Have you ever heard of a trainer gaining 75 pounds on purpose?
Drew Manning, author of bestseller Fit2Fat2Fit is on the Fat-Burning Man show to share his incredible experience gaining 75 pounds of flab in 6 months and then dropping it all. And you’ll hear about Drew’s recent experiments with ketosis and intermittent fasting.
But first, if you tuned in to watch me on ABC’s My Diet Is Better Than Yours, thanks for the support!
In case you missed it, my contestant Kurt and I won 1st place in 2 events straight out of the gate and he’s in the lead having dropped 50 pounds in 6 weeks with The Wild Diet.
Kurt describes The Wild Diet as, “Simple, fresh ingredients with a bit of fun.” I can tell you, he was the only contestant eating grass-fed ribeye steaks the first week of a weight loss competition…
If you’re into High-Fat, Low Carb, Primal, or Paleo, pay close attention to what happens in the show because it’s about to get interesting.
You can catch up on the show on Hulu or ABC Go.
Don’t have time for TV? Never fear – you can get recaps of the episodes here:
Now, on to the show with Drew.
Drew Manning has been featured on Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, The View, and more. His experimentation is now a hit TV show called Fit to Fat to Fit on A&E!
On this episode, you’ll learn:
- The unexpected lessons from gaining and losing 75 pounds on purpose
- How Drew got his two daughters hooked on healthy food
- What it’s like to eat healthy in Hawaii
- Intermittent fasting and the right way to lose weight
- Drew’s 20 minute beach workout
- And much more…
Drew Manning: Fit, Fat, Then Fit Again
Abel: It’s been 4 years and if you’ve been listening from the beginning, you might remember Drew. He was first coming out with this concept of gaining fat on purpose and it went viral. Drew, your views have changed and evolved since then.
I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since doing what I did. If you don’t know about it, just go look at the pictures!
Abel: I remember when your book came out, everyone was shocked. You went from looking like a fitness model to gaining 75 pounds in 6 months, and then going back to a six-pack. A lot of the trials you went through were deeply emotional.
It was crazy. If you go read my book and blog, the whole experience changed me from a mental and emotional perspective. I wasn’t doing it to rub it in people’s faces…like, “Here, I can lose weight. Why can’t you?” People saw how humbling it was for me, and how it gave me a new perspective, and empathy for people who struggle with their weight.
Abel: There’s much to be said for cutting-edge research, but it’s a whole other thing when you experiment on yourself. So what are some foods you used to gain fat?
A lot of people thought I did some kind of Supersize Me thing, eating fast food for all my meals. I only ate fast food once a week. 90% of the food I ate was the typical American processed foods a lot of us grew up on and is even marketed as health food: Oatmeal, pasta, white bread, juices, granola, cookies, cereal, and soda.
I was eating 5,000 calories a day.
People were telling me, “Your genetics won’t let you get fat.” Then they saw how quickly my body changed… and I attributed it to highly processed typical American foods.
Abel: Let’s go to the other side. You were leaning down on a diet plan that you shared with everyone, which I thought was so cool. We saw you struggling emotionally and visually. You did calorie restriction to drop the weight, eating foods like oatmeal and egg whites.
I come from a NASM trainer background, so I used a formula of protein, fats, and carbs and I documented it every day. It did work and I lost the 75 pounds in six months and got my six pack back. It was incredible. But by no means was it easy. In fact, it was way harder than I thought it was going to be.
I was basically eating lean meats, egg whites (trying to reduce fat a little bit), “healthy grains” and dairy. Before training I’d have a pre-workout shake and whole wheat toast with peanut butter.
But now I’ve upgraded my thinking about nutrition because it plays a big role in getting back to fit. I eat a lot more healthy fat, egg yolks, and not a whole lot of grains. If I do eat grains it’s going to be during a cheat meal, which I do use. No whole wheat toast or oatmeal.
Abel: Do you feel different after eliminating grains?
Yeah, now I get most of my carbs from nutrient-dense veggies. Before, I got them from grains, which aren’t nutrient dense.
After eliminating grains, my body feels healthier and I can recover a lot more quickly.
Abel: You can lose weight in many different ways, but some methods are horrifying and terrible for you. Others work. A lot of pro athletes are going lower carb now and getting away from processed sugar and sports drinks in favor of veggies, high quality protein, and fat. I love that the message is getting out there!
It wasn’t the case four years ago, but now a lot of people are looking into high fat, low carb, moderate protein—they’re seeing the importance of fat in the diet. More people are becoming educated about this.
Abel: Your show is going to raise a lot of eyebrows. Just during the brief promo, my heart was beating fast the whole time. Can you tell us the premise?
We are taking ten trainers from across the country who are very good looking, have six-packs, and are maybe a little self-obsessed like I was about physique. They have four months to go from fit to fat. No exercise allowed, and they try to eat the diet of the client they’re teamed up with.
Then they team with their obese client and together (as a client and a fat trainer) they have to lose together. It’s a docu-series, not a competition, that takes you through the trainer’s journey from a physical, mental, and emotional perspective.
Abel: What are some things that surprised you seeing other people do it?
Going into it, my hope was these trainers would take out of it what I did. But you can’t force someone to gain empathy or be humbled. I was surprised that every one of them did experience that. I was worried that some of them would be like, “This is so easy.” But they all came out with a better respect for people who are overweight and trying to lose weight.
Abel: What about mechanisms? Did they all approach weight-loss in a similar way?
They get to choose their own diet and exercise program. You see some based on yoga, crossfit, or bodyweight exercise. You get all aspects from 10 different trainers and methods, so you see what works for some and what doesn’t.
Intermittent Fasting & Ketosis
Abel: Can you tell us about your ketosis experiment?
I hesitate to call it an experiment. It was a 1 week stint. I was moving out to Hawaii. I had a week before I left and I was listening to a lot of podcasts, including yours. I decided I was going to try a keto plus intermittent fasting mini experiment for a week.
I used a 16-8 format—16 hours of fasting with an 8 hour eating window. I ate at noon every day. I increased the fat and lowered the protein to about 120 grams a day. People wondered how I’d maintain muscle mass, but I did. I did very low carbs during that week.
The biggest things I noticed from my ketogenic mini-experiment:
- My digestion was way better from giving my digestive system a break during fasting—it felt great.
- Mental clarity: I had no crashes during the day. I thought I’d struggle without breakfast, but I didn’t.
- I slept so much better that week.
I definitely plan on doing a more formal long term experiment down the road, but I’m still getting situated here in Hawaii… I want to experiment with intermittent fasting separate from ketosis.
Abel: Was that the first time you tried fasting?
Yes, on a regular basis. I grew up in a religious atmosphere where once a month we fasted. I hated it as a kid—24 hours without eating. But understanding the nutrition of fasting helps a lot now.
Abel: How has fasting combined with putting on fat and losing it changed your perspective on the calories-in calories-out dilema?
It’s helped some people, but most people aren’t talking about that anymore. It’s more about the quality of the calories versus the quantity.
Abel: How are you eating today? Are you still thinking about macros?
I don’t do a lot of tracking. I’m okay with people counting calories to get a ballpark, but I don’t have them beat themselves up if they go over. I don’t track my macros… but if someone has a very specific goal—maybe they’re doing a physique show or something—then they could track for accountability.
Abel: A cheat day or free meal is a contentious topic. What does that mean to you?
I don’t do a cheat day. Before, I used to have a whole day… but I don’t go into that anymore. Here’s what I do: Let’s say it’s the holiday and my mother-in-law makes bread pudding—I’m not going to turn it down. I don’t look at the nutrition facts.
I’ve changed my perception of the “cheat meal.” Before I did my experiment, I’d beat myself up and want to hit the gym if I ate that bread pudding. Now, I look at the dessert as making a memory. It’s not about the food, it’s about the experience you’re having. I’ll indulge in those moments.
Life is too short to focus on how many macros are in your food. Don’t beat yourself up. That’s the worst thing you can do, in my opinion.
Abel: What’s your workout?
My workout when I was doing my Fit2Fat experiment was 5 days a week, about 45 minutes a day. It was a mix of resistance training Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and Cardio on Tuesday and Thursday—mostly in the gym.
Nowadays, I can go to the beach, go outside, go for a hike. It’s more functional movements. I did crossfit for a couple of years, but now my workouts are about 20 minutes long and it’s about working out as efficient as possible. I’m at 10 -12 % body fat, and I feel great. It’s not so much about the physique anymore.
Fit2Fat gave me a better appreciation of my body, because you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
When these trainers’ six-packs are gone, they have to figure out who they really are.
You’re not your body. You’re not your six pack. You’re not your love handles. That’s one piece of you, but it does not define you.
My whole goal with the TV show is to take these two worlds—skinny fit people who love the world they’re in and people who are overweight and don’t see progress (and there’s judgment on both sides)—and to bridge that gap.
I want to create understanding so that there’s less judgment in the world.
Abel: I have to ask a hard question—how does that experience change raising your own daughters?
When I ate mac-n-cheese, Chicken McNuggets and a liter of Coke for dinner during the experiment, I’d make separate meals for my daughters. I made them healthy foods because I knew if they ate those foods at those ages they’d continue to want to eat those foods.
Now I educate them about why we eat healthy foods and make them a part of the process. I take them grocery shopping and let them pick out the vegetables. I explain why we eat certain foods as we’re eating them. They understand the “why” behind it.
Abel: What are some of the foods that get your kids on board?
One daughter doesn’t like certain veggies and the other will not eat other veggies. They’ll have my spinach shake which is my go-to breakfast recipe: spinach, avocado, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, different kinds of protein, whole cashews, almond milk and ice. They’ll drink that with me.
For dinner they’ll eat the same foods I eat—organic chicken sausage or bison and one loves cucumbers. I’ll have them load up on the veggies they love. One daughter doesn’t like cukes, but she’ll eat bell peppers all day.
I try to make the presentation as colorful and fun as possible. I’ll cut veggies in certain shapes and they love it because it’s more fun. As a parent that’s an extra five minutes, but it’s worth it to me.
Abel: Now that you’re in Hawaii, have you changed things up?
It’s harder out here and it’s a cultural change. People show their love with foods and it’s not always healthy. But I’ve tried some of the native foods—taro root. Poi tasted like dirt but it’s very nutritious. There is a lot more Asian-influenced food. Kimchi has become a big part of my diet.
For the girls, they’re willing to try certain things, but won’t eat lau lau or poi yet. Once they see friends or cousins eat those foods, then they’re willing to try it.
Abel: It’s important to experience new food and new cultures. Tip of the hat to you for doing that. There’s so much inertia when you want to change your life—people tend to say, “I can’t do that.” It’s cool that you made that happen.
People say, “I wish I could do something like that.” Well, I didn’t think I could, either. It was spontaneous. I was like, why wait until I’m 70 and set in my ways? Life is about making memories, not just for you, but for your kids.
Drew’s 20-Minute Beach Workout
Abel: So what is Drew’s Hawaii beach workout?
There are huge stones all over the island. I’ll take a stone and do thrusters, then sprints on the beach, and then go body surf for a couple waves. Then I’ll maybe do ten sets and it takes me 20 minutes.
Where To Find Drew Manning
LEARN HOW TO DROP 20 POUNDS IN 40 DAYS WITH REAL FOOD
Before You Go…
In his first four weeks on the Wild Diet, Kurt lost a whopping 37 pounds while eating delicious foods like bacon cheeseburgers and chocolate, and even putting a hunk of grass-fed butter in his fresh-roasted coffee!
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Have you done any crazy self-experimentation? Let us know by leaving a comment below!