient density than ours. It had a higher content of fibre (including fermentable fibre), and a lower sodium/potassium ratio.”
Oct 2, 2017 — 9:43 am
re: “500 grams of CHO = 2 1/2 cups of sugar.”
I’ve yet to see 2.5 cups of sugar that also contains 50g of prebiotic fiber, 100g of protein, and many times the recommended daily intake of nearly every nutrient and vitamin, not to mention flavonoids, quercetin, catechins, anthocyanins, and countless other polyphenols and phytochemicals with well-proven health benefits.
Oct 2, 2017 — 10:30 am
How much coffee are you drinking? I drink on the order of 1200-1350g brewed coffee daily without issue, typically by 1pm. I might be a fast metabolizer though, so YMMV.
What symptoms does the coffee and fasting present you?
Oct 2, 2017 — 11:45 am
@Skyler – I’m lower than you, but I’m a slow metabolizer, so I spread out my intake.
If I have too much coffee I get anxious and need carbs and salt more than normal.
Dr. G. Moore
Oct 2, 2017 — 5:18 pm
Point of agreement:
Mid-Victorian — 1850 and 1872
“The Victorian urban poor consumed diets which were limited, but contained extremely high nutrient density. Bread could be expensive but onions, watercress, cabbage, and fruit like apples and cherries were all cheap and did not need to be carefully budgeted for. Beetroot was eaten all year round; Jerusalem artichokes were often home-grown. Fish such as herrings and meat in some form (scraps, chops and even joints) were common too. All in all, a reversion to mid-Victorian nutritional values would significantly improve health expectancy today.”
1870s: Victorian health was challenged by high-sugar foods, sedentation and over-consumption of processed and nutrient-depleted foods and beverages.