We have all seen plenty of articles on various magazines and websites about foods that we should avoid at all cost if we are trying to lose weight. Supposedly, just excluding certain foods from our diets can have a big impact and can make us lose weight. But does that work in practice? Well, it depends. It’s the food that you eat that count – not the ones you are not eating. In other words, when you exclude a certain food from your menu, are you adding another one in it’s place to make up for the lost calories?
As you will see in a minute, you can replace all the foods in your diet with different ones, and despite your daily caloric intake being the same, the difference in your body composition can be drastic.
We can go deep on this and make our diets very complicated, including things like MCT oil (which promotes weight loss) and kale shakes. But what if we can keep our diets very simple and consisting of common products we can buy everywhere and still be able to lose a ton of weight? Well, that is just what I tried to do in the last 11 weeks – and you are about to learn all about it.
My experience with a simple diet – replacing my usual foods with different ones, while keeping the calories the same
But wait, why would I want to keep my calories the same? Shouldn’t I reduce them for even faster weight loss? Well, remember that this is an experiment to determine if losing weight is possible just by changing the source of my calories.
My start: 143 lbs.
I know, that’s not a lot of weight.. However, the timing was perfect: I had just spend a few weeks on vacation and had gained about 4 pounds of fat, which is not a little. Looking at myself in the mirror, in my underwear the extra fat was very noticeable. Now, let’s see if I can get rid of it just by changing my diet. To make things even more interesting, I will NOT be dong my usual cardio every morning. So, if I manage to lose the weight, the results must most definitely be from the different foods I am eating and nothing else!
Okay, here is a quick explanation of the changes I made:
Breakfast: From Cereal + Milk to Milk + Almonds and Fruit
Lunch: From a Sandwich to..again..Nuts (I switched them around)
Dinner: From Rice + Meat to More meat and some vegetables.
Do you notice anything specific about the changes I am making? If you are used to reading nutrition labels on products or have been interested in calories/nutrition for some time it should be quite obvious – the diets has shifted to a more Atkins, low-carb style and includes more protein, especially for breakfast.
What is the reason behind increasing protein and lowering the carbs? Well, there are a few reasons – a high-carb diet is not very natural for your body and carbohydrates are most readily converted to subcutaneous and belly fat – eating a lot of fruit during the autumn will build up a nice layer of fat over your tummy and get you ready for the long winter, when food will be scarce. Unfortunately, today that logic doesn’t apply – there are supermarkets on every street and even during the winter people keep consuming delicious sweets. In fact, consumption of sweets increases during the winter, probably because of the slight depression that comes with the cold and dark weather.
The body also cannot store much glucose and is forced to put the excess sugar somewhere – usually storing it as fat.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with fat metabolism or try to convince you to go low-carb – I am just sharing the reasoning behind my diet.
What were the results I got? I am glad you asked! After the 8 weeks I had dropped back to 134 pounds, which is about a pound lower than I normally weight – my BF% was the lowest I had ever been. Coincidentally, this is also the longest time that I have stuck to a lower-carb diet for so long and avoided most of my regular high-carb foods and meals.
All of this seems great, but why did I get such results, when most people fail to lose weight on much more complex diets? Can substituting a few weight-loss foods for your current ones be enough to make you lose weight?
Well, first I have done this before, so I was comfortable with the cravings for carbs and I expected them to occur. The average person trying to lose weight fast is getting discouraged as soon as they get a craving. Also, I knew I had no choice – If I continued to eat as I did during the vacation, I knew where that would lead. As you can see, the differences are mainly psychological. This plays a huge role in weight loss.
Now let’s look at some other examples of people who lost weight and improved their health, just by replacing foods in their current diet, without actually lowering their caloric intake! Including those weight loss foods in your diet has a much more dramatic effect than simply eating less or exercising more!
First, take Sally. She was 37 years old and since she turned thirty she had been experiencing all sorts of digestive issues, combined with anxiety, depression and mild osteoporosis. Just after 3 weeks on a gluten-free and low-carb diet, based around meat, nuts and vegetables, the difference is night and day. She started losing weight extremely fast, felt better and had heaps more energy!
Now, if it’s so simple, why doesn’t everyone do that? Well, try convincing a friend of yours that she/he should give up wheat, because the gluten it contains causes digestive issues. You will be immediately brushed off and classified as a “nut”. It may sound strange, but most people don’t have the slightest interest in improving the way they eat. I for one could never understand this, but it’s a fact.
If you do want to make some changes however, here is a nice sample diet you can follow (scroll to the end of the article). As you can see, it’s high in protein and low in crabs. It also completely eliminates grains, which you don’t have to do immediately, although I would suggest it.
Now, let’s look at the top foods you should absolutely and immediately replace and why:
- Wheat – do your own research here, the idea that wheat causes digestive issues is not new, nor is it just based on ”anectodal” evidence – look up celiac disease and gluten intolerance, they are real, medical terms.
- Cheap, processed food – foods that come in shiny packages are made to taste good, not feed you. That’s why shortly after you eat them, you are hungry again. Your body feels the calories coming in, but it can’t get any nutrients from them, which makes you constantly hungry. That, and the insulin roller coster you are putting your body into every time you eat them.
Do that, and you will be well on your way to getting rid of all the unnecessary belly fat.
Dealing with cravings
But, what if I get hungry? Well, you just have to accept and expect it – if you are changing your diet from a carb-heavy to a low-carb one it is to be expected that it won’t me smooth sailing. Getting hungry, getting headaches and other similar problems are to be expected – just stick to your new diet and trust that those issues will be gone in only a couple of days and the end result will be well worth it!
High-carb foods being recommended as weight loss foods by some people
A diet high in fruits and vegetables, and even a diet based solely on bananas has been recommended by some people as a weight-loss method. The evidence for that is insufficient and even if some people succeed in losing weight on such a diet, it’s probably not because of the diet, but because of the severe caloric restriction, combined with a lot of exercise. Low-calorie diets have been shown to have all kinds of adverse effects and there are several studies on this. One study found a large percentage of participant to develop depression, almost non-existent sex drive and lethargy.
If you think about it, there is no way we could be on a high-carb diet long term in the caveman days – fruits get eaten and take a long time to grow back. Animal protein and fat was always the major source of calories.
I would recommend combining those weight loss foods with some form of exercise, not particularly for the sake of burning calories, but rather for well-being and feeling good. The benefits of exercise are many and it is not something you should skip on. I would recommend not eating a few hours after exercise – many people also report that they don’t have any appetite immediately after exercising. But yet, they stuff themselves because they read somewhere that eating protein immediately after exercise prevents muscle loss.
Well, I’d say that you should listen to your body. Also, the period after exercise is when you burn the most subcutaneous fat – eating a high-carb meal during that time will quickly undo this. Some protein is okay, but eat it only if you are hungry.
Hydration is important. This is not discussed on many health boards, but water is not enough to stay hydrated. The other missing ingredient is salt – your body cannot retain any water without a certain amount of salt ingested simultaneously. Aim for about 2 grams of salt daily and you should be fine. Up that amount if you are doing a lot of cardio workouts.
Well, that about sums it up – the basic idea is to replace high-carb and grain-based foods with natural, whole foods that are high in protein and low in carbs, which limits the choices down to meat, nuts and a few other things.