My diet has undergone some radical changes lately, and I owe many of them to two websites in particular. Dangerously Hardcore and Beautifully Hardcore are fantastic one-stop resources for all things related to heavy lifting paired with selective carbohydrate intake. Keifer is the creator of Dangerously Hardcore and author of the books “Carb Backloading: Manual for Total Body Fat Control” and “The CarbNite Solution“.
You could call my new regime “The Everyone Thinks I’m Crazy Diet”. Or the “Eat Pizza, Cookies, Ice Cream, and/or Beer and Still Look Smashing Diet”. Or the “Easiest Diet in the World.”
I say that bearing in mind the fact that I don’t believe any one way of eating or training is best for everyone, or even a lot of people. It’s very personal, food and health is. I never preach about food, even though it is a passionate subject to me.
When I first came to pay attention to what was going into my mouth (about 9 years ago), the first hurdle was an addiction to sugar that needed to be broken, which was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I like to stress to people that when I began this quest for a fitter body I was almost completely uneducated about what to eat to slim down. I thought that eating salads, carrot sticks, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese were good eating habits, and that you needed to avoid fried foods, avoid alcohol, avoid meat, and avoid sweets to lose weight. This was the blueprint you had to follow, and on top of all that, you also needed to eat 5-6 small meals per day, in order to keep your metabolism running. I still like string cheese, salad, and carrots, but now I see food as a drug that signals chemical changes in your body, and I’m more aware of the importance of things like timing, quality, and quantity, in addition to just food selection.
I did eat frequent small meals when I was first losing weight, but I don’t anymore. I think that trying that probably stimulated my then sluggish fatburning mechanisms, and was helpful to me as a heavier person. But now I practice intermittent fasting so I don’t have to eat a low-calorie, crap-ass diet. I simply fast, and then eat what I like during a smaller window. I seek out healthy, high-calorie foods nowadays, as I need a lot of energy to do my training and daily walking. I’m finding that pretty much everything I thought was a hard and fast rule about nutrition is much more flexible that I believed.
I believed back then that if I woke up and did not eat within an hour, even after I had lost lots of fat and had a healthy, effective metabolism, my body would go into “starvation mode” and suspend all fatburning posthaste. This simply isn’t the way it works. Your body burns fat as you sleep, and when you eat breakfast, it stops. It starts using your breakfast for energy instead. My body is full of energy (food) when I go to bed, so I am not starving the next morning, I’m still working on using the food from the night before. You can then do a kickass heavy training session in this fasted state and burn even more fat! But I usually eat something with a lot of protein around 11 before I train, so I end up fasting around 14 hours total, including my sleep.
I also thought whole grains, peanut butter, and fruit were my friends as a newly healthy eater. I’ve discovered problems with consuming all three of these foods regularly! Peanut butter often contains trans fats from hydrogentated oils(although I’m seeing many more natural options). Whole grains are still high in carbs and carbohydrates are addictive, as they are sugars. Even a low glycemic food still triggers an insulin response in your body, and I have found that eating carbs willy nilly just is not an effective strategy for me. Same goes for fruit, it is sweet, and it creates a change in your sugar level. I only consume a large quantity of carbohydrates on a day before I’m doing heavy kettlebell lifting and only after 6:00 PM, when my body is less responsive to insulin output.
Practicing the principles outlined by the website Dangerously Hardcore (run by DH Kiefer) has helped me find the perfect way of eating for me and my goals. I want a hot body, not too skinny, with curves. I recently came to the conclusion that I am an athlete, but I am first and foremost a bodybuilder. I hate labels, but I am trying to build a certain type of body that I find appealing. I want a giant booty, flat tummy, little jiggle, and an overall strong look. Like a fitness model but with a little more “va-va-VOOM”! Look at this sexy beast:
Alex Victoria Navarro practices Carb Backloading and Carb Nite, the other eating strategy proposed by Kiefer on DH. If it gives her enough energy to compete in the Ms. Fitness America pageant and makes her look like this? I am IN. She blogs on DH also, and is a talented fitness writer (my hero!).
It may sound crazy, or like a scam, but I approached it with an open mind, and I am impressed with the results. The reason this works so well for me is that I am inconsistent. Sometimes I’m able to stick with something like Paleo, or am able to not consume any dairy or grains for awhile. Sometimes I enjoy baking muffins, pies, and cookies from scratch with my daughter.
Sometimes I like making a delicious pasta dish or eating a nice big baked potato. Food is a wonder to me, I love to cook and bake, and I simply don’t like any restrictions. So I don’t have any anymore, I just use common sense with few rules. Here they are!
1.) No carbs before 5:30-6pm.
2.) No food before 11:00am. My breakfast is plain, black coffee with grassfed butter melted into it.
3.) Start the day with a long, fasted walk. (Picked this fatburning tip from Elliot Hulse, a fitness guru I am in love with…)
4.) Frozen/prepackaged/restaurant food only once a week. Usually this is pizza on grocery shopping night. Otherwise
we eat a whole foods diet at home. EAT REAL FOOD.
5.) No vegetable oils, no soybean oils, no rapeseed oil, no canola oil, no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats.
The fats I eat are animal fats (like bacon grease), grassfed butter, avocado, whole eggs, olive oil (not for cooking, just for
flavor on veggies or on pasta), coconut oil, and nuts like almonds. I eat fat pretty liberally.
6.) No dairy, I just can’t handle it.
Here is an article on why butter and bacon are not your worst enemies, and why you should eat real food, from Real Food University.
And here is an article about a study of the effects of red meat and bacon on mortality and health.
And here is information on IF, or intermittent fasting. The leading expert on this, in my opinion, is Brad Pilon, who wrote the book Eat Stop Eat.
So in closing, keep an open mind when it comes to health advice, because I have found that a lot of what I thought was right was wrong, especially for me. I have changed my mind about most of the things I used to consider non-negotiable as part of a healthy lifestyle. I have completely changed the way I train, for the better! If I hadn’t been open to these new ideas I probably would have lost interest in becoming my best self, because it just would have seemed too hard, to have to eat a restrictive, low-calorie diet and do repetitive, boring workout DVD’s forever.
It seems “too hard” to most people I talk to. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not as hard as you think, and it starts with the will to change, and the willingness to experiment and try new things.
The biggest obstacle to changing your body and your life is negative self-talk. Your self, your brain, whatever you want to call it says, “I can’t do this, I can’t do that, there is only one path to success, and I can’t stay on it. I don’t like this, I can’t eat that, I won’t try this because of X, Y, Z.” The volume on that voice needs to be turned all the way down to mute, and you
just need to do it, try it, change it.
Finding what works for you is key, and finding out for yourself what is the best choice is critical. Don’t believe everything you think you know about health and fitness, do the research, seek out the alternatives, find what gives you the results you desire and makes you feel strong and healthy. Trial and error have gotten me to where I am now, and I am pleased with the outcome!
My next post will go into more dirty detail about why this specific diet is such a good fit for me personally, and will include some training talk. Right now I am running on some butter coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon fat, and spinach, and am ready to play with some kettlebells!