by Edwin Shank, July 9, 2012
I really shouldn’t tell you this. My wife wasn’t sure about it, my friends just laugh, but I’d like to let you in on the secret anyway. It is risky telling so many people, because if it doesn’t work, you’ll never let me forget it. But, being a notorious risk-taker plus an eternal optimist, I still feel like letting you in on it. I know it will work. I’m not afraid. The worst part is that even when it works, some people will still think I’m crazy. Oh well, I’m used to that by now.
So here is the news. I’m going on a raw milk diet. The goal is to lose around 30 lbs. and feel twenty years younger. I’m not sure how long it will take. I’m guessing somewhere between six and eight weeks. Right now I weigh 233 lbs. and I’d like to take that down to roughly 200. I weighed 190 at nineteen, so 200 still gives me 10 lb. to allow for the increased chest muscle, bone density and mature muscle mass that we men like to use to "explain" our weight.
I have used the raw milk diet to lose 10-15 lbs. before, so I know how effective it is. It is amazing! It can seem almost like magic, but the science is really quite simple. Raw milk is a living whole food full of nutrient-absorbing living enzymes, unadulterated, unprocessed, unmessed-with, cell-nourishing, cell-repairing raw fats and proteins. These nutrients are exactly what your body desperately needs to function, yet they are also exactly what is missing in the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). When you give your body the complete nutrition each of your cells is screaming for, your cravings stop, your body smiles and you feel fully satisfied and energetic even while losing weight quite rapidly.
To be completely fair, I have to say this is not going to be a 100% raw milk diet. Along with raw milk, I’ll also enjoy at least a pint of raw milk kefir and maybe a pint of homemade kombucha per day and I’ll have a coffee in the morning with raw cream (I never use sugar). To the purist who says that coffee is a no-no, I’ll let you work my schedule for a month and see how you make out. 4:30 am is our regular wake-up time except when we get up early. So yes, I’m going to have a coffee!
I’ll send a progress report from my raw milk diet next Monday, July 16th. I hope I won't regret telling you. :)
Update: July 16
The Raw Milk Feast
Did someone say this was going to be a diet? I’m having so much fun that it seems more like a feast! It is a feast that makes me feel so alive... It has released so much energy that I actually kicked my coffee habit on the third day! I still can hardly believe that. Dawn can’t either. She has been trying to rid me of coffee for most of our married life. I just don't need it!
Yet it is a feast that allows me to sleep so soundly and rest so well when I do go to bed that I have trouble sleeping past 3:30 am. I know that sounds weird, but that is the only way I can explain it. It is like I sleep so deeply that I receive 8 hrs of rest in 5 hrs. I just wake up and feel rested, refreshed and ready for the day.
And I forgot to mention that I lost 13 lbs. during the first 9 days while having all this fun. So my current weight is 220 lb.
I’m not making this up folks. This is real. This is beyond my expectations. I am not surprised to lose weight quickly but I did not expect to feel so clear-headed, and energized while doing it.
I know the experts somberly intone that "one should not lose weight this fast," but I guess I really don’t pay much attention to the experts. I listen to my body. The message it sends me is this: "this is good... let’s do this some more." I expect that the weight loss will slow as I move into the second week. I might actually start feasting a little heavier to purposefully slow it to about 1 lb per day. "Still way, way too fast," I can hear them saying.
Here is what my daily feast consists of. Every day I drink ½ gallon of certified organic, full-fat, grass-fed Raw Jersey milk and 16 oz of homemade kombucha. I vary the arrangement some but here is the plan I roughly follow.
- 1st course: is usually between 4:30 and 5:00 am. I drop a handful of ice in a tall glass, pour in a pint of raw milk and then stir in a few spoonfuls of organic decaf coffee concentrate. This is very satisfying and will keep me going strong till breakfast time at 7:00.
- 2nd course: If I’m hungry at breakfast I’ll enjoy a pint of raw milk straight. If I’m not hungry yet, I’ll wait till later in the morning at 9:00 or 10:00 to drink the second pint.
- 3rd course: Lunch is a 16 oz homemade kombucha. This also is served over ice in a tall glass. I find this immensely satisfying. I’m not sure why. It is just fermented organic tea with powerful probiotics, enzymes and beneficial yeasts and has very few calories.
- 4th course: A third pint of raw milk makes an attractive mid-afternoon refresher.
- 5th course: The fourth and last pint of raw milk is served as Raw Kefir fruit smoothie. Kefir is simply raw milk fermented (like kombucha) with probiotics, enzymes and beneficial yeasts. I count it as one of my raw milk servings. The fruit ratio is ½ cup of fruit to the pint of kefir. The picture shows a delicious organic strawberry kefir smoothie ready to drink.
Note: I drink additional water anytime throughout the day when thirsty. You may want to use prunes in the fruit smoothie. :)
So that is it, folks. How does it work and how can one lose weight while drinking all that full-fat milk? It is simply this: raw fats and proteins so completely nourish and satisfy every cell of your body that there are very few cravings and little hunger. Yet the actual calorie intake is very low. A pint of raw milk is 320 calories, so 4 pints plus a 100 calorie kombucha and a ½ cup of fruit is only about 1500 calories max. And sometimes I feel so nourished that I skip the pint before lunch which puts total calories down to 1200. For a 6-foot, big-frame fellow...that is major weight loss territory!
As you have requested, I’ll keep you updated weekly on the progress of the weight loss feast. Next week I’d like to explain my theory of where the flood of energy comes from.
Excuse me a minute, I'm going for a tall glass of cold raw milk.
Your Farmer ~ Edwin Shank
Update: July 31
Three Weeks Into the Raw Milk Diet
Well, a tad over three weeks ago, I weighed 233 and this morning the red numbers flashed 213, so that is 20 lbs knocked off my goal of 30 lbs. And I’m still having the time of my life! I feel so agile, youthfully energetic and awake that I think I’ll go for a 40 lb total loss. Hey, I predicted you would call me crazy even when it works, didn’t I?
I’ve been getting a lot of questions, so I’d like to share a few thoughts and observations as I enter the 4th week of the raw milk diet. But first there is something I must make clear.
I am not a doctor, or nutritionist or even a dietitian. Nor can I dispense of medical or dietary advice. I’m just a 42-year-old Mennonite farmer who delights in "dressing and keeping" God’s organic pastures and stocking them with organic cows and chickens. Maybe it would be best to call me a grass and earthworm farmer and sunshine harvester since that is really where it all starts. But regardless of who I am, everything I have to say is totally anecdotal and not scientifically verified and there have been no peer-reviewed studies conducted. The FDA does not approve of it nor does the AMA (and probably not the CIA either). This diet is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease and you should not try this at home without first consulting your doctor so that he can confirm that I am loonie and you are too for even reading anything that I write.
Now that we are clear on that, here are my observations. Read at your own risk.
- Raw, grass-fed, high-fat milk from Jersey cows has a super-high "satisfaction to calorie ratio." This is my made up term for it. I have no idea how a professional nutritionist would term it. In other words, the amount of nutritional satisfaction your body receives from a serving of raw milk is very high even though the calorie level is only moderate. Therefore your daily caloric intake can be very low even while your body's other nutrient needs are fully met. So presto! There are few to no nutritional cravings while your body burns your fat for its caloric needs.
- This diet is great for the heat of the summer. I’m always hot blooded and mind the heat. But this year, even during the 105 degree scorcher of 3 weekends ago, I was so cool that I was puzzled. Then it hit me! It only makes sense. Calories are a measurement of heat output. On a super-low calorie diet, there is much less internal heat generated. So, if you are going to do this diet, do it when it’s warm…it’s like personal air conditioning.
- I suspect the tremendous youthful energy and alertness I feel is the "life factor" energy from all the living enzymes and probiotics. (Raw milk alone is known to have over 60 living enzymes and the kefir and kombucha both have untold multiplications of that.) The powerful probiotics from all three make digestion so effortless that your body’s natural energy is freed up and released to do other useful, fun things. Only living foods give life.
- A raw milk diet without kefir and kombucha is perfectly fine… but by adding complexity, your uninitiated friends will be less panicked. To see what I mean, try this. Tell your friends that you are living on nothing but raw milk. Watch the wild look come into their eyes as they step backwards and reach for their phone frantically deciding if they should call the Department of Health, 9-1-1, a psychiatrist or all three! But tell people you are living on raw kefir smoothies, kombucha and raw milk. Suddenly you are hip, surrounded by an aura of mystery and intrigue and they are full of questions.
Works every time :)
Update: August 6
Raw Milk Diet: Another 5 lbs. Off
My little sister Emily, her husband Loren and their 7 children are here from Guatemala for a short surprise visit, so I don’t have a lot of time to elaborate this morning. But suffice to say that all is still going according to plan. I lost another 5lb last week so it’s now 25lb lost in 28 days.
With Emily and Loren's 7 children and our 6, we had 13 young people from 2-20 years old around our breakfast table this morning. While they enjoyed organic pastured eggs sunny side up, fried with scrapple from woodland pork washed down with raw milk from The Family Cow, I enjoyed a tall glass of organic strawberry kefir-smoothie-ice cream left over from last night’s supper.
I was only jealous a tiny bit.
All the best of food and blessings to all!
Your Farmer ~Edwin Shank
Update: August 31
My Sister Made Me Do It
It’s so handy to have someone to blame when we slip. I was doing quite well at keeping all of you updated with newsletters, but then my sister Emily and her family came to visit. In the flurry of six big and small family events over the next three weeks, my writing schedule got all tangled up. So, it really isn’t my fault that it’s been three weeks since I wrote last. Emily made me do it! (I think she probably recalls hearing this argument somewhere before.)
No, just kidding. Actually we had a memory-making time catching up with Emily and Loren and their children and would have loved if they could have stayed longer. Emily turned 39 while they were here, so we had a birthday party for her.
The 20 cousins (Dawn and I have 6 children and my two sisters, Sheryl and Emily each have 7) all had a wonderful time, too. They sang together, slept out under the stars after watching the Perseid meteor shower, wrestled and just in general had a good time reconnecting.
And yes, I know you are wondering… during these family gatherings, I still lost the last five pounds of my thirty lb. goal. Tuesday morning last week, exactly six weeks and three days after I started the raw milk diet, I crossed the thirty lb lost mark and hit 203 lb. I haven’t been this slim since I was twenty three and that is quickly approaching twenty years ago.
I found loosing these last five lbs especially pleasing. It was rewarding because I proved to myself and my sometimes skeptical family that I could transition off the strict raw milk diet of the first four weeks to a more normal diet; yet, with the help of raw milk, still control my weight and actually still lose five lbs in two weeks. The fact that I indulged in campfire roasted Woodland Pork sausage, birthday party ice-cream cake, grilled cheese and pepperoni pizza, and many other family event meals and still lost fairly major weight is impressive to me.
The plans now are to take a brief hiatus in actual weight loss and then finish with another week or two of another strict raw-milk-diet-plunge to get down to 190 lb. That will take me down a total of 43 lb since the start of my quest and back to my nineteen-yr-old weight. I can’t wait! There is a reason Richard Morris calls his book A Life Unburdened and Kevin Brown calls his The Liberation Diet. I strongly recommend both of these books if you are longing to be liberated and unburdened from the slow creep of the pounds. They together with Mary Enig/Sally Fallon’s myth-shattering book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, will forever change your life for the better.
If you are looking to do a raw milk diet for healing of chronic illness and not necessarily for weight loss, Dr. Charles Sanford Porter, M.D. has a remarkable book called Milk Diet. In his book Dr. Porter gives a detailed explanation of the raw milk diet he used successful in the treatment of more than 18,000 patients over a 37-year period. Note: the book is over 100 years old, so you will need to read between the lines with the outdated medical terminology. But to the astute seeker for knowledge, there are priceless gems of truth that will still reward you with many "A-ha! Moments."
Your Farmer ~ Edwin Shank