Protein up

You suffered through multiple Detox Weeks. You endured Couch to 5k (I spared you 5k to half-marathon … so far). Are you possibly at all ready for All-Protein Week?

I know I’m not.

Inspired by Peter Shankman’s 12-day all-protein diet, which was inspired by his trainer Kennth Yim, who was himself inspired by Lyle McDonald, I thought to myself, “Self, maybe this is just the thing you need to do to push yourself over that last hill. You’ve lost 25 lbs in a few years. You can now run 10 miles like it’s just another day. But you seem to still have some, um, puffiness that just won’t go away. And you eat way too much bread, dude. Like, seriously.”

Of course, doing an all-protein diet when you’re a mostly vegetarian with occasional fish-eating tendencies is tough. It would basically mean I’m stuck with eating nothing but fish for the duration. Well, and vegetables (the green, leafy kind, not the starchy, root-y kind). See, the idea is to increase your protein intake by an insane amount, and cut out almost every bit of fat and carbohydrates possible during this time, which will force your body into ketosis after a few days, at which point your stash of carbs are burned out, leaving only fat for your body to burn off. Hence why this is plainly stated to be a CRASH DIET and not a lifestyle change; while your body can adapt to a similar diet (with fats), it’s not generally a healthy long-term change.

Plus, for someone of my build and activity level, I need to consume more than 200 grams of protein a day, which is about 140 more than normally recommended, and it’s been really challenging to figure out how to consume THAT MUCH protein (average servings we eat are about 20g), especially given a) my schedule and b) my normal dietary restrictions. As well, there’s a huge calorie deficit, by about 50 percent, but that’s part of the deal: Not consuming all those extra “empty/bad” calories that come from carbs and fat.

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to at least give it a shot … less as a crash diet, and much like my detoxes/reboots before, more as a re-introduction into better eating habits overall. After every one of these things, I see general improvements in my health and lifestyle (whoever though I’d become known as an avid runner?), but sure enough, my discipline strays, especially when I get busy or holidays come up. A late-night grilled cheese here, a couple of cookies there … and there … and there. Even though I stopped keeping bread around the house, I still find myself buying sandwiches or carb-heavy food for lunch almost everyday. I can feel it — I get that mid-afternoon fatigue every time I eat a Capriotti’s sub or a Chipotle burrito. And though I’ve kept my weight within a comfortable range (between 160 – 165 lbs.), it’s been creeping toward the upper end despite running and weight training multiple times per week. So, yeah, I needed something to give me that little push over the hill, get me back to cooking my own meals, controlling my portions, eating more whole foods, etc.

Hence, Monday (yesterday) morning, I started my own version of this all-protein, rapid fat loss diet. And so far … it’s not too bad. In spite of the drastic calorie cut, my energy levels have actually been pretty good, I haven’t gotten sleepy or cranky, and I actually had a normal workout tonight, after which I weighed in at almost 2 lbs. lighter than three days ago. I get hungry throughout the day, but not really any hungrier than when I do my detoxes, despite not snacking all day on nuts and fruit. I figured out egg whites are a good no-fat, no-carb protein source, as well, but aside from that, it’s been lean fish like tuna and salmon, low-carb protein shakes and lots of greens (plus multi-vitamins), and it will be for at least this week … or until I break down and doughnut it up. I won’t be doing a hardcore, full, 12-day deal like Shankman did, mainly because of the lack of protein diversification mentioned above, but also because I have to watch my cholesterol intake, because I’m still not sure whether my high cholesterol scare a few years ago was induced by lifestyle, diet or genetics (the first two of which I obvious drastically changed). Besides, getting into the practice of eating less nutritionally useless carbs and more complex carbs, healthy fats and proteins is my eventual goal anyway, and this seems like a good starting place.

But if I’m cranky the next week or so, I apologize in advance, and you have permission to hold me down and shove a bagel down my throat to resolve the situation.