Right now I weigh 165 pounds, have 8.5% body fat, and am more toned than I have ever been in my life. And I attribute a bulk of that success to My Fit Foods and their 21-Day Challenge.
The Back Story
I am not a typical dieter. I primarily work out as an amateur aerialist, conditioning and performing on a static trapeze or silks. But two months ago, on the eve of my 41st birthday, I’d hit a plateau. My strength was stagnant, and love handles were creeping in. I needed something to mix up my routine.
Having written about fitness and nutrition for years, I know an unreasonable diet when I see one. I also adore food. So while I have tried meal programs before, they were disappointing, containing highly-processed, bland food with disgustingly chewy meats.
My Fit Foods makes healthy dishes that are designed to increase a person’s energy levels and help him or her lose weight safely and naturally. More than 90% of their meals are gluten free and all are made fresh daily. I’d heard about the company after they opened a storefront in West Hollywood, CA, so when they contacted me to try a couple meals for free I did.
They were delicious. Seriously. I knew that if healthy food, properly proportioned, could taste this good, there might be some merit to the company. So without taking on any more freebies from MFF, I paid for their 21-Day Challenge to see if it could work as well as the store’s nutritionist claimed. Here’s why it did.
“You can work out every single day like a beast, and you’re not going to get ripped. You’ve got to eat right,” says Mario Mendias, a former personal trainer who founded MFF in 2006. I spoke with him about the program after completing the challenge. “I’ve never seen anybody eat bad, work out hard, and get magical results. I have seen people eat right and not even work out, and have their bodies completely transform in less than a week.”
From both my writing and personal experience, I knew this to be true, so I took a body analysis at a local business and learned I was 170 pounds, 12.2% body fat, and had a base metabolic rate of 1836kcal, which is the number of calories I could burn per day at rest. With this info the nutritionist at MFF made a customized meal plan that included three meals, two snacks, and no coffee, alcohol or soda. Some important points:
- I rarely felt hungry and never felt deprived
- My sleep got better
- I easily gave up coffee and alcohol — which was a surprise
“When I started My Fit Foods, I talked to nutritionists and dietitians, and the common consensus was that caffeine increases your cortisol levels,” Mendias explains. Cortisol, commonly known as hydrocortisone, is a steroid hormone, “and if your cortisol levels are increased, the ability for your body to release fat and burn it for energy is decreased.” Mendias adds that caffeine and alcohol are processed through the liver, which metabolizes 80% of your body’s fat. “So if your liver is trying to cleanse the bloodstream of alcohol and caffeine, what it’s not going to do is metabolize fat and use it for energy.”
Got it. And the real shocker? Those dreaded caffeine headaches never materialized.
Some research suggests that gluten can play a role in headaches, and since my diet was gluten-free that could be one reason. Two friends who suffered from daily headaches and did the MFF challenge only experienced two in those 21 days. It’s not a scientific analysis, but good to know.
To be clear, I started drinking green tea, which affects the body differently than the caffeine in coffee. However, I stopped experiencing my 3:00PM crash, instead being able to work through the day without a problem. I did cheat on the alcohol, but instead of having three cocktails I was more mindful of what I was putting in my body. I’d enjoy 1 glass of red wine (less sugar than white), Tito’s Vodka (it’s gluten free) with club soda and lemon, or tequila on ice with lime.
“We should enjoy life,” Mendias observes. “Being on these extremes, where people do weird cleanses for 5 days or work out so hard, those aren’t enjoyable. To me, it’s about moderation and being consistent. Enjoy life, but be active every day.”
Most meal plan companies stockpile their food, storing it in refrigerators and freezers until it’s needed. They order more ingredients when they run out, not based on what they’re cooking for that day.
MFF has production kitchens in every market, and the food is delivered fresh every single day. They hand cut the vegetables, marinate their meats for a full 24 hours, and then cook them right on the grill. Meals are packaged inside coolers to keep temperatures consistent, and then they’re shipped. That means picking up your meals twice a week, but the freshness comes through in every bite.
This isn’t about denying your body certain items. There are carbs on the menu, but they’re complex carbs with a low Glycemic Index: corn tortillas, steel cut oats, sweet potato, rice. This lets you enjoy hearty eggs, potatoes and savory sausage for breakfast; Hawaiian-style chicken and rice bowls, spicy chicken enchiladas with black beans, sweet shrimp with coconut rice, or lemon turkey on rice for lunch. Evening meals cut the carbs, but they’re still delicious endings to your day, like tender beef and broccoli, juicy peppered pork loin, or a chicken salad with cranberries that is — I kid you not — one of the best chicken salads I’ve tasted.
With meals like that, it really was easy to stay on board. And I’m not the only convert. Since 2006 the company has grown rapidly, currently employing more than 1,000 people. They have 79 stores — 41 are store fronts, while 38 are kiosks located in H-E-B grocery stores — and they’re continuing their expansion. But more than delivering tasty dishes, MFF is also offering people an opportunity to achieve healthy weight loss that works.
Health professionals state that an effective way to maintain weight loss is if you lose about 1-2 pounds per week. Mendias claims that MFF can help people lose 30 pounds in 60 days. Or, if you’re someone looking to build lean body mass like myself, the program helps because it’s feeding you proper nutrition, and not sugar or fat-laden fast food.
As Mendias says, “There’s no cure-all, but I’ve found that if people just eat right, they’ll put on muscle mass if that’s what their body needs. If their body needs to lose body fat, if they’re eating right, they’ll lose body fat. The body is amazing because it knows where it wants to be at. You just need to give it good fuel and it’ll get there.”
Lead image: Mari Provencher