Sunday, November 7

Intermittant Fasting - 2 Week Update

Alrighty then. In the end, I began intermittant fasting on Oct 24. I started 'tracking' Monday 10/25. It's been two weeks since then. The plan is a 4-hour window for food each evening. Generally, it's about 5pm-9pm. It's allowed to shift if my schedule does, but it's a 20 hour fast period.

So here's a summary of the reactions and results so far:

Hunger > I was hungry the first two days of it. This is ridiculous because normally I can fast for 1-2 days at a time without having hunger bother me. I am far closer to anorexic with occasional see-food frenzies, than anything troubled by meal-skipping. So I concluded that it was probably just some psychological side effect of telling myself I wasn't allowed to eat during the day. From day 3 on that wasn't an issue.

Food limits > I did not set a limit on options except: very-low-carb, whole-foods, no grains, few or no legumes (peas and green beans in our case), and trying to keep the dairy (cream and cheese, no limit on butter) reasonably low. I could eat as much as I wanted, I have tracked in general all my intake, but I haven't worried about quantity being too high (it hasn't been, but I was willing to allow it to be).

Eating to appetite > There is no issue of not being full on this. I was willing to eat as much as I wanted but, since I am mostly eating proteins/fats, that really can only be so much, anyway, until I am not only satiated but a bit stuffed, and never want to see a strip of bacon again. Well, for 24 hours, anyway.

Adherence > How well did I do? Well, let's see. On Oct 29 I let my kid talk me into eating some halloween candy that night. On Nov 6 I ate at a restaurant, still only one meal, and meat/veg (fajitas), but then utterly blew it by eating a Ghirardelli's vanilla-bar and milk later that night. Aside from that it has gone ok.

Problems > I'm undereating. I really TRY to eat enough to be a day's worth of calories. Even at the lowest imaginable end for someone who weighs 400#, no matter how much progress I've made from above that. But it's hard! Seriously there is just only so damn much food you can eat. Meat is FILLING. I think I need to consistently work on ingesting larger portions of my primary meat (chuck burger 80/20, commercial, or, organic chicken thighs, or commercial chicken breasts).

I find that if I up my fats the way I want to, it's even harder to eat more meat. For example, if I am having a plain chuck burger patty (with Montreal seasoning -- this is salt, black pepper, garlic, and red peppers, granulated together) and nothing else, I can eat a really BIG one. We're talking, 12-20oz (the top one, I have to make myself eat, and I'm stuffed, but it's possible; I'm happy with the 12). But if I put some butter on the top and melt as much butter into it, when it comes out of the pan, as I can before eating it (which is very yummy), I eat about 6-9oz max and I'm happy. More than that seems like stuffing it down just for the sake of it.

I like slab bacon, and try to eat some of that just because it's yummy. But there is not a lot of meat on bacon once it's cooked, so this is more a thing on the side than any serious meal contribution.

I had this realization at one point that somewhere in my past, media has indoctrinated me with this idea that any meal over ~280 calories was hugely fattening. Of course that's because they're trying to get you to live on grains way too many meals+snacks a day. And that conveniently dismisses "real food" -- like meat and even low-sugar dairy -- from being a worthy consideration if it's in any quantity at all, as the fat content would usually kick it up to that or higher.

So, I aim for getting "over 1200 calories a day". I'd like it to stay under 2300 but I won't stress if it goes higher. At this point, the highest I've ever gotten it was around 1500, twice. Usually it's around 1100-1200. Several times it's been around 800-900. This is the same problem I've always had on VLC (in the previous eras when I could do VLC), except a bit worse since I have one eating period and not 3 meals.

People who do IF tell me, "You still have multiple meals. They are just spread out over your 'eating window'."

Well 4 hours is not much of an eating window. If I eat a full protein/fat meal at the front of that, I am not remotely hungry 4 hours later. Plus cooking twice that close together is offputting. I have enough of a hard time doing it once.

I could make the eating window longer, but I just feel like that kind of defeats the point of the fasting, aside from which since my window is at night, partly because that's where my available time is, making it longer would just take it too close to sleep.

Advantages > It's sure a lot easier to only have to worry about food once a day. It's a lot easier to only have to cook once (although I might cook a few things at once). It's a lot nicer that since I can eat what I like as long as it's LC whole foods -based, I can have stuff my kid doesn't like AND stuff she does, and she is happy and I get something for a little variety. (This coming week is The Great Coconut Milk Curry experiment series, yay! She doesn't like Eastern spices so I never get them, but I think now I can have some.) There are less dishes generated (thanks a LOT for that, to me that's one of the worst parts about this eating plan, cleaning or paying someone to clean becomes a much larger issue for me).

New Stuff > Apparently cheese gives me inflammation. I was so loathe to believe this, since I consider cheese the divine food, that I did some experimenting. Twice, I'd not had enough to eat that day, was either out of food or out of time, so I just ate about 4-5 ounces of block cheese cut into sticks. Both times I woke up feeling like I'd been run over by a truck in the night, my lower back hurting, and so bloated, I literally had to rock back and forth to get enough momentum to turn over and sit up (and it was an unhappy process). Both times I told myself, well yeah, but I ate it with X! or I ate it with Z! So those are the culprits! (Later note: apparently it's only the Tillamook pepperjack cheese that does this. I get gluten-reaction from it! Not from cheaper pepperjack. Weird!)

Finally I realized I was in denial. So I ate early, just meat, and then ate cheese just like that (pepperjack in this case) at the end of my eating window not that long before sleep. And yep. I woke up just like that. When I just eat meat, I wake up fully awake, clear headed, and I am 'limber' and I just get out of bed. When I eat dairy or cheese, I wake up feeling like crap -- well, feeling like I *always* felt much of my life but was unaware food was the cause of it.

I considered having a symbolic funeral, replete with weeping and gnashing of teeth. I know my gluten intolerance has probably contributed to a dairy intolerance, especially since I've eaten them together all my life. Still there is nothing sadder.

Did this lead to the responsible adult perspective that I would immediately cease ingesting dairy since it is clearly bad for me? Of course not. It did however lead to me telling myself that I would limit my coffee (which I cannot ingest without cream and sweetener) to twice a week (that's all I've had for the last months anyway so that's no hardship), and limit cheese to maybe once a week rather than often daily.

On the bright side, some inner determined part of me abruptly decided to stop eating bad oils. This is odd as I've never cared too much about that before. But there've been quite a variety of things the last couple weeks -- condiments, dressings, jar'd sauces -- that I wanted to eat and some part of my just put its foot down and said NO. I WILL NOT INGEST THAT. Gosh, maybe I could borrow this aspect to deal with the dairy issue. Anyway, it's been made easier by only eating once a day for sure since I'm not scrambling for "how many variations on MEAT" you can come up with in a day, every day.

Weight > I can't really count my weight. I'm still losing some water weight, which I feel like should have happened faster, but maybe cheese is partly to blame. Technically I'm down around 18 pounds from where I started two weeks ago, but until I'm down about 25 I do not consider it past the "just water weight point," so I am still waiting for that to finish and actual weight loss to consider kicking in.

Energy > The biggest point of reference in my life is how much energy I have to do things. I've been VERY excited that my body is willing to let me eat VLC (>30 usually <15) carbs a day again. But it's been two weeks and I have yet to feel that 'official' shift 'into ketosis' that we all remember from our early days on LC. The one where suddenly you have so much energy than you have had until then, and you can taste and smell the ketones, and so on. It's been 14, 15 days now, and this still has not arrived for me. Now, I'm pretty sure the body is somewhat ketogenic from LC let alone VLC with IF, by day1, let alone day 15. If my body wasn't somewhat ketogenic, I would have had the same effect I had for a couple years when I tried to eat under about 50 carbs a day -- my body would instantly have demanded I eat carbs or die. So it seems obvious that my body IS using fat as an energy source. It seems ridiculous to say I am not ketogenic, I must be, to be my size and be eating so few carbs and even few calories most the time. But my energy level has been 'different'. Now it used to be -- still is -- that if I am high carb, esp. if there is any grains or many sugars in my diet, I have no energy. None. Not, "gee it's a chore to do chores," but, "I have sat so still I could be in a coma, barely breathing even, for 16 hours, having moved only one or twice to go to the bathroom briefly." Since I went VLC, I've felt two things at once, which is very odd. First, my body thanks to better protein, feels much stronger. My body thanks to fewer carbs, feels much less bloated, more limber. My mind thanks to fewer toxins, feels more clear. Now normally, if I were VLC in the past and ketogenic, these things would be accompanied by feeling REALLY energetic. But now, although I have these effects and feel far more energetic than 'normal' eating, although I feel stronger, clearer, more limber, basically better in nearly every way -- I feel WEARY. So it's not like "I feel weak and lacking energy" which is the normal state of things. It's more like, "I feel strong and healthy -- and yet, like I'm SO weary and exhausted and need rest." That's kind of novel. I keep waiting for 'real' ketosis to kick in. Maybe my body cannot do that anymore. I don't know. Cycles > I have been tracking a few things since mid to late September. How much energy I feel on an overall day, from 1 to about 2-, with the top being 'no-sleep manic' and the bottom being 'completely non-functional', and about 9-15 being the good zone of middling-normal. What my eating was like on a given day, 0 being fasting, 3-5 being VLC-IF, 10 being LC, 15 being HC, 20 being some crazy binge like eating pizza and birthday cake (or halloween candy, sigh).

I can already see clearly that when my food stopped fluctuating wildly, my energy stopped doing that too. I also see in the graph that nearly every time my food is high, my energy was low. And usually the food comes later in the day, so it's the energy sparking the food intake, not the other way around. The other two things I'm tracking for my "cycles" chart is menses, and what I call 'bright' -- a humorous reference to sexual energy, or 'bright ideas'. It's pretty interesting to see this graph starting to take shape, and see the not precise but clear 'cycles' of all these things and how they might relate to one another.

Medical health > I decided to add to my tracking the following things: 1) glucose levels, and 2) temperature. I am not sure this will be anything unusual or worth noting, but I thought it might be interesting. I have a Relion Ultima blood glucose meter, little ouchy pokey things I forget the word for, and the blood strips. I've used this before when I was VLC and having serious 'reactive hypoglycemic' effects after losing a lot of weight fast (where a breakfast like bacon and eggs could make my blood sugar drop so low after awhile I nearly passed out), but I think that probably resolved itself over time as I don't think I have that effect now.

I am not sure precisely when I should test my temp and my glucose although I've asked around a bit. I only eat in one period of the day. Do I test it after the first time I eat? After the last time? If I tested during that window but I'd eaten again that would throw it off, right. At what time-points should I be testing? What should I be recording about the food I ate -- everything? I mean I record all my food but I haven't been worrying about figuring out any 'specific' count when I, say, stir-fry chicken in bacon grease or coconut oil and throw in some shredded cabbage. God only knows what that would come into, if I psychically knew how much fats got its way down my throat out of all that and half the kid takes. I just estimate super roughly, not exactly. And what about temp? When I first wake up I think, before I get outta bed, right? Is there any other time that matters? Does temp have any relation at all to food intake?

The kid has been repeatedly trashing her eating plan with this, and then that, and then this other, and to her it feels like she's been on the plan for two weeks with a few cheats, but from my perspective if it's a rather major cheat and it happens 3x a week then she might as well forget about the plan being all that helpful. Yes, helpful in that it would be worse without it, but that doesn't mean she's necessarily going to lose weight. That said she seems visibly to have lost a tiny bit in the hips anyway. Not on the scale though.

Well, that's that. Midnight starts a new week. I hope it moves along fine and I find some kind of curry option I like. I'd love to see if I could make a cold curried chicken salad the way the thai restaurant back home (Ventura CA) did. Hope y'all have a good week too.



David Brown said...

In reading through this post I didn't notice any sources of omega-3s in your food intake. I suspect that upping your omega-3 intake could be beneficial for both your over all health and possibly weight loss.

As for going into ketosis, it may be that your protein intake is high enough to prevent that. Wouldn't worry about that though. What I would be concerned about is omega-6 intake which you may have decreased by avoiding bad oils. You wrote: "On the bright side, some inner determined part of me abruptly decided to stop eating bad oils. This is odd as I've never cared too much about that before. But there've been quite a variety of things the last couple weeks -- condiments, dressings, jar'd sauces -- that I wanted to eat and some part of my just put its foot down and said NO. I WILL NOT INGEST THAT."

Omega-6 oils are far worse than most people realize. Check this out:

Here's an excerpt from the above:

"A daring journalist eats a high omega-6 diet for 30-days (think Super-Size Me), which results in stiffer arteries, lowered metabolism, and an increase in belly fat."

Weight Loss Frogs said...

I agree, it's the long-term changes that make the difference. I'm just starting a blog about how to lose and keep the weight off, and alcohol is a difficult one, I'm hoping to write about that in a couple of weeks here:

I think David's right about the Omega-3's. I certainly feel less hungry when I include high levels of Omega-3, especially if this can replace O-6s with O-3s.

The BBC also had a good article on it recently too:

michelle said...

Hi I am a low carber but I could not do the fasting you are doing.

I have been reading about Leptin a hormone made by our fat and how it causes uncontrollable cravings for high carb/high fat food in the afternoons and evenings.

For 10 weeks now I have been taking Irvingia and have not had a binge session and have lost 20lbs. I eat 3 meals a day, no snacks. no milk.

It is the answer to my obesity maybe it will help you?

WereBear said...

I've been skipping breakfast and not eating after 8pm. That's a sixteen hour window of not eating, at least, and I was surprised how easy it was.

So I have a big meal at noon and another around 7pm. I love it. I don't know if it will have any effect on my weight loss, since I've only been doing it for 2 weeks.

But it's amazing how quickly I adapted, and I do think it shuts down my hunger far more effectively that a bunch of smaller meals. I wind up eating less, and am still satisfied.

One thing about your tiredness; is it possible you are healing, and your body is conserving its energy for that? I hope so, anyway.

Elena said...

Yes, I know that Omega 3 is very beneficial, but Omega 6 is like poison for our metabolism.

Dream_Puppy said...

Hey PJ,

Carne from the boards here. I think what you're doing is great- if you are naturally inclined for IF anyway, why not go with it!?

Have you seen much weight loss this time around? I wish you the best.

Kate said...

Hi, are you still doing low carb? I hope so, you have a great Blog, which i really enjoy reading! I am just starting my low carb journey and blogging about it mysellf. Good luck with everything.