My cheap, convenient, fat loss diet explained

Disclaimer: do not try this at home. Or if you do, remember that it is entirely your responsibility.

I have been eating tinned food for the last thirty-six hours. There’s a reason – and a plan – for it.

Over the last two months I stopped monitoring closely my food intake and, unsurprisingly, I put on two stone (twenty-eight pounds, or approximately thirteen kilos). I went from a tried and tested system of 80% control over food / 20% freedom to eat anything, to total anarchy.

I thought I could go back to the old system and very slowly lose the weight, but I feel so uncomfortable carrying these two extra stone around (not to mention that it has made my running an ordeal) that I decided a diet was needed.

I also realised that the way I feel about this is very similar to when I wanted so much to stop smoking but kept failing every attempt and was livid with frustration. So it just made sense to apply the same approach I used when I finally succeeded to stop smoking – six years ago!

During the weekend I wrote down all the ways I could think of to remove or change situations that lead me to overeat, for at least a period of time (this is not a diet that I intend to stay on indefinitely):

  • walking past ‘forbidden’ food while shopping for groceries
  • wondering what to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner
  • becoming so hungry that food has to be had – now!
  • letting blood sugar spike and crash, which starts a vicious circle

I also took into consideration a few elements that can interfere with optimal nutrition or dieting, such as:

  • believing that I cannot have a good diet on my current tight budget
  • hating cooking for myself
  • resenting cleaning up after cooking
  • fearing to lose muscle as well (or instead of) fat
  • not having enough energy for sports

Enter Tim Ferriss. I recently read his book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ (which I highly recommend by the way) and was intrigued to find out that he had also applied his unique approach to nutrition, and in particular to nutrition for men who are focused on fitness results like himself. His method consists of deconstructing any challenge to get to the core and obtain quick results, and he has successfully applied it to language-learning, ballroom dancing, swimming, martial arts, and of course business, where it all started. The moment I watched him prepare his three-minute ‘slow-carb’ breakfast I knew that this was going to be the inspiration for my own fat loss (and quick breakfast).

His fat loss diet lists a number of foods that you can eat as much as you want of, but I wanted to set a limit because I know myself and unfortunately I can eat too much of anything, just for the sake of eating. I did not want to spend my days weighing stuff, so I thought that for a while I could live off tinned food. Pre-weighed, pre-calorie-counted, cheap and convenient.

On Sunday I added and subtracted quantities several times on paper until I reached what I believe is a good combination of nutrients (again, as a diet, therefore for a limited period of time). There’s fish and chicken, pulses and vegetables, oil and eggs. All good. There is no bread or pasta, nor rice or potatoes, and I know it is not ideal, but these are my trigger foods and just as I stayed away from pubs and clubs when I stopped smoking, I need to stay away from them for a while.

I repeat, some nutrients are missing, but I intend to catch up on Sunday, which for the time being I am maintaining as a day when I can let go of the rules.

So here is my 2,000 calories eating plan:

Breakfast:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tin sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tin garden peas
  • 1/2 tin green lentils

Post-workout:

  • Protein shake (2 scoops)

Lunch 1:

  • 1 tin tuna in spring water
  • 1/2 tin sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tin garden peas
  • 1/2 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Lunch 2:

  • 1 tin tuna in spring water
  • 1/2 tin sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tin garden peas
  • 1/2 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Afternoon snack:

  • Protein shake (1 scoop)

Dinner:

  • half a pack (250g) chicken thighs
  • 1/2 tin sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tin garden peas
  • 1/2 tin green lentils
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

After dinner snack:

  • Protein shake (1 scoop)

Repeat for six days, take one day off, then start again. However, as I expect to be completely bored with it by Thursday, I am already putting together a comparable plan with different food for the following week.

I shopped for all those tins for a week over the weekend (I could not carry them all home in one go – and I live across the street from a supermarket!), and now I intend not to set foot in a shop unless absolutely necessary. I even considered leaving all cards and cash at home, but my Oyster card (London transport pass) doubles up as a credit card and fast-pay, so that card is the only thing in my wallet now.

I also cooked all the chicken yesterday, made six portions and froze five.

In the evening I open all the tins for the following day and put together the meals. I usually microwave my eggs in the morning, but I keep two hard-boiled ones in the fridge if I am in a hurry and cannot spare even two minutes. And that’s because I want all the chances on my side so that I do not need to think of food. If it’s time, I know what I should eat and I have it ready for me right there.

I got the idea of a second lunch from Tim Ferriss too. I have it between 4 and 5pm (three to four hours after lunch) and it keeps me going until dinner time without becoming so hungry that I jump on the first quick fix I can find.

The best thing about all of this? My four meals a day for six days cost me (protein powder and herbal teas included) forty-eight pounds.

I am just one and a half days into this project and I have no idea if it is going to work, but I have got a very good feeling about it. I will definitely let you know how it goes.

Posted in food and drink, health and fitness
3 comments on “My cheap, convenient, fat loss diet explained
  1. Sabrina says:

    While you are doing this you could take a vitamin supplement to help make sure you are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals and maybe a calcium supplement given your lack of dairy consumption. Calcium is important for men too!

  2. Luca says:

    Sabrina – thanks for the advice. I have been taking a multi-vitamin tablet every day for years, it contains calcium too. Also, I intend on have quite a bit of cheese on my day off the diet 😉

  3. Hello, solid and illuminating article. I wish to add a few inputs. If you have tight cholesterol, then you may inquire, will a low fat diet lower cholesterol? This is a crucial question, because it is a easily known fact that the most effective way to lower cholesterol is through diet. For Certain one ingredient of a diet for lowering cholesterol will take represents low in fat. Simply this is only part of the report. It is primary to pull in that it is the supersaturated fats that you want to eliminate it from the foods you eat.

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  8. […] friends are by now familiar with this, and often joke and ask me if this week I am eating out of tins or on the Master Cleanse. So here we go, another fad (perhaps) but this time in line with my […]

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