Peanut Butter in the Fridge: How I Lost 10 lbs Last Month Without Exercise

*Begin Troy McClure Voice*

Hi, I’m Backpacking Dad. You may remember me from such Twitter rants as “We Are Yelling About Soap!”, “We Are Yelling About Ham!”, and “People Who Keep Peanut Butter in the Fridge Are the Devil!”

*End Troy McClure Voice*

I spent my late 20’s putting on weight. I topped out, I think, at 245 lbs in early 2007, just before Erin was born. Being skinny as a kid, and all through high school (Thank you, smoking…), it bothered me a lot to see what I’d grown into. So, when Erin was born I decided I was going to get skinny again.

I had no idea how to go about it, but I went with the “Eat nothing; exercise constantly” method. I had a couple of pieces of fruit for breakfast, some raw beans for lunch, and something for dinner that would keep my total caloric intake for the day around 1000 kcal. Then I biked everywhere. I went on two- and three-hour long bike rides every few days.

Did it work? Well, of course it worked. I dropped 10 lbs every month for three months as I kept up this pretty consistent starve-pedal model. I started in June of 2007, and by Halloween I was 199 lbs. I saw the other side of 200 for the first time since my wedding. I was happy. I was starving, but I was happy.

A bruised heel acquired through bad shoes, fencing, and walking everywhere for a few weeks during the fall ended my obsessive exercising. And, as effective as the Zero-Food diet was, I couldn’t keep it up indefinitely. I started gaining weight again about six months after I’d started losing it.

It crept back up slowly, and I tried to fend it off with gym memberships, the milk-salad diet, skipping two meals a day, eating earlier, eating later. None of it worked to really lose anything, and I kept gaining. Between January 2008 and January 2011 I went from 205 lbs to 240 lbs. In June 2011, four years after I’d resolved to drop the weight, I was 242 lbs.

That was depressing.

I decided to try again, and to try something like the opposite approach to the one that worked really well, really quickly, really briefly last time: I was going to do everything very, very slowly.

I heard Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Body, on The Nerdist in early June as I was catching up to that podcast. Although I’d heard of the book, I mostly wrote it off as another fad diet. And maybe it is. But one thing Ferris said in the interview that stuck with me was that something as simple as having 30 g of protein in the morning, preferably within 30 minutes of waking up, could have an effect on weight, no matter what else your diet consisted of.

I tried it. Starting in June, I had a protein shake every morning, within 30 minutes of waking up, and ate whatever the hell I wanted for the rest of the day. I told myself that I would do this for 10 weeks, with no other difference in my life, and if I could do that, and it worked, then I’d buy Tim’s book and find out what else he had to say.

Over the next ten weeks I wobbled all over the scale, in part because of summer trips and rich vacation foods, but by the end of the 10 weeks I was down 5 lbs. I wasn’t eating any less (in fact, I had been eating a lot more over the summer), but I’d lost a little weight.

So in early September I bought The 4-Hour Body and read the weight loss sections of the book (there are other parts of Ferris’ total life philosophy in there, but I skipped them), then started on his slow-carb (not no-carb), cheat day, no fruit, no dairy diet.

I bought a counter-top griddle, and every morning I’ve had an omelet or three egss. I buy the big box of baby spinach at the grocery store, and add spinach to the omelets. I buy lots of beans. I make grilled chicken, steak, roast pork…I’ve had to come up with some creative ways to get through lunch, since it’s the least prepared meal in my repertoire, but I’ve been consistent: protein, some kind of vegetable, some kind of legume.

No sugar.

One tip Tim has is, if you are hungry late at night, instead of snacking on something terrible like chips or crackers, get used to just having a tablespoon of almond butter. I don’t like almond butter, so I substituted peanut butter for that. But when I bought the giant jar of Jif and opened it to take a spoonful, I noticed that it actually had added sugar. All peanut butter has sugar, I guess, but the organic, peanuts-and-salt-only stuff doesn’t have any added. I had to go buy a jar of organic peanut butter.

And then I had to stick it in the fridge. Now I’m peanut-butter-in-the-fridge guy. Dammit.

But, I’m also this, after a month of this diet:

IMG-20111011-00494

I’m down 10 lbs in one month, with no exercise at all except for some squats and inclined chest presses on Cheat Day (Cheat Day is also the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen). And I’m never, ever hungry.

I don’t know what will happen if I look down in three or four months and I see that I’m back down to 199. Will I stop? Will I consider the diet a success, but a tool, and go back to eating like everybody else does? I don’t know.

I do know this: I’m going to give the diet part of this program ten weeks, just like I did the protein shake part. After ten weeks, I’ll add in the limited exercise Ferris talks about in his book, and I’ll just see what happens. This is a long, slow, process, and I’m okay with that.

Let’s see what happens.

(Editor’s Note: This post is not sponsored. I left out links to the book on purpose because I didn’t want it to look like I was shilling. Buy the book, or don’t; I’m not selling it, or the diet here. I just wanted to brag for a minute.)

20 thoughts on “Peanut Butter in the Fridge: How I Lost 10 lbs Last Month Without Exercise”

  1. Thank you for posting this – I first read about this diet earlier in the year, and was immediately intrigued. And promptly forgot what it was called. As I stare at my own scale topping out at 215lbs, I’ve been really wanting to make a change. And this is one I think I can do. So thank you for your honesty and your review – I’ll be giving the protein shake thing a try, and will hopefully be investing in the book soon. And if you have any suggestions for shakes, I’d be happy to hear them!

    1. Hi Anne,

      I really didn’t do anything to make the protein shakes anything other than disgusting, sometimes lumpy, cups of cold water and protein powder. I didn’t want anything making it easier. I figured if I could do that every day for ten weeks, then I could actually commit to some of the other, harder life/diet changes I’d have to if I wanted to be serious about it. But if I made it too easy, by seeking out really palatable ways to get that protein in the morning, then I was going to cheat myself, or I’d set an expectation that was unrealistic.

      So all I did was buy the EAS, purple packaging, vanilla or chocolate protein powder. It says 23 grams of protein/serving, so to get something near thirty I’d add an extra quarter or third of a scoop.

      That’s it.

  2. I’m going to give this diet a try. I can’t radically cut my food down, because I go crazy go nuts and weep a lot, so this sounds completely doable.

  3. Yes! I keep trying to convince people that slow-carb/4-hour body is the way to go, but people look at me like I’m nuts when I tell them they need legumes at almost every meal.

    I also follow it only to some degree. Breakfast is huge, and full of protein, and then the rest of the day can be a bit more willy-nilly – like – I ate an apple and some grapes today. Sacrilege!! And I generally make the entire weekend a cheat ‘day’, as I find it too hard to do when out with friends, or even home for lunch with the pre-schooler. But it still works!! Dropped 7lbs in 3 weeks, following it half-assed.

    N.B. Also not a corporate whore or shilling anything – I just really love how easy this way of eating and losing weight is. Just add beans and take out sugar. AWESOME.

    (Also – tex mex lunches. Trust. Big salad with lots of black beans, veg, whatever you have, salsa, and add a sprinkling of cheese. So good. Oh, and cauliflower rice. Google it, and try it. It will change your life, if you miss curried ______ on rice.)

  4. Hey man, good for you! Keep it up! My problem – if the peanut butter’s in the fridge or not, I can take down a half jar of it even if I’m not putting my mind to it! Something that helped me was letting myself get fast food/take-out on weekends. That way, I didn’t “cheat” through the week because I knew I had something to look forward to on the weekend. But the biggest killer right now is late-dinner carbs. Sometimes my wife and I don’t get a chance to have dinner until 9 or 10, and having (homemade) pizza or pasta, or really ANYTHING at that time is a killer on the metabolism. Truth be told, I just can’t wait until we move out of our cramped apartment and I’ve got more room to get a recumbent bike and can ride that. I was biking for awhile at the gym, but being away from my wife during “our time” was a bummer. Anyway – good going and keep it up!

  5. Glad you have having such luck with it. I did it for three months and lost about 20 lbs. Since then I have shifted because it was just not working for me long term. I have a blog post in draft that will be out in a few weeks about why I didnt work fo r me long term, but I am glad you are liking it.

    My favorite thing on the 4hb, Fajita bowls, all beans no rice.

    And yea… my family is glad i dont do it any longer either because of all those beans. But one thing is for sure, it will work!

    Keep it up

  6. Congratulations!

    I had a similar story around the birth of my first daughter. I was up to 212 lbs, which is too much for my five foot nine inch frame. I started running and eating salad all of the time, and over about a year I dropped to 178ish. That’s spitting distance of my goal (165) but I hurt my hip and stopped running. Then I stopped eating healthily. Recently I was back in the 190 range, but without any of the running muscles I had developed.

    So I’ve been packing lunch, trying to swim and bike, and avoiding scales. I want to find a way to be healthier without trying to diet. But the protein shake thing, that sounds pretty simple. That sounds like it wouldn’t break my rule about not “dieting”, and it would be a good next step toward health.

    What kind of shake did you make? Did you still have your normal morning coffee? I mean, some things I just can’t sacrifice.

    The question of how to handle eating after the weight loss phase ends is a tough one for me. I’m an advocate of portion control and healthy lifestyle but I’m also addicted to chili fries and cheeseburgers. Do you diet and regulate forever or just try to stay active and “Be healthy”?

    Thanks for adding fuel to my fire, and congratulations again on your success. That’s great work.

  7. Good for you! I’m doing a similar low-carb thing – the Primal diet. Cutting out as many grains as I can stand (including wheat and corn), reducing potatoes, and increasing my protein has really helped me drop a few inches – and when I cheat and have grains again, I can really see the difference. Keep up the good work!

  8. Very interesting! I used to follow the Michael thurman diet (low carbs, no sugar, egg whites & oatmeal in the morning, etc) several years ago (after my 2nd) and was in a size 2 again like high school but somehow got off track and years later I am not a size 2 nope… but I’ve been meaning to get with the program already. I did do pilates every day while on that diet, too.

    Steph

  9. Very interesting! I used to follow the Michael thurman diet (low carbs, no sugar, egg whites & oatmeal in the morning, etc) several years ago (after my 2nd) and was in a size 2 again like high school but somehow got off track and years later I am not a size 2 nope… but I’ve been meaning to get with the program already. I did do pilates every day while on that diet, too.

    Steph

  10. I really need to watch my entire family’s carb intake. But they are so filling and much more affordable AND they last longer, so not as much is wasted. I cannot afford to fill us up on meats and protein alone! Still, I am trying to focus on purchasing just a few items less each shopping trip and see how that works out…

  11. You and me both on the weight loss thing. Good for you! I feel the same way about ‘when it’s over’ and I wonder about gaining it back.

  12. Thanks for being open about sharing your struggles with us. I’ve been there…the diet roller coaster. Keep up the good work and you’ll make it to your weight goal!!!

  13. Hi – when I have peanut butter around, it makes me ravenously hungry. I can’t stop eating. I have to keep peanut butter out of the house as I would quickly gain ten pounds or twenty pounds.

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