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How I gained weight on a watermelon diet (and lost it again by eating mostly cheese)

Updated on July 23, 2014

A kinder approach to weight loss

Most diet advice, whether consciously or not is basically centered around this simple formula:

Willpower * Eating less = Success

It is my opinion that while this formula is true when it comes to weight loss, it is also misleading, even intimidating and can lead to a diet plan that is simply undoable.

Because people who have enough willpower are already thin.

I would replace this one with the following formula:

Satiety + 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kg/bodyweight + fiber twice a day + water = Success

It looks complex but its actually pretty simple. It takes ‘satiety’, or how satisfied you feel, as its starting point. If you feel satisfied, you don’t crave bad foods.

Protein, fiber, water

Then it’s just a question of getting enough protein, fiber and water. Eating these often will effectively crowd out the bad foods, while keeping your metabolism high and prompting your body to lose weight. All while feeling full, strong and energetic. Let’s look at this more closely.

Gaining knowledge and losing weight

There are two types of knowledge you need when you want to lose weight. You need to know yourself and you need to know about food. Most diet advice is focussed on the second half of this equation. Just educate yourself about food, they say; know what to eat and what to avoid and eat accordingly. And then just keep up! As you probably know, this ‘keeping up’ is where most attempts at weight loss fail.

Know thyself - the watermelon experiment

I have done an experiment on myself. I ate only watermelons for a week. While in theory one could lose a great deal of weight on this, the truth is, I didn’t. I actually gained weight. You know why? Pizza!

Every day I would be fine during the daytime, and at the beginning of the evening or later that night I would be so overcome with cravings I would order a pizza. Then I would have enough energy to the supermarket and buy chocolate, or icecream, or cookies, or chips.

And that’s how I gained weight on the melon diet. I would starve during the day, and binge at night.

So knowing myself being prone to these cravings I educated myself on food. Here is what I found.

Step 1. Focus on protein

The idea is simple: just measure your weight in kilograms, then multiply by 1.5. For an 80 kg person that’s 120. Then take your bodyweight and multiply by 2. For an 80 kg man that’s 160. There you have your protein range: between 120 and 160 gr of protein per day.

Step 2. Focus on fiber

If you are going to eat that much protein in a day, you are going to want to eat some fiber (or you won’t be able to go to the toilet). There is fiber in lots of foods, but it’s best to focus on foods that are lean, like vegetables, beans and legumes. For example Red Lentils contain lots of fiber as well as protein. So that’s like killing two birds with one stone. All vegetables contain fiber, so include them in your diet. You don’t need to eat fiber at every meal, just twice a day: in the morning and in the late afternoon / evening.

Step 3. Keep burning

We do not want the body to conserve energy by starving itself and hold onto fat, but we want to keep the body active and the metabolism high. Therefore, eat 5 or 6 meals a day, spaced approximately 3 hours apart. So if I start my day at 8.00, I would eat something at:

8 am
11 am
2 pm
5 pm
8 pm

Step 4. Making sure the math works

Okay so the steps were simple enough. Now we want to make sure that the math works.

You should have found a couple of good sources of protein by now, and you will want to make sure they are as lean as possible. For myself, I am a vegetarian who drinks milk, I come to these sources (and if you, like me, are vegatarian, you will want to combine a couple of these sources every day).

Lentils, mung beans, chick peas, garbanzo beans etc
Tofu
Curd
Cottage cheese
Milk

Out of these sources you make up 5 meals a day, and the combined protein value of them should be somewhere in your personal range outlayed in step 1. I recommend starting the day with protein sources that have some fiber, like a few hundred grams of red lentils or beans or something. Then later in the day, eat a meal with fiber again. So I myself would eat some brown rice, tofu and vegetables. I cook that meal with 1 tbsp of cocunut oil.

For the in-between meals you can stick with more purely protein foods, for example 200 gr of cottage cheese or tofu.

So if you have done this work, you will be able to figure out how much protein you will need to take at each meal in order to reach your target. If I weigh 80 kg, my protein range is 120-160 gr of protein per day. 120/5= approx 25 grams of protein per meal. If I eat more, its also fine, up to a point that I will explain about later. From there is is simply a question of looking up the nutrition data on the packaging how big my portions should be. A normal small cup of cottage cheese contains for example 25 grams of protein, so is perfect for a meal.

Step 5. Add water

Eating so much protein means that you should drink more water or you will not feel good. Also, drinking water makes you feel full and increases your metabolism. The advice is simple: drink 2 to 3 liters of water per day. More is even better, you can drink up to 6 liters.

Observe and calculate

In order to see if your plan works in theory, you'll need to figure out some more things.

Make a note of all the meals you consume. Note with every meal how much protein it contains, and also how many calories it contains. You can find the nutrition data of every food here: http://nutritiondata.self.com

Then, at the end of the day, you count all the calories of these meals together. Now the step where you will find out if the theory works, is finding out how many calories you need in a day. Just fill out your gender, your age, your weight and height on this page: http://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/calories-burned

I make a point of filling in the box that says lifestyle with ‘sedentary’, and I don’t add any exercise to the boxes. That way I am sure that the result will be what I need in calories per day, without ever lifting a finger. In other words, I could sit on the couch all day and still lose weight. Any exercise I do is an added benefit.

The calculator will give you a number of calories, and if the total of calories that you are consuming in these five meals a day is less that what your basic need is, you will lose weight. So yes, it is true that you will lose weight when you consume less calories than you burn, but how to arrive at that point is rather different from most diet advice.

Example meal plan and calculation

To give you my own example:

As a man of 50, being 1.80 m tall and weighing 80 kg, I need 2419 calories per day.

My example meal plan

Meal number
Time
Foods
Grams
Protein
Cals
Meal 1
8 am
Cooked red lentils
260
23 gr
300
Meal 2
11 am
Non-fat curd
200
26 gr
100
Meal 3
2 pm
Tofu
200
26 gr
260
Meal 4
5 pm
Cottage cheese, Brown Rice, Vegs
200 gr cottage cheese, 100 gr rice, tbsp coconut oil
24 gr (cheese), 3 gr (rice)
366
Meal 5
8 pm
Tofu
200
26
260
Throughout day
 
Milk
600 ml
21
294
 
 
 
Total protein:
124
 
 
 
 
 
total cals:
1580

What I need as a base is 2419 cals so I am eating almost 1000 cals less than I need. I am never hungry and am sure now that I will lose weight.

Making sure that plan works in practice

This is simple as well. Just do this plan for a couple of weeks, measure your weight in the morning just out of bed, and see if, over the course of two weeks or so, you are losing weight. I recommend measuring your weight not every day, but just once a week, or you’ll get frustrated because it varies too much.

Weight loss is 100% dependent on diet

So that is the diet advice. I never told you to keep up. I never told you what not to eat. And I never told you to exercise. You can, it is healthy if you do and it will increase your success, but necessary to lose weight it is not.

A parting comic

Hope this hub has been useful to you, let me know if it has!
Hope this hub has been useful to you, let me know if it has!

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