How to lose weight fast without any exercise
Personal notes and reflection on my short weight loss experiment
During a three month period I lost 10 kgs (22 lbs) almost without doing any exercise. Below are my personal reflections and method on how I did it. It doesn't involve counting calories or leaving the table hungry. There are no quick hacks or secrets to it, only self-discipline, commitment and persistence.
I have always been active, a sports nerd. For the past 10 years I've been practicing BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu), a type of martial arts that is used a lot in UFC. It's a fantastic and fun sport, but it also comes together with injuries. A year ago I accidentally twisted my knee during practice and it has been troubling me ever since. I've done my fair share of rehab, but I've also carried some extra body weight that I felt caused unnecessary strain on my knee. I felt like losing some weight might help a bit.
Sometimes at the end of summer I spoke to a friend who tried this weight loss method called Keto yielding great results. I've heard of it before, but never felt like I needed to try it myself as I never had any real weight issues. However, inspired by his success story and excitement I decided to try it for three months with a goal of losing 10 kgs. If I reached the weight goal sooner I would stop and resume my normal life.
I honestly thought I was going to crush my goal two months in because of the level of my progress, but it actually took me two and a half months to reach it and I continued for the whole three month period because I felt I was on a roll.
During the whole period I also got much less physical exercise than I usually do, maybe like 1/5 of my normal level. That's because I pulled my hamstring pretty bad at the end of the summer when wakeboarding.
Looking back I went from 92 kgs to 82 kgs without breaking any sweat.
The weight loss method in itself is deceivingly simple. Drop all carbs from you diet and increase everything else. That means protein, fat and vegetables. Go especially heavy on the fat.
Most people are afraid of fat. They think that if you eat fat you become fat. That is partially true. If you eat a lot of carbs and sugar and also add fat to your diet it will be stored in your body, but if you skip carbs fat will be used as energy.
The "drop all carbs" part of this diet is incredibly hard because when you start looking the carbs are everywhere and in very large amounts too. According to the Keto diet you are only allowed to eat at most 20 g of carbs a day.
You are not allowed to eat starch (pasta, bread, cereal, potato, corn, beans, legumes, beer and most vegetables that grow below ground) and sugar (candy, milk, fruit and half of the things you normally buy at your local grocery store).
Doesn't sound so hard in theory, but really hard in practice. Carbs are everywhere!
I started my experiment on September 1st and decided that my last day would be Black Friday, which falls on November 26 this year.
First two weeks were incredibly hard. Not in terms of eating, but more of knowing what to eat. Finding inspiring recipes, doing grocery shopping, cooking. Not only that, I often had to cook separate meals for myself as the rest of the family were not onboard with my little experiment and wanted to eat normal meals.
During the first two weeks I lost 2 kgs. I was impressed! That's a lot! From my research it mostly wasn't fat, but water. One gram of carbohydrates binds four grams of water inside your body and as you deplete your body's carb storage the water exits your body as well.
There is also a well-known concept called Keto fever, a state when your body enters ketosis, meaning it switches from carbs to fat as the primary source of energy. I honestly thought it was a fad as nothing happened to me. Or so I thought. It hit me on Day 5. I woke up feeling weak and drowsy and with a terrible headache. Took some painkillers that made me feel a little better. It was gone the next day.
Keto is also more effective when paired with intermittent fasting. I've been doing intermittent fasting for years, the 16/8 method. I am not strict about it. I just skip breakfast as I am never hungry when I wake up. It has served me well, but I am not sure if it has helped me lose weight. Maybe more like it has helped me not gain any.
One thing that struck me is that Keto diet is boring af. Sure, it's fun to eat large stakes, vegetables and fat sauces in the beginning, but that fun lasts for about a week. After that it becomes very one-sided and blunt. You have to try and find food and recipes not that you like, but that you like a bit more than you dislike. Also you have to use a lot of spices to make everything more interesting.
A little more than one month into my experiment my weight loss continued, maybe not at the same pace as in the beginning, but it was still steady. By that time I was down 5 kgs. I was also a little worried that I was losing weight a little too fast. Normal weight loss progress is around 1/2 kg a week and I was losing around 1 kg a week. However, the fast progress also made me confident that I will crush my weight goal way ahead of the deadline.
Many people around me were curious when I told them about my experiment. Two of the common recurring questions were:
Don't you feel tired all the time? Do you get anything done during the day?
On the contrary! I was full of energy and my blood sugar levels were super stable. I didn't have any energy dips at all, the ones you can get after eating a large plate of pasta for lunch.
I am not a doctor, but I think the reason for that is stable insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone your body produces to decrease and regulate your blood sugar levels when you eat carbs or sugar. I didn't have that problem as I didn't consume any of that.
Beside my stable insulin levels my digestive system has never felt better. During my experiment not once did I have a bloated stomach, the kind you can get when you eat lots of carbs.
Another benefit of the diet is that I totally lost my sugar and fast food cravings. I am a real sugar junkie and I also wouldn't say no to a big fat juicy burger, but for some reason I didn't crave that anymore.
As I said earlier I thought that I would crush my goal in two months, but my weight loss actually slowed down. I was still losing weight, but not at the same pace as in the beginning. I think there were a few reasons for that. First, I lost a lot of weight fast and maybe there wasn't that much more fat to lose. Second, I was less strict with what I ate, because honestly, the whole thing was getting pretty boring.
I got a little worried that I might even miss my goal so I got myself back into the groove by eating more strictly again. I also doubled down my efforts on physical exercise by taking a least 40 minutes walks in the morning, often on my way to work. I didn't do it every day, more like 3-4 times a week.
It paid off. Today I weighted myself for the last time. 82.1 kg.
As a bonus I also got my six pack back! I will spare you the selfie. I am not that kind.
I celebrated the whole thing with a few homemade pizzas together with my family. At last! Eating pizza again was good, but honestly not as good as I remember it.
Some personal tips#
Below is a collection of personal advice and tips that worked for me if you want to try this yourself.
Set an end date
If you decide that you want to give Keto a try it's important to set an end date for the experiment. Don't choose too short period. I would say give it a minimum of two months. You can also set a weight goal, but that can be hard to reach. It's better to set a date and see how much weight you can lose during that period.
Choose your difficulty level
Keto is the most strict of the diets and can be challenging to follow fully. If you want to be less strict you might want to give LCHF, its little brother, a try. It's basically the same thing, only it doesn't force you to remove all carbs from your diet.
I find it personally easier to go all in, cold-turkey. You might want to start with LCHF and gradually transition to Keto.
Fat is your friend
Don't be afraid of fat. Eat more of it as it will make you feel full. If you leave the table and still feel hungry it's probably a sign that you didn't eat enough of fat. Don't worry about cholesterol, but try to stay away from vegetable seed oils as I understand they are not very good for you. Eat a lot of nuts and avocados.
Don't count calories
Concentrate on what you eat instead of how much you eat. Concentrate on eating the good food and avoiding eating bad food. Search around. There is a lot of information on the Internet, but take it with a grain of salt.
Find the food you like
Going Keto basically means reducing your food palette. It can get boring pretty quickly and feel like you are eating the same food over and over again. That's why it's important to find food and meals that you actually enjoy. For example, my friend eats a lot of eggs, I eat a lot of fat yoghurt with hazelnuts and a little honey. Find the spices and sauces you like, for example Tabasco or Sriracha. Also use a lot of mayonnaise, butter and olive oil to bring out and enhance the flavours.
The Keto community is desperately trying to come up with good substitutes for normal food like bread, pasta, pizza and deserts. You will find a lot of weird recipes and I urge you to stay away from them. I tried a few of those and it was actually as bad as I expected.
Don't sweat the small stuff
Try to be strict, but at the same time don't be dogmatic about it. If you are eating out with friends try to choose something that is least bad or just make an exception and eat what you feel like eating that very moment. I've done it several times. It didn't affect my progress and made me enjoy the moment instead. Allow you to eat some fruits if you feel like it or even a small scoop of ice cream, if you can't resist the urge. Don't feel bad about it. After all, you are a human, not a machine. For example, I ate a lot of dark chocolate during the weekends and enjoyed some red wine and fine spirits.
Don't expect fast miracles
Remember, nothing happens overnight, so don't expect any fast miracles (pun intended). Everyone is different. Just because I saw fast progress doesn't mean you will too. The important thing is not to get discouraged and give up too early. Trust the process and trust yourself.
Don't weigh yourself too often
Make a habit of weighing yourself every second week. I usually did it on Sunday mornings. If you weight yourself every day you will easily get discouraged because your weight can fluctuate a lot from day to day.
Walk and then walk some more
A long walk is the best weight loss exercise. Not only does it help you clear your head and get the blood flowing, but it also helps you burn calories. Make a habit to take a least 40 min long walks, preferably in the morning. Make it into a ritual and I promise you will notice a big difference in a few weeks. Put on a good podcast if it makes it easier or just let your mind roam free and just observe what pops up.
It's interesting how the Keto diet forces you to become an amateur nutrition expert as a side effect. I've become an expert on reading nutrition facts on the grocery products, something that I almost never cared about before.
It's also scary to learn how much added sugar our everyday food contains and it's really hard to find something that actually good for you. No wonder why most restaurants normally serve a lot of carbs, because carbs are cheap. Good and healthy food costs, but it's worth paying for.
It's clear what you eat matters much more than how much you exercise, but just because of that fact don't neglect the exercise. See it as a booster.
Personally, this short experiment was successful for me, but I honestly feel that Keto diet is not sustainable in the long run. During it I ate a lot of meat and especially red meat. Although it was effective I don't think it's good for me or for the environment.
Will I do it again? I don't know, but one thing is sure, I am never going back to my pre-Keto way of eating. I now know too much of what good and healthy food means for me, my body and my well-being, even if it comes with a price tag.