Saturday, July 28, 2012
Coming from a diet that spiked my insulin levels and left me in a chronic state of hunger, relearning when to eat was an unexpected twist. For years, before, during and after eating, I was always hungry. I went to bed hungry; woke up hungry. I counted down the minutes until I could have my next meal.
When I switched to low-carb, I found myself in a perplexing and bewildering state.
I was never hungry.
I realized I conditioned myself over the years to believe hunger was 'normal'.
It isn't. Being hungry means malnourishment. We live in a world where malnutrition is predominantly in the form of excess bodyfat.
I was used to eating 5 meals a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner + 2 snacks. A lot of the old rules didn't apply anymore. What about this rule? Should I still eat this way? Should I skip meals if I'm not hungry?
In the past year, I've experimented with both ways. Eat 4-5 meals even if not hungry, and eat meals only when hungry.
I found eating 4-5 meals works better for me. I believe this is partially because I am a smaller person than average at 5'0". Big meals will overload my capacity quickly. Eating meals not much bigger than 450 calories keeps my system running smoothly.
I tend to start with a small 250 calorie breakfast, 350 calorie lunch, 2x 250 calorie snacks, and ~400 calorie dinner. That puts me right about 1500 calories per day. The range varies from 1200-1600 on most days.
I'm very rarely hungry when I eat.
Why do I eat if I'm not hungry?
I believe there is something to the notion that undereating calories will downshift metabolism. When I experimented with eating only when hungry, it seemed more difficult to maintain weight after a time. If there is a scarcity of calories, the metabolism will rev down so it can function on less.
I found that if I wait until I'm hungry, then it's already too late. My body has switched out of fat burn mode and sends distress signals, causing tendency to overeat.
Another reason I eat smaller meals is because more than 30g carbs in one meal will cause a glucose spike, kicking me out of fat burn for several hours. It also triggers insatiable hunger and binge episodes.
I need to eat minimum 90g protein per day. If I skip meals, it is very hard for me to get my minimum protein level. If I eat more than 30g protein in one sitting, it kicks me into gluconeogenesis. Our livers are capable of converting up to 60% of consumed protein into glucose. Excess protein is converted to glucose, instead of being used as building blocks. I get a glucose crash from overeating protein.
Thus resuming my weight loss, I employed strategies to rev my metabolism back up to speed. Eating 1200-1600 is about right for me to accomplish this. I'll discuss more on Wednesday after my monthly overview.
An occasional skipped meal if I'm out running errands is fine. I don't try and eat then if I don't feel hungry.
I skip a meal if food is unappetizing. That usually only happens if I'm ill, or overeaten. I've had that happen at Brazilian grills with the endless streams of meat. My stop point used to be when my stomach became distended. These days, after a certain point, my brain says 'stop'. This happens well before the bellybutton bursting point.
I skip breakfast a day after a Brazilian grill night out because I'm not hungry.
In general, my hunger level and eating schedule goes like this from a scale of 0-5. 0 = starving, 5 = not hungry.
0 : So hungry I could eat anything. Distress signal.
1 : One hour 15 minutes until lunch time...one hour 14 minutes until lunch time...
2 : Daydreams about lunch start emerging.
3 : Oh is it lunchtime? I should have something to eat.
4 : Is it lunchtime? Ehh...maybe I'll go in another half an hour to an hour.
5 : No desire to eat.
5+: Overate - food looks unappetizing and thought of taking another bite makes me feel ill.
I eat my meals at hunger level 2-3. Less than that I waited too long, or I ate things that spike glucose. More than that is too soon.
Friday, July 27, 2012
In an attempt to win the award of "Least Popular Blog Post", I'm going to demonstrate an experiment.
Let's play "Food Showdown" Spark style.
Which is healthier?
Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt versus a Snickers Bar
Winner: It's a tossup!
Sure, Yoplait is lower fat (if you care about that) and calories weighing in at 1.5g fat and 170 calories. A Snickers bar is a hefty 11g fat and 266 calories.
Yoplait has 27g sugar and Snickers has 28g.
The probiotics aren't going to eat your bodyfat. Sorry.
Which is healthier?
Snickers bar versus Costco low-fat frozen yogurt
A 2oz Snickers bar has 266 calories and 28g sugar. A full container of Costco frozen yogurt is 390 calories and 53g sugar.
Better off with the Snickers, unless you're sharing with a friend. Frozen yogurt is a dessert, just like ice cream. Just like cake.
Which is healthier?
100g Whole Grain Bread versus 100g Avocado?
Weight by weight, avocado is a winner. 100g of Whole Grain bread has 234 calories, 75mg potassium, 24mcg folate, 0 vitamin A, 0 vitamin C, 0 beta carotene and 2.5g fiber. 100g of an Avocado has 160 calories, 485mg potassium, 81mcg folate, 146mg vitamin A, 10mg vitamin C and 6.7g fiber .
What's got me fired up?
DH and I went out today to get groceries and look for a new apartment. We had a cookie at one of the apartments, which was fine. It's a Friday treat. I allow myself one treat a week. Usually I prefer something healthier like a sweet potato, but I haven't had a sweet treat in almost 4 weeks. DH has one too. Alright, we're good.
We go shopping at Costco and load up on tons of healthy foods: halibut, sockeye salmon, no-nitrate turkey breast, avocados, lettuce, blackberries, tomatoes, mixed nuts, bok choy, etc, etc.
We get to the end of the checkout and he orders a frozen yogurt.
He says he's hungry and it's something to tide him over.
I asked him how that was going to work. He said, "It's yogurt".
Yogurt = great! I make my own yogurt. I love yogurt. I eat lots of yogurt.
Yogurt churned with 53g of sugar is a recipe for diabetes. Low fat yogurt isn't a bubble shield from the insulin load.
I predicted within an hour, he'd be sleepy.
Within 30 minutes, he was yawning in the car.
It reminded me of posts on the message boards where people say the 'good outweighs the bad' concerning the sugar in yogurt.
If Snickers added probiotics, would it be as 'healthy' as sugar yogurt?
This is why I learned to make my own yogurt. Processed food yogurts are desserts, not breakfast.
With my diet, I've chosen to eat more avocados and less grains. I used to forgo avocados because of the fat content, but I was short changing myself on all the nutrition it packed. It's nature's multivitamin.
Go to your kitchen and weigh 53g sugar. Eating that much sugar on a regular basis is what gives people non alcoholic fatty liver disease. That is what causes atherosclerosis. That is what causes metabolic syndrome.
I was pretty sure it was going to end this way. My DH's 'diet experiment' is over. It put me in an uncomfortable position of dietary police, which I don't want to be. I don't want him eating pizzas and sugary frozen treats, then saying the diet doesn't work.
His younger brother has already been diagnosed with diabetes. He isn't even 40 yet.
Enjoy a treat in 'moderation'. Like I said, I had a cookie today. I would have passed on an Oreo or Chips Ahoy, but this was something special. It was a white-chocolate cranberry cookie. I enjoyed it. My first baked sweet treat in almost a month.
Pretending that the sugary yogurt or frozen yogurt is better than a Snickers bar is delusional. Fear of fats preventing eating avocados is tragic.
That type of thinking at one time prevented me from making any progress, too.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I noticed something weird about how Spark calculates calories. Or maybe it's an error on my part.
1g carb = 4 calories
1g protein = 4 calories
1g fat = 9 calories
Tonight my macro count is:
68g carbs (total, not net) = 272
103g protein = 412
82g fat = 738
272 + 412 + 738 = 1,422
Except my Spark tracker is showing 1,527.
I'm showing this consistently across my spreadsheet.
Am I underestimating calories in my calculations? Or is Spark overestimating??
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Continuing from www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
As long time Sparkfriend 4A-HEALTHY-BMI can attest, the job isn't over after losing weight. You have to learn how to maintain it. She was recently on the Joy Bauer show to spotlight this very issue. If you haven't seen her segment on Today or read her very informative blogs yet, head on over!
Quick timeline before I get into the meat of the subject:
2000: Gained weight very rapidly from ~125lbs to 160lbs by overeating fast food, chain restaurants, soda pop, snickers bars and margarita mixes. Bodyfat ~44%, size 12 jeans.
2003: Obese, broke, jobless, and single, moved to Seattle. Stopped eating all fast food, snickers, and soda pop. Walked everywhere. Lost 15lbs without tracking a single calorie. Size 10 jeans.
2004: Got passport photo taken so I could go to Seoul, S Korea for my birthday. Completely mortified by my passport photo. I still looked obese. Weighed 145lbs.
2005: Decided it was time to get serious about weight loss. I bought cooking utensils, cookbooks, watched the Food Network, and joined eDiets to track my calories. Watched "Biggest Loser" season 2 for motivation. Exercise was difficult due to extra weight putting strain on my knees. Bought "Dance, Dance Revolution" for my PS2. When DDR became too easy, I bought a bike. Lost 10lbs. Weight 135lbs. Size 8 jeans. Bodyfat 35%.
2006: Rode bike 1 hour every day after work. Weight loss stalled. Couldn't budge from 135lbs, or if I did, it wasn't for long. My food choices, calories and activity level maintained my weight. 135lbs seemed to be my body's "set point" that it kept going back to.
2007: Switched from eDiets to SparkPeople.
2011: Still ~135lbs. Cut back wheat, grain and starches from my diet. "Set point" broken. Process discussed in previous blog. Weight 125lbs. Size 4/6 jeans.
From October 2011-June 2012 I went on an unwitting 'maintenance' experiment. Statistics show that 95% of dieters fail to maintain their weight loss and rebound within 3-5 years.
The following events came up that had a very high likelihood of reversing my progress:
Holidays: Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving food. How would this work with my new low bread diet? (Smaller portions.)
Visited UK and France: Went with future-DH to spend Christmas with his family. Went on a side trip to France. Ate pastries and coffee for breakfast every morning. (Didn't gain weight. Miraculous!)
College Course: Enrolled in a very difficult project based course. Little time for food planning, exercise, or even spending time with the SO.
Wedding in May: Because of my wedding planning, I didn't even have time to finish the last section of my project (I still got an A).
I stopped tracking food, calories and weight in October. I just had to hope that my weight would stay stable long enough for me to get into a wedding dress!
In previous years, I gained an average of 8lbs over the holidays.
In this graph from Oct 2010-Jan 2011, I went from ~131 to ~138.
From Aug 2011-May 2012 just before I went on honeymoon, I went from ~125 to ~130.
Ut oh. What happened? Maintenance fail?
According to my spreadsheet, I bodyfat was 26% in August. In May, it was 28%. There was a weight slide, but it wasn't happening as fast. It took 3 months on my high carb diet to regain 8lbs, and 7 months to gain 5lbs on lower carb.
Because I wasn't tracking my data, I don't really know what happened. I think I was eating the same, limiting breads, pasta, and potatoes as much as possible. That is just speculation and relying on memory, which is a terrible record keeper. If I didn't track, then I don't know.
I'm pretty sure I maintained my weight when we went to the UK/France. We went out for beers one night with a friend of SO. He later told me that his friend texted to him: "Mate, I thought you got a new girl. She's a lot hotter than I remember!"
Here I am at Windsor castle. I'm all bundled up, so it's hard to tell about my shape, but I don't think I gained any weight. My new clothes all still fit.
The weight creep was either very slow, or it happened from January to May.
I suspect it was the latter.
Once I started my class and wedding planning, more and more fast food entered the picture. Being a big fan of "FatHead", I tried to follow Tom Naughton's strategy. Just stick to the burgers and skip the fries.
Except over time, a few fries started entering the picture. I thought it would be ok to have occasionally.
I *seemed* to be maintaining so effortlessly. Probably getting over confident. If you think there are no consequences, you do stupid things.
I *think* I had fries occasionally, but who really knows? I wasn't tracking during that time. It probably was more frequent than my dietary amnesia wanted to admit.
Just like my husband not being sure whether he had 3 or 4 slices of pizza.
In October, I was almost ready to drop out of size 4 pants. In May, my size 6 pants fit better.
I still managed to get into my wedding dress in May. Like any bride, I wish I could have lost more weight before the event. But I was certainly a much happier bride at 28% bodyfat than I would have been at 35%.
When I resumed detailed tracking in June, I dreaded the rebound. I was afraid I gained weight over the honeymoon, and I'd have to do a lot of work.
To my surprise, I weighed 128lbs. I lost weight while on honeymoon, despite vacationing at an all-inclusive resort.
More calculations revealed 28% bodyfat and 92lbs lean mass. Even though I gained weight during my 'maintenance' break, I managed to retain my lean mass.
This is a huge deal. More lean mass means burning more calories at rest, making it easier to maintain and lose weight.
In Part 1, I explained that I gained lean mass when I changed my diet.
Lean Body Mass:
May 20,2011: 86lbs
July 7, 2011: 91lbs
July 2, 2012: 92lbs
My advice if you want to keep the weight off in maintenance? Keep tracking. I can do intuitive eating to a pretty decent degree short term as I've described in my blog "Understanding the Language of Fat"
But long term? If you start slipping, it's easier to make a course correction if you see it coming.
After losing weight and failing to maintain, many people reported that it's harder to take the weight off the second time. The body seems to stubbornly hang for dear life onto those pounds.
In Part 1, you saw how rapidly my weight dropped last year. How has restarting weight loss mode worked out for me?
I'll let you know next Wednesday after my 1 month progress report is up.
Hint: It is good news.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Follow up to my blog: Teach a Man to Fish with Food Choices www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
My friends, tonight's tale is about how a dieter failed.
On Sunday, my husband asked me to help him with his diet. I'd be his 'nutritionist' for the next month, telling him what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Great! I get an opportunity to make food choices for DH! Something I'm sure many of us have wished for!
Yesterday, I picked all of his food choices, and guess what? He was full. No snack binges when he came home. He didn't even raid the pantry in the evening.
Seriously. No snacks before or after dinner.
Today he was on a training course where they provided lunch. When he came home, I asked him what he had for lunch.
Any guesses? What kind of lunches would a company provide?
Bwahahaha! Yeah. No.
Pizza. Yes. Of course pizza.
I asked him how many slices. He said 3, maybe 4.
Ok, so it's 4.
I entered it into his food tracker. My jaw hit the floor.
Carbs: 163 (!!!)
The exchange went like this:
Him: (coming home, raids the refrigerator for snacks)
Me: Hey!! I'm making dinner here.
Him: I'm hungry.
Me: So...what did you have for lunch?
Him: Ummm. You're not going to like this. Pizza.
(We eat dinner. I go to enter his calories in the food tracker.)
Him: So how bad is the damage?
Me: (grumbling) Let me check. How big was the pizza?
Him: It was a medium.
Me: (skeptical) Are you sure it was a medium?
Him: Yeah, it wasn't a large.
Me: How many slices did you have?
Him: Ummm. 3, but maybe 4. I can't remember if I went back for a 4th.
Me: So it was a large, and you had 4.
Him: No! No! It was a medium and I had 3, maybe 4! I'm sure of it!
Me: (puts in 4 slices of large pizza)
Him: How bad is it?
Me: I'm quitting!
Him: It can't be that bad.
Me: 1469 calories! You just ate more calories at lunch then I've had the entire day! I ate 1275 calories. FOR THE WHOLE DAY!
Me: You were supposed to have 80g carbs for the day, and you've had 210g.
Him: (laughing) But you said I needed more protein! I went for the meat pizzas! (laughing hysterically)
Me: (literal facepalm. Seriously. I facepalmed.)
Me: (pointing at the data) This is why you're fat.
Him: Ok, ok. Maybe I should go exercise.
Me: Exercise won't make up for this! You can't exercise away a bad diet!
Him: Exercise will help!
Me: If it helped, then you wouldn't be fat!
Him: Ok, ok.
Me: I quit!
Him: Awwww! I just had a bad day!
Me: If you keep doing this, then I'm ending this experiment because I can't undo what you're doing.
Him: Ok, I get it. Can I have a snack? I'm hungry.
Him: Maybe some nuts.
Me: You wouldn't be hungry if you didn't have 163g carbs in 15 minutes! You spiked your insulin through the roof. That's why dinner didn't make you full, and why you still want to eat.
Him: (goes to the pantry and raids the nuts.)
Me: Admit it. My food choices were better. When you came home yesterday, you didn't raid the pantry for snacks. After dinner, you didn't go looking for snacks.
Me: Right? You weren't hungry.
Him: Ok, I get it!
Me: I quit!
Him: (laughing) Awww it was a bad day! I'll do better tomorrow!
Yeah, I know this cycle all too well. Been there, done that.
So yesterday's 'fishing' lesson didn't get through. Bwhahaha! You probably all knew that already.
Maybe I'll try wax on/wax off next.
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