Monday, August 14, 2006

15 pounds!

In case you were wondering about the progress of the diet to make this penguin less rotund, that's the current status. My belt now has to be pulled a notch tighter and is a bit loose even then, it won't be long before that next notch has to be used.

What I'm doing:

  • Chop your calories drastically. Figure 1000-1200 calories. Aim for 1000, but don't get upset if you miss it by a couple hundred.
  • Get enough protein to maintain muscle mass. If, for example, your lean weight is 150 pounds, you should get 75 grams of protein. That's about 300 calories worth of protein.
  • Don't worry about how much of the remaining calories is fat or carbohydrates. You need both, but with the protein imbalance implied by the above, it'll work itself out.
  • The chances of a balanced diet with such a restricted diet are slim to none. So take vitamin supplements.
  • Caffeine is your friend.
  • Don't worry about the calories in a teaspoon of sugar for your black coffee or tea, just make it a *flat* teaspoon.
  • Even better, drink Chinese leaf tea. This tea doesn't need sugar to taste good. Tastes kinda like asparagus.
  • Look at the number of calories on the side of a can of Coke. Run screaming in other direction. No soft drinks or juices, sorry, except for maybe one single Diet Coke per day (that artificial sweetener stuff is bad for you). Can't hit your protein numbers with these empty calories in your diet. Re: Vitamin C: That's why you're taking the vitamin supplement, remember?
  • Dairy products are empty calories, other than the calcium. You'll never hit your protein numbers with dairy products in the mix. Take calcium supplements.
  • For fast food, the only realistic choice is Subway. Get a turkey & ham sub with *no cheese*, it's around 300 calories for a 6" and 600 calories for a 12".
  • Do some mild weight work a couple times a week, including abdominal crunches and leg work. You're trying to maintain your current muscle mass, not put on muscle (which isn't happening with such a restricted diet). Once you're down to your target weight, then you can add more calories to your diet and try to put on more muscle to perk up your resting metabolism, but when you're losing weight is not the time for that.
  • Tuna is your friend. It is almost pure protein. If your lean mass is 150 pounds and you thus need 75g of protein to maintain that muscle mass, a can of tuna is 33 grams of protein all by itself. If you get the regular tuna (not the albacore), the mercury content isn't a big deal.
  • Also interesting is the "Michael Angelo" single-serving lasagna. The meat and cheese lasagna for example is 30 grams of protein and 500 calories. The vegetarian lasagna is 30 grams of protein and 375 calories. There's other good microwavable dishes too under that brand name. This stuff isn't sold as diet food, but does pretty well there.
  • Broiled fish is also good. There are single serving microwavable fish dishes that taste quite good. Problem is that this is almost pure protein and a little fat, and only around 150 calories. To round out the protein and carbs, add "vegetarian" beans. I get some beans called 'piquintos' from my local store that are quite filling and around 280 calories for the can.
  • If you go off the diet a couple days a week due to, say, a company barbecue, big deal. Just don't go crazy.

So how does that work out? Well, in the morning I get up and fix a large mug of Earl Gray tea with a flat teaspoon of sugar. When I get to work I get a large mug of coffee with a flat teaspoon of sugar. For lunch, I eat a large ham-and-turkey sub (600 calories) or tuna and noodles (500 calories), and wash it down with Chinese green tea. For supper, meat lasagna, or chicken Parmesan, or fish and beans, or if I got the ham and turkey sandwich, vegetable lasagna. If I feel like I'm munchy still, a pickle or a salad with light vinegrette hits the spot. Strangely enough, by keeping up the protein, I don't feel particularly hungry.

Is this a balanced diet? Well, *NO*. So you don't want to stick too tightly to it for a long period of time, take a break for one or two days a week and eat more normally with all the veggies and etc. Just don't go crazy when you decide to take a break. Keep off the empty carbs (no sugar soft drinks, no ice cream) and keep your protein up.

So how does this compare with fad diets? Well, it doesn't. A "traditional" low calorie diet is also a fairly low protein diet, so causes rapid loss of muscle mass and resulting lowered metabolism. The Atkins Diet focuses upon carbohydrates as "evil", which to a certain extent is true (you'll never hit your calorie target if you have both high protein *and* empty carbohydrates in your diet), but the real issue is hitting your calorie target while keeping your protein input up, not carbohydrates. I end up roughly 1/3rd protein, 1/3rd fat, 1/3rd carbohydrates if I add up all the numbers, but that's just a side effect of cutting out the junk. When I go off the diet, I end up with more carbohydrates (and correspondingly lower percentage of the other). You need a certain amount of all three in your diet to maintain basic health, so it doesn't make sense to focus on any one of them as "evil".

Anyhow, I'm 5 pounds from the goal I set out for (or 15 pounds from my weight at age 25, which might be nice to shoot for), so I'll check back in a couple of months from now and let ya know how it turned out. I suspect the best goal for me is to aim for the age 25 weight, then go back to a saner diet (still without the empty junk food calories though, those things *hurt* at my age!), hit the gym and add the 10 pounds back on as muscle. Hmm, if I no longer have a penguin belly, will I have to change the title of my blog? :-).

-- Badtux the not-as-rotund Penguin


  1. Diets and worrying about weight are just bullshit, and that was a long story trying to be our mentor.

    I've never been overweight. It's so simple, eat to live, not live to eat. Work it off. I eat anything I want, when I want, nothing to it.

  2. Well, you weren't here, BBC, when I started the diet. I started it because my blood pressure was too high and I didn't want to take medication for it. The reason for my blood pressure being too high was pretty much weight.

    Now with 15 pounds gone my blood pressure is back under the "danger" zone, and is almost at the bottom of the warning track. 5 more pounds and it'll be back in the "normal" zone, at the weight where I've spent most of my adult life (i.e., from age 28 on up until the past 2 years), which is probably where I'll stop and go back to a normal diet with a normal activity level to maintain that weight.

    Regarding working it off, us penguins who are hacking operating systems all day have limited opportunity to do so. I suppose I could ask the company to buy a Waddlemaster 2000 treadmill for my cubicle, but somehow I doubt that would be a fulfilled request :-).

    - Badtux the Less-rotund Penguin

  3. "You need a certain amount of all three in your diet to maintain basic health"

    Actually, there's no such thing as essential carbohydrate; life can go on without them. But we'd be CRANKY.

  4. Tuna is your friend

    Doesn't the mercury weigh a lot?

  5. Come on pal, I spend a lot of time at my computer also, but I refuse to use that for an excuse. I also go out and do other things, walk, hike, split wood, help others move, things like that.

    Still, that wouldn't help were it not for the fact that I've cut back a lot on my eating. But maybe I'm just lucky, I've never ate just because there is great tasting food around, I only eat to keep going.

    Back when I did do much more hard work I did eat a lot more, everything was by the container, not the serving, but things change and I've been okay with it.

    Now I eat only once a day some days. And no, I wasn't there, I can only tell you about here.

  6. Congrats, BT. I know it's difficult to do. I've known a lot of people that have tried it and failed.
    You've done well.

  7. BBS -- you live in the Pacific Northwest, which, like Arizona, has (had) affordable housing and ample outdoor recreation areas within close distance. I live in the Sillycone Valley right now, in an apartment in the middle of a huge sprawl. I didn't have any weight issues until I moved here -- I stayed one weight for most of my adult life. But living in an apartment in the middle of a large sprawl is not conducive to lots of outdoor activities. Added to that, most Silicon Valley employers provide a very fat-laden dinner to keep their employees at work later, and I partook too much of that (since their goal is to keep you at work, they don't generally provide healthy food). My current employer, thankfully, doesn't provide free food, meaning I can bring healthy food to work without being tempted by all that sinful stuff...

    Gordon: The plain old tuna (*NOT* the white albacore) doesn't have much mercury. Since I'm not a pregnant woman, I'm not going to worry about what little mercury it does have.


  8. Shit, I couldn't live where you do. I'm sure the place would drive me nuts. I lived in Seattle years ago, but I was young and flexable back then.

    Moved and raised my kids in a small town, lived in small towns ever since. Did it cost me money and benifits? Yes it did, but there are always trade offs and I've never been driven by money.

    There is some nice country down where you are though, and prices are going up here also, but I've learned to live cheap.

  9. See the only thing I disagree with on your program in caffiene. I need to stay away form it but you do have a great plan. Hey write a how to lose weight book someone will buy the book!

  10. Shit, Dawg, I'm no stranger to writing books, but expanding my blog post into a whole book? Sorry, that's hard work!

    BBC, I've lived in a small town. I was bored to death. I would much prefer to live in a real city -- one where you can rely on walking and mass transit to get around -- rather than in this endless sprawl. Studies show that people who live in real cities are healthier, maybe because they spend so much time walking to the nearest subway stop and so forth.

    The nearest real city is San Francisco. I love walking around in San Francisco, it's almost like hiking, except you can just walk into a store and get a bottle of water if you get thirsty and walk into a restaurant and get some food if you get hungry :-). Unfortunately, apartments and lofts near CalTrain are very expensive... I'm better off using the money to join a gym :-(.


  11. when/if skippy must diet, he avoids the four "s's":

    strict adherance to the first three "s's."

  12. Well, Skippy, if you avoid starches without reducing your calorie intake, you won't lose weight. Sorry, that's just how it is.



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