Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Experience with the Fast Metabolism Diet

Have you heard of the Fast Metabolism Diet?

I hadn't either until last fall when some people on a message board I frequent were discussing it. I bought the book and started reading author Haylie Pomroy's plan for boosting a person's metabolism and kickstarting weight loss. It made a lot of sense to me.

This is not about depriving yourself, although you do avoid certain foods. I'll get to that later. You actually eat tons of food. Real, unprocessed food. So much that I almost couldn't eat all that I needed to eat every day. The book lays out portion size based on how much weight you want to lose. You eat at least 5 times a day. It's a lot of food! In fact, Haylie says that on her program, the word DIET means Did I Eat Today?

Okay, here's the gist of it. You stay on the program for 28 days or 4 weeks. Each week you divide up into 3 phases. This is a fantastic summary of what each phase is supposed to do:
The book provides a list of foods that are appropriate for each phase. You must stick to eating those foods on the right phases.

Phase One is the high-glycemic, moderate protein, low fat phase. You eat grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal. Sprouted wheat breads are allowed, too. Fruits high in natural sugars like apples, strawberries and mangos are permitted. Moderate amounts of protein that are low in fat make up the rest of your menus. No oil is allowed on this phase. You also do one day of cardio exercise.

Phase Two is considered to be the hardest by a lot of people I've talked to. It is very high protein and high vegetable (though your choices are more limited than the other phases.) No grains or fruits except lemons and limes are allowed. Strength training is the exercise you complete on this phase.

Phase Three adds back in good grains and fruits, plus some healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts. This was the easiest phase for me. Exercise for this phase is supposed to be a relaxing activity. I just took nice, meandering walks at a slow pace for mine.

You really have to get the book to understand the why's of this diet. There is a whole lot of chemistry involved. Plus, the book has some really good recipes to get you started. Once I understood the phases and what you could/couldn't eat on each one, I could adapt some of my own recipes to work on the plan.

Now here are some of the things you can't eat/drink on this diet:

No corn products
No wheat products, with the exception of sprouted bread like Ezekiel bread
No dairy - it was hard giving up cheese!
No caffeine - bye bye, morning coffee
No refined sugars - the only sweeteners you can use are stevia and xylitol
No soy - the exception is tamari sauce, a gluten free soy sauce
No alcohol - not a problem until I got sick and needed cough syrup
No dried fruit or juice
No artificial sweeteners
No fat free anything

I don't care for stevia, so I chose xylitol as my sweetener. It's pricy but I felt like it was worth the cost. It's imperative to get birch xylitol instead of something corn-based, though.

Even though I drank a cup of coffee each morning prior to starting the program, I only had one day of withdrawal headaches. Some people who drink a lot of coffee experience more serious withdrawal symptoms like fatigue and the shakes. Now that my 28 days are up, I really don't have a burning desire to go back to drinking coffee. That's not to say I'd turn down a coffee date with a friend. I just don't feel like a need java to start my day like I did before.

One of the rules on this plan is to drink lots of water. You're supposed to drink half your weight in ounces each day. That's a lot of water! You're also supposed to get adequate rest, like 8 hours of sleep each night. But I couldn't do that because I got up a few times to go potty after drinking all the water! LOL!

I'm going to tell you right now, the key to success on this nutritional plan is planning. I mapped out every meal and every snack and made sure I had the ingredients on hand. I cut up veggies ahead of time so I could grab them for a quick snack. Basically, veggies are unlimited so if you ever get hungry on this diet, just eat some celery or a salad to fill you up.

The only real drawback to this plan is the cost of food. Buying fresh produce and healthy food is expensive! I easily tacked on $50 each week to our regular grocery budget, buying tons of veggies and fruits, nitrate-free meats and sprouted bread products. Now that I don't have to eat as much for every meal, I can scale back the budget and still keep buying healthy.

One of the upsides to this program was that my family tried new dishes with me and even liked some of them! Neither child liked cabbage much before this, but now they love it. That's a win in my book!

Ok, so does this diet plan work?

My answer is yes, it worked for me. If you stick with it and eat the phase-appropriate foods, you'll lose weight. I started the plan on January 5 and ended on February 1. In that 4-week period, I lost 14 pounds. And I had a great deal of energy. Eating real foods keep you full and satisfied.

My best friend and her husband decided to follow the program with me. She also lost 14 pounds, and he lost 24! He did a bit more exercise than the program demanded, though. They've been so pleased that they're going to do one more 28-day cycle to see if they can lose some more.

Now, just a disclaimer. As with any diet program, you need to follow the advice of your doctor. If you have a metabolic disorder or a thyroid problem, you definitely want to get your doctor's input before starting this program. Since it's all about getting the most out of your metabolism, your doctor can tell you if this will help you lose weight.

If you want to try the Fast Metabolism Diet, here are my best tips for you before you get started:

1. Read the book. It really is the best way to understand this eating plan. And
    you will refer back to if often, especially during the first week when you're
    unsure if you're eating the right things on each phase. It's also a great way
    to remind yourself that this isn't just about losing weight. It's about waking up
    and repairing your metabolism so it will function as it should even when you
    are not following the diet.

2. Follow Haylie Pomroy's Pinterest boards. You can find them here. She       
    regularly pins new recipes and gives tips on how to make them appropriate
    for each phase. I found a number of yummy recipes that I'll continue to
    prepare even though I'm no longer following the plan.

3. Map out your menus for each day for one week. Don't do all 4 weeks at
    once. You might want to try one of the recipes in the book, so you put it down
    as a lunch or dinner for each week. Then you prepare it and find out you or
    your family don't like it. Now you've got to come up with a new plan and you
    get discouraged that all your hard planning work is for nought. 

4. Check to see if your local grocery stores carry nitrite-free lunchmeat.
    The only store around here that did was Publix. They had two kinds of nitrite-
    free turkey. I chose the smoked kind. It became my go-to snack for the protein
    heavy Phase 2. I could just grab a couple of slices and a handful of celery.
    Since it was free of added chemicals, it tasted very plain. But I liked it. It was
     clean and fresh-tasting to me.

And here are some tips once you've jumped on the bandwagon:

5. Fill a pitcher with the amount of water you need to drink each day.
    I kept mine in the fridge because I enjoy cold over room temperature water. I
    was surprised how much water I really needed to consume. Water is pretty
    much the only beverage I drink, so I thought I was getting enough. I wasn't
    coming close to the daily recommended amount for everyone, let alone the
    amount of water I needed on this plan.

6. Don't weigh yourself every day. There will be some fluctuation from day to
    day. If you weight yourself and find out you've gained a pound since the day
    before, how likely are you to get discouraged? Very likely! It's normal on this
    plan to see fluctuation, especially on protein-heavy Phase 2. Instead, weigh
    yourself once a week, right before you start next week's phases. It will be so
    much easier to stick with the program!

7. Prepare snacks ahead of time if you can. Having celery cut up, ready to
    eat, saved me from grabbing something I shouldn't. I generally don't keep junk
    food around anyway, but I do have dried fruit for snacks. On this plan, dried
    fruit is a no-no. Even though it would have been a healthy choice any other
    time, it would have thrown me off my eating plan. Why do all this hard work
    only to be done in by a couple of snacks I shouldn't have had? Preparation is
    the key.

Now is this eating plan for everyone? No. It does take a lot of time to plan and prepare the food. And you won't be eating out much, if at all. If you don't enjoy cooking, this diet could present a challenge to you. But you will be eating real, whole foods with no chemically stuff. The recipes on the book serve 4-6 people, so your family can enjoy the wholesome food with you.

My favorite new recipe is Haylie Pomroy's Italian Garden Meatballs. They are juicy and flavorful and don't need any sauce to make them delicious. I made double batches so I could freeze some for snacks, as well as meals. I will be making them often in the future, too.

My conclusion about the whole thing - this diet works if you stick with it. The results were well-worth the time and effort I put into it. I would not hesitate to go back on the plan if I needed to rev up my metabolism again.

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