It has been 3 years since the last edition of this post series.
I started this post in June 2019, but I was changing things up, so I delayed. Then I made more and more changes. I feel I’m settled for now.
There were three big changes to my diet:
- The movement towards lower fat, higher protein, and higher carbs.
- Back to being strict Gluten Free. I didn’t want to go here, but my hand was forced. See the post Gluten / Wheat – Just When I Thought I Was Out… for details.
- Drastic reduction in dairy and meat consumption. It started as an experiment. See the post Listening to the Smartest Vegans for details. But as the experiment went further, I not only felt better without the meat, but I lost my appetite to consume most meat.
90% Pesco-Vegan (almost)
Some of you may recall I was a pesco-vegetarian for many years. See the timeline here. I did pretty well. I was healthy. I gained some muscle. In hindsight, I can now see I probably carried an extra 10-15 pounds I didn’t need. Like many vegetarians, I consumed a lot of calories in the form of dairy.
Now I have no issue with dairy. 23andMe says I am 99.8% European. But last year I listened to the vegans’ argument against dairy. Two points they made were that dairy was inflammatory and that it was full of estrogen. Now, I don’t know if either is true. But, I’ll try anything if it helps speed up my recovery times between workouts. Even if it means ditching the ice cream and cheese.
What happened? Two things. First, I did notice a gradual improvement in recovery times. Second, I lost weight. I went from a stable 192-194 to 185-187. (height = 6’2.5) The last time I was this lean, I felt I looked too thin. I covered this in the post You Look Too Thin. Part of that was being tired and wearing baggy clothes. But a small part might be my skin looked better. I did get a few compliments on my complexion. Many people report better skin after dropping dairy.
I also dropped a lot of meat. Part of the reason was I no longer felt confident that my Paleo mentors were right about saturated fat. See the post Saturated Fat Revisited for details. I have another reason, which I will explore in a future post after I’ve done more research.
Maybe once a month, I’ll eat lamb. I’ll likely have turkey a few times a year. If I get a chance to have an ostrich or buffalo burger, I’ll take it.
My Avoid List
- Gluten food
- Most meat, most of the time. I do supplement with beef liver/organ capsules before and after donating blood.
- Most dairy, most of the time. The exception is fat-free Greek yogurt. If butter sneaks into a dish, that is OK.
- Sugar drinks (diet drinks too). Flavored waters like La Croix are all I need.
- Alcohol. Not my choice. I just can’t process alcohol without getting a near-instant sinus headache. At most, I can handle 2 oz of cider and sometimes not even that.
- Fried food
- Cooking with oil, most of the time. Seed oils are out. From time to time, I might use EVOO, but usually, I don’t cook in a pan, but if I did I might just use water. Boiling, baking, and pressure cooking are my preferred cooking methods. I also keep this rule in mind when ordering at a restaurant. Of course, I’m not perfect, but I do my best.
Although all healthy food is fair game, here are my current staples.
- Oatmeal. Both regular and steel-cut. Soaked with chia seeds.
- Buckwheat and Quinoa
- Potatoes. Purple potatoes are my new favorite.
- All fruit and veggies. Apples are my favorite, especially all the new varietals.
- Sardines in water or olive oil. I drain most of the olive oil.
- Lentils and legumes.
- Rice. Brown when I’m out. White at home. (My rice cooker is painfully slow cooking brown rice.)
- Nuts and seeds. Almonds and sesame seeds mostly. When you cut out most of your meat and dairy, you need calories from somewhere. This is the easiest place to get them.
- Pastured Eggs. Maybe not a staple, but perhaps 1 dozen a month. Definitely not the dozen a week I used to consume.
- Superfood powders. Chlorella, Spirulina, Amla, etc.
- Flaxseeds. (I keep them refrigerated and then grind before eating.)
- Frozen fruit bars. I replaced ice cream with frozen fruit bars. They have far fewer calories and are a great cold treat for me.
After The Peasant Diet
I touched on this before, but I used the Peasant Diet to lean out. And then I used the Peasant Diet to maintain the weight loss for more than a year. After that, I started embracing higher quality and more diverse foods. It was my reward for the struggle. A Peasant works toward a better future. I made it there.
I don’t limit my calories with the food choices listed above. I don’t need to. Once you get rid of the calorie-dense foods, keeping lean is easy.