Written by Dr Juan Carlos Cassano aka The Golden Era Bookworm
Throughout the golden years of bodybuilding, the pioneers of bodybuilding discovered much regarding both training and nutritional knowledge of which we benefit today.
They had a trial and error approach, self experimenting, sometimes with marvellous results. If there was a theory worthy of testing, it was put into practice, tweaked and perfected.
This rather ballsy and daring approach led Vince Gironda, the Iron Guru to try out many different diets which he then developed.
Many of us have heard of the Steak and Eggs Diet and the infamous 36 Eggs a Day Diet, but many have not heard of Vince’s Hawaiian Reducing Diet.
The Hawaiian Reducing Diet
What is the Hawaiian Reducing Diet? And how can it help me build muscle? How can it help me lose body fat?
Well, let’s see what Vince had to say about this particular diet.
Taken from a rare booklet produced by Vince Gironda title The Vince Gironda Bulletin, The Right to Know, here is what Vince has to say about the Hawaiian Reducing Diet:
"The diet is simplicity in itself. It consists of red meat, chicken or fish and papaya or pineapple 2-3 times per day. The secret of this combination is the high enzymatic activity produced by the papaya and the pineapple. This diet is good for one-pound fat loss per day.”
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
I have to admit though, on reading this, the idea of eating papaya and pineapple after a nice big juicy steak sounds very tempting. But the statement accompanied at the very end, and claim of losing one pound, or half a kilo of fat per day is a bit far fetched!
As always though, Vince’s claims and theories always merit investigation, and in many ways, this diet is genius!
Specific Diets For Specific Purposes
Let me start by reiterating something I have written about before -
Vince always believed that diets should be tailored to the individual and to paraphrase Vince, he would state something in the line of “Specific diets are needed for specific purposes”.
This is of paramount importance to state.
Just because Vince recommended to eat 36 eggs a day or in this case, papaya and pineapple with steak, it doesn’t mean you should run off to the local exotic store and clean out the shelves of papaya and pineapple! Vince always gave his students an idea to work with, and with this diet, the idea is there.
To eat papaya, pineapple and animal protein would be delicious, but before doing so, make sure you understand the purpose of the diet and the science behind the components, and then you will understand why the diet works and most importantly, if it is suitable for you. If it is not suitable to your needs, then don’t do it!
The Purpose Of The Hawaiian Reducing Diet
As the name suggests, The Hawaiian Reducing Diet is a reducing diet.
Reducing you may ask? Yes, Reducing!
Reducing was the term used back then to indicate that you were losing body fat.
The most common effect of a reduction diet is that you will lose mostly body fat around the areas it accumulates the most, and in most people, that is the waist.
Hence, this is another reason why definition diets were called reducing diets, due to the common reduction of size of the waist area. So in simple terms, the Hawaiian Reducing Diet is for those that seek to reduce their body fat percentage and for those seeking to define their physiques so that it appears more muscular.
Steak, Fish Or Chicken
As we all know, back during the golden years, animal protein was the gold standard of choice in regards to high quality protein. Sure, protein powders were just being developed at the time that resembled and tasted more like sawdust, and therefore animal protein such as steak, eggs, fish and chicken were recommended.
However, being a reducing diet, The Hawaiian Reducing Diet recommended the consumption of Steak, Fish or Chicken.
As we all know, Steak tends to be higher in calories than fish or chicken, depending on the cut of meat of course. But in general, steak tends to have more fat than a fillet of fish or chicken breast.
Hence during the course of this reducing diet, one was supposed to reduce the daily calories from one’s diet by choosing lower calorie animal proteins such as chicken or fish, and although steak was listed as a potential animal protein source in the diet, it was not to be eaten daily.
The fact that this diet was a low fat diet due to the consumption of mainly fish and chicken meant that eggs were OUT! As was Dairy. Instead, consuming steak a couple of times a week ensured that muscle mass was maintained and that enough fat was consumed to ensure healthy hormone levels.
Being a low fat diet, this meant that the main energy source was carbohydrates....yes carbs!
Why Papaya And Pineapple?
It goes without saying that pineapple and papaya would provide carbohydrates as simple sugars as a form of energy in this diet, there is still that mystery to many, as to why they are included in this diet.
Well, besides the fact that they are delicious tropical fruits, both papaya and pineapple have wonderful enzymatic substances that help in the digestion of protein.
Papaya contains papain, whilst pineapple contains bromelain. These two enzymes ensure that the animal protein that was eaten in this diet was digested efficiently for maximum absorption!!
Go Vince! Does he ever disappoint?
Papain is a proteolytic enzyme extracted from the raw fruit of the papaya plant.
Proteolytic enzymes help break the proteins from our diet down into smaller protein fragments called peptides and amino acids and this is the reason why papain is a popular ingredient in meat tenderizer.
Vince understood this, and therefore included it in The Hawaiian Reducing Diet.
Papain is also a popular folk remedy in many countries to reduce pain, inflammation, swelling and in one study (Miller et al 2004), it was shown to reduce muscle soreness post-workout!
Similar to papain, bromelain is also a proteolytic enzyme from the raw fruit of the pineapple plant, and therefore helps our digestive system breakdown proteins in to amino acids for easy absorption.
Why Don’t People Use Papain And Bromelain Nowadays?
This is a question I ask myself again and again.
Unfortunately, most people don’t read or research nutrition anymore and simply rely on what the average supplement company on the internet has to say.
Back in the golden era things were different. Because information was not as available as it is today, the bodybuilders and nutritional gurus of yesteryear were forced to research and learn about all topics, including nutrition, and therefore had a greater understanding of how the body works than the average bodybuilder nowadays.
If you look at the muscle mags from the golden era, there are in fact countless advertisements advertising and promoting the consumption of Bromelain and Papain.
Where Can I Get Papain And Bromelain?
Well if you wish to try the Hawaiian Reducing Diet, you probably will not need to supplement with Papain and Bromelain, but for those that wish to improve their digestive process and absorption of nutrients from their diets, you could easily supplement with NSP Nutrition’s Digestive Enzyme Ultra Blend, which contains Papain and Bromelain!
The Hawaiian Reducing Diet
Vince recommends to eat an animal protein (fish, chicken or red meat) with papaya and pineapple 2-3 times a day. As you can see, that is a pretty vague statement.
As with preparation with any diet you may wish to try, it is important to calculate your caloric intake on your current diet, and the caloric intake you need to maintain your bodyweight.
This will allow you to compare whether you are already consuming too much or too little calories per day and at least gives you a starting point.
Just because Vince states you need to do x and y doesn’t mean you have to do EXACTLY as he said. You have your own mind, so think!
You are an individual, so adapt the diet to suit your needs! Once you have calculated your calories per day to maintain body weight (there are a thousand apps for that nowadays), you should REDUCE the calories per day to ensure body fat reduction if that indeed is your purpose for doing this diet, which is what it should be used for.
Start with a reduction of at least 200-250 calories daily, and go from there.
Eating only twice a day may be fine for some, and it may be torture for others, so organise your meals to that they suit you.
This means calculating the macros for a serving of each animal protein and for a serving of each papaya and pineapple, and then creating your own meal plan based on the caloric intake you need to ensure caloric deficit.
Of course, you don’t have to just stick to those 5 simple foods.
You can also enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits if you wish, as this will ensure a great balance in your diet. Again, ensuring that you meet your caloric needs will make this diet both enjoyable and result producing.
Will I Lose A Pound Of Fat Daily?
This is very unlikely! As I said, although I think Vince was a genius, his claims were at times exaggerated.
You need to burn 3500 calories a day to lose one pound a day, and you need anywhere between 2000 and 2500 calories in a day if you are doing your routine activities.
To lose a pound of fat, you would need to starve yourself the whole day and exercise as much as to lose the remaining calories 1000 to 1500 calories or so. This is practically not possible, and not healthy in my opinion.
A healthy, sustainable rate of loss for the average person is just one to two pounds per week -- not per day.
Even morbidly obese patients who are prescribed a very-low calorie diet, which consists of meal supplements of 800 or fewer calories per day do not lose a pound of fat per day; instead, they usually lose an average of three to five pounds per week.
They're put on these diets to address immediate health concerns related to their size but are kept on them for no more than 12 weeks because of the potential health risks of losing weight too quickly.
I would therefore recommend a more realistic goal of one to two pounds of fat loss per week.
Following these recommendations, you could lose anywhere between five to ten pounds in one month, and I am sure that such a fat loss would certainly be transformative, so give it time.
So now that you have learnt about the Hawaiian Reducing Diet, if you decide to try it, we would love to hear your experience.
Now that summer time is here and it's definitely time to get in shape, it might be one of Vince’s most enjoyable diets to try out!
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Miller PC, Bailey SP, Barnes M, Derr SJ, Hall EE. The effect of protease supplementation on skeletal muscle function and DOMS following downhill running. J Sport Sci. 2004. 22(4):365-72.