Talking About Food with Ryan Mcinnis

Here is a conversation that I had with Ryan Mcinnis. We were talking about lifestyle related topics and landed on a conversation about nutrition and food. It seemed to me to be worth sharing.

Alex:
Last March I started experimenting with my diet, one of my goals was to save time. So for that reason and many others I do one meal a day. It was amazing how much time I gained by doing that.

Ryan:
One meal? Do you still lift and need a bunch of carbs and protein? How do you get everything in one meal?

Alex:
I do a one meal a day Keto diet. So 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs (if that). Basically I eat about a pound of meat (or two depending on the day) and a pound of vegetables, and supplement that with some nuts. My exercise is the other thing I have been experimenting with. I went years doing the standard eat carbs and protein and workout an hour a day for four days a week and doing that I gained zero muscle. In the last 6 months I have reduced my exercise and lifting to 45 minutes a week and have lost 14 pounds of fat and gained 5 pound of muscle, plus saved myself about 4 hours a week.

I track absolutely everything and keep it super simple. One meal a day makes life easy. I can calculate my calories I eat per day, estimate my calories expended per day based upon the previous months body composition results, and then predict almost exactly how much muscle I will gain within a given time period, and I get my body composition checked regularly to confirm it.

I'm trying to speed up the 1 pound of muscle gain per month so I am making tweaks to try to get it up to 3 pounds per month, and will see if the tweaks worked at the end of November when I get my body composition measured again.

Ryan:
I've always wanted to try a new workout that actually works. I feel like whatever I do I look the same. Also this diet is way interesting but how do you prepare that much meat and save time? That would take me forever unless you're just using a crock pot

Alex:
So I have a few meals that meat the following criteria:
1. Healthy. For me that means non processed foods with almost no carbs, aka meat, leafy greens, oils, nuts, cheese.
2. Quick to make, eat, and clean up
3. Relatively cheap. Obviously a bag of potatoes is always going to be cheaper per calorie than meat.
4. Super tasty. I know I won’t stick to food that I don't like.

So for example I cook up hamburger on the stove top and dump in olive oil, salt and pepper and I'll cut up a pound of brussels sprouts seasoned just the way I like them.

Or I’ll eat a pound of bacon with a huge Caesar salad with a ridiculous amount of parmesan cheese and oil dressing (no added sugar).

It takes about 45 minutes to prep, cook, eat and clean up, and that is my only meal for the day.

Ryan:
I guess that's true even if it did take a while it's your only meal and won’t ever take longer then someone making dinner takes. What time of day do you eat? Is this just a massive lunch?

Also when you started did you still feel hungry all the time? Did the hunger go away after a certain time?

Alex:
When I started I did a 16 / 8 intermittent fast, so I would eat between noon to 8pm. I reduced that over the course of a few months to a single meal that I would eat in the evening.

The key is the super low carb in order to avoid the insulin and blood sugar spikes.

One sec, I wrote a blog post about this: https://www.alexlockhart.me/2018/09/what-is-hunger.html

Ryan:
I think I'm going to try this. I love the kind of physical challenge spin you put on it.

Alex:
The key for me is make it super simply so that I can do the same thing every day without variation. I pay to get my body composition tracked regularly. I try the suggested diet and exercise plan from whichever trustworthy source. If it works I tweak it for better results and keep going.

Ryan:
I would love that. Intermittent fasting starts today! Which honestly doesn’t sound that hard when it goes with a gradual change in diet. I guess we'll see how bad it really is.

Alex:
It's not too bad, most people are pretty close to it already. The key thing is just reducing the carbs and increasing fats. That gives a ton of flexibility with regards to hunger.

At this point I can stock up on calories one day and then go 36 or 48 hours without eating. I'll go through an "empty stomach" feeling for a few hours but then the ketones increase and I feel great for the rest of the time. That makes life super flexible.

Ryan:
What?!?! That's insane. How many calories are you eating?

Alex:
I started wanting to lose weight so I ate 1800 calories of a keto diet for two months and lost 7 pounds of fat and gained a pound of muscle (which was quite incredible, even at a significant calorie deficit I gained a pound of muscle. My body was basically burning fat in order to turn around and build muscle)

I then increased it to 2000 calories a day for two months with the same diet and lost 6 pounds of fat and gained a pound of muscle.

I then increased it to 2500 calories a day for two months and gained two pounds of muscle and my fat stayed the same.

Now I am doing 2700 calories a day for two months. If the math is right and it all works out that will increase the muscle gain to 5 pounds over the course of the two months, but I will find out at the end of November.

Ryan:
Man that's so much in one sitting!

Alex:
It is a lot and it was actually a problem. So what I did to solve that problem was I started eating high fat content ground beef. It has 1500 calories per pound. My salads are 500 calories plus a big bowl of nuts and i'm good.

On the days that I don't eat beef it can be a bit rough because a pound of cooked bacon only has 640 calories and is more expensive.

It would be nice to find another way to get calories that easy, but the only other thing I have come across is oils, I know some keto people do an oily vegetable soup where you replace like half the water with oil. It’s not very filling and has a ton of calories so it's easy to hit the calorie target.

Ryan:
Do you only do beef and bacon?

Alex:
I'll do chicken as well but it is so low in calories I usually can't do only chicken. I also don't like fish and one of my rules is to never force myself to eat food that I don't want to eat.

Otherwise the diet will end and I would be back to toast and pop-tarts. That has not happened yet but I know it would if I tried to start forcing down food I don't like.

Ryan:
Is fish high in calories? It isn't very filling.

Alex:
No it's low in calories as well but I just wanted to widen the range of meat that I eat.

I also haven't given much effort at find a fish recipe that meets the healthy, tasty, quick, cheap requirements. It would probably be worth putting some effort into try though.

Ryan:
Salmon is easy and fast when you bake it in foil. Plus it doesn't taste fishy if you don't like the fish taste. Its uber expensive to eat that much salmon though.

Alex:
I like that idea. Yeah I wouldn't eat it for the calories but more of just to throw in some extra healthy foods. That's a good idea though, baking salmon in foil. I could just throw that in with the bacon (I bake my bacon, it's tastier and quicker). Although I think salmon is one of the few fatty fish meats so it might have more calories.

Ryan:
I've never baked bacon but I guess it does make way more sense when you're making so much.

Alex:
So Salmon has some fat in it and has 370 calories per 8 oz fillet. That's actually a good amount.

Ryan:
I guess that is almost 1500 if you eat 2 lbs. How many calories are in your veggies?

Alex:
Essentially none but the oil that I dump on them has a lot.

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