Weighing In

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So a month has passed since I proclaimed my intention to try the Vegan Before Six experiment.

I talked about the philosophy behind VB6, and why it was appealing to me.

My understanding is less theoretical now. I’ve lived it for a month. And it’s time for me to report back.

But first i’ll surrender what you really came here for, the results.

AsashoryuBefore

Now I will admit that I look a lot like the Mongolian grand champion, sumo wrestler Asashōryū in this particular picture. But you’ll just have to take my word for it, it was the light and the way I wore my hair that day for the New Year’s ceremonies. Perhaps I was retaining a bit of salt as well.

reg_634.MattMc.mh.082912

After 

I know, I know. In this picture I look a lot like a cachectic Matthew McConaughey playing the lawyer with AIDS wasting disease. I’ve just always looked really thin in V-neck tee shirts. But please don’t worry about me. My health is good. I’m just a bit bonier now after losing 2 whole pounds from my first month on VB6.

Yes, you read that right.

I’m 2 pounds lighter now than I was when I started this little experiment a month ago.  I’m now 202 pounds of lean muscle and sinew…..

Now there are two ways of looking at that statement.

Honesty is something to aspire to, so let me give you my honest reaction when I stood on the scale today for the first time in a month to check on my progress.

It was something subtle along the lines of,

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

Or perhaps it was,

“I ate bushels of apples, kale, and quinoa, and this is the fucking thanks I get?”

But then I got to thinking…

There’s another way of looking at that finding that goes something like this:

The appeal of VB6 is that:

1. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

2. I’m not counting calories or eliminating anything from my diet.

3. I’m still eating delicious food.  (Important.)

4. It’s a healthier way of eating long-term.

5.  I can (and  do) still go out to dinner and eat anything I want.

And despite all that I still lost 2 pounds!

It’s a get thin slowly scheme!  Yeah that’s the ticket.

And If I keep on losing 2 pounds a month, I’ll be at my college weight in about a year.

So the obvious question is will I continue with this experiment?

Is a measly 2 pounds lost a month worth completely changing my dietary paradigm?

But before I answer that, permit me the indulgence of turning on my retrospect-o-scope.

Here are 10 observations about VB6 after a month on the plan.

1. If it works at all, it works because of all the things I cannot eat before six. It’s probably not that vegetable calories are different from animal calories, or that whole-grain calories different from refined grain calories. It’s just that when you cut animal products and refined grains from your diet during the day, your dietary possibilities shrink dramatically. Donuts, crackers, cheese, bagels, muffins, chips, bread, pretzels, wings, pastries, these are the types of things that I’m likely to be tempted with on a daily basis at work. And I can’t have any of them. I Have yet to be offered a vegan chia and edamame cluster by any of the CCU nurses.  (You know my pager number, ladies and gents….I’m standing by.)

2. A much greater proportion of my diet is vegetables and fruit now. Evidence suggests that that is a good thing.

3. My hunger is very different now that I don’t eat refined grains during the day. Prior to VB6 hunger was often a panicky feeling in my stomach where I felt compelled to quickly devour carbohydrates (and a lot of them.) Now it’s more of a sensation of emptiness in my stomach. No desperation.

4. Without desperate feelings of hunger, it’s much easier to eat reasonable portions. This is even true after six when I’m allowed to eat whatever I want.

5. Apples and peanut butter make for a great breakfast. They are surprisingly filling and achieve a long-lasting feeling of fullness.

6. Searching out legal VB6 lunches is actually a lot of fun. I’ve eaten fantastic vegan Indian food, falafel, mushroom and chile tacos, vegan Panuchos topped with spicy pickled cabbage. Great stuff, and I’m just getting started.

poori

Drats: Another VB6 lunch of deprivation

7. I rarely feel sleepy after eating a VB6 breakfast or lunch.

8. Cooking VB6 is a lot of fun. I’m cooking with new ingredients (Farro, black-eyed peas, quinoa, wheat berries, silken tofu, the list goes on…) and the limited palette of available ingredients allows me to focus more on getting the most out of each ingredient.

9. Eating vegetables and fruits is a habit. Because I eat vegetables throughout the day and snack on things like apples and bananas,
I crave them more at night during dinner, and sometimes even after dinner.

10. Mark Bittman claims that if you eat beans frequently, their gas producing qualities will be attenuated. Sadly, I see no evidence of any such evolution in my own gastrointestinal tract.

So if the question is, am I going to continue with this little experiment?

The answer is, “Hell yes.”

Even if I only lose 1 pound a month, it’s completely worth it.

To this point, it’s been the perfect dietary plan for a foodie like me.

What say you?  Am I deluding myself?  Weigh in below….(pun intended)

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6 Responses to “Weighing In”

  1. Robert February 2, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    At the end of the day, it is calorie intake (and bioassimilation thereof) and calorie expenditure that drive weight gain/loss. Nothing magic about vegan (for weight loss) other than that you generally eat high fiber, less calorie dense foods. Satiety is high with high fiber, carbohydrate rich foods such as whole grains and beans. On the other hand, you can be a fat vegan by eating lots of oil, refined foods, etc. I know from experience I didn’t lose weight enjoying lots of Indian (oily), Thai (coconut milk/oil), Middle Eastern (fried, olive oil), etc. vegetarian food, augmented by vegan ice cream I enjoyed making at home from cashew cream or coconut cream/milk, and plenty of home-made Italian food rich in olive oil. Oh, and big vegetable salads with olive oil/lemon juice/salt dressings.

    I’ve gone the exercise route too: 10 hours/week on a bicycle for several years. All that did was make me eat more to fuel the ride. (There were benefits, don’t get me wrong, but permanent weight loss wasn’t one of them).

    The secret seems to be to eat foods of high satiety and low calorie density, so you aren’t hungry (fighting the natural hunger drive is not sustainable) yet lose weight. There are side benefits documented in the literature about the benefits of eliminating fat/oil from the diet (as well as animal products, as you are doing before 6 pm). It may be hard to do this with a VB6 approach, though, because part of this is reeducating the palate. As long as you are eating the other stuff after 6 pm, I doubt you’ll succeed in reeducation. (But, any steps in that direction surely must be helpful).

    Check out http://www.drmcdougall.com for a wealth of information, scientific backing, recipes (in the newsletter archive), etc. I was close to your weight on Jan. 6 this year–198.5 lbs, to be exact–when I started McDougall’s approach and thus far have lost 7.5 lbs without being hungry. His emphasis is on starch, and it makes a lot of sense if you hear him out (as you’ll need to do since it sounds like you have bought into the low-carb philosophy). He argues that starch is what early humans ate (the idea of paleos eating mostly meat is not scientifically based), it is what enabled civilizations to develop, and it is the food we are genetically adapted to. Traditional diets around the world were based on starches (rice, corn, potatoes, yams, taro root, beans, wheat) and it is only when these people switch to rich western diets that they start to develop 1st world problems of obesity, diabetes, etc. Starch avoids the nasty side-effects of high protein diets (Atkins, etc.), while offering plenty of satiety and essential nutrients that, augmented by vegetables and 1-2 servings of fruit, provide for complete nutrition without excess calorie intake.

    So, basically, a starch-based, whole foods, directly plant-based diet is what does the trick, according to McDougall (and Caldwell Esselstyn of Cleveland Clinic, plus several others on the low fat vegan bandwagon). Learning to cook without free oil or fatty ingredients is interesting. I found some great recipes in McDougall’s latest newsletter, which were from the Happy Herbivore. I made the Thai Tacos yesterday (including the Mayo) and ate them with Sriracha sauce. My wife and I both loved them. I checked out the Happy Herbivore’s blog/website and found a lot more there to like, so ordered her latest cookbook from Amazon on Friday and look forward to trying more of her recipes this week.

    By the way, to tie all of this back into the major themes of your website, some good motivation to do this include: (a) saving money on food; (b) extending your life and quality of life/health so that you can enjoy retirement and enjoy traveling with all those miles you’ve collected. There is no need to weight…er, wait…until retirement to recover your health. I got to retirement 40 lbs overweight. That was a foolish risk and unnecessary, but easy to do if you don’t understand how all this works and are focused on career without adequate regard to your health. Don’t do what I did! Develop a healthful, sustainable lifestyle now.

  2. Robert February 2, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    TESTING SPACING (ignore this message)


    2 blank lines above?

    2 blank lines above?

  3. Robert February 2, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    TEST RESULTS:

    For those who are interested, looks like you can add a blank line in your posts by adding: “

  4. Robert February 2, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    hmmm… try that again. Insert this to get blank lines:

    where you replace the “xxxx” with the word “code”.

  5. Robert February 2, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    NUTS!!! This is driving me crazy! I can’t tell you what to insert because when I put that code in the text, it gets converted into a blank in the post! LOL.

    Try this:
    ( code )( br )( /code )
    where you replace the parentheses with “less than” and “greater than” () symbols.

  6. Miles Dividend M.D. February 2, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Robert,

    Thanks for trying to crack the code on my comments section. It’s something I will need to address on the back end, but as you may have guessed, while I love writing blog posts, working on word press plug ins; not really my thing.

    As to the diet thing…

    7.5 pounds in less than a month. That is awesome. Great work, keep it up…

    As for me, I’m actually pretty happy with VB6 thus far. It kind of checks all the boxes for me. I’m a foodie, and I’m still eating anything I want after 6:00, my diet is way healthier with far more whole foods, vegetables, fruits, and far less meat, and I’m even losing some weight.

    The best thing is that my taste is slowly transforming towards a healthier place. (unconscious change for the better is my favorite kind.)

    I’m not obese, and I love food, so a complete transformation of the way I eat was just not what I was looking for. It would have seemed the equivalent of amputating a leg to treat a toenail.

    All I pledge going forward is I’ll keep you appraised of my progress (or lack thereof.)

    I know you’ll do the same.

    AZ

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