Experimenting on myself
Sunday, September 29, 2019
Note: in this blog, when I use "IF" I am referring to intermittent fasting.
Two weeks ago I blogged about having a week of setbacks and what I was going to do about it. Well, I managed to get back on track. For the past two weeks I have done three 36-hour and one 16-hour fasts each week. That was my original plan before the semester started and I think it works well for me. It sounds harder than it feels. For example, after dinner Monday night I just don't eat again until Wednesday breakfast. That gives me 36 hours but 16 hours of it are sleeping Monday night and Tuesday night. Plus I'm busy at work on Tuesday so the time goes quickly.
Lather, rinse, repeat. I do the same thing after dinner on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. From Friday evening to Saturday morning I don't eat for 16 hours. And there you have it, three 36-hour fasts and one 16 hour fasts "almost" effortlessly.
And it works. In the last two weeks I've dropped 5 pounds. I'm now 55 pounds down from when I started SparkPeople and 85 pounds down from my all-time high.
Alright, I admit that it isn't effortless. One of my "disciples" (my tongue-in-cheek name for friends and family who have noticed how much weight I've lost and then started IF themselves) has quit, saying "I just can't do it." Maybe she can't. I'm not saying IF is easy, I'm just saying it works.
Of course there are tricks for making it easier. My friend never asked me about any of that. She both started and stopped IF without telling me. So I believe that she believes she can't do it, but I wish she asked me something, anything, about how I do it.
But the title of this blog was about experimenting on myself. I had pizza last night. Real pizza, not a "healthy" imitation. I don't mean to ruffle the feathers of those of you who have put time and energy into figuring out healthy alternatives to your favorite "bad" foods. I myself have tried a variety of "food make-overs" and decided that they are not for me. Imaginary recipe: "Put shredded cardboard on a rice cake and cover it in no-sugar ketchup. It tastes almost as good as real pizza."
Not to me it doesn't. I decided at the beginning of this process that I wasn't going to entirely give up the foods I love. I can't face a future that doesn't include any ice cream at all. I may eat less of it when I do eat it, I may go months without eating it, but I when I do have it, I want the good stuff with all the delicious cream and sugar that Ben & Jerry can shove into the container.
Back to the pizza. We used to have pizza every Friday night. Until we had some this Saturday it had been almost two months with no pizza. This wasn't falling off my plan. This was an intentional indulgence and one that I used as a little experiment on myself to see how my body responded. So I had THREE big slices of pizza (black olives and onions, if you want to know) and then measured my blood sugar every few hours and weighed myself both yesterday morning and again this morning.
I have good news and bad news.
First, the good news. I didn't gain any weight. How is that possible you ask? Three large pieces of pizza have about a trillion calories. The answer lies in the endocrine model of obesity. Most of the calories we burn each day comes from our basic metabolic rate. Eat more and the resting energy expenditure goes up. Eat too little and your body fights you by lowering you basic metabolic rate (metabolic compensation). Your body can vary basic metabolic rate by up to 40% which dwarfs any calories you might burn in the gym.
But you can't burn the fat if your insulin levels are high, which brings me to my second piece of good news. Before I ate the pizza, my blood glucose was 103 mg/dL. After I ate the pizza, it predictably jumped up to 179 and then I watched it come down. It was 139 by the time I went to bed and this morning it was 101. And all without diabetes meds or even exercise. My pancreas and liver are back to the point where they can handle a massive influx of carbs and fat.
Now the bad news. It came down too slowly for me. A non-diabetic should have a blood sugar under 140 two hours after eating. It took me four hours to reach that level.
So progress, but still work to do. I can't undo years of diabetes and pre-diabetes with a couple of months of IF. And pizza will have to be a once every couple of months kind of treat and next time I'll have two big slices instead of three.
Now I just have to forget that the leftover pizza is in the fridge until my wife and son finish it off ... which they'll altruistically force themselves to do in order to protect me.
Best of luck in your Spark journeys.
P.S. 24 hours after eating all those carbs, my blood sugar is finally back to 95.