You lose 16 pounds and what do you get? 1

I have never been what you would call a ‘chubby guy’ and as such I have never had the pleasure of enjoying that ever popular American hobby: the weight loss diet. I have always been curious what would happen if I tried, what makes them so hard, and why does everyone get ‘points’ for doing them. So when my girlfriend, Mindy, decided to start one up, I, being and incredibly supportive and handsome boyfriend, said I would go on it with her.

A little background

I was one scrawny dude growing up. I was active, I played sports, and I’m pretty sure I never missed a meal, but for a long time my body was made up of just skin, bone, and organs. When I was in middle school, one of my classmates and I had a great gag going where he would lift me up off the ground by my head, teachers would freak out, hilarity would ensue. I started growing a bit in high school, but didn’t really get going until I was 19 or 20. By then my weight reached a point and just stopped. I have floated in the same range ever since no matter what I was doing or eating (and man did I eat some awesome stuff during those years when I had a deep fryer). So I was highly suspect of any impact a diet may have on me.

So imagine my surprise when this happened:

Gettin' Skinny

Weight while on the Four-Hour Diet

What happened?

So I lost about 10 pounds in 6 weeks and I hadn’t been at this weight since I passed it on the way up over 10 years ago (and I trained for and ran 6 marathons during that time period). Dieting wasn’t that hard. I didn’t have to go hungry; I ate until I was full, but I had to make sure to eat the right foods.

We went on a diet inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book, The Four Hour Body. It is basically a “slow carb” diet in the same vein as a South Beach Diet. In simplest terms, there are two rules of the diet.

  1. Eat only ‘slow’ carbs

    You only eat foods with a low glycemic index (the sugars enter your bloodstream very slowly). As such, almost all of the carbohydrates in your diet will come from either beans or lentils.

  2. Have one cheat day each week

  3. One day per week eat whatever you want, as much as you want. He claims a bunch of stuff about how it ‘jumpstarts your metabolism’, but I think the real benefit is that it really helps you to stick to the diet. I found it much easier to be scarfing down beans Sunday through Friday when I knew on Saturday I was going to have a pizza with burritos, three donuts, ice cream and cookies, fettuccine alfredo, garlic bread, ice cream with sprinkles, 2 bratwursts, and some frozen yogurt.

Sounds a bit crazy, but it worked for me. I changed nothing else about my habits except for planning my Saturdays around eating. And I don’t feel like I’m wasting away, either. Most of what I lost was fat; didn’t think I had much to begin with, but it turns out that stuff is everywhere.

Key takeaway: Almost all diets will help you lose weight if you stick to them. If you tweak it a bit to help that part out, you’ll be back to your old skin-and-bones middle school self in no time (but preferably not).

Update: 12/9/2011
I have been off the diet for 6 months now and all of the weight has stayed off. I eat reasonably (i.e. I don’t treat every day as a ‘cheat day’) but nothing like having lentils every day. Since it worked so well before, we’re starting up another round of it, but this time I would like to keep things right where they are.

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