Please visit theoptimalone.tk to see my new site. I likely won’t be posting to this domain anymore.
I can’t believe Ive been writing a blog about nutrition and exercise without linking this page. I was probably more influenced by this single article than any other I’ve read before or since. Fantastically written, much humor, and so many links I’ve yet to get to them all.
My own quest was different, and probably a lot less interesting.
All my life I ate a diet similar to most Americans. Breakfast cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich chips and fruit for lunch, and meat potatoes and veggies for dinner. I was an athlete in high school (volleyball) and despite being the shortest person on the team I was the heaviest. When I discovered this little fact, I assumed I would benefit from losing a few pounds and started on a vegetarian diet. This was extremely short lived however, as my energy waned, and I felt like I was always trying to run on empty.
After high school I participated in few exercise activities, ate a copious amount of food, and consumed alcohol seemingly by the gallon. Until the bet.
Watching the movie Blade: Trinity, I joked about how in shape the actors were (particularly Ryan Reynolds) and how I could get into shape like that with no problem. A few friends bet me that I couldn’t, and being the type to not back down from a challenge, I took the bet.
It mostly started with some upper body weight training, and tons of cardio. I went from 220lbs down to about 210. Not bad, but not great. Considering the time it took, and the amount of exercise I was doing, it wasnt a very good ROI (return on investment). So it was maybe 6 weeks or so, and I really looked different, but no where near Ryan Reynolds.
During my search for new exercise protocols, I stumbled across the great bodybuilder from the ’70’s Frank Zane, and decided I’d like to look like he did, and so I followed his training program for quite a while. Then Mike Mentzer came along. My whole thought process shifted when I discovered Mike. Everything changed.
I bought Mike’s books, read his articles and the articles written by anyone ever associated with him, and discovered what real exercise is. Plain, hard, work. Eat, work, recover. That was the equation. And so I did just that. Without paying any attention to my diet I ate myself into oblivion, and trained 1-2 times per week for strength and hypertrophy. And I got my bodyweight up to 235lbs.
I wanted abs. Ive really never had them, but I set my mind on that particular goal. A friend of mine and I decided to diet down, and after I lost my first 10 lbs I was excited. But the weight loss stopped there. Simply eating less wasnt helping, so again I let my fingers do the walking through the internet and came across a “real food” diet. My eyes were open!
Meat, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. (paleo) That was my choices and they were plentiful!! 6-8 small meals a day, lots of water and presto!! I lost 10 more lbs. But once again, the weight loss stopped. So I again went searching all over the internet for “nutritional truth” and up popped the above article. Thank Zeus.
Im now in a good spot with my knowledge regarding diet. Meat and eggs as a foundation, some veggies and fruits for flavor and variety. Thats all. Fibrous veggies are a poor calorie source, with some different textures and tastes. When I say I eat fruits, thats technically true, as avocados, coconuts, and olives are all fruits. Yet they are mostly fat by calories, and have next to zero carbs. Peppers, tomatoes, and pickles have next to no calories and also make for some interesting flavors. Fruits and veggies are not required though, and should be thought about in that way. Eat some, or none.
This will not be as thorough as it could be. There is simply too much variation between different individuals to write a completely comprehensive guide. This will be an easy way to get your program started however, and is the place I usually find myself in whenever I feel I’ve gotten a little too fat.
1) Stop eating ANY type of sugar products. Honey, agave, fruit, fruit juices, soda, etc. This should go without saying, however many people are so convinced that an apple a day is a necessity that they will refuse to give up fruit. I can tell you that if you continue to eat it, you will have a very difficult time losing that last 10lbs.
2) Eliminate ALL grains, beans, nuts, seeds and dairy. This means no corn, rice, wheat, oats, millet, quinoa, rye, barley, garbanzos, kidney beans, peas, peanuts, soy, limas, chick peas, black beans, refried beans, hominey, hummus, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, yoghurt, protein powders, ice cream, etc. This is not a complete list, so if I forgot something, dont sneak it in there.
3) Keep carbs to 5-10% of calories. This means usually 25-50 grams per day of non fiber carbs. Less may be better. Or necessary. If anything makes people fat, it is over consumption of carbohydrate. This is a hard rule for some to follow, but may be the most critical. On top of that, the harder it is for you (mentally) to eliminate carbs, the more you should restrict them.
4) Keep Protein intake on the low end. 20-25% of total calories. Access protein very easily becomes glucose (blood sugar) and sugar makes you fat. Mega doses of protein will also jack your kidneys and possibly liver by creating access urea, ammonia, and nitrogen. Remember, beyond need, there is NO REASON to over consume protein. Eating beyond your need will not somehow force your body to utilize the left overs. Rather, your body will turn it into glucose, drive up insulin, and store your calories as fat.
5) Exercise harder. Figure out ways to make exercise harder and it will work better for you. There is no mystery to exercise anymore. Hit the weights, throw in some high intensity cardio, recover properly, and repeat. I have been using Crossfit style exercises for the last few weeks, and I love it.
6) Drink at least a gallon of calorie free liquid everyday. Diet sodas on occasion wont kill you, but do your best to stick to water, tea, and coffee. For some people, artificial sweeteners will make you hungrier, or cause an insulin spike, both of which can hinder fat loss.
7) De-stress yourself. Dont build angst about ANYTHING regarding your fat loss. Relax as much as is possible. This is very crucial. Many people will go into a fat loss program so desparate to lose “weight” that they’ll worry about every little detail, from grams of fat, to macro ratios, to what flavor of crystal light creates the biggest insulin response. Focus on the bigger picture. It didnt take you 6 weeks to get fat, so dont expect 6 weeks to a 6 pack. Lose weight slowly and predictably and it will come off with time.
Thats about it. I gave you a lot of “donts” so heres a list of “dos”;
– Do eat meat, eggs and veggies. Lots of meat. Avoid the starchy veggies, but enjoy greens, totatoes, bell peppers, onions, some squashes, cucumbers, etc.
– Do use salt, especially iodized salt. After a longer period of avoiding boxed, and canned foods, you probably wont get enough sodium in your diet. Use occasionally and enjoy.
– Do have a cheat meal, but try to avoid the worst foods. If you currently live for pasta night, enjoy a pasta dinner once a week. Work out harder than you ever have before, portion yourself, eat slowly and enjoy. Next day, start back on your diet in a militant way.
Again, I am available for nutritional consultations and personal training. Contact me through this website for more info.
I recently finished a book written by Dan John called Never Let Go. Great read, easy to understand and plenty of fantastic material. Anyone who ever had an interest in any form of exercise should read it.
In the book he references a diet he uses to lose body fat. The Velocity Diet. If I remember correctly, its something like this: -Figure out your daily calorie needs -Consume that many calories everyday in the form of protein shakes -A minimum of 5 shakes a day is required -No other food is allowed -Add a little extra fiber if you experience diarrhea *I’m gonna assume one could likely add anything into the shake as long as its calorie free
A few posts back I made a reference to a similar strategy; consuming nothing but eggs for a few weeks. I think the actual Velocity Diet may work more quickly, the eggs are both healthier, and likely more sustainable. If you aren’t already aware, eggs can be made at least a hundred different ways and with different seasonings, can vary taste and texture enough so as not to become bored with break the streak. Although eating any one food for long enough could result in weight loss, eggs would be, in my opinion, the easiest to use, cheapest, and an extremely healthy choice at that.
So this would be my recommendation for a 28 day fat loss diet. Figure out your calorie needs. Then consume that many calories eating nothing but eggs and some veggies. Spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and other super low calorie veggies. Nothing else. Eat a minimum of 3 meals per day. Drink calorie free drinks, and take a little fish oil. Done and done.
In Dr Kwasniewski’s book, he suggests that optimal dieters spread the word about this way of eating in their own local environments. I strongly encourage this practice and as proof, I created this blog.
The Optimal Diet is the best diet one could possibly adopt. Running the human machine on fats is like using gasoline in your car. It just works. Try putting anything else in the tank and you’ll have a tough and expensive time trying to fix it. Yes the body will use carbs for energy to a certain degree, however, this is only because it’s toxic in high doses and if your body doesn’t use it, you’ll die. See this.
If your pancreas works still and you are able to get the sugar out of your blood, much of it will become fat. This doesn’t mean your pancreas is working normally though. You could be pumping out massive amounts of insulin to get your sugar down, and when that mechanism stops working, you have diabetes.
This does NOT mean you should not eat carbs. It only means that CHO should not be your primary fuel. 40-60g a day is the sweet spot for most people. Eat them all at once in the middle of the day if trying to lose fat.
Dr. K also recommends keeping the Optimal way of eating out of friendly dinner table conversation. I humbly disagree. Check out Kurt Harris’s site Archevore, and look for the post about smoking the candy cigarettes. I feel the same way that Dr Harris does about the situation.
My cousin’s son was recently diagnosed with Celiac’s disease, which is basically a severe allergy to Gluten. (I truly believe most humans don’t digest gluten appropriately, and as a consequence end up with major digestive issues, including poor nutrient absorption.) One of her friends told her about her own attempt at a gluten free diet. She claimed it was too expensive to continue, and so had to do away with it. I argue this is blatantly false.
12 eggs, 3oz potatoes, 2 cups heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons of butter would be plenty for any optimal dieter for one day, and total price would come to roughly $5 U.S.
In my own opinion, the Optimal Diet would be a gluten free diet. This protein can inhibit nutrient absorption and by itself, is very poor protein source anyway. Dr. K does include wheat flour and breads in many of his recipes, however, a simple substitution of rice flour or potato starch is recommended. These powdery Carb sources are without much protein to begin with, and do not contain gluten.
I’ll be posting a few gluten free recipes with Optimal ratios in the next day or two. Stay tuned.
View this and tell me I’m wrong.
After a few weeks of eating potatoes regularly, I finally bought an electronic food scale and weighed a potato. Wow. They are a lot more dense than I thought they were, and they’re a huge Carb load as well. This is not as I’d like it to be. The amount of potato one should eat is 3-4oz a day. I was eating 7 or more! Double my Carb intake. Damn.
I bought rice cakes, plain organic brown rice cakes with salt. These have 8 carbs each and they are a nice texture. Virtually 100% starch, and easily accessible. 2 dollars for like a dozen cakes. Tastes great with cream cheese, or mascarpone cheese. Fran likes to add a little fruit, or nut butters.
I still think potatoes are a better food than rice. Or fruit. But the amount of potato one should be eating to get your carbs in for the day is probably a lot smaller than you think.
Time to get serious. Weigh your food.
Ill be using the scale for meats, potatoes, fruits, other veggies, and cheese. These are normal foods for me to guess on. I would also recommend using the scale for nuts and nut butters, protein powders, and other supplements. Its easy to under estimate on these.
In an effort to make ratios as good as possible, it’s almost a necessity to weight your food. Over doing fats probably isn’t gonna hurt as much as over doing the carbs and or protein, but the carbs and protein are only needed in very small amounts.