If you want to get trim, this program will do it. A few years ago, several colleagues followed this program and between 12 of us, we dropped over 300 pounds in 3 months.
Many people think that exercise is the key to getting fit, but that is only part of the solution. In fact, exercise is a relatively small part of the fitness equation; the biggest effect has to do with what you put in your mouth.
With this lifestyle, there is good news and bad news. The good news is you can lose a LOT of fat VERY quickly, but the bad news is it requires some discipline. I personally am very disciplined and was able to lose 25 lbs in 3 months. I started out at 22% body fat and was down to 7% after 4 months. To achieve these results, I followed these guidelines and still do. But if you are not as disciplined as I am, don’t despair. Even if you are not perfect, you will still see results. But the more you do, the faster and better your results will be, so read on.
First and foremost, you need to keep yourself well hydrated. That means drinking plenty of water. The rule of thumb is ⅓ of your body weight in ounces of water each day. Example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should drink about 50 fluid ounces of water each day. More is better. Here’s a good rule of thumb:
Drink a glass of water every 1-2 hours when you are awake.
Avoid drinking tap water as it contains a lot of chemicals and impurities. I usually go for filtered or bottled water.
How do you know if you are properly hydrated? When you go to the bathroom, your urine should be clear. If it is dark yellow, you have work to do. If you take vitamins, your urine will tend to be more yellow, but if you drink enough water you can still work your way back to clear each day.
Most other drinks are bad for you in some way with two exceptions. Green tea is known to provide many health benefits; I personally drink 2 cups of green tea every day, and protein shakes are also good (described in detail later).
Other drinks generally contain caffeine, or a lot of sugar, or artificial sweeteners so it is best to avoid them. Beware of diet sodas; people have been known to lose 50 lbs or more by just cutting out diet sodas. Contrary to popular belief, diet sodas WILL make you fat. Coffee is OK as long as you don’t overdo it; you are better off drinking water, but 1-2 cups of coffee a day won’t kill you.
Another fact that surprises many people is that juices are high in sugar and will make you fat. That includes orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice and V-8 juice. Juice of any kind has a lot of sugar and WILL make you fat.
I’m almost reluctant to use the term “diet” as the word implies starvation, or eating less. But I’m using the word ‘diet’ in the sense of WHAT we eat, not how much. In fact, if you follow these guidelines, you can eat as much as you want and as often as you want, and you will lose weight faster than you ever dreamed possible. If you doubt it, just ask my wife how much I eat.
Basically, there are three types of food: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. We need all three in every meal. I will discuss each one in detail below, but the basic rule of thumb is as follows. For each meal you want to eat:
- 1 palm sized portion of ‘lean’ protein
- 1 fist of carbohydrates
- 1 thumb of ‘healthy’ fat
A bigger person will have a bigger hand; therefore, he/she will require more food. The key is look at your own hand; and that will give you a rough idea of how much to eat in a given meal.
Besides eating healthy, there is a little secret to putting your body in “fat burn” mode. That is to EAT MORE OFTEN – at least 4 times preferably 5 or 6 times a day. I personally eat 6 meals a day — approximately every 2-3 hours when I am awake. The habit of eating breakfast, lunch, dinner is a modern convention based on convenience only and has no evolutionary basis.
By eating more often, you effectively keep your blood sugar and insulin stable while increasing your metabolism, which puts your body in fat burning mode. This also happens to be good for your kidneys and liver, but I’ll spare you the technical details. Now, let’s get on to the nitty gritty.
Protein is the most important food for every meal. The key is to eat LEAN protein. Before each meal, you should ask yourself, where’s the lean protein. For a protein to be lean, the calories from fat should be less than 20%. That immediately rules out all domesticated red meat. Beef, lamb, pork are all high in fat.
When you buy meat, the package will state the number of calories per serving, and the calories from fat. Make sure the calories from fat are less than 20% of the total calories. For example, if a meat has 100 calories per serving, then the calories from fat should be 20 or less.
Here are some examples of ‘good’ lean protein:
- Fish of all kinds (tuna and salmon are especially good because they contain healthy fat)
- Most all seafood including: shrimp, scallops, lobster, crabs
- Chicken, white meat only (no skin, the skin is basically pure fat)
- Turkey, white meat or dark meat (no skin)
- Egg whites (Better ‘n Eggs, Eggbeaters)
You can buy egg whites from the egg section of the grocery store. They come in a carton similar to a small milk carton. Most egg white products contain 0 cholesterol and 0 fat (check the label). A great way to start the day is with an egg white omelette with your favorite veggies (onions, tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, etc).
For those of you that have cholesterol issues, you can avoid the higher cholesterol choices, like the seafood. But if you follow my guidelines, you will see a dramatic improvement in your cholesterol levels even with the seafood (e.g., your bad cholesterol will go down, good cholesterol will go up). And latest research suggests that eating foods high in cholesterol might have little or no impact on your blood cholesterol levels.
A final note on protein, soy is being touted as a great source of protein. Though soy does contain a good deal of protein, it is not a complete protein; it is missing one of the 8 essential amino acids that the body requires — methianine. So go ahead and eat soy products, but make sure you eat plenty of the items in the above list to get ALL 8 amino acids in your diet. If soy were the only protein in your diet, it would not be very healthy. If you are vegetarian, consider making quinoa a regular part of your diet. It is one of the few vegetarian foods that offers complete protein with all 8 amino acids. You can cook it just like rice.
Remember, eat 1 palm sized portion of lean protein at each meal.
This is where most people have problems, and this is also why America is the fattest nation on earth and the fattest people in the history of mankind. The best sources of carbs are vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach or any leafy greens. Fruits are also good, berries being the best (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc). Sweet potatoes are good too. I don’t know the names of the Chinese vegetables, but in general, most all veggies are good.
Whole grains are also a good source of carbohydrate. When adding whole grains to your diet, check the ingredients on the package and make sure it contains the word “whole.”
The absolute worse things to eat are processed carbs such as breads and pastas. You should also avoid white rice. These foods are guaranteed to make you fat, tired and depressed and these are the foods that are so prevalent in the modern American diet. So, if you want to get lean, these are the foods to avoid — I told you it would require some discipline.
If you get sleepy after a meal, it means you ate too many carbs. Try to pay attention to this. In general, vegetables will NOT spike your blood sugar, therefore will not make you sleepy, but some fruits; particularly the sweeter ones, and ALL of the unhealthy carbs WILL spike your blood sugar and hence make you sleepy. If you get sleepy after a meal, it means your body is storing fat, so getting sleepy is bad. If you get sleepy, cut back on the carbs or eat less processed carbs.
Remember, eat 1 fist of “healthy” carbs at each meal.
We are trying to get thinner right? So why eat fat? Well it turns out that a healthy diet must include fat. Many years ago, people thought they could cut out the carbs and fat, and just eat protein. They lost weight and became lean, but found that it was bad for the kidneys. Fat is absolutely essential to a healthy diet; but the key is to eat healthy fat. In fact, getting some healthy fat in your diet will actually help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol.
The following foods have ZERO healthy fat: mayonnaise, butter, milk, red meat, McDonalds, the list goes on. So where do we get healthy fat? Here’s the short list:
- Raw nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts)
- Raw seeds (sunflower, flax seeds , sesame seeds)
- Seed oils (flax seed oil, sunflower seed oil, Udo’s choice oil)
- “Some” fishes (ahi tuna, salmon)
For the first two items, it is important that they are raw, not cooked, roasted, or baked. Heat destroys healthy fat and turns it into UNHEALTHY fat. Also keep in mind that peanuts are not nuts; they are legumes (same family as beans, peas, lentils); and therefore do NOT qualify as healthy fats. Though peanut butter does contain protein, it is basically junk food.
Remember, eat a thumb of “healthy” fat at each meal (about 6-8 nuts or a quarter of an avocado, or a tablespoon of seed oil)
Avoid Solo Carbs
As I stated in the previous few paragraphs, a healthy and balanced meal should consist of 1 palm of lean protein, 1 fist of healthy carbs, and a thumb of healthy fat. The most important part is the lean protein.
Take note though, this is a very important point to getting lean:
NEVER eats carbs by themselves!!
Eating solo carbs will spike your blood sugar, and will hence make you fat. Eating a piece of fruit on an empty stomach is a blood sugar disaster and should be avoided. Always have some lean protein with your carbs — preferably BEFORE you eat your carbs.
Foods to Avoid
Here’s a list of things you should avoid. All these foods will make you fat.
- White rice
- Fried foods and/or fatty foods (such as mayonnaise, cream cheese, etc.
- Candy or foods high in sugar
- Sodas (even diet sodas)
- Alcoholic beverages of any kind
- Juices of any kind (orange juice, tomato juice, V-8)
- Ice cream
- Red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork)
I have mixed feelings about vitamins. They are not FDA regulated and there is little evidence that there is any benefit from taking supplements. And if you do what I am advocating here, you won’t need vitamins. But if you generally do not make healthy choices, then there is no harm in supplementing. If you want to take vitamins, I would suggest a high potency multivitamin.
As you get your body in balance with the right diet, you will stop craving fatty and unhealthy foods. But you can still have 2-3 cheat meals a week and get excellent results. I generally eat 1-2 cheat meals a week. A cheat meal can contain anything you desire including any of the foods on the “Foods to avoid” list. When you have a cheat meal, go first class. Give yourself what you really want!
A Day in Smiley’s Life
Here is what I might eat in a typical day (6 meals).
7 AM: Egg white omelette, fresh fruit, 1 Tbs flax seed oil
10 AM: Homemade energy bar (MixABar)
1 PM: Large salad w/ non-fat dressing (balsamic vinegar is a good choice)
4 PM: Protein Shake
7 PM: Fish, vegetables, raw nuts (or Chinese stir fry, with little or no rice)
10 PM: Salmon burger, fresh fruit, raw nuts
I didn’t list it, but I drink water constantly during the day. I keep a glass at my desk and sip it constantly as I work.
Last but not least, here is my recipe for great tasting protein shakes. A protein shake contains all the nutrients your body needs; in fact it is perfect nutrition. So you can drink a protein shake as a meal. A protein shake is also an extremely healthy breakfast. Since I eat 6 meals a day, and I like the taste of the protein shakes so much, I tend to drink them as my mid morning and/or mid afternoon snacks. The best time to drink a protein shake is immediately after a workout.
Protein Shake Recipe:
- 1 Cup of fresh or frozen fruit (berries are the best)
- ½ banana
- 2 cups of water (or non-fat milk or non-fat soy milk)
- 1 Tablespoon Udo’s Choice Oil or flax seed oil (you can buy it at Whole Foods in the refrigerated section)
- 6-8 Almonds or other raw nuts (optional)
- 2 scoops of protein (if you use milk, then 1 scoop is enough protein)
Put these ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Note: You can add ice to make it like a smoothie. You can experiment with more or less ice to get it thicker if you like. If you get sleepy after your shake, you need to cut back on the fruit. The ½ banana is nice because it makes the shake sweeter, but if you get sleepy, cut back to 1/3 banana, or eliminate the banana altogether. Remember, getting sleeping after a meal means you are getting too many carbs, and hence getting fat.
You might also get sleepy if you use inferior quality protein powder. I prefer to use plant based proteins (e.g., pea, chia, hemp, etc), but you can also use whey. You can find protein powders at GNC or various health food stores or Costco. Or you can order it on-line.
Exercise is good, in fact essential for optimum health, but it is only 20% of the battle for getting lean. 80% is the diet. So, you can exercise all you want, but if you don’t eat healthy, you will still get fat. I personally try to exercise at least 3 times a week. For exercise, I walk on a treadmill at a comfortable pace (3 miles per hour) for 45 minutes while holding light dumbbells. I also wear a heart rate monitor to keep my heart rate in the optimum fat burning zone. Note that in order to burn fat, you must have a SURPLUS of oxygen. So, if you are huffing and puffing, you are NOT burning fat. Huffing and puffing is a sign that your body is in oxygen debt – not enough oxygen, or in technical terms, you are doing an anaerobic workout. To stay in the fat burning zone, you must keep your workout at a comfortable pace. That means you should be able to carry on a conversation without struggling to catch your breath. In case you are wondering, running is NOT a good fat burning exercise. It is also brutal on your joints (feet, ankles, knees, hips, etc). Even at a slow jog, you are almost definitely going to be anaerobic, and therefore NOT burning fat. So do your body a favor, skip the running and do a brisk walk instead. Your hips and knees will thank you, and you will get much leaner.
If you’ve had the patience to read this entire document, then at least you are concerned enough about your health to become informed. The next step is to take action. As with anything in life (hobbies, your career, relationships, etc.), success requires dedication and commitment. And your degree of success is directly related to your degree of commitment. Even if you aren’t perfect, any action you take will be a step in the right direction. Good luck, I wish you and your family good health and long life.