How a man lost 137 pounds without cutting out his favorite foods like burgers, fries, and ice cream

Bryan O'Keeffe
Bryan O'Keeffe before and after losing weight.Bryan O'Keeffe
  • Bryan O'Keeffe lost 137 pounds in seven months after he moved to a remote Spanish village.

  • Before losing weight, he would order takeout five days a week, eating 5,000 calories in one meal.

  • To lose weight, he ate in a calorie deficit and cooked "calorie-hacked" meals from scratch.

A man who lost 137 pounds has shared how he changed his diet, including saving calories for the evening, focusing on protein, and cooking lower-calorie versions of his favorite takeout meals from scratch.

After over a decade of losing and gaining what felt like the same 40 pounds, Bryan O'Keeffe, from Ireland, lost all the weight he wanted to in the space of seven months in 2022, after taking the drastic step of moving to a remote Spanish village, quitting his job, and cutting contact with his loved ones, as Insider previously reported. His starting weight was 338 pounds.

For most people, sustainable, healthy weight loss happens at one to two pounds a week, but those with more weight to lose can healthily drop pounds quicker, an expert previously told Insider.

As well as exercising a lot, O'Keeffe ensured he was eating in a calorie deficit, aiming for about 2,200 calories and 200 grams of protein a day, he told Insider.

Bryan O'Keeffe before and after losing weight
Bryan O'Keeffe before and after losing weightBryan O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe had previously tried all sorts of fad diets but would often cave and order takeout dinners that could be up to 5,000 calories alone, he said. Dietitians advise against restricting your diet and cutting out all the foods you enjoy as this often leads to bingeing. Instead, weight loss should center around healthy, sustainable changes.

In a TikTok video about his journey, he said he lost the weight by changing his mindset and focusing on being mentally resilient and building discipline rather than fixating on the number on the scales.

A crucial part of O'Keeffe's success was reflecting on his triggers for giving up, he previously told Insider. For example, knowing he loves takeout and eating a lot at night, O'Keeffe decided to save a lot of his calories for the evening and recreate his favorite meals but with fewer calories — for example, using low-fat cheese and light mayonnaise.

"I realized my discipline was lowest at night (I used to be a late night binge-eater) and so I wanted to save as many calories as possible for the evening so that I could still get that feeling of being full while maintaining my calorie deficit," O'Keeffe said.

O'Keeffe used to eat 3,000-5,000 calorie dinners

An example day of eating for O'Keeffe before losing weight was:

  • Breakfast: none

  • Mid-morning: one or two iced lattes

  • Lunch: poké bowl or sandwich

  • Dinner: two large pizzas

  • After dinner: tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream

Dinner was where O'Keeffe "really had issues," he said, but he would sometimes have bigger lunches too, such as a breaded chicken baguette with fries and "a bucket of mayonnaise."

O'Keeffe used to order "a ton of food" as takeout at least five days a week, he said.

His McDonald's order was a large Chicken Selects meal, four Double Cheeseburgers, two cheese melts, and a Diet Coke.

"If it was pizza, it would be two large pizzas or a meal for three people from Domino's with one of their desserts," O'Keeffe said.

He'd regularly eat a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream too, which can contain over 1,100 calories.

"Even if I cooked for myself, it would be a very calorie-dense meal," O'Keeffe said. "Bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise with pretty much everything."

Bryan O'Keeffe
Bryan O'Keeffe keeps this photo as his phone background.Bryan O'Keeffe

Saving calories for the evening to lose weight

When O'Keeffe moved to the Spanish countryside, he cooked everything from scratch. The benefits of cooking at home include making it easier to control your portion sizes.

To save calories for the evening, he didn't eat anything in the mornings. He wasn't intermittent fasting on purpose, but it helped him to achieve his calorie deficit, he said.

An example day of eating for weight loss was:

  • 12 p.m.: protein shake or protein oatmeal (around 200-400 calories)

  • 5 p.m.: chicken, bacon, and cheese bagel (500-600 calories)

  • 9 p.m.: chicken burger and fries

  • Before bed: half a tub of protein ice cream with a microwave protein brownie

O'Keeffe generally did weight lifting in the mornings so made sure he had plenty of protein to help his muscles repair afterwards, and on days he was going for an evening run, he ensured his late afternoon meal contained carbs for energy.

"If I wasn't running, I would usually alternate between a chicken salad with a decent amount of blue cheese and some type of low fat yogurt dressing (honey and mustard or sweet chilli and hot sauce) or a chorizo, chicken, and goat's cheese frittata," he said.

O'Keeffe usually had around 1,200 calories left for his late evening meal, which is where he got creative making "calorie-hacked" versions of his favorite takeouts like stir-fries, chicken and mushroom fusilli, or fish curry.

About once a week O'Keeffe would get a cheap frozen pizza that was 630 calories on its own, and add about 200 calories worth of extra cheese on top, he said.

If he had a higher-calorie dinner, he would have a lighter dessert such as a protein yogurt.

He didn't feel like he was on a diet

"The key for me was not feeling like I was on a diet," O'Keeffe said. "That was going to get me to adhere to it in the long run and get me to the finish line."

He said he hit his calories every day of the 7.5 months bar two, one of which was when he did a sprint triathlon so needed more energy, and the other was when he was ill so he just wanted to eat more micronutrients.

O'Keeffe now shares the lessons he's learned on social media and has written a recipe book containing his favorite weight loss meals.

Read the original article on Insider