Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Airline Diet: Packing His Lunch

When Rob and I first met, he was about 40 pounds heavier.  I thought he was hot of course and would never have guessed that he had 40 pounds to lose.  About 9 months ago, he started losing weight.  It was a conscious decision and has been the result of mostly dietary changes, some changes in his exercise habits.

When Rob decided he wanted to lose weight, he started using a calorie tracker.  We both really like, which allows you to enter your profile and then track your daily caloric intake and caloric burn (a combination of resting metabolic rate and exercise).  You can set a weight loss goal and track your progress. It's free and has a smart phone app that allows you to scan food labels to easily enter the nutritional content of your meals. Using the calorie tracker, allowed Rob to see how much in excess his typical diet was.  For a couple of weeks, he used tracking alone to reduce his intake.  He felt hungry alot, but he dropped about 5 pounds.

Then we looked into some of the more common diets.  The research doesn't really show a major difference in efficacy among the most popular diet plans:  atkins, south beach, weight watchers, the mediterranean diet. Any diet that reduces caloric intake will help you lose weight.  What the research does show is that for long term results, the diet needs to be more than just a diet.  You need to actually change, permanently, the way that you eat.

However; I often recommend a low-carb diet to my patients.  Carbohydrates tend to be the biggest culprit in the typical American diet: highly processed, loaded with fats, addictive.  If you can break the grip that carbs have on you, you can win the weight battle.  And, when you take simple, refined carbohydrates out of the picture, what you have left, looks like real food.

Rob was drawn to the P90X diet plan, because he wanted to build muscle while losing weight.  For that, he knew he would need protein.  So, we ordered a special insulated meal bag that would fit enough food for a 4-day trip and began packing his protein rich meals.  9 months later, he is still eating this way.  If you had asked him a year ago, he would have sworn that giving up bread and pasta would NEVER happen.  Now, he's the guy who orders a hamburger and asks the waitress to hold the bun, but bring extra lettuce.

Here's his full flight kit with meal bag attached.  It's pretty heavy at the front end of his trips.

That's the meal bag on top

The night before he leaves, I cook chicken breasts: either grilled, or flattened and sauteed with olive oil and seasoning.  I also usually do the same with some lean pork chops.  I pack sugar snap peas, carrots, grape tomatoes and a variety of fruit.  He takes at least 4 protein bars and some trail mix or nuts. Sometimes, there will be leftovers from a recent meal and if so, I always send that so he will have some variety.  But, mostly, his meals consist of this:  a chicken breast and a handful of carrots, or a pork chop and a handful of grape tomatoes.  

We pack freezer bags in around his food.  He refrigerates everything if his hotel room has a refrigerator and will sometimes have the luxury of a microwave to warm up his meal.  Otherwise, he is eating his chicken breast cold, and right out of the ziploc bag. Yum.  

He will occasionally eat a meal with the crew if they have a long overnight.  His weakness is chicken wings but he mitigates the damage by never ordering fries with them. When he is home, our meals are not quite so austere, but I don't make pasta, and we never do sandwiches anymore.  He will have an omelet for breakfast most days: with mostly egg whites and one full egg.  I usually fill it with veggies, but I don't skip the cheese. We rarely miss Wing Tuesday at Buffalo Wild Wings and he has not given up beer.  But it seems to be working.  Eating this way, out of his high protein meal bag roughly 2/3 of the time, and a clean/semi paleo diet at home, has resulted in 40 pounds of weight loss over 9 months.

I wish I could get him to run.  He says he does run...between gates sometimes, but only if it's to catch a flight home.  His exercise consists of a once a week P90X work-out supplemented by push-ups and pull-ups. But, it works for him.  He looks good, and he feels good.  

When 2/3 of your time is spent in airports and hotels, eating right can be challenging.  The lunch bag has been our solution.

He agreed to let me post before and after pics.  These are just snapshots, so they may not do the transformation justice. Here goes!

Before:                                                                                                     After:

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