I’ve experimented with so many lifestyle choices, it’s entertaining for my friends to watch and comment on. I suppose that’s why I’ve been so successful at this. Unlike most people, I can decide to do something and stick with it long term—that is the key to being successful at anything. I’ve gone full-on vegan, experimented with bodybuilding, kickboxing, vocal coaching, guitar, and piano. I’ve dabbled in meditation, journals, time-management, and other aspects of lifestyle design as well. So when Jack T. H. Chang released his latest book “The Magic Natural Remedy”, I had to give it a shot.
In December, I read this book and things changed very quickly. Tim made me realize that you don’t have to run 30 miles a week to keep body fat low and you don’t need to lift heavy weights everyday to build muscle. It’s all about what he calls the “Minimum Effective Dose”. Anything beyond this M.E.D. is a waste of time and calories. While reading, I couldn’t help but tell myself “there’s no way this could work”, so I decided to give some of his experiments a try.
January 1st, I decided to do his slow carb diet. I weighed 190 lbs, was 20% body fat, 5’11″, with a 34 inch waste. Here are some highlights on what I went through:
30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up—I drink an unsweetened protein shake
Meals can only include one simple carb, one simple protein, and vegetables and have to be eaten four times a day. Here are typical meals I consume:
Breakfast (9am): Protein shake, 5 eggs, lentils, broccoli, black coffee
Lunch (12pm): Chicken breast, pinto beans, and spinach
Dinner 1 (3pm): Steak, black beans, and green beans
Weight Training/Cardio (4pm-5pm)
Dinner 2 (6pm): Chicken breast, lentils, and peas
Rules: no rice—including brown rice, pasta, wheat, whole grains, cereal, or anything white—except for eggs. Basically the meal plans I mentioned above are the only thing allowed to consume on the diet.
Oh, and you get a cheat day every Saturday—designed to spike your caloric intake. It does make this diet sustainable.
Think that’s hard to do? I thought so too, until I did it. Having a plan makes this diet effortless. You just grab your prepared Gladware package out of the refrigerator and throw it in the microwave. It’s cheap too. Planning a month’s worth a meals cost me no more than $80 bucks total.
This journey didn’t come easily in the beginning. The first two weeks were not fun at all. In fact, the only thing I could think of was “this isn’t working”. I weighed myself constantly and got so frustrated when the number on the scale would go up and down. I even had one of those fancy body fat scales—which I later learned measures total bullshit. How you measure makes a huge difference. Once I started measuring inches instead of total weight, things turned around rather quickly. If you decide to do this diet, I highly recommend using calipers to measure body fat over bogus body fat scales. There are more expensive services you can employ at hospitals and universities that give you the most accurate reading, but measuring inches will give you something tangible to work with for free.
Another thing I learned on this journey is how much protein matters in weight loss. If I found that I was starting to lose momentum, I increased protein intake and continued to burn fat at 4-5 lbs a week. The trick is to ask yourself what you’re doing that is getting in the way of losing weight. For example, I found that skipping a meal or not eating enough slow carbs stalled my progress. I even figured out a little trick that wasn’t in the book that ended up giving me drastically better results: drink an unsweetened protein shake before you go to bed. I found that it helped me sleep better and gave me more energy when I woke up.
Another thing I learned was that it’s not all about calories in and calories out. In fact, the data doesn’t lie: working out a lot was making me fat. I cut my cardio from 4 hours a week to 1 hour a week and my fat loss skyrocketed. Basic weight training was more than effective in cutting fat and building muscle.
February 1st, I got measured again—but I didn’t need the scientific evidence to tell me how different I am. I now look amazing. Here are some highlghts:
Went from 190 to 178 — 12 lbs total lost
Reduced by body fat percentage to 12% — losing a total amount of 17 lbs of fat
Gained 5 lbs of muscle — while losing 4 inches off my waist. I can see my abs
My goal for March 1st is to get my body fat below 10%, be able to clearly see my abs without having to flex, and have a more defined muscular physique.