Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Self-Experiments and the Resulting 12 Pound Weight Loss

I was recently inspired by Richard Nikoley's speech on self-experimentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium to share some things that have been working for me over the past several months [1].  Why should you care?  Since May 1st, I have lost about 12 pounds (5.5 kgs) and I wasn't really overfat to begin with.  More importantly, this fat loss has been easy.  I eat as much as I desire every day.  I rarely crave sugar.  When I do eat sugar, my weight basically stays the same.  My types and quantity of physical activity haven't changed during this weight loss (strength training and walking).  In general, I feel great, have a ton of energy, and my concentration/mental focus has been at an all-time high.

What has changed?  Well, before I get into what I have done differently, let me cover my bases:
  1. I believe people are largely similar, but there is a heterogeneous aspect to humans and we have differing levels of responses to the same treatment [2].  What has worked for me may not work as strongly for you.  On the other hand, you may get a more significant gain than I have.  
  2. I'll point out the major, deliberate changes that I have made, but confounding variables likely exist that I am not aware of.
  3. There are many fitness professionals that are genetically lean and muscular.  I am not one of those people. You are reading from someone who, maybe like yourself, has battled through thick and thin waist sizes.  The following pictures are proof of that.  Here are some heavier times during my early 20s:

 A low point for me several years ago: 201 lbs (91.4 kgs).

I believe this was late 2007/early 2008. Weight: ~ 193 lbs. (86 kgs)

Before May 1st, I was leaner than the photos above, but unfortunately I don't have any photos from that time.  However, here are my most recent progress photos that follow the 12 pound weight loss:

 Taken at the end of July: 181 lbs. (82.3 kgs).

 August 17: 178 lbs (81 kgs).

The Driving Force: Diet Changes

Fat Loss = Diet Changes.  I have said it before: you can't outrun a bad diet.  Here's what stayed the same in my diet: no grains, legumes, or dairy (besides cheese).  Here's what did change:
  1. Eliminated basically all processed foods.  I was eating cheese, processed meats, and protein shakes on occasion before May.  This, along with the elimination of a weekly dessert, led to the initial four pounds of weight loss.
  2. After that initial weight loss came to a halt, I switched from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet.  I still eat eggs, fish, chicken, or red meat with every meal - the difference is that I switched the portion sizes.  Vegetables and/or fruits now take up the majority of space on my plate.  The larger portions of veggies and fruits have surprisingly left me more satiated.
  3. Elaborating more on #2, I went from not eating fruit to eating it liberally (i.e. today I ate an apple, a banana, kiwi, and about a cup of raspberries).  My carb intake has increased with this change, but my overall intake has decreased.
  4. I substituted red meat from two of my daily meals and replaced it with fish.  I'm now eating salmon, sardines, clams, mussels, and a few other fish with most of my meals.  I eat burgers and steak about twice a week now, and my daily four-egg breakfast has remained the same.

#s 2-4 led to my last eight pounds of weight loss.  Since then, I added my weekly dessert back in and my weight has been unfazed.  My diet hasn't been difficult to maintain at all.  I eat as much as I want for each meal.  If you want to see examples of recent meals, check out the last segment of my What I Eat series [3].

    There is an effective yet simple strategy that has helped with my weight maintenance, but that will be discussed in a separate post coming soon.  I hope some of my experiments can be effective for you.


    Floriana said...

    Sean, that's a very noticeable difference. Great job on the fat loss. You look awesome, seriously sexy.

    Good strategy and great ideas on how small changes can bring big results. Very inspiring. I think I'll start eating more fish from now on.

    Are your desserts grain and dairy free, or do you make an exception on the no grains and no dairy rule when it comes to your weekly treat?

    What's next for you? More fat loss or are you going to transition into a muscle gaining phase?

    Dr. Sean Preuss said...

    Thanks, Floriana. Let me know how you feel with the change to adding more fish. Eating red meat so often didn't agree with me the way that fish and eggs do.

    My periodic treat can be anything. I am not attracted to grains of any kind, so I never eat bread, pasta, or anything like that. Usually I go for sweets (ice cream, cookies) that don't have HFCS or hydrogenated oils.

    Moving forward, I'm experimenting with eating more protein after workouts to see if it has an effect on muscle mass. Otherwise, I am keeping everything the same (for now).