This did it for me...
[Updated 19 January 2012: Still maintaining; weight seems to vary between 175-185; last weigh-in was 182.8 on 17 January 2012. Edited the article to reflect current eating patterns.]
[Updated 11 October 2011: Maintaining at the 185 lb. level, which might turn out to be my permanent weight. Feel excellent, with much more energy, and a spring in my step I've not had since I was in my twenties. Can't recommend this book highly enough to anyone who has struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. It literally saved my life.]
Me, on the left, in August, 2008
A lot of folks have asked what my dietary plan is like. (It's not a diet; saying it's a diet implies it's a temporary change. It's not. It's a permanent change to the way I eat.) BTW, it's also not an Atkins-style high-protein diet, either. It's a plan with a balance of carbs, proteins, and heart-healthy fats. Here's a semi-detailed description of what I eat.
Following the principles of Sugar Busters! (link goes to Amazon for the $7.99 paperback version), I avoid, as much as possible, anything with a lot of sugar in it and carbs with a high glycemic index (i.e., they cause the blood sugar level to rise faster than other foods). Potatoes, if I remember the book's info correctly, cause the blood sugar level to rise faster than even pure sugar does, which sucks pretty bad when you love potatoes as much as I did. (Luckily, the ironically named sweet potatoes, which are higher in fiber than regular potatoes, are a handy substitute.) Instead of regular white bread, I eat whole grain bread. I read the labels and pick breads which are high in protein and fiber and have low or no sugar added. (My favorite and the best I've found so far is Heidelberg Rye. It's hard to find, but it's what I use for sandwiches exclusively when I can. Two other good breads are the Country Kitchen Double Fiber and the Weight Watchers seedless rye, both of which are relatively low in calories but have very good fiber content.) I substitute, as much as possible, whole grain versions of pasta, tortilla wraps, etc. for their standard versions, and so on.
So, what do I actually eat? Most of my plan is based on sandwiches. No, really. I find the use of the humble sandwich the easiest way to portion carbs and proteins. So, my breakfast consists of a salad (lettuce and carrots), a soup (preferably one of the high fiber varieties made by Progresso, and a Dagwood sandwich made with whole grain bread and some lean source of protein (Egg Beater omelet, tuna, low-fat chicken, turkey, and/or ham). (Stop snickering back there!) Almonds have a good combination of fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats, so I prefer them. I also include celery to add bulk and fiber.
When I go out for a special occasion, I try to scale back one of my first meals, cutting back, especially on the carbs.
So, the basic principles I follow are:
- Avoid anything with a lot of sugar, high glycemic index rating.
- Switch carbs with whole grains and veggies with low glycemic indices.
- End most meals with a heart-healthy high fat item like almonds, cashews, etc. It helps your cholesterol and the fat content signals the body that it's full.
- Never eat a large meal before bed. I usually have a bowl of cereal, usually with some walnuts or almonds in it, and some yogurt before going to bed on my work days. Eating multiple smaller meals, which is healthier, just isn't practical for me. If I do eat anything later, I skip the carbs and do a salad, a bowl of healthy cereal, or a yogurt.
Me, around August, 2010
Here's a series of pics of what a typical meal was like around the Summer/Fall of 2010, minus a handful of almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc. Lately, I've added a bowl of soup to my meal as well, which adds some calories and aids in feeling full.
Salad of lettuce and carrots with 3-4 slices
of Canadian Bacon (Yes, Canadian Bacon
is actually recommended by the book!)
Broccoli with olive oil and garlic
Low-fat Ham, Turkey, and Cheese Dagwood
The whole meal, minus the almonds...
And that's basically it. Two meals like that depending on your portion size, amount to around 1400-1500 calories a day. Normal diet, if food labels are to be believed, is around 2000 calories a day. Not exactly rocket science to see how I lost weight on this... And, BTW, I'm not going out of my way to exercise - at all. I work night shift, so I'm not in any regular exercise program yet. (I wasn't able to keep going to the gym in the wee hours; I just wasn't getting enough sleep/rest turning my body clock around twice a week to go from day to night and back again.)
My eating habits are in maintenance mode now. My usual meals are as follows:
- Breakfast (usually the largest meal of the day) consists of a healthy soup (I try to use the high fiber Progresso soups, if they're findable); salad of romaine lettuce and maybe carrots, and a sammich. Usually the sandwich consists of low-fat ham and/or turkey with no-fat cheese on Heibelberg rye.
- Lunch is usually another soup and another sandwich and a low sugar protein drink.
- Dinner is the smallest meal of the day. If I'm eating at home, it'll be a meat, a veggie, and some low glycemic index carb (sweet potato or maybe whole grain bread). If I'm working, 'dinner' is at 8AM, and it consists of a bowl of cereal and a yogurt.
I'm maintaining now, rather than trying to lose weight. I'm also interested in changing my body composition by experimenting with protein supplements. I've used the Ensure High Protein Shake, which has 200 calories, 26 grams of protein, and only 5 grams of sugar, and, as a bonus, it doesn't taste like crap. I'm trying out a home-brew protein drink now, and it's good, but not unlike drinking chocolate sand, lol. I haven't been keeping up with my experiment, tho, as I'm just plain lazy. I'm starting to contemplate some kind of outside exercise, maybe running again, when the warm weather returns. Moving on...
Me, and my beloved Effie, during our Kodak moment, June, 2011