Julian's weight before the pie and beer diet: 103.9kg
Julian's weight after the pie and beer diet: 96.3kg
Total weight loss: 7.6kg in four weeks!
I've eaten nothing but pies for a month. And beer. I've drunk a lot of beer. And I've sure learned a whole bunch of things about a whole bunch of things.
But it wasn't because I love pies and beers (which I still do, very much).
It was an experiment.
Originally the idea was to prove that there are no special tricks to managing your weight. There are no magical foods, there are no evil foods, and there are no short-cuts.
I wanted to test the idea that all that matters is how much you put in your body, and how much you use up.
The idea was that I would cut down my calories to two-thirds of what a male my size needs to maintain a healthy weight.
When I started this diet a month ago I was running up against a mighty bulk of healthy scepticism. Heck, even I was immensely sceptical. The first reactions when I explained the diet were something along the lines of:
"You won't lose any weight, you'll gain."
"You'll probably get a heart attack."
"You may lose weight but your insides will turn to mush."
Such is the sheer terror that pies and beer strike into the heart of some folk.
But, after four weeks of pies and beers, none of these statements came true. In fact, the opposite happened. I lost a ton of weight (7.6 kg in four weeks.)
My blood pressure has dropped from an unhealthy level before the diet to a level that is not only healthy, but borderline athletic. My cholesterol has dropped to a healthy level. My liver is healthier than it has been in years.
Ironically, just by eating pies and drinking beers, I am now at less of a risk of heart attack, stroke or liver disease.
And as far as I can tell, my body is functioning well - New Zealand's top personal trainer Kate Lugtigheid rated my fitness levels as in the above-average category.
Let's be honest though. I was doing this for television and faced the constant pressure of results so that I'd have a story. If I did this by myself, I could very well have struggled with cheating.
This is why I think peer pressure, or even cash prizes between mates, could provide a decent enough pressure if you're doing this sort of thing at home.
I've also learnt some other things along the way. The best pies in New Zealand can be found in something I call the 'Pie Belt' which extends all the way from South Canterbury up to just south of Nelson.
And here's the information we all need to know: The best pies I've ever had are at the Sheffield Pie Shop, the Wakefield Bakery and the Fairlie Bakehouse. The English language is capable of many things but completely inadequate to describe the sheer joy I've experienced at these pie-houses.
As for the worst pies I had, well, we all know where to find those - suburban pie shops in the cities of New Zealand can be repeat offenders. There are, of course, beautiful exceptions.
Another discovery has been the world of low-carb beers. Same alcohol percentage but up to two-thirds of the calories of regular beers.
But the ultimate message from all this is abundantly clear. It comes in three parts.
Firstly, if you are overweight, one of the best things you can do for your body is to lose weight and it really doesn't matter how you do it.
Secondly, there is no secret trick - it's energy in, energy out.
The average man needs about 2500 calories a day to break even - that is, not gain weight or lose weight.
The pie and beer diet is about 1600 calories.
This is about four pies a day.
If the pies are particularly meaty, or if you are a woman (as the average woman needs only about 2200 calories a day), you should cut down to three.
At any time you can substitute pies for beers. That's about three beers per pie.
Take a multivitamin a day to prevent pirate diseases like scurvy.
You can have more beers if you switch to low-carb.
If you make the pies (and pastry) at home, you'll be surprised how much more you can eat.