What could sound more gimmicky than “The Chocolate Shake Diet”, right? There’s all sorts of chocolate shake products – Slimfast, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and all kinds of more expensive options. But they don’t work (at least not for me or many people I’ve talked to). Why? Look at this breakdown of the ingredients in Slimfast – yeah, 34 grams of sugar. My daily target is 31 grams of sugar, and somehow many people don’t lose any weight consuming several times that on a diet. But, hey, it doesn’t taste bad, does it?
OK, so then back to losing weight with a bit of scientifically sound nutrition instead. I was inspired by some successes I saw and when I looked more closely, what I found was that the secret to those successes was a constant stream of protein, to avoid hunger. Also important were simple rules, and ease of implementation of the diet. I also saw that the diet programs that sell products especially geared for weight loss are extremely expensive. The first rule of sales is to find the pain, right? They see the desperate fatties coming and take full advantage of them. Looking around, Americans need to start with losing fifty megatons of weight, and 70% of them are living paycheck to paycheck. I have no wish to buy into such expensive programs myself and I thought I could do better.
So, I began researching various products, looking at what they were made of, what their nutritional properties were, etc. Then I began cross-referencing the desired characteristics with commercially available products that were both sufficient and (relatively) affordable. Then I narrowed them down by product reviews for quality, usability and taste.
So then, here is the diet in three easy steps:
- Consume 10 grams of quality protein one hour before every meal and whenever you have a craving for a snack.
- Consume 20 grams of quality protein once a day with a quality multivitamin as a meal replacement.
- Cut back on normal carbohydrate consumption by half.
That’s it. A simple diet that will leave you never feeling hungry and consistently losing weight. While drinking chocolate shakes. Read on for details on each of those steps.
Pre-gaming Meals with Protein
The trick here is that if you have 10 grams of protein an hour before each meal, you won’t be as hungry when you eat the meal. You will eat less without feeling hungry. It’s no secret that every successful diet is ultimately about calorie restriction, but fighting Nature is a bitch, and it’s very hard to succeed if you’re hungry.
Now comes the part with product suggestions. I’m recommending these because they work for me. I’m still using them in my quest to de-lard myself and get my health under control.
First: BSN Syntha-6 Protein Powder.
Here are the things to like about it:
- It’s a protein isolate. The mixture is made from pure proteins with very few calories worth of product that we don’t need.
- It has only 2g of sugar per full serving. Some sugar is going to be inherent in any product that is derived from milk, but this manufacturer really gets it down. That’s very important for your insulin response. If you spike your insulin, you’re just going to be hungry again soon. Don’t do that – you won’t get slim very fast that way!!!
- It’s US-made. I don’t want to be on a melamine diet, do you?
- The protein mixture is a combination of fast, medium, and slow-digesting proteins. This is really important as it helps stretch out the amount of time over which your body will digest the drink. That helps keep you sated for longer.
- It tastes really good. I’m a fool for chocolate milkshakes, and, hey, this isn’t the real thing but I never recoil at the thought of this diet drink.
- It mixes very easily with water. Sure, it tastes better with milk. But you’re trying to keep your calories down here. Think.
- It’s competitively priced. You can get cheaper stuff at Walmart, but the protein quality is not as good. You can very easily spend more too.
Here’s what not to like about it:
- Artificial sweeteners. Yeah, I’m not down with it. I try to avoid these whenever I can. I just couldn’t find a natural low-calorie sweetener (one of my other side projects, stay tuned…) in a product that had all of the other required properties. Who knows, maybe I’ll manufacture one someday. But in the meantime, I’m faced with a stark choice: what’s worse for me – using artificial sweeteners for a few months or being a lard-ass. There’s not really a question in my mind.
- Lack of disclosure. The exact protein/amino acid ratios aren’t disclosed by the manufacturer. Their website says they think people will rip them off if they say what’s in the protein mixture. Hrm, maybe. Other brands list theirs. Again, I don’t like it but I think the trade-off is worth it. And, empirically, it’s a good blend.
OK, then, product recommendation #2: Sundesa Blenderbottle with Blenderball
Really, these are fantastic. It’s a plastic sports bottle with a surgical-grade stainless steel ball inside. The lid screws on nicely, the ball mixes the drink with about 10 seconds of shaking, and it cleans up very easily. This is important because you’re going to be cleaning the bottle 4-5 times a day. The ball is smooth so it doesn’t scratch the bottle (you don’t want to drink plastic powder!). The opening for drinking is smaller than the ball, so you don’t have to open it after shaking – just drink.
Get the 20oz size (I got the “macho” 28 oz size initially, and that’s silly for a half-cup of drink). In fact, get three bottles so you can bring one or two with you when you go out. If they had a 12-oz ‘mini’ size, I’d get that.
Take your favorite high-strength multi-vitamin once a day. You can do it with your meal replacement, or as I often do, I find it easier to take one first thing in the morning. Having all your essential nutrients covered is one way to avoid cravings. I’m a big fan of the ‘Mens Maximum’ vitamin that’s been sold under WalMart’s OneSource brand and then most recently by BJ’s. I see it’s missing from their website at the moment, but sometimes I see it at the store. Get the best one you can find, and that doesn’t depend on having a high price.
OK, then, that’s the hardware, so here’s an example of how to use it:
- wake up time – get 10g of shake going first thing. That’s a half scoop. Usually I’ll do about half a cup of water for a thick shake. You can adjust the water to your taste. Take your vitamin with it.
- Weigh yourself. Keep weighing yourself every day, several times a day, with your shoes on and without. Get a feeling for how your weight fluctuates during the day as well as over time. The feedback you’ll get from watching the numbers tick down over time is self-reinforcing as well.
- Have breakfast. Do you normally have two pieces of French Toast? Have one. Enjoy your bacon. Yes, enjoy your bacon.
- 10AM doldrums – you want some junk food. No! Have a half-scoop chocolate shake. Yum, it’s a frikkin’ chocolate shake.
- Lunch time. I find lunch to be the easiest meal to replace. Take a full scoop in about a cup of water. Go ahead, round it over. Shake it up and enjoy.
- 2PM blues – half ounce shake.
- Sensible dinner. Eat half the fries or spaghetti your fat-self would have. Have at the meatballs.
- 11PM “I’m up too late and hungry”. Go ahead, have a 10g shake. There’s no caffeine in the mix, but if you’re very sensitive to theobromine then maybe you want to use a different flavor. Click on the product image above and then look at the selection of flavors on Amazon’s page. I don’t understand how another flavor could be better than chocolate, so I’m content to be boring and consistent here. But, go ahead you wild person, you, experiment with other flavors.
So, what kind of results are you going to see here? I’m down 16 pounds in 3 weeks. I’m not sick of the effort at all at this point. How much Syntha-6 are you going to have to buy? I’m going through a bottle every two weeks. Amazon has a subscription service to ship these once a month, but that doesn’t cut it for me. I didn’t see a way to subscribe twice, so I’m paying the 5% premium to get these on demand. (UPDATE: There’s now a 5 Pound option, in some flavors with an additional 10% savings per pound. First delivery on the subscription is about two weeks after ordering, so you might want to order a 2.91lb unit without subscription and a 5lb unit with subscription at the same time).
Speaking of which, you do have Prime, right? It’s ridiculously useful. So, I need to lose about 50 pounds, and if my weight loss continues at about 5 pounds a week, that’s $150 I’m going to have to spend on this product. That’s such a good value for me, that I simply can’t complain. If it takes twice as long, I’m still going to be a happy camper. A happy, 190lb camper.
Lastly, I’ll note, Syntha-6 isn’t sold as a weight-loss product. In fact, its primary purpose is for body builders to get extra protein for adding weight, of the muscle variety. Are these two goals in conflict? Not really – they both speak to the quality of the protein in the product, and it’s just that we’re using it here for a different goal. When I get back to a reasonable weight and back to the weight room, I’m going to strongly consider continuing to use this product for its originally intended purpose. In the meantime, I’m very happy with its results for this new use.
Have you tried this technique? Leave a comment below with how well you did!