LUSCIOUS HEALTH: Here’s this week’s update of my weight loss journey…
So, another week has passed and I’m still keen to find a way to lose weight through natural means, ie. food and exercise, rather than the suggestion by my endocrinologist that I need surgery (gastric balloon), drugs, and an 800-calorie-a-day Optifast regime. Potentially for the rest of my life. See Week 1 and Week 2 for background.
Every time I even think about it, I roll my eyes and sigh deeply. But I will give credit to the specialist for making me so opposed to her ideas that it’s forced me spend more time finding solutions for myself.
These blog posts are my clunky efforts to learn and apply better health practices, one week at a time.
Fortunately, it’s good news so far!
Background and disclaimer
But the key info to note is that I’ve tried for years to eat properly and do some exercise, but it’s only resulted in putting weight on, not off.
The information provided is based on my own non-expert research, so please don’t go assuming it is correct. I hope it is, but it might not be!
If you’re looking for inspiration to lose weight yourself, I do hope you find my experience helpful. But see your GP first before embarking on any changes – and at the very least, it provides a good baseline for progress if you have all the main tests done and then can compare them down the track.
Weight lost this week: 1.3kgs/2.8lbs
Note: My period kicked in last night and I’m feeling a bit bloated, so perhaps the weight loss will be even more next week once the “water weight” disappears?? Here’s hoping! The scales normally increase for me at this time each month, so I was thrilled to see them go down this morning.
Here are some quick articles about water weight and what to do to minimise it:
- What’s water weight?
- How to lose water retention weight during your period
- Water retention: Relieve this premenstrual symptom
- How to drop water weight
- Real weight versus water weight
Weight lost since the Wednesday Weight series began 2 weeks ago: 2.3kgs/5lbs
Total weight lost (from my worst weight*): 6.8kgs/15lbs
- Current weight: 93.7kgs**
- My worst ever weight: 100.5kgs
- The best approximate weight for my height: 65kgs
- My ideal weight: 60kgs
*since starting the 5:2 diet over a year ago
**as of Wednesday November 12, 2014
Health summary: So, what’s going on?
So I’ve been focussing on no/very low carb intake, which is what I need to tackle my insulin resistance.
This has been MUCH simpler than I thought because I feel full all the time on the proteins, fat and 3 litres of water I’m consuming every day. To be honest, it’s a shock how easy it is, having spent my life feeling hungry.
I try to stick to “no carbs” but think of it more as “low carbs” when I allow small things in, such as a slice of apple (which contains carbs, something I learnt last week), and half a roast potato and some gravy for our Sunday “roast night” tradition.
I even popped into the local bakery on the weekend to buy Mr Luscious some fresh bread, but I wasn’t fazed by all the delicious goods in the glass windows.
Instead, I was full of energy, completely happy, and had a bounce in my step, looking forward to getting home to test out my new “ham roll” (ham, thinly sliced tomato and cucumber, and a sprinkling of cheese rolled in a large leaf of iceberg lettuce).
We even hosted my mother’s birthday party on the weekend, and although I drank a glass of champagne, red wine and dessert wine, I did very well sticking to my low carb approach, and didn’t feel bad about missing out on the other goodies which were available.
The variety of meals hasn’t been a problem so far, and I’m grateful to the internet for thousands of options.
Remember, my intention is to follow this plan until I lose the weight I need to feel healthy, and then slowly re-introduce carbs back into my diet.
I’m not anti-sugar, but do need to avoid sugar (actual sugar as well as foods which convert to sugar) until my insulin levels are back on track – see previous posts for more information.
The state of ketosis is when your body starts burning fat instead of glucose (which is what carbs get converted to). This is what I’m aiming for to sort out my insulin resistance problem, hence my inability to lose weight to date.
My insulin levels are out of whack, and with insulin being the fat-storing hormone, it’s important for me to get my body to burn the excess fat burnt rather than feeding it more of the same (glucose).
By reducing carbs, I’m forcing my body to go to its next fuel source, dietary fat (ie. consumed through the proteins and fat that I eat) and stored fat (the excess glucose which wasn’t burned by your body which was stored as fat).
Note: From what I’ve been reading, I shouldn’t go overboard with protein either, as excess protein also gets stored as fat.
But as I’m not eating much because a) I’m trying to watch portion sizes, and b) I’m not hungry anyway, I don’t think this is a problem. Well, at least I hope not.
Although I haven’t bought a “ketosis measuring kit” from the chemist, I’m pretty sure my body must be burning fats now, rather than glucose. If you put unleaded petrol in your car rather than leaded, and everything is running well, then surely that means success?
Here are some articles I found interesting relating to ketosis, via The Diet Doctor:
- Lose weight by achieving optimal ketosis
- Experiment: Optimal ketosis for weight loss and improved performance
- Four weeks of strict low carb/high fat (LCHF) and ketone monitoring
- Final report: Two months of strict LCHF and ketone monitoring
- Low carb/high fat (LCHF) for beginners
What I’ve learnt and tried to apply more of this week
Basically, I’ve been continuing all the same things as the last two weeks such as no/low carbs, reducing portions, drinking lots of water, taking supplements, doing a bit of exercise etc, (revisit Week 1 and Week 2), as well as:
- sleeping more consistently and waking earlier
- spending the first half an hour after waking up drinking my water and updating my spreadsheet (this seems to make me feel calmer and in control, plus I’ve chugged down at least 600ml of water!)
- increasing my dose of coconut oil supplements
- going shopping with Mr Luscious to see all the new things I’ll be able to wear once I lose weight (motivating!)
- learning that things taste a bit better now that I’m simplifying things
- sticking to at least 3 litres of water consistently each day
- adding a little bit more fat into my diet (eg. a dollop of cream, topping my vegies with some butter)
- learning more about low GI/GL foods – see below
- reducing my carb intake even more.
Whilst I haven’t been counting calories at all this week (not even on our 5:2 Fast days), I’m sure I’ve been eating less.
But I haven’t been hungry which feels like a miracle!
Challenges? None! It’s all good!
I’m pleased to report that I haven’t had any challenges this week, other than just one night of not sleeping very well.
In addition, my skin is back to being fabulous (phew!) so I hope it stays this way even with my period kicking in today.
Also, the acidic bladder problem went away, yey.
My energy levels have been great. On Saturday morning, for example, I was up early and keen to get stuck into things. I headed off to the local cafe where I often go to work on my novel and was stunned by the outpouring of new ideas which flowed easily.
And the next day, a Sunday, I was up at 7am and suggested to Mr Luscious that we should play some tennis. Amazing, as I am not normally such an eager beaver when it comes to exercise!
YouTube + treadmill = Results
During the week, I’ve collected all sorts of short and long-ish YouTube clips, from news stories to comedy to health, and then just click through each of them whilst on the treadmill (I set my laptop on the desk that Mr Luscious built across the handlebars).
It’s amazing how 2 mins + 3.5 mins + 1 min etc all add up and then I’ve been on the treadmill for ages.
In particular, I’ve been watching more YouTube videos relating to insulin resistance, ketogenic diets and the impacts of exercise when glucose has been reduced in the diet.
This 1 hour video presented by Dr Peter Attia using himself as a guinea pig was mostly interesting (I love when people test their own theories) because it explained that he was very fit and thought he was eating all the right things, but – like me – he had metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance).
His lecture (with powerpoint slides) provides graphs and examples of how the body works, what he did, and what resulted. As a medical professional, he had access to all the clever machines to track his progress, and the findings are impressive.
It gets a bit technical but it kept me walking on the treadmill for the whole time, so that’s saying something.
I just wish his video had presented more about what he actually did (eg. what he ate) but it still got me thinking and then I was able to search through his blog for more specifics.
I also like the comments he makes on his blog about exercise not being helpful for weight loss, but definitely being important for good health.
This helps lessen my guilt about not being more sporty (and explains why I hate torture-and-humiliation shows like The Biggest Loser), so I’ll happily stick to increasing incidental exercise, walking and running on the treadmill, and weekly tennis lessons and tennis competitions.
I won’t be signing up for any gruelling marathons or gym boot camp weekends unless I suddenly decide I’d like to rather than thinking that I need to.
Note: I’m still not convinced that my pedometer is working properly eg. after 3 hours of doubles tennis, about 19,800 steps, my pedometer still doesn’t think I’ve even reached 10,000 steps. Grrr.
After much trial and tribulation, I’ve decided that it’s best attached to my underwear so it gets the movement of my left leg to get the highest result.
Being allowed to eat fat is wonderful but a bit weird
I feel like a little kid at Christmas being told that the solution to my problem is eating fats. Cream? Butter? Yes please!
It makes me realise how confusing a lifetime of conflicting nutritional “advice” has been for my mind and body. I remember the health pyramid being taught to us in primary school, and then years of differing opinions as a teenager and adult. It’s no wonder I’ve put on too much weight and not been able to shift it.
But if you’re reading this and think that what I’m doing is the answer for you too, then I urge you to ensure that it’s also right for your body. High carbs and low fat might be the answer for you, but it just isn’t for me.
I’ve learnt that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Examples of meals I’ve been cooking this week:
- 2-egg omelette with ham, rocket, chopped tomato, cream and cheese
- Teriyaki chicken with stir-fried greens (asparagus, broccolini, snow peas, celery, bok choy)
- Spicy mince beef wrapped in cabbage rolls
- Chicken stuffed with mozzarella, wrapped in pancetta
- Roast lamb stuffed with fetta cheese
- Pureed cabbage soup (with an assortment of other vegetables)
- Chorizo sausages with salad
- Veal and mushroom casserole in a creamy sauce.
Note: Mr Luscious and I are still doing the 5:2 Fast Diet (Mondays and Thursdays) and consuming wine on 5 days of the week.
Examples of snacks I’ve been having this week:
- Beetroot and fetta dip with celery sticks
- Spinach and fetta dip with carrot sticks
- A cup of tea with 1/4 sliced apple and 30g Camembert cheese
- A cup of tea with 1/2 sliced pear and 1 dessert spoon of cream cheese
- 1 mug of homemade vegetable soup
- 2 mugs of homemade chicken broth
- A cup of coffee with the cheesy part of 1/2 a mini lemon cheesecake (ie. not the biscuit base)
- A cup of tea with a gluten-free cruskit and large smear of peanut butter OR butter and vegemite
- A cup of tea and tiny cube of Apricot Delight (sweet dried apricot).
A look at portion sizes
It’s been a learning curve when it comes to portion sizes, and over the last few years I think I’ve figured out more things, eg. 100g of chicken should fit into the palm of your hand.
But I still get stumped sometimes and find myself typing “20g” in the images section of Google.
The following images (below) and some of the information below comes from the WebMD site. I find it useful for realising how much we ought to eat, compared to how much we do eat.
Scroll through to view the examples:
According to WedMD:
- How many calories you should have depends on your age, your gender, and how active you are.
- An inactive woman should have 1600-1800 calories a day.
- An active average-sized man should have 2400-2800 calories.
Apparently, here’s how to have a healthy balance of foods – if you’re already at your ideal weight – each day:
- 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2.5-3.5 cups of vegetables
- 5-8 ounces of grain, half from whole grains
- 3 cups of nonfat or low-fat dairy foods
- 5-6.5 ounces of protein (meat, beans, and seafood) each day
- no more than 5-7 teaspoons of oils, mostly from plants, fish, and nuts
- 121 calories from solid fats and added sugars.
When it comes to protein portions, WebMD says:
- Adults only need 5 to 6 1/2 ounces or 141-184 grams of protein a day.
- That could be one egg at breakfast, a handful of nuts (12 almonds or 24 pistachios) mid-day, and 3 ounces of meat for dinner.
- 1 ounce = 28g
- 2 ounces = 56g
- 3 ounces = 85 g
- 4 ounces = 114g
- 1tsp = 1 teaspoon
- 1tbs = 1 tablespoon
Here are some items which may be useful if you’re struggling with portion sizes:
- Meal Measure Portion Control Tool (fits onto a standard dinner plate, to show you how much of each item to eat)
- FOCUS Porcelain Portion Control Kit (1 place setting including plates and bowls)
- Adult MyPlate Flat Plate (1 plate which indicates sizes for protein, vegetables, grains and fruit)
- The CUPS Diet: Dr. Mascaro’s Portion Control Approach to Losing Weight is Effective & Easy by Dr Jimmy R Mascaro
- The Portion Size Diet by Rocky Bantes
- The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight by Linda Gassenheimer
Learning about the Glycemic Index (GI) and “low GI” food
The American Diabetes Association has a post about the Glycemic Index and Diabetes which is a good introduction if you’re also new to this topic.
I felt I knew a little about it, but honestly couldn’t tell you what foods were truly higher or lower on the scale other than white bread and potatoes being up the top of the “not good” list.
Harvard also produced this Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods which is helpful.
Every meal you eat changes your blood sugar level. Digestion releases the glucose stored in food. That glucose then drips, flows, or floods into your bloodstream, depending on the type of food you’ve eaten.
The glycemic index measures the effect that food has on blood sugar levels. In essence, the index is “a rating system of how fast a food item can raise your blood sugar,” says Angela Ginn-Meadow, a registered dietitian in Baltimore and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Doctors calculate a food’s glycemic index by measuring the rise in your blood sugar level two hours after eating it. The food is then ranked on a scale from zero to 100. The top measure, 100, reflects the rise in blood sugar following consumption of pure glucose.
The glycemic index of your meals can affect your health. Consistently high blood sugar levels can cause type 2 diabetes. Food with a high glycemic index also has been linked to cardiovascular disease and obesity.
In general, carbohydrates tend to be higher on the index, whilst proteins and fats tend to be lower, which is why I know that a piece of toast is going to have a different effect on me than a boiled egg.
However, fibre can make a difference by lowering the GI of a carbohydrate, which explains why wholegrain bread is better for you than plain white bread.
Here’s the ranking for GI foods:
- Low GI = 55 or less
- Medium GI = 56–69
- High GI = 70 and above
Examples of low GI foods:
Beans (white, black, pink, kidney, lentil, soy, almond, peanut, walnut, chickpea), small seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin, poppy, sesame), most whole intact grains (durum/spelt/kamut wheat, millet, oat, rye, rice, barley), most vegetables, most sweet fruits (peaches, strawberries, mangos), fructose, mushrooms, chilli.
Examples of medium GI foods:
Basmati rice, couscous, unpeeled boiled potato, grape juice, raisins, prunes, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice, regular ice cream, sucrose, banana, not intact whole wheat or enriched wheat, pita bread.
Examples of high GI foods:
White bread, most white rice, corn flakes, instant oat meal, extruded breakfast cereals, glucose, maltose, potato, pumpkin, pretzels, bagels.
Here’s my list of top GI foods to avoid, at least for now, whilst I’m trying to reset my weight baseline and reduce my chances of getting diabetes:
- White bread
- Breakfast cereals (although proper rolled oats – not instant – is excellent because of its nutritional value)
- Fruit juice, soft drinks
- Watermelon, pineapple
Fortunately, the only things that concern me are potatoes (I love potatoes) and white bread (nothing beats vegemite toast and some sugary tea when I get my period).
Apparently, it also makes a difference what you eat the high GI food with. For example, dipping bread into olive oil will reduce the GI impact of the bread. Processed foods, cooking time and ripeness also make a difference.
And understanding the nutrition of something is clearly important, eg. just because rolled oats has a higher GI rating than chocolate, doesn’t mean that you should live on large quantities of chocolate.
Uh oh, there’s more: Glycemic Load (GL)
Now, it gets even more confusing when you also read about glycemic load (GL). Wikipedia says:
The glycemic load (GL) of food is a number that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. One unit of glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose.
Glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in the food and how much each gram of carbohydrate in the food raises blood glucose levels.
Glycemic load is based on the glycemic index (GI), and is defined as the grams of available carbohydrate in the food times the food’s GI.
Just because something has a high GI level, doesn’t mean it has a high GL level. This is because it depends on how much carbohydrate it contains, such as watermelon which is mostly water.
For one serving of a food:
- a GL greater than 20 is considered high
- a GL of 11-19 is considered medium
- a GL of 10 or less is considered low.
GL and GI combined:
- Foods that have a low GL in a typical serving size almost always have a low GI. A low-GI food will release glucose more slowly and steadily, which leads to more suitable postprandial (after meal) blood glucose readings.
- Foods with an intermediate or high GL in a typical serving size range from a very low to very high GI. A high-GI food causes a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels and is suitable for energy recovery after exercise or for a person experiencing hypoglycemia.
|Low||55 or less||10 or less|
|High||70 and above||20 and above|
So, ideally, I need to eat things which are both low GI and low GL.
Here are some examples of both GI and GL, with the highest GI item listed first, with the lowest at the bottom.
Each item below is averaged at 100g but there’s no indication here about how things were cooked, so if you’re interested in this topic, just use the following as a general guide and seek out more detailed specifics for yourself.
|Food||Glycemic index (GI)||Carb content||Glycemic load (GL)|
|White bread||95 (high)||50||48|
|White rice||85 (high)||77.5||65|
Note: There is also the Insulin Index which is similar to Glycemic index and Glycemic load, but rather than relying on blood glucose levels, the Insulin Index is based upon blood insulin levels.
Here are some Low GI/low GL, metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance/ketogenic diet books which might be useful if you are also going down this path:
Note: A diet which considers BOTH low GI and low GL, is called low-glycemic. Read more here.
- The Glycemic-Load Diet: A powerful new program for losing weight and reversing insulin resistance by Rob Thompson
- The Low GI Shopper’s Guide to GI Values 2014: The Authoritative Source of Glycemic Index Values for More than 1,200 Foods by Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell
- The GI Diet by Rick Gallop
- The GI Diet Express: For Busy People by Rick Gallop
- The GI Diet Shopping and Eating Out Pocket Guide by Rick Gallop
- The Low GI Slow Cooker: Delicious and Easy Dishes Made Healthy with the Glycemic Index by Mariza Snyder, Lauren Clum, Anna V. Zulaica
- 500 Low Glycemic Index Recipes: Fight Diabetes and Heart Disease, Lose Weight and Have Optimum Energy with Recipes That Let You Eat the Foods You Enjoy by Dick Logue
- The Low Glycemic Diet: Maintain consistent glucose Levels for more energy, weight loss, and better overall health by John Matonis
- The Insulin Resistance Factor: A Nutritionist’s Plan for Reversing the Effects of Syndrome X by Antony J Haynes
- Quick Start Guide to Reversing Insulin Resistance by Alison C
- The Insulin-Resistance Diet: How to Turn Off Your Body’s Fat-Making Machine by Cheryle Hart and Mary Kay Grossman
- The Insulin Resistance Guide – How To Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Spikes To Give You More Energy, More Vitality And Better Living For Life by Paul Jessop
- Stop Prediabetes: The Real Solution To Reversing Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, And Lowering Blood Sugar Naturally by Donna Palmer
- Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance by Jack Challem
- Overcoming Metabolic Syndrome by Scott Isaacs and Fred Vagnini
- Lower Your Blood Sugar Naturally: How to avoid insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome and overweight issues by Gia Combs-Ramirez
- The Ketogenic Diet – Delicious Fat-Blasting Recipe Ideas: Tasty Low-Carb Recipes for Ultimate Fat Burning and Weight Loss
- Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore and Eric Westman MD
- Ketogenic Diet Crash Course: Seriously Simple 7 Day Guide to Beating Cravings Whilst Turning Stubborn Fat into Energy by Robert M Fleischer
So there you have it!
Thank you for joining me for another week’s WEDNESDAY WEIGHT series. I’m relieved that I’ve managed to lose another kilo, despite my period kicking in.
Thanks also for all the wonderful blog post comments, Facebook page comments, and flurry of emails. All your support is very, very gratefully received!
Please continue to leave comments and suggestions, as it does prompt me to keep reading and thinking. Whilst I’ve managed to have a remarkably good first couple of weeks, I’m sure it will get even harder now as my body starts playing tricks on me (if history is anything to go by).
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