Here's What's Getting Me Through a High-Protein Diet

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Toward the end of 2017, Mike & I decided it was time for a change. I've never been one for diets - diets are temporary, diets are fads, diets are unsustainable - but my general attempts at healthy eating weren't working. Without a strict set of guidelines, I found myself doing what I always do: telling myself, "Oh, it's OK just this one time!" - where "it," of course, meant eating pizza, or pasta, or a bagel sandwich, or any other number of great-tasting but not-great-for-my-health foods.

Truth be told, I've never been great at healthy eating. In 2012, I lost 35 lbs. on Weight Watchers, but I've since gained it all back - & lost only my resolve to do it again.

Mike wanted to do the Four-Hour Body, a diet program that, yes, sounds absolutely scammy if you read about it on that terrible website I just linked to. (Yikes. Hadn't seen that one yet.) But Mike trusts it, & he's had success with it in the past, & because he does our cooking, I decided I'd try to follow it, too.

The rules, loosely, are that we've cut out carbs (including rice, corn, potatoes, & quinoa) along with fruit & dairy. That leaves meat, veggies, nuts, & seeds - the things I've always been the worst at eating.

It hasn't been easy, & I spent the first week hangry as hell (that's hungry + angry, of course), but I've since discovered a few hacks that have made it workable for me.

Roasted Chickpeas 

These are my new favorite snack, & I admittedly sometimes try to pass them off as a full meal. Just drain a can of garbanzo beans, rinse, & toss with olive oil & any spice, cooked at 450 for 40 minutes. They get so crispy, & the crunch helps fill the void that carbs have left behind. I like to cover them in cayenne or in rosemary & garlic powder... & then eat the entire batch. I'm sure that's very helpful.

Salami & Eggs

I'm not much of a cook, I don't cook raw meat, & I don't really like eggs. I can sort of bypass all three issues if I scramble the eggs hard & add chopped-up salami (the nice-ish kind, not, like, the lunch meat kind). Add onions & a little bit of salsa, & that's a passable meal that doesn't make me hate this diet. The secret? Garden Fresh Sweet Onion Salsa is so flavorful that it can make anything delicious!

Cauliflower Rice

First things first: This should be called "riced cauliflower," with "rice" as an adjective, because having "rice" in the noun spot indicates that this is a legitimate rice substitute, & it's just... not. Cauliflower doesn't soak up sauce, nor is it truly fulfilling, taste-wise. It is, however, worth it if you want to eat Thai food or Indian takeout without breaking the diet. It's also good in breakfast hash in lieu of potatoes.

P3 Portable Protein Packs

I discovered these Planters gems in the nut aisle at Target, like little protein-packed Lunchables without the gross fake ham rounds. I've stocked up on trios of honey roasted peanuts, teriyaki beef jerky, & salted sunflower seeds, which I eat for breakfast & whenever I'm feeling snacky. They've definitely kept me on the wagon.

Kale Chips with Vegan "Cheese"

I've yet to try to make these myself, but I'm trying to find an inexpensive variety to buy online (any suggestions?) They came on the side of a meal I ordered from The Root in Lakewood, & no joke, when I was done, I went back & ordered another side of them because when you're on a restrictive diet & you find something you actually want to eat? Go eat more of it. I'm going back this week, just for more kale chips... which is a ridiculous sentence that I never thought I'd say.

Zoodles

Mike has found all kinds of simple recipes that taste great with zucchini noodles - & luckily, we got a spiralizer as a wedding gift, which makes it easy for him to make them on the fly. My favorite zoodle dish so far is "pad Thai," zoodles topped with a homemade peanut sauce. Sure, it doesn't taste like real pad Thai - but it's not a terrible substitute. Peanut sauce makes everything taste great!

Red Wine

Mike is doing a dry January, but... I'm not! I don't drink much at home, anyway, so I haven't been drinking during the week, but on the weekends, it's been a bit of a lifesaver to be able to have a glass or two of red wine. This diet cuts out sweets & all things sugary, so wine - even a very dry wine - feels like a welcome change to my palate.

Restaurant Options

One of the reasons Weight Watchers has been so difficult for me to revisit is that I love going out to eat & do it with some frequently here in Cleveland. I've discovered, though, that I can still eat at a lot of the restaurants I love, so long as I make smart choices. I can still eat the pecan bacon from Lucky's & the beef lettuce wraps from The South Side & the chicken satay from Ty Fun, to  name a few, which makes me feel much less suffocated, food-wise, than a standard diet.

CHEAT DAY!

The best thing about the Four-Hour Body is that every Saturday, we get a major cheat day - like, an eat-whatever-we-want kind of cheat day. Apparently it jumpstarts your protein-saturated system, or something, & actually helps you lose weight? I don't know, guys, I'm not a scientist. All I know is that by Thursday, I'm jonesing for Saturday, planning out my entire meal - which usually involves a bagel & might involve a pizza.

We're a little more than three weeks into this diet, & I've lost about eight pounds - but beyond that, I feel great, which is why this diet has been easier than expected for me to stick to. I never thought I could make it on such a restrictive eating plan, but I'm finding that it's not actually that difficult - & feeling good makes it feel worth it.

Have you ever done a high-protein diet? I'd love your food recs & any other survival suggestions!

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