Category Archives: Fasting

Catch-Up

Two weeks since the last post – been extremely busy both at home and work… So, my gout eased-off after a few days on the medication, unfortunately after that I got a cold. The main symptoms only lasted three days, but I’ve been blowing out loads of green snot for the last ten days…

In all other respects things are fine. I’ve been eating some really great food, as much as I can of course and still losing weight, or more precisely body fat.

When I first started following the Perfect Health Diet I gained 1.5 kilos – this has since been lost and I’m consistently losing about a kilo per week. I’m still fasting on Mondays and Tuesdays, but the weight loss seems to spread through-out the week. Nevertheless once I get to my target weight of 82 kilos I’ll change from the 5/2 fast to a 16/8 daily routine, i.e. eating only in an 8 hour feeding window each day. Why is this so good? Well they say that autophagy - the body’s cell repair mechanism – begins after 12 hours of fasting, so doing a 16 hour daily fast means you’ll take benefits of the process every day. The goal here isn’t weight-loss, but health.

I also bought myself a FitBit – this clever little device tracks activity and sleep patterns. The real benefit is that it encourages you to move more and in my case to get to bed a bit earlier. Most people think that exercise helps weight-loss by helping create a calorie deficit, personally I think it’s more beneficial as it decreases liver glycogen stores encouraging the use of body fat as the primary energy source.

I’m exercising a couple of times per week: interval hill sprints one day, body-weight exercises another (pull-ups, push-ups, planks and squats). Been quite active moving around furniture too (thanks to my dear wife) and I’ve stopped taking the car to work, so I’m walking a lot more too and of course I never take the elevator if there are stairs available. The FitBit reveals just how sedentary we are sitting at work all day, I alleviate this by using toilets on other floors in the building, getting a walk and some stairs every hour or so.

Food-wise I’ve been making some stews in the slow-cooker. I tried a lamb ragout, but the bones in the meat went too crumbly, like chalk, and were not at all nice. Instead I’m now making with steak and I put in some beef marrow bones too. Along with the coconut oil this makes for an incredibly delicious and nutritious meal which I eat along with some smashed vegetables and potato. It’s cheap too, total cost is about €15 and I get four meals out of it.

Paleo stew with marrow bone, mashed potatoes and veggies

Marrow bones – pre-cooked in the oven prior to dropping in the stew

Intermittent Fasting Week 2

After last week’s first fasting effort, it was time to go for it again. Experience is a wonderful ally so I adapted a little to try and mitigate the negatives, mostly feeling so tired in the evenings. The logical solution of course was to shift the single daily meal from breakfast to the evening, that also opened the door for a better quality meal with the time-constraints of getting to work removed, here’s what I ate the two days:

Monday: Fried (olive oil) chicken breast (rubbed with garlic and onion powder, cinnamon & four-spice), half a cauliflower – drizzled with olive oil and linseed oil, home-made salsa & guacamole

Tuesday: Two beef and one chicken brochette – which I couldn’t finish, plus the other half of the cauliflower with the salsa and guacamole

With some linseeds and psyllium husks during the day to try and keep the intestines moving along… I chose cauliflower for many reasons: it’s low in calories so you can eat a lot and fill yourself up, it’s highly nutritious being packed with vitamins and minerals, we had a spare one in the fridge and I just love it; just be sure not to overcook or it turns to a farty mush, I find 6 – 7 minutes is enough. I don’t have a steamer so I cook with a small amount of water which I pour into a cup before serving and dink afterwards with a drop of olive oil, salt and pepper – it’s a delicious drink and ensures you get all the of vitamins.

What can I say, this fast was night and day different from the first time! Whether this was due to being able to anticipate the situation, the change of meal timing or the change of meal composition I don’t know, but I felt great for the two days. I was actually quite reluctant to eat and suffered no loss of energy at all – it was really liberating. And you wouldn’t believe the time you save when you don’t have to prepare or eat food!!

It’s a positive response on the scale too, with 1 kg lost on Tuesday morning compared to the week before (which was already 1 kg less than the previous week). Bear in mind that I’m eating as much as I can every meal during the week, I’m not craving for anything, I’m rarely hungry, I’ve energy enough for some short but intense workouts (more on that another time), so I believe I losing fat and gaining muscle as we go along.

Only downside is that I didn’t take a decent crap for three days (despite the countermeasures), but that’s back to normal again today. Here’s the weight progress:

Maybe I’m weird, but I’m looking forward to next week’s fast already :)

Intermittent Fasting – Part 3: The Morning After

So after two days of fasting, well except breakfast, I was back to normal eating habits this morning. Strangely enough I wasn’t really feeling so hungry and had to force it a bit, and then I found I couldn’t eat that much, probably I even over-did it as I felt a bit sick. Here’s what I munched this morning (well half of the smoothie was left-over for lunch):

  • Fresh blueberry & strawberry smoothie: 75g blueberries, 60g strawberries, 200ml sugar-free soy milk*, 200g sugar-free full fat natural yoghurt*, 30g whey isolate protein powder & 30ml olive oil
  • 4 scrambled eggs, 2 slices ham, a load of grated Emmental cheese (didn’t measure this), generous amount of olive oil (of course!) and a handful of arugula (rocket/roquette) which I have to admit had seen better times & was yellowing…
  • The ubiquitous 30g overnight water-soaked linseeds with a dash of lime juice
  • Loads of water
  • Six espresso’s, yes six, I know, maybe that’s what made me feel a bit queer!

The eBook is The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I’m halfway through this excellent book and it’s proving to be both an informative and entertaining read. Robb covers quite a few topics in depth that have been glossed-over in other books I’ve read and he writes with a good dose of humour – albeit in a overtly American manner. Anyway, highly recommended.

So how did the fasting go? Well I must admit that yesterday especially I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I was feeling tired and lethargic especially in the evening. As I said yesterday, this could have been due to insufficient sleep as well; will have to compare with future attempts when I actually get my ass into bed at a decent time!

As regards weight, well of course I’m going to lose weight after two days of hardly any food, if for no other reason than the stomach and intestines being relatively empty. That being said, my regular personal waste-disposal mechanism was totally out-of-order yesterday, so could have been better. Here’s the chart, 1.5 kgs down for the two days:

If you’re interested in intermittent fasting then Precision Nutrition’s website provides an excellent primer and free eBook, written (and personally tested) by Dr. John M. Berardi.

* Yeah, I know, soy milk is definitely not Paleo and according to what I’ve read is really quite bad for you, I’m working on eliminating it from my diet. Yoghurt is slightly more of a grey-zone – milk is a no-no, cheese is considered OK, yoghurt falls in the middle. Not sure yet on that one…

 

Intermittent Fasting – Part 2

So, here we are on day two of my inaugural fasting. I slept OK although I have to admit that I was thinking about food and my empty stomach in the minutes before sleep… This morning I made myself a nutritious breakfast: smoked salmon, avocado, gouda cheese, salad, arugula, tomatoes, green olives, cucumber and olive oil. Along with my daily linseed dose it was all adding up to about 750 calories, too much!

Fortunately I didn’t eat it all (honest), I was full, or as they say “sated”.

My weight in the morning was about 1 kilo down -of course that’s mostly food bulk missing from the system, so no surprises there – only time will tell for the rest. I was a little tired this morning, although I suspect the late bedtime, past 1am has a lot to do with that.

Now it’s lunchtime again and well it’s easier than yesterday, my stomach isn’t rumbling…

So why do it?

Obviously weight-loss will result, hopefully fat-loss, but that’s not the main driver. According to the proponents of intermittent fasting it puts the body into a different mode from a normal feeding day whereby your IGF-1, Insulin and blood sugars decrease. The body changes from normal growing to a repair/maintenance state – something that we well-fed Westerners rarely experience. This has the upshot that you will begin to retard the ageing process and perhaps reverse it. Side affect are a decrease in the LDL (bad) and increase in the HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

As well as slowing the ageing process, allegedly this significantly decreases the risks of cardio vascular disease, cancer, alzheimer’s and all manner of other ailments. The idea isn’t to try and live for ever, but to improve one’s health while one is alive.

Will it? No idea, but can’t be hard to try. I’m planning to get a blood-test once my doctor’s back from vacation – that will give a nice comparison with the one I had last year before Atkins and will see if this fasting brings further benefits.

Intermittent Fasting – Part 1

Today’s my very first intermittent fast day. In fact I’m trying out a 5 on 2 off routine which was inspired by last week’s BBC Horizon program Eat, Fast and Live Longer. In case you missed it, you can watch it here:

http://youtu.be/Pfna7nV7WaM

It’s essential viewing for anyone interested in fat-loss and general health, and was very timely as I’d been reading in recent weeks about this from some of the Paleo sites I had been checking-out (more on that another time).

In a nutshell, the 5/2 routine is five days of eating whatever you want followed by two days on 25% of maintenance calories – about 600 in my case. So this morning I had an extra-large blueberry smoothie and set myself for what I was convinced would be a tough day.

By and large though it has gone OK; yes I have been hungry, but now writing this at midnight, I’m no hungrier than at mid-afternoon. It was a bit tough to come home to a kitchen full of oven-chips and lamb frikadeller for the kids and even more galling to help my wife cook the three juicy lamb chops that were meant for me, but I survived.

Charlotte, bless her, thought it would be a good idea to put together the shelves we recently got from Ikea, this took the thick-end of three hours and I must admit I was feeling a bit light-headed at times, but hey, it detracted from the rumbling tummy.

So off to bed now – I hope it doesn’t keep me awake, but I’ve breakfast to look forward to tomorrow; smoked salmon salad with avocado and gouda cheese. YUM!