Here’s this week’s update about my struggle to lose weight, only to find that a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting can help my insulin resistance…
See previous entries for WEDNESDAY WEIGHT:
Weight lost this week: 0.7kgs put back on/1.5lbs put back on
Weight lost since the Wednesday Weight series began 4 weeks ago: 3.1kgs/6.8lbs
Total weight lost (from my worst weight*): 7.6kgs/16.7lbs
- Current weight: 92.9kgs**
- 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 26, 2014
Note: When I weighed myself at 7am this morning, the scales said 94.4kgs. I was tired so went back to bed until 11am, at which time the scales said 92.9kgs. The only difference during this time was that I drank 300ml of water and slept for about 3.5 more hours. Confusing! I’ve opted to take the lower weight reading and hope that this is more accurate. Fingers crossed.
So, what’s been happening?
This week has been a little disappointing, but I’m sure I know why.
I think that it’s because:
a) my body is slowing down after the initial excitement of changing fuels (eg. sort of like going from unleaded to leaded petrol), and
b) I had my MBA class reunion dinner (in which I stayed at a hotel in the city and drank until I was ‘happy’ but still kept myself nice).
I prepared for the MBA dinner by having a late lunch, around 3-4pm, filled with chicken, mushrooms and cheese, and an enormous amount of water and vitamins before and after the MBA event.
This enabled me to hardly eat anything at the dinner itself, and when I did eat, I was able to choose low carb foods and not get caught up in the excitement of being out for dinner and distracted by seeing old friends. I was shocked by how easy it was, as I’d been worried I would overindulge on whatever was presented. Instead, I was cool, calm and collected, full of energy, and not tempted, phew.
Even the wine wasn’t really an issue because, to be blunt, it wasn’t very nice. So I sipped my wine and drink lots of water, and although I did still drink more than normal, I think it was only the cocktail near the end of the night that was the ‘bad’ influence of the evening.
However, even multiple small sips of wine will contain sugar, so I figure that I blew my state of ketosis out of the water for a few days, and now I’m paying for it and need to start again by getting back into my routine.
Here are some articles about how alcohol hinders weight loss:
- Built Lean: Does alcohol prevent weight loss?
- Ethanol causes acute inhibition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein oxidation and insulin resistance
- Muscle for life: Does alcohol consumption affect weight loss and muscle growth?
- How alcohol affects metabolism
- A Ketogenic Diet and Alcohol: Can they Mix?
- No Bun Please: Alcohol on a low carb, keto diet
Otherwise, it’s definitely a positive lifestyle change…
Other than the MBA weekend, I’ve been pretty much the same as the previous weeks re: food consumption, sleeping and a little bit exercise.
I’m pleased to report that my insomnia is mostly behind me now (fingers crossed I don’t curse myself from saying this!) and I tend to wake naturally around 7am each day feeling OK or sometimes even great.
I did have some tired days, however, and napped, including going back to bed this morning. This made me feel guilty, but I assume it’s all a lesson in figuring out what food I need, how much of it is good, and whether I might be reducing the carbs a bit too much. On one of the “tired” days, I had a cup of tea and a cruskit with butter and vegemite, and it did the trick.
Whilst I played tennis twice, I haven’t done any treadmill time this week.
I’ve wondered whether the sharp headache I got the other day was due to salt loss, because all other factors seemed normal. I’d read that your body can be depleted of certain minerals when you start drinking a lot of water (eg. sodium), so I’ve upped the salt factor. But maybe a bit too much, considering that my weight has gone up this week.
Mr Luscious says he thinks it’s just my body “fighting back” and trying to keep me at the higher weight which had been stable for so long.
Stuff that, I said. But perhaps not so politely!
Experiment: Intermittent fasting (IF)
I’ve done one day of an “intermittent fasting” test, on Monday. It wasn’t actually a big deal because Mr Luscious and I do the 5:2 “Fast” days on Mondays and Thursdays normally, so it was simply an extension of this, ie. skipping breakfast and trying to have dinner earlier.
Whilst the 5:2 days are about consuming 500 calories a day for me (and 600 calories for Mr Luscious), intermittent fasting encourages you to miss breakfast and consume all your calories between around 11am-7pm. Times vary, so it could be 12noon-8pm, etc, but most people say that they find the 11am-7pm block to be the best.
Essentially, IF is about encouraging your body to a) take a break from the digestive process, and b)start burning stored fat, rather than relying on the food you’re eating that day. This post gives an introduction to intermittent fasting with a summary much better than I can provide, so take a look if you’re interested.
It certainly goes against conventional wisdom about breakfast being crucially important and the “you should eat 6 small meals a day” idea, but the IF concept keeps popping up in all the insulin resistant reading I’ve been doing, so I figure it’s worth looking at.
This abstract looks at the misnomer relating to 6 meals a day: Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet.
Here’s a report entitled Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men from the Journal of Applied Physiology for anyone with a love of medico-speak. Basically, it’s saying that as your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting.
So, as someone whose body is very sensitive to insulin, I’m more likely to consume food more efficiently after fasting, which can help lead to weight loss.
Without going into all the details, here is a quick overview of the benefits of IF:
- Giving your body a bit of a rest enables it to burn stored fat and process consumed food during the day more efficiently.
- If eating enough fat and protein, you don’t get hungry so it’s actually quite easy to do.
- It’s simple – having a high fat/medium protein meal around noon kept me full until 6.30pm when I had a medium fat/high protein meal. This also meant less meal planning and time in the kitchen.
- Two meals a day with the right amount of fats and proteins (and a little amount of carbs) actually means fewer calories are consumed. And dollars, if you’re looking at it from a cost point of view.
- It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain.
If you’re reading this and thinking you should try it, I suggest you start doing the 5:2 thing first, because it teaches you to reduce your calories and listen to your hunger levels. And I also think you should be upping your fats and water consumption (see my previous Wednesday Weight posts for my experience) because it really takes away hunger and cravings.
So much has already been written about the 5:2 diet, including this article from The Age today: The 5:2 diet helps beat cancer and Alzheimer’s, study finds. I’ve discussed it with my GP, dietician and endocrinologist and no one has anything bad to say about it do far.
Note: Apparently IF works much better for men than women, so do lots of your own reading first to fully understand all of this before trying it.
Try to track down the original BBC Horizon documentary from a few months ago by Michael Mosley in which he investigates fasting and then successfully implements the 5:2 diet.
In the meantime, here are some videos to get you started:
Purchase the 5:2 books too:
- The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer (revised and updated edition 2015)
- The FastDiet Cookbook: 150 Delicious, Calorie-Controlled Meals to Make Your Fasting Days Easy by Mimi Spencer, Sarah Schenker and Michael Mosley
- FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training by Michael Mosley and Peta Bee
- The 5:2 Fast Diet for Beginners: The Complete Book for Intermittent Fasting with Easy Recipes and Weight Loss Plans by Rockridge Press
- The 5:2 Diet for Beginners: Using Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight and Feel Great Without Really Trying by David Ortner
More reading about intermittent fasting:
- James Clear: The beginners guide to intermittent fasting
- Dr Mercola: Low carb, high fat ketogenic diet (and intermittent fasting)
- Huffington Post: Intermittent Fasting
- Lift Like a Girl: Is there a dark side to Intermittent Fasting?
- Brad Pilon: Fasting – You’re Doing It Wrong
- Mark’s Daily Apple: The myriad benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Mama’s Weeds: Intermittent Fasting for weight loss
Things I’ve made this week:
I made a spicy, cheesy, creamy cauliflower soup, similar to this recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks (but replacing the roux with double cream, and adding a LOT of spices). I also fried up onion to flavour the oil but as I am fructose intolerant, I removed it from the oil with a slotted spoon.
After one mug of soup, I was completely full!
Low carb “Hail Merry” lemon tart based on this recipe from the Eat Fat Lose Fat blog but I used mostly cream cheese and vanilla yoghurt for the filling.
I’ve also eaten:
- Spicy ham and egg bake, with an egg yolk, ham, baked beans, crushed tomatoes, sour cream, tasty cheese and spices
- Roast chicken breast with a variety of sauteed mushrooms
- Garlic prawns with broccoli, Chinese cabbage and sesame oil
- Meatballs in tomato sauce
- Tuna salad with diced roasted beets, rocket, fetta cheese, avocado and cucumber
- Pork sausage with peas and roasted pumpkin
- Grilled white fish fillet with zucchini spirals and a creamy tomato sauce
- Psyllium husk pancake with bacon and 30g maple syrup
- Cold diced leftover roast chicken in a bowl with chopped cos lettuce, rocket, celery, cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans and mayonnaise.
Research: How to avoid a ketogenic weight loss plateau:
It’s possible that I’ve been overeating, despite consuming less. For example, I need to look for “hidden” carbs and high calorie counts eg. peanut butter is great but does contain around 3g of carbs and 94 calories per tablespoon.
The carb count in this instance might not sound like much, but if you add it to the 21g of carbs in an apple, and one cup of chopped broccoli (6g of carbs and 31 calories), you’ve basically got your carb count for an entire day (if, like me, you’re aiming for 30g of carbs).
According to this post, carbs also hide in foods like bacon (eg. honey smoked) and medicines.
You can check nutritional info such as carbs and calorie counts through heaps of websites, including FatSecret.com.
Here’s a “keto calculator” app I found via the ruled.me website which suggests how many grams of carbs, protein and fat I should consume, and how many calories.
So, what does 20g carbs, 78g protein and 140g fat, across 1653 calories look like for me?
Here’s an example for one day of what I might eat, in random order (sorry):
|2tbs salted butter||3.7g||24g||204|
|2 slices of bacon||4g||52|
|40g Camembert cheese||7.5g||9g||114|
|100g skinless chicken breast||21.8g||3.2g||116|
|1/2 cup broccoli||6g||31|
|2tbs olive oil||17g||238|
|1tbs cream cheese||1g||5g||51|
|1 small latte (tea cup)||9g||6.6g||4g||101|
|1 medium carrot||5.8g||0.5g||25|
|6 medium spears of asparagus||3.7g||2.1g||18|
|1 cup of chopped bok choy||1.5g||1g||9|
|1 medium zucchini||6.5g||2.4g||31|
|100g tinned tuna (olive oil drained)||29g||8.2g||198|
|1 medium tomato||4.8g||1g||0.25g||22|
|1 cup cos lettuce||1.5g||0.6g||8|
|1 cup sliced cucumber||2.5g||0.7g||14|
|1tbs sesame oil||13.6g||120|
|2 cups of tea with milk (tea cup)||3g||2g||1.7g||34|
|1 glass of red wine||3.8g||125|
|1 cup of chopped celery||3g||0.7g||14|
|5 Kalamata black olives||1g||4.5g||45|
So, as you can see, it’s still a struggle to get 140g of fat!
In this scenario, I’m consuming twice as many carbs as I’d like (63 instead of 30g), and just a smidge over the 78g suggested protein intake.
And about 60 more calories than required but this would be easily fixed by having half a glass of red wine instead of a full glass, or using 1.5tbs of olive oil instead of 2tbs.
It also makes me realise how I must have been unconsciously overeating before, eg. thinking a Nicoise salad (tuna, olives, fetta etc) would be a good thing when it was probably using up my entire daily allowance in one meal.
Goodness only knows what an occasional splurge on fish and chips would look like!
So, my plan for the next week is to:
- try to find a balance between water consumption and salt intake via water retention due to salt consumption
- try to bring a bit more exercise back into my routine again (I’ve been mostly laptop-bound so not doing as much movement)
- take a look at my calorie consumption in case I’m actually consuming more than I first thought
- embrace my intermittent fasting days with more discipline, ie. change my existing 5:2 Fast Days so that they are 11am-7pm
- try to enjoy the compliments from people saying “Hey, have you lost weight? You look great!”
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