Faster than expected

So after my first aborted attempt at setting goals and structuring my objectives, life kind of got in the way. Not in a bad way, but a refocus on family required I put this little project on hold. Now we’re back.

Actually – that’s not quite accurate. We were back a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn’t blogging about it.

My wife decided that she wanted a “quick fix” way of getting her post pregnancy body back into shape.

Quick fixes don’t work, do they?

Not if your definition of a “quick fix” is something that is both easy and fast. If you clicked on that Pintrest image that promised six-pack abs in 7 minutes a day, you’re being manipulated by marketing and not receiving real information.

However, there are fast ways of getting things done, they’re just not easy and they don’t belong in a category called “fixes”.

In this case we’re talking about a combination of dieting and HIIT (for her), and just plain dieting for me.

I have to admit that I didn’t intend to go on a diet, I just happen to feel that if my wife is making the effort to eat a restricted diet I shouldn’t be biting into croissants opposite her in the mornings.

The gym she joined (which I will refrain from advertising) provides a very strict diet that’s taken from a broad body of medical and nutrition literature. It’s known to work, but it’s not easy and it requires some serious discipline.

The Diet

I’m talking about the much maligned High Fat Low Carb diet, which in medicine is more often referred to as a Ketogenic Diet. I make a strong distinction between medical literature and the fitness and dieting world because the number of amateurs waffling on about ketosis on the internet is insane, and on one blog someone will claim it makes you superhuman whereas on another someone will tell you it rots your kidneys from the inside. There is a very serious signal-to-noise problem in the fitness and dieting world.

To make the diet achievable, we avoided using a list of forbidden foods and focused on a list of allowed recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The gym also recommended some supplements (amino acids) for accelerated weight loss.

The Results so Far

So there we are, adding cream, cream cheese, double cream, eggs and butter to everything to get the fat ratio of our food up, and after a couple of days I’m feeling the same as I did back in 2004 when I used the Atkins diet to get my shape back under control.

  • headaches
  • exhaustion
  • mental fog

I know this will pass, but it’s a painful moment to endure, and it lasts a week to ten days.

As far as hunger is concerned, the diet is spot on.

I don’t enjoy the lack of crunch in my meals, or the monotony of eating 3-egg omelettes every morning or fish salads pretty much every midday. I also miss the occasional glass of wine, evening whisky and the sugar in my coffee.

But I’m not hungry. Or perhaps only just before the evening meal. I don’t feel full either, but definitely no hunger pains. This is not entirely true of my wife, but she’s breastfeeding so she loses an additional 500 calories a day or so and that probably accounts for the additional hunger pains. Somehow the low GI nature of the food we’re eating, the complete lack of sugar and the effect of proteins and fat on my ghrelin and leptin levels create a sense of satiety that lasts far longer than on a higher GI diet heavier on the carbohydrates. This correlates with some of the literature1 (but not all).

There’s a good reason to keep going, however. My digital scale that sends my weight and fat percentage to the internet cloud and thereby to my telephone (the better to lay on the guilt) shows me the kind of progress I haven’t seen in a very long time. Just over four kilograms (8.8 pounds) of weight lost in seven days. In fact, my weight is falling so fast I’m wondering if this is entirely healthy.

The symptoms of ketosis have abated as my body and brain adjust to the new fuel my body is providing (ketones, from broken down fat), and after the adaptation period was over, I find myself perhaps slightly more clear-headed than before. This also matches the literature2, 3. These things are hard to measure and affected by so many other factors that I would hesitate to draw a causal relationship, but I certainly feel very good at the moment.

What Next?

So if I feel good and I’m losing lots of weight (presumably through fat loss) and I haven’t done any sport (at all, for annoying and minor medical reasons). I will be able to do some sport again in a week, and hopefully will find some way of freeing up enough time to build some muscle to go with a gradually leaner physique.

My ideal weight is still a bit below my current weight. I could stand to lose another 5 kilos (11 pounds) and it wouldn’t be too much.

Also, this diet is only recommended for 12 weeks, there’s another diet that follows it which (I assume) is slightly less demanding of my kidneys, but I’ll go into the potential risks of the diet in another post but my understanding at the time of writing is that they kick in if you follow the diet for a long time.

A little later on I’ll also post some data about the weight loss, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’m only 7 days in at the moment, and I prefer to talk about results with a bit more context that I currently have.

References

1 “A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations”, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, David S Weigle, Patricia A Breen, Colleen C Matthys, Holly S Callahan, Kaatje E Meeuws, Verna R Burden, and Jonathan Q Purnell
2 “Your Brain on Ketones”, Emily Deans MD, Psychology Today
3 “The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous?”, Shelly Fan, Scientific American

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