Just over a year ago I made some lifestyle changes. It happened pretty suddenly and it happened without me intending to make any changes. And it happened because I only had eggs in the kitchen.
Throughout most of 2013 and 2014, I kept what most people would consider to be a fairly unusual diet. It was the Slow Carb Diet, popularised by Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four Hour Body. It involved keeping a fairly low-carb diet (only beans and legumes allowed) for six days followed by a “cheat day” where all bets were off. I was known for consuming vast quantities of crap on those days. I could (and would) easily polish off:
- An entire box of Coco Pops
- Several croissants (butter and chocolate) and/or doughnuts (jam or custard)
- Many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- A few large bowls of spaghetti bolognaise (or similar)
- A large bag of peanut M&Ms (I wouldn’t go a cheat day without having at least one bag of Peanut M&Ms)
- A burger (Byron or Meat Mission most often), fries, chicken wings and beer (or something of equal value and joy such as an Indian takeaway)
- Some more chocolate or sweets (probably a Snickers)
- A late night 9 McNugget Meal
- An entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream (forced down around midnight)
- And probably more, especially if cheat day involved going to the cinema. (Popcorn! Cola! Sweets!)
My Facebook & Twitter feeds were filled with pictures like those peppered throughout this blog (along with the status updates that accompanied them).
Most weeks I would end my cheat day feeling pretty sick. But it worked – I lost a lot of fat keeping to the diet.
Although the two or even three days after Cheat Day was easy (I had no desire to eat anything sweet or sugary after gorging), the rest of the week I had to have some willpower, which, if I’m honest, was often pretty hard. I had some serious cravings (mostly for Peanut M&Ms and a fresh pain au chocolat) to fight.
Through 2013 and 2014, I also started spending more time with my friend, Imran. I’ve known Imran for many years, but until recently we’ve not known each other very well. He kept a different but equally unusual diet and kept encouraging me to quit binging each week and try it. The only trouble was that it seemed even more unhealthy, as well as not allowing me a chance to satisfy my desire for Peanut M&Ms.
A Trial of Fat
Imran’s diet was a diet that consisted mainly of fat. He would eat lots of eggs (mostly yolks) and butter. For about a year, I quizzed him about his diet. I tried to poke holes in his reasoning. But for every lay-question I had, he had an intelligent, well-researched, understandable, (at least semi) scientific answer. Imran isn’t a doctor, a nutritionist, or any other kind of health professional. But he is obsessive. When he gets into a subject he really gets into it and goes deep. My friend, Graham, and I like to joke that he has five specialist subjects that he can talk about – diet, alternative/home education, macro-economics, strengths, and transformation – and nothing else.
One of the things that Imran kept mentioning to me was that he ate small meals, didn’t get hungry very often and fasted regularly. I couldn’t comprehend how this would be possible. I ate masses, frequently and couldn’t go more than a few hours without at least snacking. For my whole life I was known for getting hangry and my girlfriend quickly learned that she sometime just needed to feed me to prevent getting into an argument.
In 2014, after participating in the Wisdom Unlimited Course, for the first time in many years, I wanted to reconnect to my Jewish roots and decided to fast for Yom Kippur. I didn’t realise at the time that Yom Kippur would fall on a planned weekend away with my girlfriend’s Uni friends. So, on Friday, 3rd October 2014, Erev Yom Kippur (the evening preceding Yom Kippur), we drove to a rented cottage in Devon to meet (mostly for the first time) a dozen or so of her closest friends.
True to my word, I was going to fast – regardless of the weekend away – and ate my final meal for 24 hours. I thought that I could use the opportunity of fasting to test Imran’s theory, that it’s easier to fast if you eat lots of fat, so I fried about 6 eggs in butter and followed them with butter scooped up using almonds (like humous) until I was full. I drank a large glass of water or two and then stopped.
Everyone thought I was crazy. For them, the weekend was all about eating and drinking (one of them said that) and I’d just eaten half a dozen eggs and nearly half a pat of butter and told them I was fasting through the next day.
The next morning someone suggested we all go to a food festival and was met with resounding cheers! My heart sank. I didn’t want to be surrounded by tons of uber-tempting, will-power-breaking, delicious-looking food but I also didn’t want to be negative about going. We went. Although the food was really delicious looking, I found that I actually wasn’t hungry… all day! As tempting as the food was, because I didn’t feel hungry, I didn’t need too much willpower to get through the day. That evening, we went for a swim, messed around in the pool and then, 25 hours after my last meal, we ate dinner.
In all my memories, fasting for Yom Kippur was difficult. Every year I’d be hungry, lethargic and grumpy by the end of the day. This time it was different: I was barely hungry (despite the amazing looking food festival’s best efforts), I didn’t get hangry or lethargic (I swam after about 23 hours of fasting!) and it was easy.
My curiosity was piqued and my adventures in fat began.