Category “Body”

I Ate Domino’s Pizza Every Day for a Month and Lost Almost 2% Body Fat

Stack of Domino's Pizza Boxes

I ate pizza every two hours for a month and this is what happened:

I lost 4.6 pounds, 4.1 inches, and 1.8% body fat

Before you rush out to stock up on frozen pizzas, let me tell you how I did it.

FIRST, A WORD OF CAUTION, WITH LOVE

Firstly, before starting any drastic change in your nutrition or physical activity please consult with your doctor to ensure that it is appropriate for your current health condition. Please. Pretty please. Pretty please with pepperoni on top. I visit my doctor regularly and get quarterly comprehensive metabolic panels. I also track my weight + %BF + resting heart rate + blood pressure weekly. Plus, I’ve been doing experiments like this for four years now, so I’m very mindful when I try a new experiment.

Secondly, I’m not telling you that eating pizza all day, every day is a good nutritional choice. Aside from the cholesterol implications, your pizza is likely to have a lot of sodium and preservatives. I wouldn’t make a life habit out of it. So why did I do it? To make a point that if losing weight and reducing body fat can be done with a completely insane, extreme routine, then doing it with smart, balanced, healthy choices will be far easier and you won’t have to give up your indulgences.

Thirdly, I didn’t get a chance to get a blood panel done to baseline my cholesterol before starting this experiment. This is why I ask you to please consult with your doctor first before starting something this drastic. I went ahead anyway because in my last lab results my total cholesterol was under 160. But if I were to do it again, I would test before and after. Something to look forward to if I ever try this again. Okay, it’s just an excuse to have another month of pizza. 😉

PIZZA, OH, THE GLORIOUS PIZZA

I ate a large slice of pizza every two hours. That works out to one large pizza a day. The “every two hours” is key. Don’t sit down and eat an entire large pizza then eat nothing for the rest of the day. You’ll likely trigger a strong insulin response and store a bunch of those carbs as glycogen. By limiting it to a slice every two hours, I kept my body’s furnace going all day and minimized my insulin response spikes.

I actually started the experiment five weeks ago and in the first week I was trying to be very healthy in my pizza choices. I would make them at home, load them up with veggies, lean protein, and go light on the cheese. Thin crust, of course.

Chicken Spinach Pizza

Basil and Feta Pizza

Okay, that second one wasn’t so light on the cheese. Sometimes, you just gotta’ treat yo’self. But after the first week, I decided if I was going to share my experience in an article, that kind of dedication to making healthy pizza choices was probably not realistic for a lot of folks. It takes a lot of planning to make sure you’re making smart choices and healthy, organic ingredients can be a strain on your grocery budget.

So I switched it up. I started over. I decided for the next month to order nothing but Domino’s. That’s right, Domino’s. I figured most folks in the States could find a Domino’s (or your local equivalent) and it would be within a reasonable budget.

Hey, Domino’s, can a brother get an endorsement deal?

I chose from Domino’s specialty pizzas, all large, thin crust. If you choose the right specialty pizzas, they clock in under 2000 calories.

Domino's Specialty Pizza Calories

That’s fewer calories than a moderately active male my age and size needs to consume just to maintain weight (about 2600 calories), so I was already at an advantage. Most healthy women should consume about 2000 calories, so ladies, I’ve got you covered too 😉

Scary Stat: The average American consumes well over 3000 calories per day. Some studies peg us at more than 3700 calories per day. Yikes! So even if you ate a whole large pizza every day, you’re still eating fewer calories than most of our fellow Americans.

OTHER FOOD INTAKE

I knew that I wasn’t getting enough of my greens and veggies with this plan, so every other day I would supplement with a salad (125 cal), 16 oz of Jamba Juice Great Greens (140 cal), 16 oz of Jamba Juice Tropical Greens (210 cal), or a serving of Athletic Greens (40 cal). Please note that I went with Jamba Juice juices and not smoothies, which can carry well over 500 calories. Yes, I know this is still not enough veggies, but I really wanted to minimize outside variables from the pizza while still getting some of my greens. I usually eat well over the recommended amount of veggies per day when I’m not doing crazy pizza experiments. I promise, Mom.

#Fatterday. The stuff of legends. Yes, I still had my #Fatterday, consuming somewhere around 4000-5000 calories on Saturday. I wish I could tell you I could have done without it, and I probably could have any other time, but I had a lot of other things going on and the mental energy required for that much discipline was too much for me this month. Life intervenes. Plus, I don’t care how much you love pizza, you try eating it every day, all day, for a month, and you tell me if you don’t need a break.

Fatterday Example

If you’re concerned with all this unhealthy food, don’t worry. Normally, #Fatterday is in much better balance with my nutrition.

DAILY MOVEMENT

While eating pizza, I wanted to drop a safe 1 pound per week. I’d have to burn about a 3500 calorie deficit per week to lose a pound of fat. So:

6 x 2000 = 12,000 calories from pizza
5000 calories from #Fatterday
3500 calories for one pound loss

That’s 20,500 calories per week. Or just under 3000 calories per day. No prob.

My plan to do that was for every day:

Activity

This includes my Basal Metabolic Rate of around 2050.

Weight loss aside, I wanted to make sure I was taking care of my cardio health. Four times a week I would do 20 minutes of cardio at 85%+ my max heart rate. My daily step counts included those cardio sessions. Every third day I would do seated, chest presses (150 lbs x 50 reps, in as many sets as it took me to get to 50). Why 50 reps? That’s a subject for another discussion. 😉 BTW, my Fitbit would not have registered the calorie burn from my weight-training so that is not included in my calorie actuals.

Now, before all my personal trainer, professional athlete, and all-around fitness buff friends jump all over me, yes, I know this was highly inefficient. I could have gotten far better results with a more efficient regimen. But this was about consistency. Every day, for a month. If I started throwing barbell complexes in with this experiment, some readers trying to make small, healthy changes might be intimidated and miss the point of this experiment. For most people, a brisk walk is less daunting.

HERE COMES THE HOTSTEPPER

How did I do it? I parked my car on the other side of my work campus. Walking to and from my car added 2200 steps. I took walking meetings whenever I could, adding another 2000-3000 steps. Returning your shopping cart to the front of the store instead of leaving it right by your car adds another 150 steps (plus, it’s good karma). Doing laundry gets me over 2000 steps. Completely rearranging your closet and heavy-duty house cleaning, 7000+. Light tidying up, about 1000. These little things add up. Are you a busy parent running errands, chasing kids around all day, and shuttling them around? You’ve got this.

Watching a 30-minute sitcom? Stand up and shuffle back and forth while watching it. You’ll get an extra 1800 steps in, easily. The NBA playoffs were a great time to do it as I was on my feet for most of the game anyway cheering the indomitable, unstoppable Warriors (#JustSayOakland). Get well soon, Steph! Your Warriors brothers-in-arms got you while you recover. Moving about the whole time while watching the game adds around 9000 steps.

I also got myself a Stamina InMotion Compact Strider so any time I was watching TV or streaming online, my feet were moving. I could do it standing or seated in a cycling movement. If a mini stepper is out of your budget, just get an aerobic step platform. It’ll be about 20 bucks.

SERGE, YOU CRAZY

Yes, I know that 7 miles a day is a lot. 60 minutes of moderate activity is three times what the CDC recommends for a moderately-active adult (e.g. brisk walking). But if a geek like me who spends most of his day in front of a computer can do it, if it’s important to you, so can you.

I also went after an exaggerated activity target to make a point. If you want to eat pizza all day, every day, then this is what you’d need to do. Please, for the love of God, don’t tell me you’re going to make a habit of eating pizza all day, every day. But what this does mean is this: You could cut my targets in half, still be within the recommended healthy goals set by the CDC, and have a couple slices of pizza for dinner 2 or 3 times a week. That was my point.

WHAT’S NEXT?

After that much pizza, I’m off to do a cleanse to recover. I’ll take a break from the gym to give my body a break but I’ll keep up my steps. In fact, my Fitbit buddies can attest, I’ve even stepped it up (more than 17,000 daily steps average). Pun intended.

APPENDIX: THE GEAR

Here’s what I used during my experiment:

What Eating Slow Carb Looks Like

Spicy ginger-sesame shrimp salad

I’ve already discussed before how I automate my meals. Folks have asked me for a bit more detail on what eating Slow Carb looks like, so I put together a few quick pics.

Here’s what one month of groceries looks like (each pic is a week).

From those groceries, I will prepare 21-24 meals each Sunday that I will eat over six days (Saturday is reserved for #Fatterday, my spike day).

You can see, I eat quite well. Newcomers to Slow Carb (and meal automation) might think you are giving up on spontaneity and variety but you’re really not. I just build in that variety when I prepare my menus for the week. As for spontaneity, I still go out when an occasion calls for it. For the other times, most people aren’t as spontaneous and varied as they might think. For the next month, take a picture of everything you eat. I bet you’ll be surprised how often you fall back on your “usual” or some slight variation of it.

Friends and fam ask me for my recipes. I have none. I do it by feel and whatever looks good at the market. What I do have are formulas.

  • frittata – 1 part filling, 3 parts egg
  • stews – 2 lbs protein, 14 oz tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato paste, veggies on hand
  • salads – dark leafy greens, crunchy veggies or nuts for texture, contrasting veggie colors for visual appeal, 1 cup protein
  • vinaigrette – 1 part acid, 3 parts oil
  • slow-cooked protein – 2 lbs protein, 1 cup broth, cooked in slow cooker or pressure cooker
  • sides – legumes (beans, lentils), fermented veggies (kimchi, kraut), veggies tossed with acid or lightly stir-fried

To all above, herbs and spices to taste. I play with flavor palates and, honestly, just experiment and have fun with it. But if you do need a few starter recipes to get you going, check out my Slow Carb Pinterest Board. Who knew Slow Carb could be so mouth-watering, right?

Of course, everyone always wants to jump to my #Fatterday. Here you go:

I’ve had two pretty epic #Fatterday Challenges:

I’ve had a lot of folks come to me excited about trying Slow Carb. Invariably, the #Fatterday is what sells it for them. Unfortunately, it tends to be the part they focus on too much. They forget that in order to earn my epic #Fatterday I am crazy disciplined about the rest of the week. The biggest mistake I see newbies make is thinking that if they just go a little lighter on #Fatterday so they can have an occasional fast carb here and there during the week, it will be okay. It will be…sort of. You must find something that fits with your lifestyle and is a balance between your happiness and results. The importance is consistency.

However. HOW. EVER. You must then adjust your expectations accordingly. The whole point of building these behaviors is that they are consistent choices, that you are teaching your body to fall into a rhythm. When you interrupt that rhythm it’s like coming to a dead stop then having to start up again. Law of inertia (and biochemical and metabolic cascades). That bowl of pasta during the week might not seem much to you–and in the grand scheme of life, it isn’t–but as far as your momentum goes it is very disruptive. You want to know how I lost 2.5 lbs every week for an entire year? Because I didn’t waiver. Not once. I was strictly Slow Carb six days and only spike one day. No exception. Weight loss is not linear. You cannot say, well, Serge, I’m okay losing 1.5 lbs every other week, so I can drift from Slow Carb 30% of the time. It doesn’t work like that. Momentum. Biochemical and metablic cascades.

I’m not saying you must stay strictly Slow Carb. Do whatever will be the right balance for you. Just know that you’ll have to temper your expectations accordingly. Measure your progress over months, not days and weeks. Understand that your results come from your deliberate choices. That’s all.

Okay, enough doom and gloom. Slow Carb was the program I found works well for me. Maybe you’ll find you like it. Maybe something else will connect with you. Over the years, I’ve dipped my toes into Paleo and Keto. In fact, you’ll see from my pics above, slow carbs seem spare. You’re catching me in my third year so I’ve been alternating with slow and no carbs during my week. If you’re just beginning, ease yourself into it with some legumes (beans and lentils).

Buon appetito!

How I Reclaimed an Hour of Each Day by Automating My Meals

Automating My Meals

The average American will prepare 832 meals at home this year. That’s 832 meals that you need to plan, shop, prep and clean.

What would you do if you could go from 832 to 24? That’s right. Twenty. Four. Feels good just thinking about it, right?

This is the question that popped in my head following a conversation between Tim Ferriss and Neil Strauss in which Tim was poking a bit of fun at Neil’s anxiety around ordering lunch. Neil explained that the reason he was able to be so productive—Neil is a 7-time NYT best-selling author and counting—is that he automates as many of his daily decisions as is practical. To that end, Neil usually has a standing order for lunch and having to spend decision energy on ordering lunch unexpectedly causes him a bit of distress.

I’m a foodie and an adventurous eater. I love to eat. My waistline is proof of that. I also love to cook. It relaxes me and lets me be creative. But the prospect of deliberately automating my meals intrigued me on two levels: reducing decision-fatigue and reclaiming time in my day.

Decision Fatigue
Research has shown that your mind is only able to make so many decisions each day before it starts to fatigue. That, by itself, does not seem so surprising. What is surprising is that this is true whether you are making an important, big decision like whether to accept a new job offer or a seemingly insignificant, small decision like red wine or white.

It’s hard to quantify the exact number of decisions each meal takes but consider that you probably make well over a hundred decisions for that single meal. I took a click-counter and tried to count the decisions involved in preparing my meals. I kept losing my place after about 150 because it’s tough to remember to click the counter for what I’d usually consider a trivial decision like: “Is that enough salt?” or “Should I have spinach? It’s on sale.” or “Is that medium or rare?”

Without knowing the exact number of decisions I am saving, I can tell you anecdotally that my overall energy, well-being and happiness have been noticeably impacted in a positive way. The joy of waking up and popping my protein-rich breakfast in the microwave, taking a Slow-Carb strict lunch to work and avoiding the cafeteria lines and coming home not having to worry about what I’m going to have for dinner after a long day is tremendous. My friends clown me about this but just try it for two weeks for yourself. You may think I am exaggerating but I dare you not to feel the same.

The point is, eliminating several hundred decisions out of my day saves that decision energy for more fulfilling pursuits. More on that later.

Saving Time
As part of my experiment, I also set out to reclaim one hour out of my day. I easily exceeded that. To illustrate the time savings let’s assume that we cook 6 days out of the week. The math will be illustrative and should scale relative to your habits. We’ll also exclude the time of actually eating the meal as we’ll hold that constant. Here’s the math:

  • 132 min shopping (2.2 x 60 min per trip)
  • 90 min breakfast (6 x 15 min per meal)
  • 150 min lunch (6 x 25 min per meal)
  • 210 min dinner (6 x 35 min per meal)

That’s:

  • 582 min total per week
  • 1164 min for 2 weeks

If you think these numbers are unfairly padded, time yourself. I did. 15 minutes to prep and clean breakfast goes by quickly. Walking over to the cafeteria for lunch, deciding what to eat, standing in line, waiting for your order…that all takes time. In fact, I am intentionally being generous and underestimating the time it takes me for each meal. For the grocery shopping, the average American goes to the grocery store 2.2 times a week. Let’s say it takes about an hour each trip.

To cook for two weeks’ meals (that’s 36 meals):

  • 60 min shopping (I now have only one grocery trip, saving myself 3.4 trips)
  • 240 min prep, cook and clean (I save a lot from only having to cleanup the cooking implements once)
  • 300 min for 2 weeks

So:

  • (1164-300)/12 = 72 min per day in savings

Just by cooking my meals in one day I’ve saved over an hour each day.

Now, these are my numbers. If you eat out more often, shop in fewer trips, then your time savings may be a bit less. But when you factor in these economies of scale you too will see non-trivial savings in your day.

My Method (and My Madness)

Meal Prep

I chose to prepare my meals every other Sunday because it is a day that I usually don’t have to make a lot of important decisions.

Let’s dispel one myth right now about variety. People critical of this practice say they love having variety and having the freedom to be inspired each day. Track what you eat over the course of a month and I think you’ll be surprised how those “choices” map to just a handful of variations. Not only that but research has shown that when faced with decisions throughout the day people have a tendency to opt for the simplest and most convenient option or their “usual.” That’s decision fatigue at work.

By being deliberate about planning out your meals, you can create intentional variety in your menu. Here’s how I plot out my main entrees (breakfast, lunch, dinner):

  • Sunday (frittata, chicken, fish)
  • Monday (frittata, pork, fish)
  • Tuesday (frittata, beef, veg)
  • Wednesday (frittata, chicken, pork)
  • Thursday (frittata, beef, fish)
  • Friday (frittata, chicken, beef)
  • Saturday (my day of indulgence to go out and eat)

The fact that I intentionally start each day with a frittata is my personal choice because I am currently on the Slow Carb program from The 4-Hour Body. This also guides me to have vegetable and legume sides for most meals. And if you don’t currently eat breakfast, you really should. Read The 4-Hour Body and try it. I’ve been on it for over a year and half and am living proof that breakfast absolutely matters.

You can do whatever works for you and vary as much (or little) as you like. But the point here is you can see I already start with intentional variety. Map your month’s meals and see how they compare.

Now that I have my general guideline, the fun part comes in. I select recipes that feature these entrees. Almond-crusted pork chops. Filet of sole with a ghee-white wine sauce with lemon and capers. Texas all-meat chili. Spring vegetable stir fry. Medallions of beef tenderloin with a cabernet reduction. Cauliflower couscous with celery root. Do you eat this well every week? Do you have this much variety?

Weekly Meals

I know this seems like a lot of work and it is in the beginning. But you are front-loading those decisions and we are creating formulas here. I know that for my week’s worth of frittatas I need 2 cartons (32 oz) of egg whites, 6 whole eggs, and 4 cups of filling. That’s a 3:1 ratio (for every 3 cups of egg I have 1 cup of filling). Yes, that was a pain in the ass to figure out. But now that I’ve done it, I never have to. Ever. Again. If you’re reading this, neither will you. You’re welcome.

Eventually, I’ll throw these recipe selections into Pinterest and in Epicurious. So the next time I am planning a two-week prep, I just select the recipes and they will have the appropriate quantities and automatically add them to my grocery shopping list. Pair that with a TaskRabbit or Postmates run and you won’t even have to do the shopping yourself. More time savings.

Additional Thoughts
Yes, this seems like a lot of work to begin with. And it is. I’ve done this for a few months now and I still dread every other Sunday. But that immediately vanishes that first breakfast I wake up to and that first dinner I come home to. And my efficiency will only get better over time.

I’ve also heard a few criticisms that this is fine for me because I only have myself to cook for. First of all, thanks for pointing out that I’m still holding auditions for my leading lady. That’s just mean. Secondly, I call BS. I have an amazing friend who cooks for herself and her four little girls once a month and has been doing so for a while now. I know a few other folks who also do the same for their families on a weekly basis. If anything, their economies of scale are even bigger than mine. I’ve known folks to pair up with other people to cook together every two weeks or once a month. That helps by sharing the work and swapping recipes. Plus, it helps the time pass a bit more quickly when you’ve got company.

I tried this experiment because I thought it would save me time and reduce decision fatigue. It has met and exceeded those expectations. This has also helped with two pleasant additional benefits. For one, I am able to save around 15% percent off my grocery bills because of the way I time my purchases and in savings from wasted/spoiled food. Produce NEVER goes bad in my home because they are prepared immediately. For another, this has helped me re-focus on being strict on the Slow Carb Diet. I prepare all my meals myself so I know exactly what is going into them. I have no temptation to slip when eating out because those are on rare occasions and I’ve banked a bunch of decision energy. Plus, I always have Fatterday to indulge.

So now that I’m flush with all this reclaimed time, what was it all for? I love food and I love to cook. That won’t change. But for now, I wanted to use some of that time to pursue new challenges, experiences and adventures. The first I am tackling with my time savings is teaching myself to speed read among the top 1% (500-1000 wpm) with an ultimate goal of achieving 5000 wpm. At 1000 wpm I could read the average novel in little over an hour and at 5000 wpm I could do it in fewer than 16 minutes. Think about that. In the time it takes you to prep and clean your breakfast, I could have read a book. Visit back on this blog to see how my quest to read 200 books in a year goes.