Thursday, May 31

Life is an Experiment.

Bodybuilders may be experts at losing fat, but I am an expert at gaining it. Gee I wonder if I could relocate to Africa and be a high paid consultant for the cultures that consider fat beautiful.

I outlined a new eating plan for myself previously based on doing the exact opposite of what I did to get so fat. It's a great plan. Except that because it's more about sanity and moderation, neither area being a strong point for me obviously, I very shortly failed to be on any plan at all.

This was followed by my attempts to work out a carb-calorie-fat cycling plan based on Tom Venuto's plan. That whole percentage thing ended up so complicated to work out my menus for that I gave up. So from January to mid-May I had no plan, gained a little back, mostly water weight, and I am nearly back to where I left off. It's aggravating to have to keep "retracing" steps I already worked hard for.

Friends and I were talking the other day about how the long "stalls" people claim really should probably be considered "maintenance for awhile" in some cases. When people can't really focus/plan/cook/eat/exercise as they need to for losing weight, but they are at least not relapsing into cultural lousy eating habits, it isn't really a failure to lose weight, but a success in staying on plan and NOT gaining any. No matter how long it takes to gradually lose weight, if one is not gaining it, it could definitely be worse. I'm here to tell you... it could be worse.


With the wisdom of hindsight, I now understand that anything "sane" and "moderate" will not work for me at the moment, because if I am not "forced to pay close attention and count stuff," then I am simply not paying enough attention, period. Attention, intention, and expectation are critical to the success of anything. I'm very driven by what's in my head... I'm convinced that my weight loss is not just a matter of numbers but a matter of what I want to create in my reality.

I also admit that I have not been particularly good at following any plan at all. That I have done ok losing weight can probably be chalked up solely to the fact that I weighed so damn much to begin with.

Problems: I don't eat often enough, and don't eat enough protein, enough calories, or even enough carbs (since I usually do want to stay in a certain range) most days. This is a combination of factors. First, that most of my life I didn't eat until night, and so it's easy for me to shine on or just forget to eat until late afternoon or evening. Second, that I'm lazy and tend to fail to plan and fail to prepare, resulting in me not having food available when I am working or otherwise busy, so I end up skipping food since I haven't time to cook and don't want to eat off-plan.

I know that a lot of people who have problems eating too much, or binging, or craving carbs, probably dream of having my problem. But the reality is that I got this fat greatly thanks to the 'starvation response' to begin with. I've often tracked my food alongside someone else's who weighed like 1/4 - 1/3 what I did, and eaten the same things, same quantities, and not lost weight. That's why I get so irked when people act like if someone is morbidly obese they must just be daily ingesting 3 pounds of bon-bons so gosh, if they'd just stop that, surely all would be well. Obviously between body metabolism, food allergens, eating frequency and more, there are other considerations.

But I am determined to set a goal and a standard, and just work toward achieving that. For the remainder of my 12 week cycle (about 9 1/2 weeks), I am going to EXPERIMENT with a carb cycling ketogenic diet. Let's see how it works. My weight chart is online, I'll add in my CCKD info somewhere so if there is a correlation after a few weeks of it, between loss/gain/unchanged, maybe it will be apparent to all.


Big Daddy D started a carb cycling plan after hearing me talk about this many months ago. He posted results that he had. It is SO invaluable for lowcarbers to actually experiment with this stuff, and document the results. If we don't do this kind of experimentation, it just isn't done, or isn't known to us.

I am using a TWO WEEK CYCLE (14 days). Technically I'm beginning 6/1 tomorrow, but the start of 'week 1' on the cycling plan actually begins Monday 6/4.

My New CCKD Plan

To simplify, all Monday through Friday are 'normal'. Week 1, the weekend is lower carb than normal. Week 2, Saturday is higher carb, Sunday is lower carb. That is to jump start getting back into ketosis after the high-carb day knocks it out. And the high carb is only one day per two weeks. (It might need to be more. But I have to start my experiment somewhere.)

Normal is up to 40 carbs. That's total, not deducting any fiber or sugar alcohols. Counting ECC it comes out to closer to 20 (particular since most of my carbs come either from fibrous veggies or high-fiber ingredients like flax seed or almond meal or high-protein bake mixes).

Lower carb than usual is 15 or less carbs. That's total, not ECC. Essentially this means I eat meat, eggs, and a protein drink.

Higher carb is approximately 150 carbs. I'm going to see how this works, I may adjust it downward, but I want it to be high enough to be a major difference, and to allow some things I will never get to eat otherwise.

If the carb cycle were a graph, it would look like this for a month:
Carb Cycling

If this doesn't work, I will try something different in the next 12 week cycle. The problem is that as I lose weight, it becomes hard to tell if a difference is related to my eating plan, or weight loss slowing/the body attempting to find homeostasis, or muscle gain from starting to work out and get some cardio, etc.

I am making the following safety rules to go with my high-carb days, though.

1. Any non-LC food must be planned in advance. Whether it's dinner out or what I note below, it should be planned. That's the only way I can keep carbs and calories in the range they need to be. It's not a "hog-wild" day, it's a "deliberate big increase for a single day".

2. There should be an emphasis on things I like but don't get to eat on lowcarb but that are relatively healthy as far as nutrients and variety go, like legumes (maybe pinto or black beans), and carby veg/fruits (like corn, or fresh-squeezed citrus juice), and maybe oatmeal (which I adore).

3. I don't have any problem with lousy food on that day as long as it's small and planned in advance. If eating one single-pack slice of key lime pie every 2 weeks helps me stay totally on plan the rest of the two weeks, I'm willing to do that. As I get thinner I probably won't have as much leeway on such things but for now I think I do. As long as the numbers come out right I'm not complaining.

4. Here's the hard part: I have to eat sufficient protein on the highcarb days too. Which usually means lowcarb food and a lot of it, to get that much protein down my throat (120g). So the reality is that these days are more likely to be standard days "with several high-carb snacks" than a whole day of just eating whatever.

Life is an experiment. I have proved fabulously successful at the unintentional Getting Hugely Fat experiment. Now I want to continue my trials in the Getting Vastly Thinner experiment. If this doesn't work, I'll do something else. But I think it will. Now that I have everything -- food journal, weight tracking, exercise tracking -- publicly on googledocs for anybody to see, I guess everybody will be able to see just how successful (or not!) I might turn out to be with the new experiment. Wish me luck. ;-)



Sherrie said...

Hey PJ will you be measuring too?

Because your starting exercise aswell I think it will be a great idea.

One thing I wanted to add is after you get leaner you will probably find you can get away with more during your refeeds especially because your exercising.

I'm curious on how you and Big Daddy go because I know it can really help when your leaner but for people with a way to go still it is a really grey area.

Good luck!

Big Daddy D said...

Sherrie, there is a big difference between re-feeds intended for weight lifting and the carb-up days that I am attempting. For weight training you need much shorter cycles that correspond to when you are lifting weights. My high days are intended to avoid insulin sensitivity. I'm trying to keep my body from becoming accustomed to a steady low flow of carbohydrates. As for measuring, I believe this is the best way to track progress. I have gone through periods where I have lost inches but not pounds. I think the high protein helps the body build muscle while you are losing fat.

PJ, I hope your experiment goes well. I am very much looking forward to seeing what your results are. Can you explain why you feel it is necessary to have ultra-low-carb days? I'd be afraid that this would set your body into starvation mode. But, perhaps not if you are careful to consume enough fat and protein on these days.... I'd not be so much worried about the ultra-low following the carb-up as I would the ultra-low in the middle.

PJ said...

Hi Sherrie, I would have taken measurements yesterday but am looking for my tape measure. ;-) I use an online bodyfat measure (linked on the sidebar at Tomboy Tough) that requires measurements, and I wanted to start with that.

I hope someday I can get away with more carbs. My favorite carby foods are things like orange juice and corn, heh! Well, and french garlic bread but I'm not going there...

Hi D -- my reason for the lower carb days is mostly for variance -- the other way, not just higher -- and to keep the body in a fairly hard induction (for weight loss reasons). I eat a lot of stuff like cheese that I think tends to contribute to water weight even in LC, and the regular dropping to the 'meat&eggs' level as most LCers call it, may help deal with that. After this 12 week cycle finishes I may change it all up, we'll see how it goes. This isn't really what I "want" to do most, it's just what my planning-on-paper made seem like something worth trying. I'll re-evaluate based on results. :-)