Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I was going to wait to share this data until my 1 month assessment, but now seems as good as any.
A quick recap for readers new and old.
Last year, May 2011, after struggling with weight loss/gain/maintenance for over 10 years, I switched to a low carb diet. I did a lot of self study reading books and web pages.
"New Atkins for a New You" - Dr. Westman, Dr, Phinney, and Dr. Volek
"Paleo Diet" - Dr. Loren Cordain
"Protein Power" - Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Eades
"The 30 Day Low-Carb Diet" (simplified version of "Protein Power") - Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Eades
"Primal Blueprint" - Mark Sisson
Dr. Mike Eades blog: www.proteinpower.com/drmike/
Dr. Mary Eades blog: www.proteinpower.com/drmd_blo
Mark's Daily Apple (Primal Blueprint author): www.marksdailyapple.com
FatHead Movie (Tom Naughton's blog): www.fathead-movie.com
If you're a long time LCer, no doubt these are familiar to you.
But the most important resource was myself. I used myself as an experimental study. I created a spreadsheet to track my progress.
Here's an example of what my spreadsheet looks like:
It doesn't really take that much time to collect. Adding food into my food tracker is the most time expensive activity. Translating it to the spreadsheet takes just a few seconds.
Many aren't interested in going into the fine grain detail. Few people want to track daily data to the obsessive compulsive level that I do. Most people just want the bottom line. I am going to attempt to do that after explaining my data.
"What can I do so I can lose weight and maintain it?"
SYNOPSIS: Maintain glucose control.
Glucose control is something very familiar to people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. When I started my LC journey, I could not have imagined that this was important to me, too, as a non diabetic.
April 2011, I collected data in a spreadsheet. I thought something was wrong with my calorie in-calorie out math. So I went into fine level detail. I was determined to figure this out. I went to great pains to maintain calorie range perfection.
(I started my diet in February. April is just when I started collecting a much higher frequency of data. That is why it is the starting point here.)
Turned out there was nothing wrong with my calorie in-calorie out math. It's biochemistry, not thermodynamics, that controls weight gain/loss.
Here is a graph of my weight from April 2011 to July 2011. I've marked a red line where I switched to carbohydrate restriction in addition to calorie restriction. I ate the same number of calories and maintained same exercise level. The only variable I adjusted was macronutrients. Less carbs, more fat/protein.
(I'll avoid discussion of the macronutrient details for now because I want to focus on the high level picture.)
From April-May, restricting calories alone made marginal influence on my weight. I lost very little, but mostly maintained.
From May-July, restricting carbohydrates and calories significantly influenced weight loss.
SYNOPSIS: Carb restriction worked.
You can see it took a little while for my metabolic shift to gain momentum in the early stages. This was because I had an issue with candida overgrowth that I needed to eliminate first.
The standard rebuttal is that calorie restriction is what makes low-carb work, just like any diet. Many clinical studies have consistently shown all calorie restricted diets will work for weight loss.
That's great in a controlled laboratory. However, let's look at my real world data.
On a low-fat, calorie restricted diet from April - May, I maintained a very good average calorie differential (calories in minus calories out). As I said, I was determined to stay in my ranges through great pains. It was very difficult as there were many days where I felt starved. The dips with more than -500 calorie difference were due to more activity or partial food tracking for the day, but I did not eat less than 1200 calories.
Average calorie intake: 1420
Average calorie differential: -387
The red line shows calorie in-calorie out=0. The line graph shows I maintained a very good daily deficit over the month.
On a low-carb, calorie restricted diet from May-July, I also maintained a very good average calorie differential. I stayed within ranges very easily. Again, no calories less than 1200, large dips due to activity increase, or partial food tracking. It was easier to manage my hunger levels. There wasn't a single day where I felt starved or had to work hard to stay within my calories. I am not exaggerating.
Average calorie intake: 1293
Average calorie differential: -512
I had very good calorie differential on both the low-fat and low-carb diet. I had better, more consistent results with low-carb. I ate fewer calories on average with LC than LF. That was because I had better satiety control. Hunger and cravings were non existent. It was not a contest of willpower.
It was not just better calorie control that lead to my weight loss, though. My average differential was only an -125 advantage.
SYNOPSIS: Calorie differential where calorie source favored carbohydrates resulted in negligible results. LC resulted in better satiety and lower average calorie consumption.
A standard rebuttal to low-carb is that the better weight loss is due to initial water loss, but then it works no better than a low fat diet.
Fortunately, I tracked my bodyfat percentage, which not a lot of people do. Without that information, it's just a lot of speculation.
My bodyfat declined. Again, I've marked where I started my low-carb diet.
Conventional dietary advice says that I can't lose that much weight without muscle wasting. Was I losing precious muscle along with fat?
My lean body mass INCREASED.
Again, I did not change my exercise routines. 3-5x per week, 30 minutes on the elliptical. I did not pick up any significant weight lifting program during this time. I simply started feeding my body more protein and fat, and it responded.
SYNOPSIS: Low-carb weight loss was not due to water loss, and did not result in muscle wasting. Weight change was due to losing bodyfat and gaining lean body mass.
I stopped tracking my data at this granular level in August. In October, I stopped tracking info at all going into the holidays. At the beginning of the year, I started college work and preparations for my wedding in May, which left me little time to focus on my diet. This is typically when people regain the weight they lost. Typical rebuttal about low-carb diets is people will gain it all back and then some.
So what happened in my case? Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode...
Edit: Fixed error with Avg calories calculation.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Before we begin today's story, just a quick status update.
Stand back! I got guns!
Still too much blah-bulk due to fat, but check out my shoulders! Muscles, they be coming!
Today was day 1 of the "Husband Diet". He's impressed with my progress, and asked me to help him with his diet! I'm supposed to tell him what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
But, I am loathe to use disposable plastic baggies for lunch.
I went shopping at Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond to get the following items:
A lunch cooler, main lunch compartment, and 2 snack containers. I bought a single serving size salad dressing tube at BBB. He'll be eating lots of salads on my menu.
Everything tucks neatly into the lunch cooler.
I came home and started menu planning. I felt like a personal chef.
While I prepared his lunch last night, he told me about how he loaded up on sandwiches and M&M's in the day. He made a martini after dinner. He sounded like a man on death row eating his last meals.
I asked him what he was doing. He said he was going to enjoy these things before he starved for the next month. He had an image of eating carrots and celery sticks for lunch.
I laughed. He's going to get more food than he normally eats, believe me.
My meal plan basically goes:
Breakfast: Homemade protein bars (discussed in my other blog)
Lunch: Turkey arugula-romaine, cucumber, and bell pepper salad with a balsamic-olive oil-lemon juice salad dressing. 1 deviled egg.
Snack #1: Blueberries and Cherries
Snack #2: Mixed nuts
Snack #3: Tuna and cracker kit
Dinner: Moussaka, salad, and white wine
(Moussaka is a Greek eggplant dish. The way I make it is similar to a lasagna, but using eggplant instead of pasta.)
But see, I'm a tricky minx. I have a pretty good idea on how certain foods will affect his hunger levels. I just want him to be aware of it.
This morning didn't go as planned. As with any change, it can take a while to get into a groove. Despite all the fuss, insistence, and compromise about eating breakfast, I forgot to give him his protein bar with his coffee. LOL!
But he did get out the door with his lunch sack. Yay!
When he came home tonight, I saw that he ate everything. Yay! I asked him how the foods made him feel after eating them.
Fruits: Felt hungry
Nuts: Not hungry
Turkey salad and deviled egg: Very filling. No hunger.
Tuna salad with crackers: Tastes bad. Not filling. Starving after eating.
These results aren't surprising to me. I just wanted him to be conscious of them.
The tuna kit was the only thing that I didn't make from scratch. They are processed food.
I don't eat these, but I thought it might help make the transition easier, and get more protein via the tuna. I think we've established they aren't worth it. I'll make fresh, clean versions next week.
You might be surprised by the fruit result. Yes, even though healthy, it increases hunger via sugar. They are nature's candy.
He ate the fruit when he first got into work. I told him to eat the fruit AFTER his lunch as a dessert next time.
I asked him how he enjoyed his lunch. He said he really liked the turkey salad and deviled egg. He wasn't as ravenous as normal when he came home.
After dinner, he ate his protein bar for 'dessert' since he didn't eat it this morning. Protein increase is on track.
Tomorrow he is in training at work, and they will be providing lunch. Unfortunately, we know it's going to be junk. I hope today's lesson will make him think more about how satiating certain food choices are.
Teaching a man to fish and all.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Up until 3rd grade, I wasn't a very good student. In 1st grade, because I daydreamed during the subtraction lesson, I didn't know how to do my homework. I randomly filled in numbers. I got every answer wrong except for 1. My teacher pulled me aside after class, and tried to assess whether I was mentally impaired. Apparently convinced I was not, she showed me how to do the lesson again, and made me redo it. My new grading was 29/30.
I continued to dawdle along. In 3rd grade, there were two events that spurred me into academic excellence. One, I got into an argument with a boy who told me girls could never be as good at math as boys. Even at that age, I found it completely absurd that differences between boys and girls would have anything to do with computational abilities. It was a sad schoolyard tale because I had a crush on him until then. He became the person I hated most.
The second event was America's first woman astronaut, Sally Ride.
It is amazing how a person whom I never met has so deeply influenced my life.
I was born in the 70s. A generation of women before me marched and fought for a fair chance at school, work, pay, and who they wanted to be. They fought for future generations. They fought for me.
In 1983 just before school let out for summer break, they pulled us elementary school kids into the gymnasium so we could watch the Space Shuttle Challenger fly into space. In those days, shuttle launches were always widely celebrated, but this one all anyone could talk about was Sally Ride.
I can still remember the beaming pride, especially among the girls. A woman physicist was an astronaut. Maybe I could be anything I wanted to be.
That was the American dream, wasn't it? It's not who you were born to or your gender, the color of your skin, but what you can do. If you work hard and apply yourself, you could go beyond the sky and into the stars.
That summer when we went home, all I could think of was space and astronauts. My dad bought me "Charlie Brown's Second Super Book of Questions and Answers about Earth and Space". Snoopy and Woodstock were on the cover with astronaut helmets. I read the book from cover to cover, over and over, and I wanted more.
My dad was an airplane mechanic in the Air Force, and he was thrilled with my new interest in the sciences. He'd take me to the bookstore on a Saturday and buy me any book I wanted. He bought me a Commodore 64 so I could learn computing. He thought computers would be the next big industry, and wanted me to have a head start. It was my first love.
Entering 4th grade, I was a new person. I went from middle of the pack to top of the class. At the beginning of the year, I started at the lowest math level. After acing several of my homeworks and quizzes, my teacher gave me a placement test. She moved me to the highest math level. I was now one of the 'smart' kids, and an honor roll student for the first time.
I had the same teacher for 5th grade as 3rd grade. During a parent teacher conference, she told my parents, "I don't know what happened to Cathy in 4th grade, but she is a completely different student."
Computer science was always going to be my choice in college.
I've worked as a programmer in telecom, internet marketing and aerospace industries.
All because a woman I've never met inspired me in the summer of 1983 to do better, try harder, and never let anyone tell me what I can or can't do.
After Challenger blew up, shuttle launches were never again shown to children in school. A whole generation grew up without the marvel, imagination and daring of traveling beyond our small blue planet. Had I never seen the shuttle launch of 1983, I do not think I would be the same person I am now. That event imprinted on who I would become.
I was washing dishes tonight when my husband said she died. My heart dropped, and I couldn't believe it. She can't have been that old? 61. Pancreatic cancer.
RIP Sally Ride.
Monday, July 23, 2012
More examples of what I eat:
Turkey salad with a homemade pickled hardboiled egg, homemade tomato soup, and a fresh fig with a piece of brie cheese for 'dessert'. Simple.
Diet? This is no diet. This is LIVING! I love eating this way, and my body loves it too. It rewards me with high energy, full 8 hours sleep, no hunger, no cravings, and yes, fat loss!
Last night I got a surprise from DH. He said to me, "Ok, you want me to lose weight. It's obvious that you know what you're doing and you've done more research than me. So how about you prepare my meals and tell me what to eat for a month?"
Uhhh...what? Double take...
Wow! Acknowledgement and validation that what I'm doing works. Amazing!
I guess I have a job as a nutritionist and personal trainer for a month!
I became excited and started collecting data. Height, weight, BMR, BMI, bodyfat %, and lean body mass. I scribbled furiously in a notebook. I calculated how many grams of protein/carbs/fat and calories he needed to eat.
I'm going to put him on a 'primal' diet where I restict daily carbs to 80g or less per day. He shouldn't get 'low-carb flu' at this level, but it should be enough to keep insulin levels low. 80g is actually a bit high for me, but I am a much smaller woman.
Protein is problematic. He's a tall man, and his lean mass is double mine. The amount of protein I eat can be challenging! I'm not sure how I'm going to get DOUBLE the protein into him.
I've worked out c/p/f ratios for him to be about 20c/35p/45f.
His BMR is ~2100, and I'm restricting calories to 1600. Yes, calories do count. I am not a believer that one can eat whatever they want. However, it is possible to restrict calories without feeling hungry.
Constant hunger on a diet is a sign that you're not getting enough nutrition. Your body will keep driving you to eat and eat if it's lacking something. When I ate a low-fat diet, that 'something' was fat. I lose more fat by eating fat than I ever did restricting it.
How low carb diets work is by manipulating a metabolic trick. In a healthy body with no metabolic damage, our bodies moves calories in and out of fat cells constantly. During times of perceived 'starvation', more calories are withdrawn than put in.
This is accomplished, as you guessed, by withdrawing carbohydrates. But there is a catch. If you withdraw carbs, you must supply energy with dietary fat and eat a certain level of protein to match current lean body mass. Protein is required every day to repair muscle tissues and build new tissue. Protein also contains essential amino acids to make our organs function property. Low-protein causes muscle to be catabolized to obtain these amino acids. High carb/low-protein diets also lowers resting metabolism, as shown by this recent clinical study:
If we restrict protein, then our bodies will downshift metabolism in order to preserve as much lean mass as possible. When protein supply is adequate, metabolism is upshifted to use it.
Our bodies are lazy. It will always use what's in the gut and bloodstream first before turning to reserves. If we eat 1g protein per pound of lean mass, then it will use the dietary protein for amino acids, even if we 'trick' it into perceived 'starvation' through carbohydrate restriction.
As many LCers will enthusiastically attest, there is no hunger with the right levels of protein/fat in place of carbs.
I got all these numbers worked out. I told him how many calories, carbs/fat/protein he'll be eating per day. I said he would be eating approximately 4-5 meals per day with breakfast.
He said, "No, I don't eat breakfast. I just eat lunch and dinner"
I explained there's no way he can get all the calories he needs with just two meals per day. It's killing his metabolism. 1600 calories in 2 meals? No, it won't work.
We argued, but he was insistent about not eating breakfast. He says he's just not hungry then.
Yeah, but it is why he's starved by lunch.
Break. Fast. Breaking the fast from sleeping.
I suggested, "What if I make protein bars or a trail mix bag you can eat on the drive to work?"
He actually was amenable to the idea. Score. Except he didn't like my last attempt at making protein bars. It was nutritious, but not tasty - lol.
I researched protein bars that has the macronutrients I wanted, but would still be tasty. I found a no-bake recipe that used bananas, nut butter, and protein powder. Score again. Exactly what I had in mind.
I gave it a try last night. While the taste was good, the consistency won't work. It started 'melting' as soon as I took it out of the freezer this morning. The middle bars, still frozen, look great. Just the way I want. The others are partially melted. Not exactly what I had in mind for portable protein breakfast.
Freezer works great to 'set' it, but I have to tweak the recipe so it's a little more solid at room temp.
Now I'm going to be occupied with meal planning and preparation for both of us. This is going to be challenging. But this is what people do every day to get their families healthy breakfast and lunch to school/work, right?
I'm planning on preparing 'chef salad' type lunches for him. Salad, but with lots of protein so it's 'manly'. Fortunately, my man is easy when it comes to the veg, so no problem there. I'm going to make homemade trail mix nut blends for snacking.
The amount of protein he needs is still throwing me for a loop. Although I'm loathe to it due to the nitrates, I'm thinking jerkies might be the way to go. I know he won't do protein shakes, so that's out. I'm not a huge fan of protein shakes myself, but I'm really freaking out about how much protein he needs.
He's resistant to breakfast and won't drink shakes. What a fussy client. He said he would eat what I tell him, but this seems to have a lot of restrictions! I have a feeling I may quit this 'job' by the end of the week!
Any suggestions out there? Any LC men have any tips on what has worked for them?
Sunday, July 22, 2012
This comes via Sparkfriend Valkyria. It's a British documentary called "The Men Who Made Us Fat". Watch one or two episodes a day. It's long, but worth it. I'm passing it along because it's too important to miss.
(Also take the time to read through her other blogs while you're there!)
Episode 2 has a lot of what I was saying in my blog, "Not All Sugar is Equal" and "More about Sugar". HFCS is a slow killer.
If there's one step you can take to improve your long term health, ditch anything with HFCS in it.
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