How I lost weight – eating three meals a day.June 19, 2009
Having been 15st (210lb, 95.5kg) for many years, a couple of months ago I returned from a skiing holiday having gained a further 3lb and decided it was time to lose some weight.
Do I need to lose weight?
Well I’m 6’2″, actually I used to be that, but now I’m in my mid 50’s I’ve shrunk a bit. I’m still over 6’1″, but 15st 3lb (213lb, 96.8kg) gives me a body mass index (BMI) of around 27.9 which is towards the obese end of “Overweight”. “Healthy” is between 18.5 and 25. I have my own doubts about the use of BMI and its classifications, but that can wait for another post.
I’m a fairly big sort of chap and I’ve been fairly fit and athletic all my life; but at 15st 3lb I felt a bit flabby round the middle. And both my wife and my doctor have been encouraging me to lose a bit of weight. Finally, however, it was catching sight of myself side-on in a mirror and realising that the most outstanding feature of my body shape was my tummy, that made me decide to do something about it.
This morning, two months later, the scales said 13st 12lb (194lb, 88.2kg). I’ve lost 1st 5lb (19lb, 8.6kg). My hairdresser, Kerry, noticed immediately. “Have you lost some weight?” “Yes” I said proudly. “Why?” she replied. Not at all the reply I was expecting!
“I like a man to look solid and manly, and not too thin,” said Kerry, who frankly would blow away if she stepped outside in a breeze and almost disappears when she turns sideways. She’s convinced I’ve lost enough weight and should stop now. My BMI at this weight is 25.3, so she’s almost right, I’m almost in the healthy range.
“How did you do it?”
Kerry inquired. “Eating three meals a day.” I said. “What no snacks?” she replied, horrified.
And that’s exactly it. I have lost nearly one and a half stone (19lb, 8.6kg) by eating healthily three meals a day. And nothing else. No snacks, no crisps (chips), no biscuits (cookies), no chocolate and no cheese late at night. On the way I’ve discovered some things about eating and diet for myself:
Dieting makes you fat, eating makes you hungry.
It’s all to do with blood sugar and body metabolism. Dieting, restricting your calorie intake unnaturally for a short period, can reduce weight in the short term, but it’s unlikely to work in the long term because your body believes (correctly) that it’s being starved and will therefore store as much fat as it can whenever any arrives in order to be sure it can survive the next starvation. So when you stop dieting your body piles on the pounds. Eating healthily and consistently is really important.
And eating raises your blood sugar, that’s entirely natural. Your body then responds by generating insulin to remove the sugar from your blood, your blood sugar level drops and you then feel hungry. Slowing this process down is the whole idea behind the GI diet.
Breakfast is vital.
It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I never believed it, and I would often skip breakfast if I were in a hurry. But I found a couple of times in the last eight weeks that when I skipped breakfast I couldn’t last until lunchtime, my blood sugar dropped and I had to have a mid-morning snack. Which then meant if I ate both lunch and dinner I was going to exceed my required calorie intake for the day, and I would gain weight. The alternative would be to go home to my beloved and tell her that I didn’t want to eat the lovely meal she’d cooked for me. That wouldn’t have been good for marital relations. We’ve been married for over 30 years and I know what makes her incandescent with rage – not eating the dinner she’s cooked is high on the list.
Alcohol doesn’t make you fat.
Well, it doesn’t make me fat anyway. I tried an experiment: I spent a week without drinking any alcohol at all. I didn’t change my diet in any other way, and I didn’t replace the alcohol with high calorie drinks like soda and fruit juice: I drank water or diet coke – I know, diet coke is still not good for my teeth, but it has virtually no calories. So what happened? Nothing. Much to my surprise my weight didn’t change at all.
Those who know me know that I like the taste of wine and beer, and I have quite a capacity for it, so not drinking for a week meant a lot of calories not going into my system. So I expected a week without alcohol to deliver at least a couple of pounds weight loss. No. Nothing.
Then the following week I went back to my normal level of alcohol consumption. I lost a further two pounds. What was going on?
Drinking alcohol gives you the “munchies”
My conclusion is that alcohol itself is not fattening. Yes it contains calories (and beer, particularly English beer, contains lots of yummy vitamins and minerals too), but I can only conclude that these are “empty” calories and don’t get stored in any quantity by the body directly. But alcohol does quickly drive up your blood sugar, then you produce insulin to get rid of it and your blood sugar crashes. Then you get the “munchies” – hunger induced by the sudden drop in blood sugar.
It’s the munchies that make you head to the fridge after an evening out drinking, or make you go home via the Chinese or Indian restaurant or the kebab van or chip shop (sorry, there is no translation for chip shop). It seems to me that it’s eating these fatty foods in addition to your normal regime that causes you to put on weight from drinking, not the drink itself.
Because I was avoiding all non-meal snacks, even though I was a bit peckish from time to time, my week without alcohol didn’t make any difference to my food intake, so I didn’t gain, or lose, any weight.
So my receipe for healthy eating and weight management is eat three meals a day AND NOTHING ELSE. It worked for me. (I do some exercise too.)