I've been encouraged by a few people to blog the bad as well as the good...so here goes.
I'm completely annoyed. I've stuck to low carbing faithfully since October 19th, mostly doing the shake plan during the week, and just regular Atkins-style eating on the weekends. I've been going to the gym 4-5 times a week, doing a mix of cardio and weights.
Since gaining weight on my honeymoon and the following month, so far I've lost a grand total of...11lbs. And, honestly, most of that was the first whoosh of water weight. I lost 11lbs in a week and then nothing since then. This is dangerous territory for me. When I work out, eat well, and don't cheat, I expect to lose. When I don't lose, I get discouraged and start thinking things like, "Well, if I'm not losing weight anyway...hand over the Krispy Kremes!"
Okay, clearly that is not a good solution here. The thing is, low carbing is the only thing I know how to do, and the only thing that has worked for me. I know I could see the scale move if I did something drastic like Kimkins, but I also know that wouldn't be a long term, sensible fix. I figure if I'm going to keep eating low carb (less than 20g per day), one of the things I could play around with is the timing of my eating, rather than the content.
Dr. Mike Eades' seductive introduction to Intermittent Fasting reads as follows:
"How would you like it if I told you there was a way to eat pretty much anything and everything you wanted to eat and still maintain your health? Or better yet, what if I told you that you could eat pretty much anything and everything you wanted and even improve your health? Would you be interested?"
Intermittent Fasting, as the name implies, involves fasting for a given period of time. Most people recommend a fast less than 48 hours long, since after 48 hours, you will start losing muscle mass. Some practitioners fast one day, eat the next, fast the next, and eat the next. Others do an up-day, down-day approach where they eat high calories one day, and low the next. Interestingly, across schedules, the average caloric intake doesn't change. Fasters make up for it by eating more in one sitting.
From what I have read, it is more common for intermittent fasters to try to get one meal in per day. How is this a fast? Well, check out my schedule for the last two days:
So, from Thursday to Friday I fasted for 21 hours. From Friday to Saturday, my fast was 24 hours. Fasters talk of their eating time as an "eating window". You choose your fasting period, and your eating window. Schedules look like this:
15/3 = 15 hour fast, 3 hour eating window
22/2 = 22 hour fast, 2 hour eating window ...and so on.
Old-timers recommend easing into a longer fast, starting with 15 hours and working up to a comfortable number. Many people who try intermittent fasting (IF) and hate it are usually trying too much at once and shocking their bodies.
You can read more about the Eades' experience on fasting here:
There was also an interesting story on NPR about IF, which you can listen to here:
Some benefits listed on the NPR site:
- Improving glucose regulation, which can protect against diabetes
- Lowering blood pressure
- Potentially beneficial effects on the brain, protecting against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and stroke
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing cancer risk
Partial fasting may even extend lifespan, in the same way calorie restriction has been shown to do in monkey studies!
I am just beginning my research on this fascinating topic, but I'll post more links as I come across them. One thing that seems to fit intuitively to me is thinking about the way Paleolithic humans ate: probably not three square meals a day, with snacks in between. The theory is that they would eat a larger meal after a kill, and then rest and digest. Think lions devouring their dinner and then sleeping until they need to hunt again. If you believe, as I do, and many in the low carb community do, that our bodies are naturally adapted to a Paleolithic style diet (focusing on meat, a few vegetables, and very occasional berries), why wouldn't we be adapted to a Paleolithic style eating schedule, too?
I'm sure I'll be posting more info on this soon, but for now I'm just going to try it. Essentially, it shouldn't be too much harder than the shake fast...just without the shakes! So far I haven't felt particularly hungry or deprived, and man, does that meal taste amazing when you finally eat.
- Make sure you aren't going too low on calories. Lengthen your eating window to get a sensible amount of food in for the day if necessary.
- Drink water or other non-caloric drinks (diet soda, black tea, black coffee, herbal teas) to keep hydrated during your fasting.
- Don't go crazy with hunger. If you feel hungry, have a shorter fast for that day. It's not about starving yourself. Listen to your body.
- You can intermittent fast intermittently. You'll get benefits from doing it even once or twice a week. The important thing is to let your body go for some time without any caloric intake - that means no cream in coffee, no protein shakes, no juice.
If anyone feels like trying this, let me know how it goes!