“What’s your secret?” That’s the #1 question I’ve been getting recently. I’ve just lost 50 pounds, and 5 pants sizes. I understand that I look dramatically different – that’s cool. The big deal for me is that I feel a heck of a lot better, I’m healthier, and it’s easier for me to keep up with my very active 9 year-old twins.
I still have a little way to go.
So what is my secret? To be honest I don’t really have one secret. I’ve been doing a whole pile of things differently – experimenting. I see what works and what doesn’t. I constantly make tweaks. and look for results. But there are a few things I have found that consistently work for me.
But I get it, losing bodyfat is hard. Our bodies are designed to survive droughts and famines. Also, we’re surrounded by food that makes us fat and unhealthy.
I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I’ll share with you what’s been working for me. But here’s the thing, it may not work for you – everybody and every body is different.
First things first
I’m going to sound like one of those infomercials here, but seriously check with your doctor before embarking on a weight loss journey. This goes doubly if you feel like you’re having a very difficult time losing weight.
There are a number of health conditions that may nake it difficult to lose weight – like underactive thyroid, leaky gut, low vitamin D. You also want to rule out stuff that can be risky – like high blood pressure or cholesterol.
I did two things. 1. I saw my doctor and got a physical. 2. I started seeing a naturopathic doctor.
I love my naturopathic doctor – she tested a whole bunch of things for me – cholesterol, organ function, neurotransmitters. Turns out I have a genetic abnormality which prevents me from processing folic acid efficiently, and my adrenals were pretty burned out. Your adrenal glands produce a number of things – like norepinephrine, cortisol, DHEA, dopamine. If they are out of whack – getting them in line is going to be key.
What I eat
It turns out the thing that works the best for me is basically low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. It works well for weight loss, and I like the stuff I get to eat.
I avoid grains, sugar, and starchy vegetables. It’s not that hard – though I crave pizza the most. When I eat out I ask to swap potato for extra veggies. I eat lots of green leafy vegetables – usually in the form of salad, but my wife makes an awesome stir-fry with spinach.
I eat lots of healthy fats. The medical and dietary world is finally coming around to the idea that not all fats are bad for you. Most saturated fats aren’t bad. When we cook in oil, we primarily cook in coconut oil. I like the taste, and it’s super healthy.
I actually enjoy bulletproof coffee, which is coffee with a bit of grass-fed butter and MCT oil in it. It really clears the brain fog for me. Some people thinks it puts your body into a mode where you are primarily burning fat for fuel.
Every morning, within 30 minutes of waking up usually, I have a protein shake with 30 grams of protein and basically zero carbohydrates. In the morning, Cortisol is elevated if your system is normal. Cortisol raises insulin response to sugar. Avoiding lots of carbohydrates first thing in the morning has been a real key – no more Cocoa Puffs. The early protein gives your system a kick start. You could get it from eggs, but you have to eat a bunch of them.
I get lots of protein from various sources. It’s good to have protein throughout the day – at each snack and meal. I like to snack on nuts and seeds, all natural peanut butter, and cheese.
From time to time, I practice intermittent fasting – where I fast for 24 hours. This one is hard, but it can increase growth hormone levels and kick your fat burning into high gear. Long-term fasting will slow down your metabolism. Be careful with this one and get cleared by your doctor for sure.
Bone broth – OK, if there’s one “secret” this is it. I make my own bone broth a couple times a week. I make it my slow cooker, and it’s cheap easy, and delicious. Bone broth is full of minerals, collagen, and gelatin. The amino acids in gelatin actually smooth out your wrinkles, are great for hair and nails, help rebuild joint cartilage, support muscle growth, suppress appetite, and stimulate fat-burning hormones. It’s good stuff.
I love the way it tastes, so I drink it straight warmed up on the stove. Obviously you can use it in soups and in other forms of cooking. Note – you do not want to microwave bone-broth. There’s an amino acid, proline, which can actually turn into something nasty when microwaved.
This is really different than packaged gelatin, which has been really altered and is full of other things you don’t want to consume. Store-bought broth really isn’t a substitute either – that stuff in the box or can is just no comparison.
For under 20 bucks, you can make a gallon of the stuff and store it in your fridge – or freeze for long-term storage.
I’ve always been a fairly active dude, even when I was much heavier. Now that I’m not carrying around 50 pounds it’s easier to move around.
I focus my current exercise on a few things: It’s short, it’s intense, it’s designed to build strength and maintain muscle mass. Muscle, just by existing, burns calories and keeps your metabolism high.
“But I don’t want to get bulky,” is the cry every personal trainer hears when recommending strength training. Here’s the deal – you aren’t going to get bulky. Unless you’re putting in the kind of time and doing the huge amounts of supplements and calories bodybuilders do – it just won’t happen. So relax, build some sexy muscle, enjoy the benefits.
Long bouts of cardio – like distance running, can actually reduce testosterone. Yes, I know marathon runners are skinny – they burn tons of calories every day, and have high metabolisms. If that works for you – cool. At 43 (about to turn 44), I want to increase and maintain my T.
I’m not fond of travelling to a gym and waiting for machines, so I focus on bodyweight exercise I can do in my home gym – though I do include some weights. Trust me, bodyweight exercise can be intense.
Intervals are a great way to get strength and cardio benefits while revving up your metabolism. Get a session with a personal trainer if you have no idea what I’m tlking about.
There are a few key things I do which don’t necessarily fall into food or exercise, but which are essential:
Water. I try to get an ounce of water for every two pounds of bodyweight. This is a lot and necessitates frequent trips to the bathroom. I know somebody who lost 7 pounds just by starting to drink more water. Now that probably wasn’t fat. If you’re dehydrated you’re probably constipated. But your metabolic functions require hydration. Also, as your body breaks down fat – being hydrated will help flush it out.
Vitamin D. We live in the North, chances are you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight hitting your skin from September through April. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that acts like a hormone in your body. It’s good for all sorts of things – there’s research showing positive effects on depression and MS symptoms. It’s key for hormones like testosterone. Hormones are everything in my book when it comes to healthy weight-loss.
Sleep. Good sleep is essential to health, and particularly to weight loss. Again, it’s all about the hormones. Sleep issues were one of things that my naturopath has helped me address – and I couldn’t be happier about it. Be aware that sleeping too much or not enough can also be a symptom of depression. If you feel like this might be an issue for you, seek help from your healthcare provider.
Meditation. I am a huge fan of the mind-body benefits of meditation. The research showing the health benefits of daily meditation is overwhelming. The big thing for me is to keep the stress levels in check. Stress hormones can cause you to crave carbs, but also to spike insulin when you eat them – storing excess calories as bodyfat. I meditate at
I meditate at ealeastt 15 minutes a day no matter how busy I am. I consider it hygiene – like brushing my teeth. My favorite thing to do is to cool down after an intense workout, then spend 15 minutes meditating. The endorphins from exercise, combined with the calming from meditation feels awesome.
So, that’s basically it – while I continue to tweak things, and test what works – these are the things that work consistently for me. With that, good luck and good health.