Some day I’m going to have to figure out how to lose fat and maintain a healthy weight without eating ice cream. It’s just difficult because eating ice cream has been working really well for weight loss so far.
Whoa now. Eating ice cream and losing fat a load or horseshit and I’m a damn liar, you say? Ha ha ha, no, my friend. A little explanation:
Back in May, I hit a plateau. I’d been steadily eating at a deficit for a few months, dropped 17 pounds, and I couldn’t make the numbers on the scale drop any further. On Nik’s advice, I went into maintenance mode for a week and then back to a calorie deficit, but this time I started using a 7-day calorie cycle. Now, rather than eat at a deficit every day — which after a while could cause my metabolism to slow down and stall weight loss progress — I instead zig-zag my calories.
This 7-day chart I made at freedieting.com is an example. This is not exactly the chart I use, by the way, and I don’t follow it to the digit. It’s just a guide. What I’m mainly concerned with is this:
- I have an average daily calorie goal.
- About once a week I eat less than that.
- About once a week I eat a little more than that.
- About once a week I try to eat at maintenance.
- It averages out, overall, to be a calorie deficit over the week.
Since trying this strategy in June, I’m down another 14 pounds. That’s a good 31 pounds total lost since Feb. 23. I guess it’s working. I don’t know. My closet is full of clothes that don’t fit anymore, so you tell me.
But there’s a problem.
The one issue is my re-feed day, the day I eat at maintenance. I’ve gotten so used to eating my standard 1,600 to 1,700 calories of food every day that I don’t know how to eat more.
I’ve built a pretty solid set of healthy routines, and even though I eat at a deficit, I don’t feel deprived in any way. I’m almost never hungry. Hell, in general I eat more food than I did when I had shitty eating habits. Before, I’d eat a couple of sandwiches for dinner with a bag of chips and a handful of candy — now, on an average day, it’s a huge salad the size of a shoebox stuffed with vegetables and protein. The good stuff is more filling than the bad stuff, with fewer calories, less sugar, and more nutrients. On an average day I pack my dinner and I’m actually embarrassed at how much food it looks like, between all the fruit and vegetables and protein I have to carry. I carry a fucking mini-cooler full of food to work. Looks like I’m stuffing myself. So with a re-feed day, one day a week I have to expand that routine and fit in about 500 calories extra somehow. Shit, you mean to tell me that I have to eat even more? And that sometime — probably by late 2012/early 2013 when I may likely hit my weight goal and start having to maintain — I’m going to have to do that every damn day? And that if I want to put on muscle mass (which I do) I might have to eat even more? Fucking hell.
So, uh, at the moment re-feed days mean some of those extra calories are ice cream.
This is delicious but probably not ideal. I can’t do that every day.
I’m not pigging out on the stuff — a level half-cup at 200 calories tends to top me off nicely. The rule is, it’s fine to eat some ice cream, as long as I don’t eat all the ice cream everywhere. I get varieties that give me a good compromise of flavor vs. lower caloric content, because eating ice cream isn’t worth it if it tastes like shit, but let’s not be silly about it. I buy ice cream that’s 200 calories/serving, not 320 calories/serving. And what the fuck, in any case. I’m a grown man. If I want a small, strictly measured portion of ice cream once a week I’ll have it, FFS, and I refuse to feel guilty about it because I’m still losing fat and gaining muscle and you just need to come over here and feel my fucking quads and biceps to prove it, tough guy. Eating ice cream works. Why are you on my case about this anyway? Who the hell are you? Plus it’s hot out.
At some point in the future I’ll have to eat more calories regularly than I am now, and it probably shouldn’t be all ice cream, so I’m using re-feed days to learn how to do this. These are some options I’m considering to boost my calorie intake:
- I could add a fifth meal to my day. Right now I’m at 4 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, Lunchner™, and dinner. I suppose I could eat elevenses too. I could easily come up with stuff to eat there, possibly some variation on breakfast.
- I could eat a bigger breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is pretty average, and my lunches are pretty small. That’s partly why I invented Lunchner™. I tend to save a lot of calories for the afternoon and evening meals. I could (and should) bulk up my meals in the first half of the day.
- More avocado. I already go through about half an avocado per day most days. I could eat the whole deal, an extra 160 calories.
- More bananas. A banana, like an avocado, has a fuckload of calories relatively speaking. A banana or two a day would boost my calorie intake and give me a good dose of healthy carbs and potassium. The issue here is that I lose interest halfway through eating a banana, every time. I just don’t like them very much.
- More protein. There’s no reason why I or you or anybody can’t just eat a chicken breast for a snack, just like that, on its own. Why’s it got to be part of a meal? It’s 2 p.m., feeling a little peckish, so just tuck right into a goddam chicken breast. Why not? That’s a definite possibility.
- A smoothie. This is an absolute last resort, because I really dislike drinking meals. I mean really dislike it. I dislike smoothies on several levels, some of them philosophical. But I guess I could put some milk, canned pumpkin, banana, protein powder, and berries in a blender bottle and choke that down. If I had to. But no vegetables. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s delicious, whatever. I don’t do vegetables in smoothies. I’m healthy, I have all my teeth, and I’m not afraid to use them.
- Say “screw it” and just eat the ice cream. Self-explanatory. Although what the hell. Powerlifters often have to ingest shit-tons of calories, and I’ve read about some of them who use candy because it’s calorie-dense and easy to fit into their already massive diets. Then again, I don’t really want to be or look like a powerlifter.
These are some options I’m not considering to boost my maintenance calorie intake:
- Having bread regularly. I don’t have anything personal against bread. I don’t think it’s evil. I digest gluten like a boss. Fresh bread smells fantastic, and a warm crusty roll with melted butter is a pleasant thing to stick in your face. But bread is empty calories. There’s almost nothing in it that isn’t available elsewhere with better and more easily bioavailable nutrients, including all the standard “bread is good” stuff that’s earned bread its prominent place in the recommended daily diet: fiber (vegetables have more), iron (there’s a lot more in meat), calcium (milk), vitamin D (milk and sunshine), and folate (egg yolks and leafy vegetables). I’ve barely eaten bread in the last few months, and I see no compelling reason to start eating it again, fantastic smell or not.
- Eating other grains regularly. Yeah, same deal. I don’t think grains are evil. I just don’t see the point for me. I’m talking wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, and all the stuff you make out of those things. The heavy carb content spikes my energy levels and then drops me back down and makes me feel sleepy. I don’t think that’s optimal. I prefer a steady energy supply. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to have rice or rice noodles once in a while. They’re just not going to become staples. I used to eat Never-Ending Pasta Bowl-sized dishes of pasta, boiling half the box, just for kicks. That doesn’t happen anymore.
- Drinking alcohol. I can see myself having a beer maybe on Christmas and New Year’s. And maybe one Shipyard Pumpkinhead in the fall. One. I’ll buy a single. Otherwise I don’t think I’m going to make beer a regular habit again, or even semi-regular. I don’t miss it and I don’t need it. I don’t need wine either.
- Visiting Dunkin’ Donuts for any reason other than to use the bathroom if I’m on a long-distance drive. I don’t think many food and fitness things are evil — some choices just aren’t as good as others. But Dunkin’ Donuts is almost kind of evil. The doughnuts have a disgustingly high calorie value when stacked against their nutrition and satiation factor. The coffee drinks are even worse. And they sell nuggets of sausage wrapped in maple-flavored pancake batter and call this “food.” Shitballs. You can eat that stuff occasionally and you’ll be fine. But it’s a bad habit. They build and encourage lousy daily dietary habits in people by convincing them to buy their shitty coffee and pastries part of a normal daily routine, so it becomes just what you do in the morning on the way to work, every morning: wake up, shower, drive to Dunks, pack a doughnut in your face and nurse a huge coffee all morning at work, get a sugar spike, go back at Dunks at 10:30 when your blood sugar drops, repeat every few hours until it’s time to go home. Paying good money to ride a blood glucose roller coaster every day. It’s an opium den of useless carbs and sugar. Oh, and also you end up generating loads of trash. Fuck that joint.
So I’ve got plenty of options available to make a maintenance plan work. This is all mostly academic because I have to get to that point first. Which will take several more months. Heh. All righty. Never hurts to think ahead.
PS: By the way, the Talenti gelato Mediterranean Mint and Banana Chocolate Swirl varieties come highly recommended by yrs truly. They’re 200 calories a half-cup, and the containers with screw-top lids are extremely satisfying for some reason.♦