There are few things that seasoned dieters would know right off the bat when it comes to my clean eating challenge, which lasted 10 days (really 9 because I had ice cream on Monday because of a family obligation, hehe). I went from 161.6 to 151.2, here are a couple of them off of the top of my head:
1. Because I started the “Diet” after a particularly glutenous day I was retaining a lot of water related to the water required by carbs and probably some salt as well, so those pounds were the easiest to come off obviously and that happened quickly.
2. Since I was normally around 156 pounds the most I lost was about 4 pounds.
3. Those 4 pounds were not all fat, in fact (gulp) some of it could have been muscle. I highly doubt it was but you can not rule that out, either way it would not be much.
4. I was probably slightly dehydrated towards the end, clearly I was trying to point out that I could lose 10 pounds in 10 days (actually I was trying to lose 11 and get to 150).
5. I fasted 18 hours, basically I skipped breakfast and ate my first meal around 2 pm. Which means I stopped eating at 8pm, the 2pm time was a rule the 8pm time was a guideline. I did this every day.
A lot of people have already stopped reading and went back to see if Demi Moore has finally changed her damn Twitter moniker yet but that would not be smart because what I did and how I did it is important. Let’s be clear though, this was my own protocol that I made up, this was not leangains though I borrowed from that protocol as well as a host of other ideas including the Paleo way of eating.
Because everyone will freak out about my muscle statement
Other than taking away people’s carbs this is the other thing people freak out about, so let me address this first. I DID NOT LOSE 4 POUNDS OF MUSCLE! Trust me, I know what I am doing. The conditions that would cause muscle loss would require my body to be extremely stressed so my body would need to break down that muscle for energy, which is ironically the exact same thing, it just sounds different. This is why in very stressful situations where you are not getting enough sleep you should not be slamming caffeine and not eating. The most important hormone in this scenario is called Cortisol but most people know it as the “fight or flight” hormone, if you are waking up in the middle of the night when you are reducing calories it is often because you have not eaten enough throughout the day. So the news is bad, you might be losing weight but some of that weight is almost certainly muscle. Under normal circumstance the body is constantly in various states of storing and breaking down complex tissues and cells within the body. In the first phase of sleep your body (in almost every instance, even if you ate carbs two minutes before you went to sleep) sends out a set of hormones that are meant to heal itself. Even if you have slept poorly you likely got this “boost” but of course that is not the only factor that goes on. When you wake up that happens partially because your Cortisol levels rise, similarly that first cup of coffee boosts your cortisol levels (it also boosts your testosterone so don’t trip out if you are a coffee drinker). Some people wake up at 2 am and can not get back to sleep, typically that is related to some type of stress that needs to be controlled. Clearly I am speaking in very vague terms meant to address the overwhelming situations that exist, individually everyone’s circumstance could be slightly different.
Dieting is often stressful, if you are not careful you can send your cortisol levels through the roof. One thing that a lot of people do when they first start dieting is long slow cardio that is pretty stressful on them because they are not consuming enough calories for the energy expenditure. Cardio is a catabolic event, most working out has that effect, that simply means that it is meant to tear down tissue or complex cell systems within your body (like burning body fat). The problem with most cardio is that there is no anaerobic function to also build and repair the tissues you are breaking down, so while you are losing some fat you are losing some combination of fat and muscle because you are stressed the hell out and hungry. If you are on a weight watchers diet counting points and eating little protein with a lot of carbs your body is likely very stressed out, I talk more about this in the carb section below, trust me, I am not anti-carb. You might lose weight but you are hurting your overall goals for health. I think I am supposed to insert “that is my opinion” here but you are welcome to google everything I am saying and you will find a lot of opinions similar to mine.
The last thing I will say on this topic is that I was likely somewhat stressed but since I did not typically go under 1800 calories not that much. I did sleep less but I will talk about my thoughts on that point soon.
I did not low carb
Certainly not in any ketogenic way where I was intentionally putting my body into ketosis and stressing it out. You are all welcome to take a look at my food logs. Did I eat massive carbs? No I did not and the carbs that I did eat were meant to heal my body from the few workouts I did. I worked out 6 times in that period, the typical interval would have been about 15 minutes of high intensity resistance training preceded by a pretty aggressive warm up to get my body ready for what was about to happen. So let’s conservatively say I worked out for 30 minutes, it was probably less but I just want to be on the cautious side because I do not want to put this out there irresponsibly. There are way too many “4 hour body” bullshit type of systems that get people’s hopes up that it does not take any hard work at all to be very fit. Certainly if you are not willing to put in the work you can get healthy but you will not reach elite fitness levels or body fat without some sacrifice related to energy taken in or put out. That’s just fact but if you want to consider it my opinion go right ahead. I am not trying to convince anyone to diet or be healthy, I am tired of that shit. If you want to hear what I have to say ask me and I will give you my opinion that is based on a lot of research and personal experiments that I do regularly. I love helping people and I rarely charge. The only instance where I would charge someone is when they need just a ton of help and attention and even then the cost is not extreme. Just doing group chats over Skype is not that time consuming, people calling me and texting me obviously comes with a cost that most people would be willing to take on for health and fitness purposes.
But back to the carb thing, the carbs I ate might not be the carbs you like or think of normally but the point of what I ate was to keep me full and help my body repair itself.
“What were your Macro’s bro?”
This is the most common question I get, which is funny when you consider that my food log is public and has been for some time. The other question I get is, “can you help me set my macro’s bro?”, I can and do regularly but for most people it will not matter because the stuff they eat does not illicit the response they would like to get. I am specifically referring to the protocol I did.
Fats and Proteins keep you full
When dieting I make sure to keep both of these high, how high, well in the case of protein I like to get roughly my grams in body weight, sometimes I go over, lot’s of times I go under, it really is not that big of a deal either way. People think protein is somehow magical and it does do some great things but it is only one part of a much bigger process, certainly I do not choke down protein just to get to some magical number, most often I get close enough and that is fine. You could easily point out that I am not particularly muscular compared to many of the gym meatheads that devote themselves to the pursuit of muscle. I will never be that guy, personally I am more concerned about function, I have a pretty decent deadlift (355 pounds) for a 150 pound man but I can also do 100 pull ups for time and run with the front of the pack in a 10k. It’s just a matter of what is important to you.
For this articles purposes I am not going to get into a fats tutorial, it is not particularly complex but for what we are talking about there are some points that matter. Both fats and carbs are muscle sparing but they do it differently. For fats as long as you are eating in a negative energy balance or a calorie deficit you are almost certainly not storing fat so if you knew that fat could spare muscle loss why would you not eat as much as you could given those parameters especially on non-workout days? Why are fats muscle sparing? Fats are muscle sparing because they take longer to digest, therefore, they keep you full, I like to say they are nutrient dense, that typically is a good way for people to understand. Because they are nutrient dense and they keep you full you can reduce your calories easier without stressing out your body, ie muscle sparing because you are doing it without messing with your cortisol levels too much.
Carbs are also muscle sparing
Carbs do it differently though. Some of this stuff is so simplistic but we all make it so confusing. Carbs are not typically nutrient dense, in this instance I am simply saying they digest faster and your body requires more of them to be full. They also tend to be calorically high, this is great when you are trying to build or maintain muscle because the body prefers to be coddled and as most of us know carbs tend to be comforting. For those 10 days I tended to eat my carbs later in the day on rest days so once I went to sleep my blood sugar would regulate itself and prepare me for my fast the next morning. I did not avoid carbs early often defaulting to sweet potatoes or yams post workout but on rest days I avoided them simply to not be hungry throughout the day.
Carbs are known to be anaerobic, the reason is simple, because they are not nutrient dense they can easily push your body into a positive energy balance (simply means you are taking in more calories than you burned off throughout the day). There are lots of functions hormonally within the body that just function better in a positive energy balance, testosterone production is one which is obviously great for muscle repair. This of course does not mean that your body can not repair itself in a negative energy balance but it just is not the best environment for muscle expression and protein synthesis. Does that mean you can not get to a positive energy balance eating mostly protein or fats, no it does not, it just is harder to do. In both the carbs instance and the fats and protein instance the risk in going to a positive energy balance is fat storage. With carbs in the absence of fats that risk is less but just try and eat strictly carbs for a few days with no fats and you will realize that it is not a whole lot of fun.
Were there any consequences or things that made me uncomfortable?
Fasting 18 hours obviously you get a little hungry, when you fast regularly you realize this comes and goes and if you stay busy it is not that big of a deal. If you sit there and dwell on it guess what happens, you obsess over food and life sucks a little bit. Also when mobilizing fat your extremities get cold, so I dealt with cold hands and feet. This sounds like no big deal but it sucks more than a little bit.
Normally I get to bed around 9pm-10pm, I am a pretty early riser and I never need the alarm clock. In a normal fed state I can easily sleep 8 to 9 hours, for these 10 days it was 6 to 7. Certainly cortisol played some role in this but probably not significantly more than normal. I normally wake up a few times during the night but without distractions I can easily get back to sleep. I have a theory that when I am working with additional calories and nutrients my body requires additional rest to properly process and repair. With fewer calories there is less to work with and when you add in the excitement of progress expectations (weighing myself each morning) you have an environment that just is not great for that beautiful 9 hour run that I would prefer. I will say that I was not significantly more tired than normal and felt no need to nap at any point but there were some nights where I hit the pillow hard.
Jay Z said it Best
“They don’t play my hits well I don’t give a shit so”
In every community where I am active someone has a beef with what I do. Crossfitters have beef with me because they eat for athletic performance, never mind the fact that I am stronger and have better endurance now. Leangainers have beef because I do not follow Martin’s mantra like it is a religion and that I think for myself. Martin has referred to Crossfit as “fuckarounditis”, right, ok, there are a handful of bad gyms but I doubt most people could walk in and do a Metcon easily. Paleo dieters are almost religious with their beliefs as well, personally every time I have some ice cream with my kids I am pretty sure I am not giving myself cancer. They might point out that 20% off is recommended when you do Paleo, well my answer to that is which part of that 20% does give me cancer or a whole host of other ailments. How about this, I will just have ice cream occasionally with my kids. I will call my diet “Beanies Real Food and Real Life way of eating”.
In life I feel like when you agree with most things and occasionally disagree on a few that should not be that big of a deal. In the health and fitness world people tend to be more black and white, which is really funny if you think about it. Personally if I find something better than I am doing today to get better results I will start doing that. I am not glued down to my current opinions.
In the end the only thing that matters is results
And I have them. I am not trying to convince anyone of what I know, I am just presenting my research and self experiments if people are interested in them then great. I am not trying to convince non believers and I will also add that occasionally I change my mind. That does not make me inherently wrong about the things I have learned thus far it simply means I am open to new and better ideas moving forward.