Weigh of Eating (WOE)

People often talk about diets and counting calories, carbs, fat or whatever is trendy. All of that is boring and causes you to lose motivation and quit. WOE is a lifestyle decision to eat a certain way that’s best for you to meet your individual goals whether it’s weight loss, helping digestive issues, lowering cholesterol, or a pre-diabetes focus on reducing glucose spikes. It takes a level of discipline that will take you out of your comfort zone at the beginning but you can do it.

Everyone is unique and for that reason you need to figure out what works best for you. I’ll try to make it easier by suggesting things that worked for me, and some that didn’t. People often like giving themselves labels they feel good about by letting everyone know “I’m vegetarian” or “I’m gluten-free”. I said good morning to a guy in front of me at Whole Foods and he replied “I’m vegetarian so picked this protein bar”. I told him so is my banana. Most people going gluten free do not have celiac disease nor even an intolerance to it. They may not even know what gluten really is. They also talk about a leaky gut syndrome that sounds aweful but have never been tested.

Over the years I went from 183 pounds down to a maintained 163 before recently dropping to 152 when I decided to really define my own WOE. Here’s a few basic concepts that did not work for me…

  1. Eating five or six small meals a day. The theory is that you won’t get hungry and overeat at any particular meal, plus you’ll keep your metabolism revving all day long. In reality I ended up eating more calories per day and can’t say that any meal was much smaller. I’ve always been pretty good about not eating a lot after dinner so didn’t have late night snack problems.
  2. Gluten free. This can help you lose weight in the sense that you will cut out carbs which is a great weight loss strategy but difficult to maintain. If you replace those grains with other high carb foods such as rice and corn you could pack on some pounds. I found no weight or health benefits from cutting out gluten and losing important fiber that your digestive system needs.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). It’s hailed as the next miracle cure for asthma, diabetes, and weight loss. I drank it religiously every day by diluting several teaspoons with water and a little honey to cut the taste. It can ruin your teeth if you try drink straight shots of the stuff. I can’t say there were any ill effects of the ACV but didn’t see any benefits after one month. That’s how long I am willing to test something.

What worked..

  1. Eating 3 squares (meals) a day including breakfast and having a sensible snack in the morning and afternoon. Again, I don’t eat much after dinner. If a man needs around 1,800 calories per day, this amounts to roughly 500 per meal with two 100–150 calorie snacks. It’s fairly easy to cut that back to 1,500 calories by limiting meals to an average 400 calories and/or keeping snacks to 100. Remember, I don’t count and track calories but have a general idea where I am. Your body needs to get a little hungry to burn fat instead of always having a steady supply of fuel and sugar to use.
  2. Cut out dairy — milk and yogurt, except for a little coffee creamer. I am not lactose intolerant but this is another thing I tried for 30 days and liked the results. Besides cutting down calories and a lot of sugar (especially in yogurt), it helped my digestion and regularity. I would sometimes eat a bowl of “healthy” cereal for breakfast and have a Greek yogurt snack in the afternoon. These have been replaced with steel cut oatmeal for breakfast and fruit (which is mostly berries) and hummus with veggies for snacks.
  3. Cut out most processed carbs except for a piece of whole grain toast when I have eggs and some oatmeal. I am not the anti-carb warrior I once was but started following the Glycemic Index (GI) and eating foods with a low GI value. These are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels. Oatmeal is high in carbs but loaded with fiber and has a lower GI.
  4. Stick to 2 cups of coffee in the morning after a 30-day trial of cutting out a mid-morning and sometimes an afternoon cup.
  5. Lowered my beer consumption and switched to light beers (for now). I don’t drink a lot but somewhat of a beer snob and enjoy a nice IPA or Pale Ale. Assume a pint = 200 calories and having a couple during Friday happy hour, then again Saturday and Sunday, adds up to roughly 62,400 calories per year, or 17.8 pounds of weight gain (3,500 calories / pound). After cutting out all drinking for two weeks then switching to around 5 light beers a week, I cut the annual intake down to 26,000 calories or about 7.4 extra pounds. I can maintain weight at this level but need to be exercise a little harder and adjust my daily meals and snacks.
  6. Eating — I rotate breakfast with eggs and slice of whole grain toast 4 day’s / week and oatmeal 2–3 days. Mid morning snack includes nuts or berries. Lunch is usually a salad with chicken or grilled chicken with veggies and leftover sweet potato or some hummus with veggies. Afternoon snack is either the berries or nuts and then a lean protein (chicken, fish, or lean beef) for dinner with veggies and maybe the sweet potato. I also try to include a 1/4 to 1/2 avocado with my chicken, eggs, and fish. Not much, if any pasta and no pizza and wings. My old favorites. Here’s a recent lunch picture below of grilled chicken with avocado and hummus with carrots and cucumbers.
  7. Exercise — I work out (resistance training) 4–5 times a week and hike or jog once or twice for cardio. There’s a lot of great trails around Scottsdale and Phoenix. Your way of eating accounts for maybe 80% and exercise will help you achieve the other 20% to reach your fitness goals. You cannot out train a bad diet, but exercise is a critical piece.

I’ll go into these areas in more detail in future blogs but wanted to start with a summary of what’s worked and what hasn’t for me. Each one of these areas are more complex and I’ll try to give detail to help you figure out what works best for you. You can try any one of these for 30 days and see for yourself.