Module 39: The Diet Experiment I Avoided For 20 Years
When it comes to diets and nutrition, I've tried nearly every experiment you can think of. I once went 7 days without eating any food or ingesting any calories.
For 30 days I drank an entire gallon of whole milk every single day. I've done paleo, low-carb even zero carb diets for weeks on end. I've tried ultra-high protein diets -- 400 grams daily. I've even done a potato only diet where you eat nothing but potatoes.
But over the last 20 years, there's one diet experiment I avoided at all costs.
I've never done a strictly vegetarian diet.
Recently, that changed. A for a few weeks, I followed a strictly vegetarian diet. Here's why I did it, the results and whether I'm still doing it.
Why I attempted the Vegetarian Diet
I saw this video making the rounds online.
In case you haven't seen it, this dude (who talks like Morpheus for some reason) claims to eat only 1,250 calories per day in one meal, is a strict vegetarian AND happens to be pretty jacked as well.
The video is controversial. Many people doubt that it's possible to eat only one meal per day. Well, I've eaten only 1 meal per day for years so I didn't see any problem with that claim.
Others swear there's no way this guy eats only 1,250 calories per day. But my fat loss recommendations call for eating exactly 1,250 calories per day, so I found this claim believable as well.
But the fact that this guy ate a vegetarian diet caught my eye. To be honest, I have nothing against vegetarians. I just happen to like meat and I always figured meat and meat products were necessary for anyone engaged in strength training or athletics.
However, seeing this perfect stranger and realizing that I was already eating in the exactly the same manner on 2 out of 3 fronts made me wonder what would happen if I did the unthinkable.
What if I gave up meat?
For for 3 weeks, I didn't eat any meat. I didn't eat any beef, chicken or fish. I also avoided eggs, milk, cheese and dairy of any kind. Including protein shakes.
What DID I eat? Honestly, pretty much just rice, beans and potatoes. I had nuts (mostly peanuts), bread and oatmeal. I also enjoyed veggies and fruit.
I lost fat (not shocking) and gained strength. (Note: I can't say the increase in strength was due to giving up meat. Prior to this experiment I wasn't able to be consistent with my training and during this experiment I was able to regain some consistency with my training. So in all likelihood the increase in strength was due to better training.
The single most surprising thing to me was I suddenly seemed to need a lot less sleep. I would often sleep only 4-5 hours a night and feel great the next day. I don't know if this effect would fade over time but it was interesting.
I'm also surprised at how cheaply you can eat in this manner. A dinner of rice, beans and salsa can be prepared for about a buck. To think that you could eat like this for a month and spend only $30 is mind-blowing. (Obviously, I didn't subject my family to this 'torture' so my family's total food bill was only slightly lower, but still.)
So.... why did I stop?
When I attempted this experiment, I had nothing against vegetarians. I just didn't follow their same eating strategy. In the midst of the experiment, I had nothing against meat-eaters, I simply wasn't eating meat at the time.
To be honest, I could have kept going with this style of eating as I was suffering no ill effects and I was loving how cheaply I could eat. But I also don't feel it necessary to swear off meat forever.
So after 3 weeks, I ended the experiment and enjoyed beef tacos. My stomach adjusted to the change just fine.
Rather than forcing my self to pick a side, this experiment taught me that you really can enjoy the best of both worlds. Since ending this experiment I still have a few days per week where I don't eat any meat or dairy -- mainly because I'm now quite content with a meal of rice & bean or potatoes.
Funny enough, the way I eat now is probably closer to what our ancient ancestors ate. Sometimes I eat meat, sometimes I don't... and sometimes I don't eat at all.
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