Hack my diet
April 4, 2014 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to lose weight at the moment and could do with some help optimizing my food intake.

I started about 6 weeks ago, and am using my fitness pal. I go to the gym 4 times a week, and do a mixture of cardio, weight training and fitness classes, usually for about 45 minutes.

For breakfast I'm having canned fish or boiled eggs, with chopped up cucumber and sweet corn.

For lunch I have salad with spinach, cucumber, red onions, chicken, egg on non-egg breakfast days, and cubed emmental.

For dinner I have chicken/fish/turkey with vegetables.

I snack on cherry tomatoes, carrots and babybel.

I like savoury breakfasts and don't have an oven.

I feel like I'm retaining water, I've lost 5kg in 5 weeks and am definitely not trying to rush weight loss.

What other high lean protein and low fat items could I have for breakfast? Advice on my other meals? What else could I snack on? I have no sweet tooth thankfully. I've read many many of the related questions in the archives.
posted by ellieBOA to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
5kg in 5 weeks is quite a lot. I am not sure from your question if you're trying to improve your diet to lose more, or just trying to get more variety with similar results?

I personally don't eat breakfast at all - it just works better for me. YMMV.

Some high protein items I like are:
(some) greek yogurt (but not all. Greek yogurt has become trendy and many of them are sugar packed and not that great). I personally do not care for plain greek yogurt, it's pretty sour.

alternatively I like "skyr" a lot, it's similar to greek yogurt. Siggi's is the brand we have here (texas, widely available). Macros are great - I think it's 100 cal for 15g protein / 15g carbs / 0g fat. They also have a 2% fat version I think which is similar but, obviously, with fat.

I often snack on beef jerky - there are also turkey jerky's and others but I prefer beef.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: It sounds like you're doing really great. 5kg in 5 weeks is pretty huge. I'm not sure that you really need much help!

I sometimes have dinner leftovers for breakfast. I have found that chili is my favorite breakfast! Steak and garlicky green beans first thing in the morning is also nice.

My main snacks are beef jerky or a low-carb low-sugar protein bar.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:14 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: I think your diet sounds pretty stellar! A couple of questions/thoughts:
-What kind of vegetables are you eating with dinner? I am guessing you're not eating a lot of carbs to begin with, but make sure the veggies you choose at dinner aren't too starchy
-Have you ever tried skipping breakfast once or twice a week? I do this when I feel like my weight is stalling and it seems to help, even though I make up for it later by eating a bigger lunch
-Do you drink any alcohol? That will obviously slow down weight loss
-How is your salt intake? If you feel like you're retaining water, you may need less salt - but not too little! Salt is good for you!
-Maybe consider adding more healthy fats like avocados and oil/creamy based salad dressings. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if you're already on a lower-carb diet you can really kick start your body's fat-burning propensities by eating more fat, as your body will seek fat as an energy source when it's depleted the carbs.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:14 PM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm eating courgettes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic mostly. I've cut alcohol down to maybe 2 glasses of wine twice a week. I was wondering about salt, not sure what is high in these foods? I managed to lose 5kg so quickly as I had slipped into a pretty unhealthy diet the last 6 months, cutting out Pizza Hut makes a big difference!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:18 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: This all sounds pretty good! Congrats! 5 kg in 5 weeks is great.

Just diversify what you're already eating so you don't get bored.
Try stronger cheeses like cheddar or feta - although it seems like you prefer the milder ones.
Try bean/lentil salads. Use peas/beans instead of corn once in a while.

Roasted chickpeas are a great snack. Roasted veggies are generally great, I like them with yoghurt and herbs.
Avocado/ a lean guacamole makes a nice snack. You could also try nut butters (not all are sweet).

And don't forget to drink enough water.

Keep up the good work!
posted by travelwithcats at 2:23 PM on April 4, 2014

Sounds very healthy! (apart from the Babybel). Just watch your portion sizes.
posted by devnull at 2:42 PM on April 4, 2014

If you're looking for things to critique, I guess the things that stand out to me are corn, cheese, and wine. Corn is basically just starch/sugar. Cheese is easy to overdo. And 4 glasses per week is a lot of wine if you're trying to lose weight.

I would also advise diversifying. It's easy to become bored and resentful on a diet without wide variety.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:04 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you think you are retaining water, a combo of eating hot peppers and walking afterwards caused me to shed tons of excess fluid. I did some research. The active ingredient in hot peppers forces open a channel in the cell membrane that normally only opens when you get too hot. Basically, it artificially promotes sweating/purging of water.

I found that eating the hot peppers and then going on a long walk somehow worked in conjunction to boost the impact. I initially added very hot peppers (habanero) for about two weeks, then kept the capsaicin dose up by eating medium salsa, pepper jack cheese, etc. I was walking about 7 miles two or three times per week, in addition to the "normal" walking I was already doing by living without a car.
posted by Michele in California at 3:12 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For what it's worth (YMMV and all that), I did the low carb thing that you seem to be doing, and I paid for it with loss of thyroid function. Only much later did I read the research that says that keeping your carb intake below about 120 grams decreases thyroid function. If you're female, it's even more likely. And if you already have borderline hypothyroid, as I did, it can push you over the edge.

It was very motivating to see the numbers on the scale go down quickly when I first did Paleo low carb, but much of that weight loss in the first few weeks isn't fat anyway, it's water and stored glycogen.

Not seeing the scale move AT ALL for weeks and weeks after that initial surge was the opposite of motivating. It then took months working with a nutritionist to figure out what the heck was going on and fix it. Many hundreds of dollars and a bunch of supplements later, I'm losing weight again.

So when I read your account, I hear warning bells and hope that you don't go through the same thing I did. Carbs are not the enemy, at least not for everyone. I added brown rice, Ezekiel bread, quinoa, sweet potatoes back into my diet and am doing much better.

As for exercise, I also found I could not work out worth a damn when I was on the very low carb diet. I never became "fat adapted" as all the Paleo folks kept claiming I would. I just had less and less and LESS and LESS energy, to the point where I could barely walk the dog at the end of it.

Nowadays I can do HIIT, which I have found to be the most important for me to lose weight. Amount of time, while it matters somewhat, doesn't seem to be as important as intensity, for me.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 3:30 PM on April 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

Nuts. They have good nutrition, and widen scope of flavors available to you. They go well in salads. Almonds make a good snack. Walnuts have good fatty acids.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:45 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nuts are generally speaking a terrible dieting food. They have extremely high calories by weight because they have a lot of fat, and they provide relatively low satiety. A person can sit down and eat 500 cal of nuts in no time and not even realize it.
posted by RustyBrooks at 3:53 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: Having a break from the low-carb routine is hugely helpful for me: one day a week, eat whatever it is you've been craving. It helps a lot with the psychological side of restricting your food, and keeps your metabolism up.
posted by lostburner at 3:54 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: I've had very good success / experience with going low-carb, and looking over your diet choices is appears that you are going a similar route.

I second joan_holloway's advice, agree completely there. In particular regarding your veggie choices, root vegetables (carrots and potatoes, less-so onions and garlic) are very high in carbs, and you want to avoid them (or at least keep them to a minimum).

Good for you on the exercise regimen, it makes a huge difference.

Would also recommend a healthy amount of water intake, two or three liters per day would help appetite suppression and overall good-health.

A mistake many people make when going low-carb is to look at fat as a bad thing, when actually it is the opposite. So for breakfast, eggs / breakfast meats (including bacon, ham, lunch-meats, turkey, what-have-you) / cheeses are all good. I often find that a modest portion of the above will keep me satiated all day, with no hunger pangs or cravings and can simply skip lunch. Going low-carb and low-fat and high-protein is not a good thing.

Lastly what I've also found helpful is intermittent fasting (I go one day per week), but YMMV - some can't handle it but I find that it's a great discipline and helps break any plateau effects.
posted by scooterdog at 6:52 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: It sounds like your food intake is pretty much optimized. I would actually add some chocolate cake (sparingly) or a little bit of something naughty because for me personally I burn out on that level of nutritional circumspectness pretty quickly.

In terms of healthy things sometimes I snack on that salty Korean seaweed paper. Oatmeal is a nice breakfast food and you can put delicious things in it. I like avocado sandwiches for lunch. I guess that's all I got. I'm seconding nuts because dieting-be-damned, they are great for you! :-) I don't think they are going to be the big barrier to many people's weight loss.
posted by mermily at 7:08 PM on April 4, 2014

Best answer: If you've lost 5 kg in 5 weeks, you're doing great. That's at the high end of healthy weight loss. Your diet looks fine, though really, you can eat almost anything as long as you weigh your food carefully and count calories. You'll learn which foods satisfy you and which ones leave you craving more after a couple hours. (I find that toast and butter keeps me going until lunch, whereas if I have cereal and lowfat milk, I hanker after a snack by 10 am. YMMV.) You want a diet you can sustain for the rest of your life--"diet" in the sense of "a way of eating," not "severe restriction or exclusion of certain foods I don't intend to give up forever."

And to the other commenter who remarked, "And 4 glasses per week is a lot of wine if you're trying to lose weight": that's crazy talk. :-) I have lost 51 lb. (23 kg) in the last 15 months while drinking 1-2 glasses of wine with dinner most days. If you're completely sedentary, it's probably not a good idea to replace nutritious food calories with alcohol, but if you're reasonably active, you can fit a drink or two into your daily diet while still getting the macro- and micronutrients you need.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:26 PM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the really helpful advice guys. I think I will add some carbs in as HIIT is getting harder. Re the wine, I live in France and am already opting out of the standard two course hot lunch so this is my way of staying assimilated!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:27 AM on April 5, 2014

Ah, France! I know Frenchmen who have never touched a drop of alcohol, though they have wine every day. Ce n'est pas de l'alcool, c'est du vin !
posted by brianogilvie at 9:44 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

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