A Chef’s Guide to Losing Weight

by Matt Moore on January 31, 2013 · 38 comments

in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

scale

Last week, I was enjoying a successful post-fishing lunch at Puckett’s Grocery in Leipers Fork, TN. Perhaps I should clarify…I was indulging in Southern comfort food: fried catfish, mac n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, drop biscuits, and an ice cold Yazoo Pale Ale. Delicious – yes. Healthy – no way. Sure, maybe I went a bit overboard, but I was simply trying to help a friend celebrate. After all, he had just reeled in a 9-lb bass.

It’s a known fact that Southerners enjoy our traditions. From afternoons spent fishing, to a day on the farm, or to an evening bonfire sipping moonshine with friends – Southern culture is alive and proud.

Yet, whenever I discuss my love of Southern food to strangers (anyone not from the South!), I typically get the following response: “Southern food is so unhealthy.”

Sure, they’ve got a point. We are pretty liberal with our use of butter, cheese, cream, salt, and oils – or as I like to say – adding a little ‘love’ to our meals.

But, not all Southern food is “bad.” In fact, we pioneered the organic, home-grown movement before it became fashionable among foodies. My 102-year-old grandmother would have laughed at words and phrases like “sustainably raised,” “farm-to-plate,” or “locavore.”

With that said, I do acknowledge my indulgent Southern meal is not something one should eat every day. In fact, I try to limit such meals to special occasions.

As a food and lifestyle writer, I hold myself accountable for providing wholesome, health-conscious meal ideas and recipes to my readers. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no dietician, medical doctor, or licensed trainer. However, I do know what works when it comes to eating healthy and losing weight – partially from personal experience, and partially from speaking with others.

Playing sports throughout my life allowed me to always enjoy a high level of physical fitness. That was, of course, until college came along. I blame most of my weight gain on my penchant for drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – not to mention my weekly trips to Weaver D’s in Athens, Georgia. Looking back, I’m embarrassed that I let myself gain so much weight.

Nevertheless, by reincorporating exercise and healthy eating into my lifestyle, I was able to get back into fighting weight in less than a year, eventually getting to the point where I now enjoy competing regularly in marathons.

After witnessing my results, friends of mine would ask, “How did you do it?” “It’s not rocket science,” I would tell them. “It all boils down (pun intended) to exercising and eating the right kinds of foods – and all in moderation.”

I always knew I could put my plan into a simple format for others to use. Thus, I began sketching out the following ideas for a book proposal last year. Several friends kept asking for the information and have since been successful in dropping 30, 40, and even 50 pounds to reach the weight of their dreams.

So, what’s the moral of my story?

You can have your fried chicken and eat it too! Just keep in mind that moderation is the key if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current figure, not to mention vigorous exercise several times a week.

The following guidelines are a mere foundation for simple, healthy living. Of course, I’ve supplied some of my favorite recipes to help you reach your goals. For those of you looking to renew that New Year’s resolution – here’s your chance. Become your best!

MM

The NO, LOW, GO Diet

Philosophy: Don’t starve your body; eat the right kinds of foods to keep your metabolism constantly working in your favor. Don’t consume more than you burn. Don’t be afraid to indulge every so often. Your success is determined by YOU.

NO – avoid these foods whenever possible, especially when trying to lose weight.

Fast Food
Soft Drinks
Processed Foods
Fried Foods
White Starches (Breads, Potatoes, Pasta, Rice)
Cream-Based Soups (Chowders, Bisques)
Mayonnaise
Mayo or Cream-Based Salad Dressings (Ranch, Creamy Italian, Creamy Caesar, Blue Cheese)

LOW – consume these in moderation.

Alcohol
Dairy
Carbs (try to source from Whole Grains)
Salad Dressing (Oil, Vinegar, Italian, Low-Fat Dressings served on the side)
Whole Grains (Pasta, Brown Rice, Breads, Quinoa)
Sweet Potatoes
Oatmeal (Stick to minimally processed forms)
Kosher Salt
Fruit Juices
Yogurt, Low-Sugar or Greek
Sport Drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, vitaminwater) 
Unsalted Butter
Sour Cream
Frozen Health Foods (Lean Cuisines, Frozen Organic Meals)
Appetizers at Restaurants (Start with a salad instead)
Desserts (Chocolate, Cakes, Ice Cream)

GO – fill up on as much of these foods as possible.

Water (at least 8 glasses per day)
Lean Protein (Chicken, Turkey Breasts, Pork, Seafood, Lean Red Meat)
Vegetables
Fruits (especially Blackberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, and Strawberries)
Beans (Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans)
Hummus
Almonds
Salads
Vegetable or Low-Fat Broth-Based Soups
Eggs
Olive Oil

Guidelines and Meal Ideas

BREAKFAST is the most important meal of the day. It gives your body the chance to start your metabolism (fat burning furnace) first thing in the morning. The problem is that most people skip breakfast, thinking they’ve reduced their overall caloric intake for the day. What happens? Your metabolism doesn’t start. You overeat at lunch or from snacking because you feel entitled. Instead – eat breakfast! I’m not talking about cereals, bagels, or pastries. The worst thing you can do is start your day off with sugar and carbs. This spikes your blood sugar, which shuts down your metabolism, only to cause a mid-morning crash which will likely lead to overeating later in the day. In my opinion, eggs are your best friend in the morning. Full of protein, and virtually without carbs, you want to focus your efforts on eating eggs as much as possible for breakfast. Forget the cholesterol scares of the 1980s – eating the whole egg, not just the whites, has actually been shown to improve “good” cholesterol levels.1 – 3 eggs each morning is a simple and easy breakfast. Vary your preparation method: scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled, or even as a simple omelet with diced veggies and low-fat cheese so that you don’t get stuck in a routine. Here’s my AoM guide to making better eggs. If you can’t cook, or don’t think you have time, invest in a microwaveable egg poacher. It turns out a decent poached egg in under a minute – without any added fat.

Meal Option 1
1 – 3 Eggs (Scrambled, Fried, Hard Boiled, Veggie Omelets)

Option 2
Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (Higher in protein and low in sugar)
Granola (Bear Naked Peak Protein)
Fruit (Apples, Mixed Berries – Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries)

Option 3
Hummus
Fruits and Vegetables

Option 4
Better Breakfast Sandwich (Serves 1)

breakfastsandwich
1 Arnold’s Thins Whole Grain Sandwich Bun
1 Large Egg
Kosher Salt
Freshly Cracked Pepper
1 Slice Muenster Cheese
2 Thin Slices Deli Ham
Mustard

Place the sandwich thins into a toaster. Meanwhile, in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, fry egg (no oil or butter needed) for 3 – 4 minutes, or until egg reaches your desired preference. Season egg with salt and pepper. Next, add egg to toasted sandwich slice and top with ham and cheese. Add mustard (if desired) and top with the remaining slice of bread. Serve.

SNACKS are a good thing, so long as you make the right choices. Again, think about reducing your carbs to keep your metabolism burning. As you start to get hungry a few hours after breakfast, add another log to the fire by choosing snacks that are full of protein and low in carbs as described in the guidelines that follow. Get through the afternoon with a second snack to provide energy before an evening workout.

Snack Options for Morning and Afternoon
Almonds (Handful)
Hard Boiled Egg
2 oz. Low-Fat, String Mozzarella, or Cottage Cheese
Apple
Protein Bar (Low-Sugar)
Bear Naked Peak Protein Granola (Handful)
Hummus (2 – 3 oz) and Freshly Cut Veggies
Can of Tuna (Dress up w/ Lemon Juice, Salt, Pepper)
5 – 6 Whole Grain Crackers and Low-Fat Cheese Slices

LUNCH can be difficult because you are often forced to eat out. The chef at your favorite restaurant has one thing in mind – taste.  He’s not interested in your health, diet, or well-being. Salt, saturated fats, oils, cream, butter, etc. are all used in order to make bland food taste incredible. Keep in mind the basic philosophy whenever ordering. Think lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean red meats) that are prepared without extra fat (grilled, roasted, baked) along with vegetables (steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted) and whole grains (brown rice/pasta/quinoa). Unfortunately, most restaurants do not offer whole grain choices – in these instances, sub out the baked potato, fries, rice, pasta, etc. for a double serving of vegetables or a side salad. Speaking of salads – this should be your go-to lunch option. Order greens with plenty of vegetables and some sort of lean protein to keep you full. Dressings should always be served on the side. No white dressings (ranch, blue cheese, creamy variations). Choose oil and vinegar, reduced-fat and sugar dressings, or simply lemon juice and olive oil.

Lunch Options
Salads with a Lean Protein (Dressings on Side)
Grilled/Roasted Proteins with Vegetables
Low-Fat/Low-Carb Broth-Based Soups (Vegetable Soup, Chicken Noodle w/ Whole Grain Pasta)
Green Bean, Cherry Tomato, and Feta Salad (Recipe below – serves 2)

lunchsalad
2 Large Handfuls French Green Beans (Haricots Verts), cleaned and trimmed
Kosher Salt
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, washed
1/4 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
1 Shallot, finely minced
1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Heat a pot of salted water to boiling over high heat. Add green beans, and keep immersed in the water for 45 seconds – 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately place green beans into ice water. Thoroughly dry green beans and place on a serving platter. Top with cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta. Create a dressing by whisking together the last five ingredients. Pour over salad, toss, and serve.

DINNER should be eaten as early as possible. You want to allow your body time to digest and process your food. This will not only aid in sleep and digestion, but will also ensure that you wake up hungry to eat breakfast. You will encounter the same problems at dinner as with lunch, as this tends to be a social meal. Follow the same guidelines when dining out, and remember that your choices will dictate your success. Keep alcohol to a minimum. I do endorse a glass of red wine at every dinner. If you try to go too extreme, like cutting out all alcohol, sugar, etc. – you will most likely fail. Keep it in moderation; 1 – 2 glasses of red wine at dinner or in the evening is acceptable.

Dinner Option 1
Grilled, Roasted, or Pan Seared Lean Proteins (Prepare with Olive Oil)
Beans/Legumes
Vegetables (Steamed, Roasted, Pan Sautéed)
1 Fist-Sized Portion of Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, or Whole Grain Pasta
1 Glass of Red Wine

Option 2
Sautéed Shrimp (Serves 1)

dinnershrimp
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 lb Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 Lemon
1/2 Teaspoon Creole Seasoning

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add oil. Next, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, careful not to burn. Add shrimp, cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Finally, add lemon juice and seasoning – cook until shrimp are bright pink and firm, another 2 – 3 minutes. Serve.

Option 3
Squash + Green Beans

1 Handful Green Beans, ends trimmed
Kosher Salt
1 Yellow Summer Squash, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Cracked Pepper

Bring a shallow pot of water to a slow boil, add salt. Add beans and blanch for 30 seconds. Remove to an ice bath until chilled and crisp. In a separate skillet over medium-high heat, add squash and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until just tender, 3 – 4 minutes. Add beans back in with the squash to heat through – taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve with shrimp.

DESSERT should be in moderation. Remember that you are trying to keep your sugar/carb intake at a minimum. Go for non-fat or frozen yogurt dressed up with sliced fruits, or even grilled fruits when the craving for something sweet arrives. Of course, if you can’t resist the temptation, eat slowly and savor the food, which should help you eat less.

COMMENTS?  Share with readers your tips and tricks for shedding extra weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle!

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David January 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Excellent article. MM should put together a meal plan ala Clean Eating http://cleaneatingmag.com/Meal-Planning/Meal-Plans.aspx
it would make for fascinating reading

2 Chris January 31, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I like the suggestions—but I don’t like the word “No”. I advocate calorie budgeting—you can eat whatever you want but learn throughout the process that while calories are equal, the effect on the body isn’t.

I think that’s better than restriction.

More here: http://www.thiiirdly.com/2013/01/17/why-you-should-budget-calories/

3 Bailey S. January 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm

So eat eggs and olive oil, but not mayo, which is made from…. eggs and olive oil?

4 ChrisS January 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm

In fact, we pioneered the organic, home-grown movement before it became fashionable among foodies.

I don’t know if I’d claim that. That was “pioneered” a lot longer ago. More recently, The South did “pioneer” KFC, Cracker Barrel, Krispy Kreme, and Waffle House.

However, The South did perfect BBQ, and for that we’re very thankful.

5 Jeff January 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm

did very similar last year (when commuting to NYC weekly), added some exercise and lost 50 lbs last year. Then moved back south and have put 25 back on…yikes. I’m back to it BUT I MUST put grits over the eggs…any suggestions?

6 Matt Moore January 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm

@Bailey – “Mayo is typically loaded with soy bean oil and egg yolks. Even the Mayo “made with olive oil” contains the soybean oil as it’s main ingredient”. I tell you to avoid mayo simply due to the fat content and cholesterol. Plain Greek yogurt makes a great substitute.

@Chris – point taken. No is used simply as a term to avoid when trying to really shed lbs. As most of the article mentions, I believe – like you – that moderation is key. Cheat days are a good thing too when needed.

7 David L January 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Thanks for the great, easy-to-follow directions. This will be a great help as I’ve been trying to eat better. (but Weaver D’s is awesome, isn’t it? Automatic!).

8 Scott Sideleau January 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm

The problem that I see with going low / no carb and NOT increasing fat intake is that you actually hurt the body’s ability to (1) burn fat and (2) feel satiated. I’ve been eating low / no carb since late November 2011 and have lost 75-lbs.

9 Shawn January 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

This is a great article! Very straight forward to the point manly non-BS, non “fluffed” up article. This article lays out the facts, you want to lose weight, you have to eat right, when you want to eat bad, keep it in moderation. Oh, and move your behind!

10 Anon January 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

You do not — let me repeat — do NOT need to drink 8 glasses of water per day. That’s completely false. You do need to drink a lot of water, and it’s always good to err on the side of caution, but much of the water you need (the so-called 8 glasses) comes from the food you eat. If you aren’t drinking 8 glasses of water every day, that’s fine. You will still be perfectly healthy. You just have to stay hydrated. Even snopes has an article about it: http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glasses.asp

11 Jason January 31, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I prefer focusing on more sustainable habits in order to loose weight. Even great ideas like this diet focus on constantly managing your foods and intake to the point that it would be difficult to keep it going for years. Combining or leaning more towards an active and fit lifestyle, as opposed to food intake, is something I can see someone continuing for their lifespan. Just my opinion.

12 Shawn January 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I’ve lost 20 lbs and have gone down from a 36″ waist to a 32″ as well as going from a 40″ chest to a 38″ chest and a 16 1/2″ neck to a 15 1/2″ neck.

All I’ve done was limit myself to not eat more than 1500 calories and I’ve had two cheat meals (note not days) so far since January 1st.

Granted, I always eat eggs for breakfast, two sunny side ups. I avoid deserts since they usually contain plenty of calories. I enjoy fat like Guacamole and aforementioned egg yolks. Sometimes I come home tired and hungry, I open a can of tuna, throw some mayo (which is listed as a no), onions, and diced serrano chiles and just eat that. As long as what I eat for the day is under 1500 calories, I’m fine. On lifting days I try to eat skirt steak for lunch and dinner… I eat lots of skirt steak now since I hate the taste of leftover chicken (I have like three rotisserie chicken carcasses with meat on them that I’ll eventually make into a soup I guess).

As far as workouts, if I average it, I do cardio like 2 times a week and lift with a Soloflex about 2 times a week.They aren’t actually causing the majority of the fat loss since I haven’t gotten into a workout routine, its all been calorie counting for me. Now I’m trying to get into a routing of doing 30 minutes of high incline walking on the treadmill a day which is easy since I just throw on some King of the Hill or Simpsons episodes on my Nexus 7 to watch and time flies.

13 paulsc January 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm

eat more veggies, lay off the surges, exercise for, at 30 minutes a day, lift some weights at 3 times a week, cardio a few times too. Its not magic, but the weight will fall off.

14 Rob January 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Great article! Another good option for a snack is a green smoothie. Almost every day I make a smoothie so green that not even light can escape. I base it on kale, spinach, water, and a shot of vanilla almond milk. Then I add a few different ingredients to keep it interesting like celery, ginger root, parsley, cilantro, one piece of fruit (banana or apple with skin on), beet, and always a small amount of healthy fat like one avocado or a scoop of peanut butter. The almond milk and the fruit give it a palatable sweetness. I drink about 1/3 of it after my morning eggs and save the other 2/3 in a sports bottle for my morning snack. It’s probably an entire day’s supply of greens in one bottle.

15 Christina January 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

It’s easier than this, simply cut out stuff with wheat and limit sugar. Seriously. I lost 50 lbs without counting calories (I could NEVER manage to do that for more than a few days) or limiting meal size (I just stop eating when I’m no longer hungry and have healthy snacks sitting around for boredom muchies). My blood work looks great and I rarely get sick.

Also, low fat isn’t going to do you much good since the fat is what tells your brain that it’s not hungry anymore. If you eat lots of healthy, natural fats (certain animal fats, avocado, uncooked olive oil, etc) you will feel sated quicker and stop looking for more to eat.

16 Nick January 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Great article! I too am from the south and love our food. I miss it living out here in Utah. These steps you outline are really the best way to lose weight and keep your sanity.

17 Joe January 31, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Matt, I saw you mention that you run marathons. I am excited to attempt my 1st marathon on sunday. Anyway from what I’ve read you should keep your carbs high when you’re a runner. How then do you explain the low carbs? Is this healthy for a runner?

18 Dani February 1, 2013 at 2:55 am

3 years ago I reached morbid obesity border with problems of high blood tension, etc. I was 27, weighting 137 kg (more than 300lb). Since then I’ve lost 40 kg reaching 87 kg (191 lb) and I have run 2 marathons (going to a half-marathon next sunday). Nobody thought that was possible, least of all my doctor. I admit that it has been hard and that I need to endure my self-discipline, but I’m not a superman. Everybody could. There are no magic recipes nor shortcuts, just common sense. When people ask me how I did it I reply “2+2=4″.
Greetings from Barcelona, Catalonia.

19 Charles February 1, 2013 at 7:26 am

While this diet is an excellent start for most, it may not work for all (I was on a similar diet for years with mediocre results). I believe diet is all about experimentation with what works for your body. In my opinion, real food is the best place to start. Stay away from processed food, though strict adherence typically results in bigger cheat meals for me (especially during the winter months).

If you haven’t heard of intermittent fasting or Leangains, do some research – it may work for you. I’ve been doing it for about a year and had incredible success without feeling restricted.

20 Jason February 1, 2013 at 8:30 am

I agree with Scott. While I am all for articles advocating a healthy diet that limits carbs, every time I see the word “low-fat” I cringe. “Low-fat” yogarts and cheeses are often loaded with extra sugars.
Also to add to the snack list, dark cocoa. My personal favorite is Green & Black 85% organic, but find something you like (maybe with chili or espresso) over 75% for an afternoon pick me up.

21 Adam February 1, 2013 at 8:31 am

@Shawn

SLOW DOWN!!! (Please.) Losing 20 lbs in a month is not healthy! Your body cannot sustain itself on a 1500 calorie diet, especially when exercising regularly, for an extended period of time. You are going to burn out quickly, and soon be in worse health than you were in 2012.

22 Heath February 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

I have two questions, and I hope in no way to offend the author of a very fine article:
1. Why do you approve of Kosher salt more than regular table salt? I mean, NaCl is NaCl right?
2. The diet you are talking about sounds a lot like the Atkin’s diet that I believe has been widely discredited. Am I wrong in making that statement?

23 Nevin February 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Why low on the oatmeal? I thought a bowl full of oatmeal every morning is good for you, at least that’s what Bob Harper says….. :)

24 Drew February 2, 2013 at 3:17 am

Great to see somebody with a lot more exposure who is against the whole “food pyramid” deal – which is unfortunately still being taught in schools/to a lot of nutritionists/doctors.
Only thing out of this I don’t agree with is breakfast being super important – I am currently following a roughly improvised CBL (carb backloading) diet and seeing GREAT results (adding muscle mass and have lost a bit of body fat) – and most days I’ll only have black coffee till around 10am unless it’s on a Saturday where I normally do 4-5 hours of strongman/powerlifting and the earlier calorie intake helps.
That being said, there is no perfect diet for every single person out there. You really need to play around with different things – and stick with them for a decent period of time – to see what works for you and what doesn’t.

25 Michal J. February 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm

This almost sounds like Paleo / Primal way of eating. Although it goes just half of the way, instead of going all in.

And by all in I mean the “no grains, no sugar, no legumes; eat the rest all you like ‘cos your body ain’t stupid and will manage your food intake well if you stop feeding it sugar all the time” approach to eating.

Be forewarned that when you start eating like this you might not want to go back and you might lose weight naturally (at a reasonably slow pace) without even trying. ;)

26 John February 3, 2013 at 2:57 am

Great post.

I have one bone to pick, though.

I disagree that there is one PERFECT meal scheme; I think that claiming breakfast as the most important meal of the day is not helpful for many people.

I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I’ve found that even though there may be an “optimal” schedule for eating, one of the things that torpedos success in one’s fitness endeavors is to sacrifice getting ANYTHING done on the altar of looking for the PERFECT thing to do. As that most manly of men, George S. Patton once said (paraphrasing here): I’d rather have a good plan now than a perfect plan tomorrow. There may be an optimal diet schedule for you, but if it doesn’t fit into your life, it isn’t optimal. Period. I’ve lost weight frontloading my food, I’ve lost weight backloading, mid-loading, and any other kind of loading you can think of. The only one that didn’t work for me was the “eat dozens of miniscule little meals throughout the day” schedule, and THAT only failed because it was such a pain in the neck to carry it off. It MIGHT have worked, but it was just too stressful to manage on top of everything else. So guess what? Even though it might have been *theoretically* optimal, it wasn’t optimal in practice. The fact is, as long as you are operating on an energy defecit (burning more fuel than you take in), you’ll lose weight on pretty much any sort of reasonable schedule.

The foregoing having been said, I highly recommend eating SOMETHING every couple hours, even if it’s just a pinch of nuts to get you from breakfast to lunch.

In short, DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Whatever schedule or scheme you choose for your eating habits MUST be one that you can STICK TO.

One schedule I found to be interesting was one based on Ori Hofmekeler’s “Warrior Diet.” There’s quite a bit of (in my opinion) pseudoscientific claptrap in it, but the basic gyst of it, eat little during the day (small snacks; don’t eat NOTHING), and put your main meal in the evening. You’ll be hungry quite a bit, but I found that there are benefits to being hungry. I’m ordinarily a laid-back, “it’ll get done” sort of guy; I’m not lazy, but certainly not a type-A, “let’s gogogogogogetitdone!” personality. But when I was back-loading and staying hungry throughout the day, I got testy and volatile. Bad things, you might think, but you can learn to USE those feelings to drive you, and as a result, when I was back-loading, I got a lot more done throughout the day than when I was full and comfortable.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

27 Terry Powers February 3, 2013 at 6:37 pm

You started off talking about what we northerners call comfort food. I think comfort food can be healthy depending on my mental state.

28 Dario February 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

Most of the time the major problem are habits. That is where intermittent fasting is very strong in my eyes. I set an 5-8hr window during the day and thats where I eat quiet unrestricted.
On workout days I am rather choosing 8hrs to nourish the body properly (eating lunch at work as first meal, continuing after work at home), on nonworkout days I start off when I come home after work.

29 Scott February 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I went from 230lbs last February to 195 in June, and I did so without eating breakfast.

Eating below your caloric maintenance level is more important then when you actually eat.

I would also be cautious of eating too much fruit. Not saying to cut it out altogether, but a quick snack of fruit can become 200 calories real fast. Substitute something like a bell pepper instead (~40 calories in a cup vs ~200 in a cup of sliced bananas).

30 Emachine February 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I respectfully disagree with some of this, good general guide lines, yes. Breakfest is a myth, it is not the most important meal of the day, in fact many bodybuilders and physical people in general now follow “leangains”, where you dont have your first meal until noon, and train in a fasted state for maximum gains. Just because its in Mens Health doesnt mean its the be all end all, find what meal times are right for you.

31 Nestor February 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Amazing article!

As the comments prove though, at the end of the day, whatever works best for you as an individual is the best diet plan you can follow.For starters, skipping breakfast may work for some people but if I do that, I’m practically chomping on my desk a half-hour after getting to the office.

32 Dr. No February 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I try not to give diet advice because everyone has their own opinion, and of course, everyone is an expert. Just an expert void of any training in genetics, physiology, nutrition, or competitive athletics.

But I will share some ‘food for thought’. Hopefully this will demystify and debunk a few things for you.

First and foremost, healthy and skinny don’t have anything to do with each other. More specifically, just because a diet makes you skinny, doesn’t mean it makes you healthy. If you’ve ever seen documentaries about starving people in Subsaharan Africa, this should be obvious to you. Yet sadly, to many, it’s not. How many of you want diet tips from an Ethopian? Aren’t they literally bone-skinny? Now you get my point.

“Low Fat” is low health, low grade and low information. Take a 16 ounce tub of plain mayonnaise. Put it beside a 16 ounce tub of low fat mayonnaise. In both cases you have 16 ounces. In the ‘regular’ mayonnaise a fair share of this 16 ounces is fat. In the case of the low fat mayonnaise, there is still 16 ounces without this fat. So what is making up the remainder of that 16 ounces. When you can satisfactorily answer that question, including what associated risks come with the substitute, only then should you the low fat option. In most cases this will never happen.

The fat under the skin of a chicken has high gelatin content. It is very similar to the fat under our skin that keeps our skin tight and elastic. Your skin is an organ. Like all organs it repairs and rejuvinates itself. Yet many people find their skin wrinkling and sagging over time. Other organs don’t do this. Why? Because low fat, skinless, white meat chicken, while maybe making you skinnier (see point 1) robs you of essential fats that serve a noble purpose to you. The image of the bone skinny Hollywood starlet with her face pumped full of botox should drive this point home to you. Eating the whole chicken is common in Asian cultures. When was the last time you saw and Asian person with wrinkles like Melanie Griffith? Sure every lots of wannabe experts are pitching the low fat skinless chicken breast. HERE. Just keep in mind that two Billion Asians without wrinkles are saying something totally different. Always get some perspective

Long story short, you need to know what you need to know before you give or take diet advice. If you are looking for a good source let me recommend Mark Sisson and his site Mark’s Daily Apple to those of you not aware of it. Mark does have a solid background in genetics, physiology, nutrition, and competitive athletics. You’ll find that he would agree with many of the tips here, but also lambaste some as well. Difference is he can back it up with facts, science and countless case studies that prove rather than suggest. You likely won’t even be able to find time to read it all. But the specific answers you seek are there.

Best of luck to you all. If you came here looking for advice, kudos for taking and active role in your health. Just be sure to seek out the facts and proof of results from those who are in it for the right reasons. And as the author notes, don’t sweat a little southern fried chicken once in a while. Mental health is a part of physical health, and that stuff is downright euphoric.

33 Sharptooth February 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

In general I agree with the sentiment of this article. However, I can’t get by without my morning oatmeal! The Chef objects to carbs in the am because they spike your blood sugar, but oatmeal is very low on the glycemic index meaning it doesn’t spike it. Throw in some cinnamon and nutmeg, a tbsp of ground flax for omega 3s, 20 or so raisins or some unsweetened applesauce and you’ve got a low-calorie (250 or less) breakfast that’ll you full until noon. You can’t go wrong ;)

34 Reilly February 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm

A simple trick I learned in cooking school for catering was to only allow people you are serving one plate total of food. If they wanted seconds, they had to finish the plate, then come back and wait in line for more. 95% of the time this works perfectly and is a good way to stop yourself from eating too many calories.

Another trick if you eat junk food such as chips is to not eat out of the bag and instead serve yourself a small portion in a bowl. This can be applied to any high calorie food or desserts if you include them in your diet.

35 Jason Hall February 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Cheese?

36 Matt B February 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I know what you mean about the Southern comfort food. I live in Alabama, where BBQ and fried catfish, fried potatoes and hushpuppies reign supreme. My wife and I were actually in Nashville a couple weeks ago, hitting up McKay’s(a large book, dvd, cd, video game warehouse. It started in my wife’s hometown, Knoxville, and now has one in Nashville and Chattanooga too. It’s one of TN best kept secrets.) Anytime we’re there though, we always look for some type of ethnic food to try. Although we’re adjacent to Huntsville, the majority of ethnic food available is Greek, Asian, Mexican, and Indian. But truth is, it’s hard to find anything remotely healthy, even it’s vegetarian. I have Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear problem that pertains to balance and equilibrium, so I don’t get to indulge in Southern comfort food very much. I’m fighting the battle of the bulge because of it, since I’m supposed to drink water and eat raw fruits and vegetables. Yet the doctors keep pumping me full of steroids. I’m a private investigator, and being unnoticeable is a must. Most people tend to notice a fat guy following them around.

37 Mike Sanfacon March 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm

These meals look delicious!
I find it easier to eat healthy when I have great recipes. Otherwise it can be overwhelming!

38 Chris April 6, 2013 at 12:44 am

Southern foods FTW. Three thumbs up if only I had them.

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