I am down to 205# That’s a weight I have not seen for almost 20 years. Now, before you rush to your BMI charts and start imaging me as one of the people of wal-mart, please be advised that I’m a fairly mesomorphic body type. Even at 230# I looked pretty average for a 5’10” male, but I didn’t feel it. My job has changed and I spend a lot of time at my desk now, so my increased weight was hard on my ankles, knees and back. What I did was really simple. I cut out all simple carbs (refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, bread, pasta, etc). I added daily fruit and more veggies, kept my protein (primarily fish, lean chicken and some beef & pork) and watched my total calories. I have steadily lost 1-2 pounds per week with no ill effects (fatigue, back or joint pain, dehydration, sleeplessness, etc). But now that I have my diet so under control I am thinking of messing around with controlled ketosis.
For those who don’t know, ketosis is when you replace carbs with fats as your body’s primary energy source. If you diet and lose weight, you did it through ketosis. If you are lost in the woods and don’t eat for 3 days the weight you lose is also through ketosis. We tend to associate it with starvation because that is its evolutionary purpose. (You do realize that your ancestors did not eat every day right?) However, if you mindfully control your diet and feed yourself plenty of the right types of fats and proteins you can make this human body machine in which you are stuck work at a whole new level.
I am now setting the stage to play with this for a few weeks. I have started by rounding up some urine strips to measure the levels of ketones in my blood. I have also begun to document my normal daily diet. I’ve been doing this mentally for the last 4 months, just making sure I followed a routine.
#1 Fruits and fats for breakfast (<500 calories) This spiked my blood sugar but I needed energy for the morning which is typically my most active part of the day.
#2 I snack on fruit and nuts as I need through-out the day with a very low calorie lunch. 300-400 calories between 8am and 6 pm. Only water to drink. This keeps my mind working and (I thought) keeps my metabolism going.
#3 A low calorie dinner which is high in fiber & protein (<500 calories). I have salads 3 or 4 nights per week and meats & veggies the remainder.
This all seemed sensible to me I kept my daily intake to 1000-1500 calories range with lots of greens, lean meats and only complex carbs. As I started losing weight I raised my daily activity level with a mixture of weight lifting and cardio exercises like bicycle riding. I am happy with the physical results and I feel, emotionally, better than I have in ages (I attribute that to not having the massive glucose/insulin spikes caused by daily candy, soda, etc)
But now I am paying attention to deeper, more scientific studies regarding our bodies, their metabolic processes and the food we eat. It gets tricky. Things like: eating a lot of protein can spike your insulin levels just like eating candy unless you take it with adequate fiber which is also a carb. Also, there are tons of supplements you can take to speed up or stabilize these metabolic processes. I will not be supplementing for this experiment. Fasting for 1-2 days can fire up ketosis. I will not be fasting. I will alter my quantity and quality of dietary intake.
Disclaimer: there appears to be no right answer with regards to diet. I have been reading about athletes in particular and they run the freaking spectrum from eating nothing that spikes their blood sugar to eating 30 bananas per day to drinking beer or wine and eating only bread and pasta. How do you argue with life-long athletes and world record holders? How do you know what you, yourself should do? Well, to start, you get real damned honest about everything you put in your body. Make a log for a few weeks and then, if you can, go see your Dr and let him/her now what you are doing and what you want to do. (I'll eventually get to a post about the separation between "diet" and "exercise".
When I look for scientific answers it’s just as confusing. The glycemic index is a maddening chart. This rice is good, that rice is bad. This berry is OK that berry is cancer with a stem.
The general feeling I get is that:
> Carbs must be limited and as complex as possible.
> Fats must be of the right type (I had a racist uncle who told me something like that once) and only consumed when you can use them.
> Protein is a serious daily requirement but useless without physical daily activity.
> Vitamins and minerals are super important but only in microscopic doses.
If you are a sedentary asshat it doesn’t matter what you eat; you’re going to be a doughy, pudgy, lazy person who feels hungry because he’s tired, tired because he’s depressed and depressed because food doesn’t serve any purpose and his gut bacteria want more from this relationship (the human biome is definitely the future of human health).
So, if all goes as planned, next weekend I’ll cut out the 2 or 3 sources I currently use for complex carbs and drastically raise my fat intake. BY a week from Monday I should be able to say I’m proudly in a ketogenic state.
Isn’t science fun?