I remember lying in the bed at the hospital after having a heart attack and wondering how this could have happened to me. I was in good shape, ate the right things, trained like a beast and took all the right supplements.
I was baffled and broken. It was definitely the low point of my life - along with my older brother dying in my arms when I was a kid.
My outlook on life was shattered.
I was beatdown, but not defeated for I believe that for every setback there is a chance to come back and rise.
After the heart attack, I dug miles deep into research about heart disease, heart attacks, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein and fats. What I learned was eye-opening and life saving.
I shared my findings in the posts here.
THE BIG MISTAKE I MADE
The one critical error I made that led to my heart attack was stripping all fats from my diet. Long ago, I gave up butter for non-fat margarine, whole fat dairy products for non-fat, olive oil for lemon juice as salad dressing. You wouldn't catch me eating nuts, bacon, avocados or egg yolks.
This vital error caused my good cholesterol to drop dangerously low and was one of the main reasons I had my heart attack.
GOOD FATS ARE ESSENTIAL TO YOUR HEALTH
We need good fats. The experts had it wrong. Fat doesn't make you fat. Sugar and carbs make you fat. Good fats are essential to our health.
Below are some of the benefits of eating a "good high fat diet."
* Improves cholesterol levels
* Prevents heart disease
* Increases metabolism
* Promotes burning of body fat
* Reduces inflammation
* Boosts sports performance
* Reverts Type 2 Diabetes
* Enhances brain function
* Boosts immune system
* Helps effortlessly lose weight
MY BIG FAT DIET
Since I changed my eating habits and started my "big fat diet" my body fat has DROPPED from 17 percent to 10 percent. The pudge I've had around my waist since I was 35 has finally disappeared. At 52, I'm getting RIPPED like I was when I was a teenager.
Amazingly - this all happened while eating MORE FAT than I ever have. On top of that, my blood work has been stellar.
My LDL (bad cholesterol) dropped from 120 to 50.
My HDL (good cholesterol) rose from 24 to 50.
My triglycerides went from 150 to under 50.
I'm ASTONISHED at the results because it goes against everything I've learned over the past 25 years as a professional athlete and fitness expert.
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but after more than a year of eating a "big fat diet" and reading a boatload of recent scientific literature and studies - I'm convinced a "big fat fat" diet is the optimal way to eat for health, fitness and weight loss.
To get the benefit out of a "big fat diet" you MUST cut back on sugar and carbs. Ideally, limit yourself to under 150 grams of carbs a day from mostly greens vegetables and low glycemic load fruits. For fat loss, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests less than 50 grams a of carbs a day.
If you continue to plow down the carbs and eat a lot of refined sugar - adding good fats to your diet will only continue to make you fatter.
THE GOOD FATS
I eat most of them every day!
Meat (preferably grassfed)
Fish (preferably wild not farm raised)
Coconut Oil (I'm a huge fan)
Butter (Kerry Gold brand grassfed)
Ghee (clarified butter without the milk byproducts)
Cheese + Cottage cheese + Yogurt + Cream (Always whole fat)
Bacon (Few times a week. I'm too lazy to cook it or I'd eat it every day)
THE WORST FAT
TRANS FATS are horrible for you. Do not eat these! These are mostly manmade foods. Think: crackers, cookies, cakes, chips, microwave popcorn, Crisco, coffee creamer (sorry), Pam spray, fake butter, and of course fast food.
Trans fats are so bad that in 2013 the FDA took trans fat off the list of foods that are "generally recognized as safe" to eat.
THE OTHER BADDIES
I try to stay away from vegetable fats, such as peanut, corn, canola, safflower and sunflower oil that have been refined. These tend to be high in Omega 6 fats.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT?
Your starting point should be to eat real, whole, fresh unadulterated, unmodified foods that ideally, are organic like:
* An "unlimited" amount of non-starchy veggies - think the green crunchy kind + cauliflower.
* Beef, Bison, Lamb - grassfed whenever possible.
* Organic Poultry
* Fish (Wild better than farm raised, but be mindful of mercury levels)
* Plenty of good fats including avocados, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil.
* All nuts and seeds including hemp, chia and flax seeds.
* Butter from grassfed cows + ghee butter
* Moderate amount of low-glycemic load fruit like: blueberries, apples, apricots, grapefruit, strawberries, pears, watermelon, oranges, lemons.
* Whole Dairy products, if tolerated.
* Small quantity of beans, if tolerated.
* Small quantity of gluten free grains, if tolerated. Quinoa, buckwheat, millet, brown rice.
* Sweet potatoes or yams. (limit to one a day)
THE BIG SECRET
When you eat a lot of healthy fats - they fill you up and satiate you. They will help fight against the cravings and hunger pangs, get off the carb rollercoaster and regain control of your appetite!
AVOID SUGARY DRINKS AND JUICES
Almost 20 percent of our daily calories comes from sugar sweetened drinks like soda, teas, sweetened coffees, sports drinks and juices. These liquid calories are FAR WORSE than solid sugars because they go straight into fat production and storage.
AVOID these like the plague - including fruit juices. Fruit juices are high in sugar without the valuable fiber of whole fruit. If you are going to juice - stick with the green juices!
MY DAILY "BIG FAT DIET"
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is have a glass of water. We lose a lot of water when we sleep - it's important to HYDRATE first. Drinking water will also help to curb your appetite.
Shortly after, I'll make a cup of coffee or green matcha tea and add a heaping tablespoon of Nutiva Virgin coconut oil along with a teaspoon of Kerrygold butter. The MCT's in coconut oil and butter fill me up, cuts hunger pangs and provides high octane fuel for my brain without raising my insulin level so I can:
"STAY IN FAT BURNING MODE"
The minute we add carbs or sugar our body it kicks off a fat storage cycle. The GOAL is to stay in the "fat burning zone" for as long as possible.
I'll suck down a shake with SunWarrior chocolate protein powder with a half or full avocado, a scoop of Amazing Greens wheat grass powder, a tablespoon of glutamine and a teaspoon of creatine. I put all this in a blender with water and a cup of ice.
On some days, I'll substitute the wheat grass with a cup of fresh organic spinach. Delicious!
12PM or Lunch Time
I'll have a meal with a fish, meat or egg protein along with a non-starchy vegetable. My favorite lately is cauliflower mash with a teaspoon of melted Kerrygold butter. I'm also a big fan of sweet potatoes and yams - but limit to one a day.
I'll eat as much as I want of the approved foods but find that if I eat a lot of good fats and protein - I get full more quickly and stay fuller throughout the day. I'm so full that sometimes I have to literally force myself to eat.
I love me a good old fashioned Salad. I'm digging spinach as the green du jour. I'll throw a bag of Trader Joe's Organic spinach leaves into a big bowl, douse it with olive oil and lemon juice. Then, I'll add in a generous portion of feta cheese, and sprinkle in some pine nuts, maybe some green olives and toss.
I'll sprinkle sea salt and pepper and I'm good to go. Delicious. This is my go to salad. I could eat some variation of it every day.
My favorite snack of late is macadamia nuts. Love the flavor. I have to watch myself so I don't eat the whole damn bag. I also munch on veggie sticks, hummus and almonds.
I have a weakness for Quest Bars but try to keep them to a minimum because of the sugar alcohols and carbs. I'll also eat a low glycemic load fruit from the list above but do it sparingly. Cottage cheese and yogurt are another favorite snack.
But again, if extreme weight loss is what you are after - you'll be best minimizing the carbs until you get to your ideal weight. The good fats will keep you full and satiated.
I EAT WHEN I'M HUNGRY
I'll eat a variation of my lunch time meal every 3-4 hours. I'll change the protein and veggie, but I make sure all my meals have either olive oil, ghee or Kerrygold butter in them. It's the key to keeping satiated.
When we cut the carbs and sugar -- but don't add the healthy fats -- we get depleted, cranky and hungry. Don't make that mistake.
If I'm working out hard, I'll add a little more complex carbs to the mix to keep my performance up. It's either sweet potatoes or a gluten free grain or a little brown rice. My bud makes these great buckwheat paleo pancakes that I enjoy as well.
MY GUILTY PLEASURE
I scream, you scream - we all scream for ice cream.
When I was first starting "my big fat diet," I kept away from the frozen gobs of goodness because of the high sugar content. But since I got to down 10 percent body fat and have stabilized, I've found I can eat ice cream 2-3 days a week without putting on any extra weight or body fat. Hell yah!
My "big fat diet" works for me. The results have been remarkable. I confident it will work for you. It's worked like a charm for all the people I've advised. I believe it's the optimal way to eat for health and fitness and longevity.
But please note: I'm 210 pounds with a lean body mass of 192 pounds. I need roughly 4000 calories a day. To SUCCEED you will need to adjust your caloric intake to best fit your size and basal metabolic rate.
I also find that women don't seem to be able to tolerate as much fat as men. So for the female gladiators out there - cut the amount of fat a little to find what works best for you.
Right now my macros are roughly: 50-60 percent fat, 25-30 percent protein, 20-30 percent carbs.
For you gladiator girls, you might want to start with: 35-40 percent fat, 35 percent carbs, 25 percent protein. Keep adjusting until you find what works for you!
I hope this helps and you'll at least give it a spin. My hope is you'll get the same amazing results I have and will be on your way to a happier, healthier, more fit life!
Please share your findings or make comments below. And forward to a friend if you think any of the tips could help them.