For most of my life I have heard that consuming fat is a bad thing. Most companies tend to advertise their foods as being of low fat content, and as such they are "healthy." I don't believe this is the case anymore.
Back in my Marines time I became quite overweight. My max weight being at 170 lbs, and for my height of 5' 4" this weight was completely unacceptable. At the time, I only knew of a few methods to reduce my weight in order to be of proper weight. Some of these methods were quite usual and others a little bit unusual. Over time though I have figured out something that is more sustainable, which also allows me to maintain very good strength, mental performance, and a steady weight of 150 lbs.
Here are the wrong methods of losing weight:
1. Go on a fast.
2. Exercise every day.
3. Cold water routine followed by dehydration.
Go on a fast
The first method is quite simple, and the overall idea is that you don't eat anything and therefore you cause a deficit of calories, the consequence being a reduction in weight. This seems reasonable but the consequences are not good. I can say that one can lose weight, but in the end one regains the weight and can make it harder to lose weight in the future. Fasting, as in not eating any food, seems to lead to the creation of a "storage state." The body thinks it's in a famine and therefore needs to store as much as it can in order to prolong its life. This is a survival state and it's not good to induce it.
Exercise every day
In order to be at my "proper weight" of about 150 lbs I would do excessive amounts of workouts. I would lift weights, do a huge amount of crunches, sometimes run for hours, etc. This is a very stupid way of weight management because it's based on the idea of "calories in and calories out." The concept is that causing that deficit of calories through exercise will lead to weight loss... but doing excessive amounts of workouts simply lead to a cycle of workout, then overeating, then more workout because I overate, then I would be hungry again so I would overeat... and the cycle would go on. While you can grow some muscle and have great stamina this will ultimately lead to worn out joints. Running excessively increases the likelihood for knee replacement. So, exercising every day is a very stupid and time consuming concept.
Cold water followed by dehydration
The idea is that one drinks excessively amounts of near ice-cold water. Then one just "pisses" heat/calories out. Then one goes on for dehydration until weigh is reduced. This could also be paired with exposure to cold environments (such as cold showers, and not using bed sheets when sleeping). Over the course of a few days this can be a very effective way of losing weight, but ultimately it's not sustainable. Also, drinking excessive amounts of water can be dangerous.
Smart ways of managing weight:
1. Educate yourself on diets.
2. Increase your fat consumption.
3. Do minimal, but meaningful exercise.
Educate yourself on diets.
A diet is some temporary fad, it's the way you eat every day. There are plenty of diets out there and many of them are not sustainable for performance. The vegan and vegetarian diets are well intended morally, but often lead to reduced musculature and I believe a reduction in physical and mental performance. The Atkins diet might be tasty for a bit, but it can be quite unhealthy depending on the protein source (ie. grain-fed vs grass-fed) and can lack many essential vitamins and minerals. There are many others, such as the Alkaline one, blood type diet, or the Perricone diet, and others. But by far the most comprehensive one that I have found is the BulletProof diet. Dave Asprey's Bulletproof diet seems to normalize weight, improve strength, and improve mental performance.
There are certain foods that make it hard to manage weight... sadly most of the supermarket foods make it hard to achieve a good weight balance. In short I would avoid: sugar products, high amounts of carbohydrates, processed foods, grain-based foods (which includes grain-fed beef). Some popular supermarkets may have a "food" label on one side of the building and "pharmacy" in the other side... so it could be a conspiracy that they make a profit in making you sick and they make a profit by trying to fix you. Who knows. ;-)
Increase your fat consumption
Although not sustainable, if you needed to lose weight in a short period of time then the fat diet would be a good one. Similar to a fast, one does not consume food unless it's salt, butter, coconut oil derivatives, water, coffee, antioxidant supplement. The Bulletproof guys have a more proper protocol on this. This fast will lead to rapid weight loss and it does break the vastly promoted and idiotic concept that eating "fat makes you fat".
Case 1: Over a 8 day period I lost 9 pounds (going from 154 lbs to 145 lbs) by simply consuming KerryGold butter, coconut oil, and salt. This did not require any exercise at all.
Case 2: A Marine buddy of mine had to lose weight in order to meet requirements, so I encouraged him to try the fat diet. He lost 13 lbs over a period of 8 days. If I recall, he did do some walking around the block as exercise, but he never broke a sweat.
Both of us did have a "break" in the fast on the fourth day, but these were Bulletproof foods that allowed the body to quickly return to body fat burning mode. It does get harder to lose weight, but if you start with a big weight it's quite easy. Regarding the cheat day, I have tried the Tim Ferriss cheat day, but the body does not return to fat burning mode as quickly. Some foods, such as white rice, seem to have a prolonged effect in the body longer (about 3 days in my case) than other foods; sweet potato seems to be about one day.
Of course, if you are to be smart you would eat plenty of fats paired with a good balance of protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates. It seems though that having a high amount of fats really works well for maintaining weight. These days it's easy to maintain my 150 lbs thanks to a high consumption of delicious KerryGold Butter, MCT Oil, and Upgraded Brain Octane.
The first time I ate half a stick of butter my head felt way hot. Almost... as if all the energy of the butter was going straight towards my head. It was quite a surreal experience that I won't ever forget.
Don't drink moldy coffee... I used to pick coffee for a living and there can be plenty of mold on the beans even before harvest, although mostly the problem escalates during the post-harvesting part.
Every morning the Bulletproof coffee + butter + MCT oil is a low stress breakfast. As Tim Ferriss has pointed out, it seems that there is a mental clarity in the morning that allows you to focus well. But I agree with Dave Asprey that protein intake in the morning seems to induce a stress response, so I would not recommend protein in the morning (although Dr. Perricone and Tim recommend it... the Dr. does so because he mentions that aging takes place when we don't consume protein.).
Regarding sleep, MCT oil and Upgraded Brain Octane are extremely useful in giving me energy and they allow me to get into a 6 hour per night sleep routine (anything below that and I'm pushing it). Before Bulletproof I would often sleep 9 to 10 hours per day in order to feel energized. It's pretty neat to have all that extra time!
Now, it seems that fat consumption would be a bad thing, but so far it seems like it improves performance. The idea that fat is bad does have its merits, particularly in the case of vegetable based oils and fats of grain-fed animals. I recommend researching Aflatoxin, other mycotoxins, and inflammatory foods. Regarding protein and butter, it seems that my body is more optimized for grass-fed beef and butter.
By the way, it's good to every once in a while consume "safe starches" in order to maintain a good mucus balance. If you go for an extended period of time on a low carb diet then it's hard to produce tears, and mucus. Mucus is important to maintain moisture, and it helps you protect the lining of the stomach against its own acid.
Do minimal, but meaningful exercise.
I used to workout for hours in order to attain a body that allowed me to perform well in the Marines. But, in a way that is such a stupid method. These days I workout once or twice per week and I do maybe about 30 to 45 minutes in each session. High intensity sprints for lower body, heavy weights for strength training, and proper sit-ups with a medicine ball for core. That's it.
Changes in strength and weight:
Pre-bootcamp: 5 pull ups, varying weight close to 160 lbs.
After-bootcamp: 13 pull ups, varying weight close to 160 lbs.
Most of my Marine time: 14 pull ups, varying weight of 160 to 170 lbs.
Excessive workout+bad food during Marines: 20 pull ups, varying weight of 155 to 160 lbs.
Now (following better diet and minimal exercise routine): 40 pull ups, fairly steady weight close to 150 lbs.
Yes, if I could go back in time with the knowledge that I have now I'm sure I could have done better in the Marines. I could have saved myself hours of time by avoiding useless workouts, and I could have channeled my effort into learning important topics.
Overall, these days I maintain a steady weight close to 150 lbs, something I couldn't do while being a Marine, and I do so by eating plenty and working out minimally. I have grow an extra half an inch, so I can't say that I'm 5' 4" anymore, I now stand at a new height of 5' 4.5", which makes me wonder what could have happened to my height if I had begun to focus on nutrition at a much earlier age.
Overall I'm happy with the results, and to me this seems like a more sustainable path.
Note: Everyone is different, so what works for some may not work for others. Evolution is one explanation for the differences among each one of us.