LUSCIOUS HEALTH: Here’s this week’s update of my weight loss journey…
See previous entries for WEDNESDAY WEIGHT:
Thanks for coming back for another update
So, I’ve been committed to my no/very low carb, insulin-resistance diet for 3 weeks now and have lost 1.5kgs this week, and 3.8kgs in total.
This might not sound like a lot to some people, but I’d been doing everything “officially the right way” for years yet very little had happened, so I’m taking this new development as a win. Go back to Week 1 to catch up on my background, as well as my insulin resistance revelation.
Essentially, I’m now following a ketogenic diet, which means as few carbs as possible (through vegetables and a small amount of fruit), with some protein and lots of fat. I know, it sounds contradictory to everything we’ve been told over the last few decades, but it has been the confusing advice about high carbs/low fat which helped get me into the current overweight situation.
The trick seems to be about drinking more water (3-4 litres a day, which sounded impossible 3 weeks ago but is now quite easy) and increasing fat consumption (eg. butter, cheese, olive oil, cream, sour cream, Brie, Camembert, pate, nuts etc – sounds insane, no?). This makes me full, I have no cravings, I rarely think about food, and it’s reducing my reliance on glucose for energy, burning my stored fat instead. I’m doing some exercise but nothing more than normal.
Basically, I need this type of diet for “potent regulator of metabolic derangement” because my body can’t cope with the energy produced by carbohydrates (glucose) and needs to burn fat (as ketones) instead. I’ve been putting the wrong type of fuel in for my body, like putting leaded petrol into a car which needs unleaded.
Once I get back to a healthy weight, I’ll slowly reintroduce carbs, but in a smaller way. I’m not anti-carbs/sugar, but I can see what too much glucose has done to my body, and this new way of eating is clearly making a difference.
Oh, and do note if you’re reading this looking for inspiration, that I work from home and have a supportive partner in Mr Luscious, for which I’m very grateful.
It enables me to stock up my fridge and pantry with what’s right for me, it doesn’t put me in the path of temptation by being out and about like it used to when I worked in a city office, nor lead to annoying and judgemental comments from co-workers. This is something of a relief and certainly makes things easier, but I think I would still make it work now if circumstances were different by being more organised, so don’t lose hope!
Keeping scrolling down to see my stats and what I’ve learnt this week.
Weight lost this week: 1.5kgs/3.3lbs
Weight lost since the Wednesday Weight series began 3 weeks ago: 3.8kgs/8.4lbs
Total weight lost (from my worst weight*): 8.3kgs/18.2lbs
- Current weight: 92.2kgs**
- 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 19, 2014
Health summary: So, what’s going on?
Same, same, sort of…
I’ve still been doing:
- reading a lot about my body and what seems to be best for it
- keeping my carb intake to about 30-50g a day
- easily consuming 3-4 litres of water a day (up from 2-3+ litres last week)
- moderate exercise through walking and tennis
- sleeping better, longer and without interruption (this is a miracle for an insomniac like me)
- incidental exercise through housework and gardening.
I’ve also been:
- alternating between lots of energy and fatigue, which I assume is my body adjusting to this new fat-burning regime
- trying to turn off electronic devices such as laptops and TVs earlier, to allow my brain to wind down before bed
- increasing my consumption of fats (even though my brain still does some “tut tutting” at the prospect of all the cream and cheese)
- having some fun to going shopping because I can already find more clothes which fit, and also my pedometer step counts get much higher
- feeling guilty about all my health-related research that I’ve not been working on my books or updating Luscious as much.
In addition, I did a controversial experiment of sticking to mostly fat consumption for two days, known as the “Fat Fast” based on an Atkins theory. It wasn’t much fun but is harmless in the short term and did seem to help with the weight loss. Scroll down for more.
ABC “Catalyst” documentary special: Low carb diet: Fat or fiction
Perfectly timed, Australia’s ABC had an in-depth look at low carb/high fat diet on Thursday November 13, 2014.
I was relieved that it confirmed everything I’ve been researching on my own, and that it gave an explanation which my parents and friends could understand, making it easier for me to explain my insulin resistance.
Remember, I’m not anti-carbs, but I realise that consuming too many of them has made my insulin get out of control, leading me to become overweight. I hope that down the track, once my weight is at an ideal level, I will be able to slowly reintroduce carbs and eat them happily in moderation.
Here are some other things I’ve been reading and watching:
- Ten foods to boost your digestion
- Not losing weight on a Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet? Don’t give up…
- Managing low carb diet side effects
- 10 tips for getting into nutritional ketosis for weight loss
- 5 low-carb mistakes and how nutritional ketosis helps
- Do you have the Ketosis Flu?
- How Reactive Hypoglycemia happens
- How to add more fat to your low carb diet for Nutritional Ketosis
- Dr Peter Attia: Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem? (video)
- How to lose weight without exercising
- Ain’t that Nutritional Ketosis thing just another way Of saying Atkins?
- Jimmy Moore’s n=1 Experiments: Nutritional Ketosis Day 1-30
- Healthy high-fat foods which are perfect for nutritional ketosis
- A Paleo Ketogenic experiment and meal plan
- This post about eating earlier at night to avoid acid reflux and sleep better, and also intermittent fasting.
Going hi-tech: Body scanning
Whilst situated in a dungeon-like environment in the basement of the hospital, it was super high tech and most impressive.
The various tests measured anthropometry (height, weight, skeletal measurements, skin fold thickness, body circumference), impedance (fat and fat-free mass), BodPod (body composition) and DEXA body scan and bone density.
It was all quite straightforward with lots of “old school” measuring with tape measures and scales, and then sitting inside the BodPod which made me feel like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, and finally the DEXA scan which is simply lying flat on a bed whilst a machine goes back and forth above.
Not surprisingly, I have 50% body fat but was relieved to hear that my bone density is excellent. More detailed results are sent to the endocrinologist and GP, so I have to wait for these, and I can ask to take the test again in about 6 months to track my progress.
The Bod Pod: Body composition test:
Sadly, my body fat composition is currently 50%:
The DEXA scan:
Ketones and “starvation mode”
I’ve had some moments of tiredness this week (increasingly as the week went on) but on the whole I’m full of energy.
So I thought I’d take a look at what “starvation mode” was all about and whether there was a chance my lethargy had anything to do with it.
Whilst I’m only new to the topic, it certainly is contentious. But I think I’m on the side of “your body would have to be starved for months to go into proper starvation mode (not a few days)” and for someone like me with a medical condition relating to too much weight, my body really does need to decrease energy coming in and increase energy being burned.
Starvation mode is a state in which the body is responding to prolonged periods of low energy intake levels. During short periods of energy abstinence, the human body will burn primarily free fatty acids from body fat stores. After prolonged periods of starvation the body has depleted its body fat and begins to burn lean tissue and muscle as a fuel source.
Ordinarily, the body responds to reduced energy intake by burning fat reserves and consuming muscle and other tissues. Specifically, the body burns fat after first exhausting the contents of the digestive tract along with glycogen reserves stored in muscle and liver cells.
After prolonged periods of starvation, the body will utilize the proteins within muscle tissue as a fuel source. People who practice fasting on a regular basis, such as those adhering to energy restricted diets, can prime their bodies to abstain from food while reducing the amount of muscle burned.
Not the use of “prolonged periods” vs “short periods” relating “low energy intake levels”.
In my case, I’m still eating a good amount, between 1000-2000 calories five days a week (I’m trying not to count), and 500-650 calories on our two “Fast” days, so my energy intake is actually good for someone trying to get the right nutrients but still lose weight. Because I’m eating mostly fats and proteins, this is what my body is burning first, and then my stored fat (converted from excess glucose originally).
If I was living on just 750-1000 calories every day, it would not be ideal especially if it was a high carb diet like I had previously (because I wouldn’t necessarily be getting all the good nutrients) but from what I’m reading, it would still need to go on for a prolonged period before being considered “starvation mode”.
Also, in my case, I’m losing an average of 1kg/2.2lbs a week, a perfectly healthy rate.
Yes, of course I’d like 30 more kilos to magically disappear overnight, but it wouldn’t be sustainable nor healthy. And it would be more likely to come back again. Specific hormones, such as my insulin levels, need time to adjust, as does my lifestyle in general.
Note: I wonder if my lack of dedication to calorie counting is actually useful, ie. reaping the benefits of calorie cycling. I’ll try to look at this more in the next few weeks.
In this post, “Starvation mode and muscle wasting myth on a low carbohydrate diet” defends the ketogenic diet by saying that:
If you have a significant amount of fat to lose then your metabolism will barely drop at all, even on severe restriction your extra adipose stores will make up any energy requirements you have. A ketogenic diet stabilises glucose and maintains very low levels of circulating insulin, so access to liberating energy from your adipose stores is unhampered.
A ketogenic diet is extremely protein sparing, the idea that you need carbohydrates to stop your muscles from wasting away is a complete fairytale. As long as you have enough energy available via consumption and adipose stores there’s no need to stress, it’s ridiculous to even consider that your body is stupid enough to rip apart your structural tissues for the meagre glucose spine for energy – a very metabolically expensive process with a tiny yield.
Significant lean body mass destruction only begins to occur when you don’t have enough glucose OR ketones available, both of which are generated by burning your fat stores, meaning the starvation mode of using up muscle tissue for glucose/energy only happens when you have very little stored body fat available and aren’t getting it in your diet – ie extremely lean and actually starving.
BTW, I also like this post about the benefits of ketosis, including the positive impact relating to seizures, migraines, bipolar, ALS, dementia, as well as cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Epilepsy.
As someone who gets migraines, this is very good news indeed.
What I’ve learnt and tried to apply more of this week
The good news
- It’s still been easy to eat without being hungry, and my portions are smaller because I simply can’t eat it all. It comes as a shock that I simply can’t eat everything in front of me, because in the past, I would happily go back for seconds.
- I’m not bored by it and have rarely missed carbs (except for the luscious, warm bread when we went to a winery for lunch…sigh).
- Still no cravings, not really feeling deprived of anything, and I rarely think about food, although I am nervous about an event I have coming up next weekend, wondering if there will be anything I can eat.
- Still drinking wine.
- My digestion is much better and the bloating is mostly gone (I can suck in my stomach again!).
- Drinking more water each day has become completely normal.
- Sleeping is soooo much better.
- The acne problem seems to be 95% resolved, despite getting my period at the beginning of the week.
As well as the BodPod and DEXA scan, I’m in the process of attending various other health-and-beauty appointments, with a haircut, 6-monthly dentist check-up, and a visit to the chiro. One way or another, I’m getting myself organised!
The not-so-good news
- I still had period pain and felt generally “blah” during my cycle.
- I was a bit tired again on some days, especially on the days after I’ve exercised.
- It is still a tad depressing looking at clothes in luscious stores which don’t fit me and hearing that half of my body is fat…but at least the weight loss is happening so maybe one day I’ll be able to buy some more luscious clothes again.
- The prospect of not having mince pies around Christmas is a bit disheartening.
- Going out for a shopping day was tricky with all my water consumption – multiple trips to department stores bathrooms!
Examples of meals I’ve cooked this week:
Low carb psyllium pancakes inspired by this recipe by Becky Brooks which I used as the basis, but I added some macadamia powder, a teaspoon of xylitol (fake sugar) and served it with 2 slices of bacon, 1tbs of butter, and 20ml of maple syrup.
It made a lot more than I needed and was so filling that I only ate about 4 mouthfuls.
Zucchini “spaghetti” using this recipe by Jill Dupleix to which I added half a tin of tuna and some soft fetta cheese.
(I recommend you can buy a cheap vegetable spiral maker such as this one – it’s fun!!)
I’ve also eaten:
- Lamb cutlets with roasted beets and cauliflower cheese bake
- Mushroom soup
- Steak with a herby butter and salad
- Atlantic salmon salad
- Two large round slices of [sausage] topped with mozzarella cheese, melted in the oven
- BBQ prawns with a lettuce, walnut and pear salad.
Fat Fast experiment: Two “80-90% fat” days
This week, on the Monday and Tuesday, I tried a controversial 2-day “fat fast” which means 1000-1200 calories of fat per day containing around 80-90% fat, such as:
- Egg yolks
- Macadamia nuts
- Blue cheese
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
The day can be arranged with 5 x 200 calorie mini meals OR 4 x 250 mini meals.
In my case, it was about 4-5 meals of different sizes, and I went over the 1000 calorie suggestion on both days (1100 on Day 1, and 1045 on Day 2).
Examples of “Fat Fast” mini meals, ranging from 200-250 calories each:
- 1-1.5 oz/28-42g macadamia nuts
- 1 oz/28g pecans, fried in butter
- 2-3 oz/56-85g pâté
- 8 oz/225g block of cream cheese
- 1 oz/28g or 1/4 cup chicken or tuna with 2tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 cup coffee with ¼ cup heavy cream
- half an avocado with 1tsp of olive oil and 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 4 slices bacon
- 2 egg yolks with 1tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 scrambled eggs (2 egg yolks, 1 egg white) with two strips of bacon
- 3 eggs scrambled in 1tbs of coconut oil
- 2 oz/56g of sour cream with ½ cup cucumber
- 4 oz/112g sliced mushrooms in 1tbs butter and 1tbs melted Boursin cheese
- ½ serving of sugar-free Jell-O with ½ cup whipped cream
- 2 ounces of beef chuck cooked in two tablespoons of olive oil.
The point of this is to “rev up” ketosis, encouraging my body to burn my stored fat more quickly, ie. lipolysis. And it does require calorie counting and being able to concentrate to do it properly. Read more about Fat Fasting here.
It sound rather boring, and is not meant to be a long-term strategy because it means missing out on lots of other essential nutrients. It is an extreme, super-short-term experiment designed only for someone who already has metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance), and I figure two days is enough for me.
Jimmy Moore from Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb has tried it out too, as a way to shift himself from a weight loss plateau, and CarbSmart and KetoDiet also take a look at it, with some more examples of mini meals.
Here’s what I did: Day 1 (Monday)
6.50am: 300 ml water (normally 600ml for me at this time but I was rushing around)
MEAL 1 at 7am:
- 4 slices of bacon (100g when uncooked)
- 1 cup of coffee with 20ml milk and 20ml thick cream
- 375 ml water
- Coconut oil supplement x 1
- ultivitamin and mineral supplements
- (approx 328 calories)
10.45am 300 ml water
MEAL 2 at 11am:
- 28g macadamia nuts
- 350 ml water
- Coconut oil supplement x 1
- (approx 154 calories)
1pm 600 ml water
MEAL 3 at 2.30pm:
- 100g block of cream cheese
- 14g sliver of pear
- 1 cup of tea with milk
- 375 ml water
- (approx 364 calories)
5pm: 600ml water
MEAL 4 at 7pm:
- 30g chicken (fried in 20g butter)
- 20g of sour cream
- 50g zucchini
- 375 ml water
- (approx 240 calories)
MEAL 5 at 7.30pm:
- Cup of tea with milk with 20ml milk
- 10g blue cheese
- (approx 48 calories)
9pm: 450 ml water
Calories = 1134 approx
Note: I get confused between different calorie counters, so tend to average out the numbers to play it safe
Fat = 114g
Protein = 39g
Carbs = 15g
Water intake = 3.75 litres
Here’s what I did: Day 2 (Tuesday)
7am: 600 ml water
MEAL 1 at 9.30am:
- 1/2 small avocado
- Tiny bit of lemon juice
- 1 slice of bacon
- 1 small latte
- 375 ml water
- (approx 289 calories)
10am: 100ml water and 1 coconut oil supplement (each supplement has about 10 calories)
MEAL 2 at 2.30pm:
- 20g pecans fried in 10g butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup of tea with milk
- 375ml water
- (approx 222 calories)
4.40pm: 600ml water and 2 more coconut oil supplements
MEAL 3 at 5.30pm:
- 50g liver pate
- 375ml water
- (approx 160 calories)
6.30-8.30pm: 350ml water during Italian class
MEAL 4 at 9pm:
- 50g minced beef (with spices) cooked in 20g butter
- 20g sour cream
- 375ml water
- (approx 343 calories)
9.45pm: Cup of tea with milk (approx 12 calories)
10.30pm: 200 ml water
Calories = 1045 approx
Fat = 94g
Protein = 31g
Carbs = 24g
Water intake = 3.35 litres
Books to buy:
- Fat Fast Cookbook by Dana Carpender, Amy Dungan and Rebecca Latham
- Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore and Eric Westman MD
So there you have it for another week.
Please remember that this is my own journey, likely to be full of mistakes! But so far it seems to be helping.
Feel free to leave helpful comments below, including suggestions for ketogenic-friendly meals.
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