Archive | January 2013

Week in review 1/21 – 1/27

Weight: 217.6 lbs (down 1.0 from 218.6)
Average Calories/day: 2057 cal (139g carbs /day)
Average ZEO sleep score: 97.25 (Average for 2013 is 90)
Average waking temperature: NA

Lift #1: Squat 285x5x3, Deadlift 315×3, Overhead Press 105x4x3
Cardio #1: 5 mile walk


I’m still working on dialing in carbs.  The daily average is much better but the quality is still not great in terms of starch:sugar ratio.  This week I’ll have more precooked starches available from the fridge.  I also bought some rice chex which are definitely not ideal but would like to see, experimentally, if eating them instead of fruit improves weight loss.

Exercise was lousy this week.  I was sore early in the week from last week’s lifting.   Afternoon energy crashes in the afternoon also prevent me from getting to the gym.  This week I’ll have a snack around 3PM.

My recorded ZQ sleep scores for January are good but have not been stellar.    The real life actual scores are even worse, since I had 3 nights away from home where I either didn’t bring the ZEO or failed to record a full night of sleep.   This week I’m going to shut down all electronics by 10PM.



The Importance of Tracking: Is Adrenal Fatigue really Starvation?

There is a great post up at Go Kaleo about Adrenal Fatigue: “Adrenal Fatigue as a Cover for Starvation.”

“Adrenal Fatigue is a very trendy diagnosis in the alternative health industry right now…”

Have to agree here, but disagree that this makes the diagnosis less valuable.  For whatever reason a person has gotten into a state adrenal fatigue, treatment requires diagnosis.  When I read James Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue, the first consistent thought I had is “Is Adrenal Fatigue really stress?”.  The roots of my problems are probably a combination of stress, poor sleep, and starvation.  The starvation component may come not just from dieting but also from malabsorption though.  Stress, sleep, starvation, food absorption:  are these all things are easily trackable.

“[people] fill their plates up with protein and vegetables (ie, low calorie, highly thermogenic foods) and believe they are eating ‘a lot’, but they are, in reality, shorting themselves of the calories their bodies need in the order of hundreds or even thousands of calories a day”

I tremendously agree!  I cannot understand any nutrition guru who prescribes a very precise diet that requires a total overhaul of the way a person eats and probably hours of additional food preparation a day without adding in the 5 minutes a day it takes to actually track food intake.  Or an exercise guru with a VERY precise workout plan that plans your workouts months in advance with adjustments of 0.5 lbs of weight a week.  Anyone this attentive to fitness should also be willing to impose the discipline to track food intake.  This is so easy especially with the advancement of free, easy to use food trackers like MyPlate or MyFitnessPal that synch data between phone and website.

“…people literally starving themselves in the pursuit of optimal health, and receiving reinforcement for it from their gurus and friends because they’re eating the ‘right’ foods and not counting calories.”

Agreed again.  My conclusion: Self-tracking is the first and most important step to making any kind of nutritional change.  If you’re tracking, then at least you’ll KNOW you’re starving yourself. 



Meal plan for day on Perfect Health Diet

Here’s what a day looks like on my attempt at a maintenance diet based on the Perfect Health Diet.

Breakfast Shake: Whey protein, 3 egg yolks, mixed berries, MCT oil
Lunch: Grass-fed ground beef, sweet potato, butter, green soup (green beans, zucchini)
Afternoon Snack: Banana
Dinner:Grass-fed ground beef, sweet potato, butter, green soup (green beans, zucchini)
Dessert: Grapes, strawberries, dark chocolate

2182 cals
149g fat / 134g carbs / 91g protein
1341 cal fat / 536 cal carbs / 364 cal protein
21g Fiber
71g Sugars

PHD Targets:
1 lb of meat (met)
0.25 lb of vegetables (short by 0.75 lb)
0.35 lb of starch (short by 0.65 lb)
1.125 lb of fruit (way too high)

I did hit the macro targets I wanted:
Carbs: 500g-600g
Protein: 300g+
Fat: 500g+

Clearly I really missed on the ratio of calories from starch to calories from sugar which should be 2:1 (400 starch, 200 sugars).  Today my ratio was 300cals starch : ~500 cals sugar.  A better day will have 4 servings of starch instead of 2 and only 1 serving of fruit instead of 4.  This is the same problem I had with eating paleo without measuring food.  When I’m not in a low-carb state, I really crave sugar and fruit.  Adding safe starches and more vegetables into my diet is a very high priority right now.

Nutritional Ketosis: My own experiment with a Low Carb diet

Inspired by the Art and Science of Low-Carb Performance and Jimmy Moore’s N=1 experiment, I decided to see what would happen if I made a serious attempt at a low-carb diet.  My starting weight on 10/16/2012 was 231.9 lbs.  I ate less than 60g carbs per day until 11/19/2012, with only 3 days over 50g in the timespan.  In this month I lost 15.1 lbs taking me to 216.8 lbs.  After a few days of normal eating I was back up to 225.4 lbs so I estimate an actual weight loss of 6.5 lbs in 5 weeks.

I continued my low-carb diet in the next month, although with less enthusiasm.  From 10/16/2012 to 12/15/2012 I ate <50g carbs on 80% of days and <60g on 90% of days. On days where I was not compliant, my average intake was 112g of carbs, so even when not compliant I was still eating a very low to moderate carb diet.  My total weight loss for the two month period was 11.8 lbs adjusting for water weight gained after a final reefed or about 1.5 lbs per week.  I also lost 2” off my waist.  Because my results were as good in the second month as in the first month, I did not see any benefit in attempting full “nutritional ketosis” vs occasional refeeds.  I did not bother measuring blood or urine ketone levels.

Some thoughts on calories-in calories-out:  If I lost 11.8 lbs in 61 days, then my average deficit was 677 calories/day.  Since I ate an average of 1745 calories/day, my average metabolic rate (considering my average activity level) would be is 2422 calories/day.

From my post on 11/30/2012:

The generic Harris-Benedict BMR formula gives me that 2500 calories/day number.  The more specific Katch-McArdle formula using lean body mass gives 2300 calories/day.

Pretty close!  I will be interested to see similar calculations after spending January outside of ketosis at closer to 2000 calories/day.  Many proponents of low-carb diets might claim that I could have consumed more calories per day and still achieved weight loss.  Unless this would have improved my performance and recovery, I’m not sure why it would have been helpful.    If I were better at math I’d look for some trends in the daily numbers to see if there are any relationships between daily consumptions and weight loss.

A little more about my diet during these two months.   I averaged 10% calories from carbs, 67% from fat, and 23% from protein.  Average consumption by macro was 42g carbs, 130g fat, and 97g protein.  I ate a lot of butter, coconut oil, fatty meats, eggs, and cheese.


During these two months, I was committed to martial arts training twice per week and weightlifting once or twice per week.  Keeping up with these commitments was not easy.  My back and shoulders seem to bear the brunt of training under calorie restriction and towards the end I required more frequent refeeds.

There was a lot of buzz about Robb Wolf’s series about low carb: part1, part2, and part3.  After reading the first two segments, I was a little taken aback.  How could a person who has so frequently endorsed Low Carb diets speak so negatively about them?  Perhaps after reading a few too many LC books and listening to Jimmy Moore, I had been brainwashed myself!  In the third article, Robb says:

I DO think that dropping into ketosis (via a cyclic low carb diet) or occasional 16-18 hour fasting is a great way to maintain metabolic flexibility and perhaps forestall some cellular aging. My problem in saying this however, is the people who should do it (reasonably sedentary desk-jockeys with low stress) will not be the folks doing this.

As a “sedentary desk-jockey,” finally I see the disconnect.  Of course I am not sure how to define “low stress.”  If LC only works for people under “low stress,” but all obese people are under stress just from being obese, then LC is not the answer or even an appropriate tool.  Since I failed to baseline by hormonal/adrenal status prior to starting, it’s hard for me to really answer this question.  I’m not a performance athlete who needs massive amounts of carbs, but I also don’t know that healthy enough yet for ketosis or intermittent fasting. Open questions remain. Does the end result of weight loss from ketosis justify the hormetic journey?  Is calorie restriction in ketosis more or less hormetic than calorie restriction without ketosis?

My primary concern is that this long period of ketosis caused or aggravated a less than ideal hormonal  state and less than ideal cortisol test results.  It is impossible to know what caused these problems.  Taking these tests at the end of a 2 month diet without  a baseline was a terrible idea.  On the positive side, I retained the weight loss for another month after completing the experiment.  If I can achieve weight loss results of 1lbs or 1.5lbs per week without such stressful measures, then I would be much better off without them.  If I cannot, then I will certainly include at one or two refeeds per week into my planning.

Week in review 1/14 – 1/20: Poor Compliance

Weight: 218.6
Average Calories/day: 2084
Average ZEO sleep score: NA (sick)
Average waking temperature: NA (sick)

Lift #1: Squat 275x5x3, Deadlift 305×5, Overhead Press 95×5, 100×5, 100×5

Stomach flu kept me down this week.   I didn’t make the best food choices.  Weston A Price / Paleo / GAPS teach that healing foods are bone broth and egg yolks, but when I’m sick I crave healing foods from my childhood: soda, saltine crackers, and frozen fruit bars.  I resisted the saltines.

I exported my MyPlate nutrition data and ran some numbers today on diet compliance.  When I was aiming for ketosis, I was very successful at keeping less than 50g of carbs per day (80% of all days in October and September ).  This new moderate carb/Perfect Health Diet plan has been much more difficult.  I only hit my goal of 125g-150g carbs on 4/19 days in January, averaging 187g/day.  The good news is that I have maintained the same weight during this time even with some illness and little exercise.

Here’s to finishing the last two weeks in January with the correct macros counts.

Week in review 1/7 – 1/13: Recovery

Weight: 215.0 (down from 220.0, quick weight loss due to food poisoning)
Average Calories/day: 2183.22
Average ZEO sleep score: NA
Average waking temperature: 96.65 (-0.15)

Lift #1: Squat 245x5x3, Deadlift 295×5, Overhead Press 85×5, 85×5, 95×5
Lift#2: Power Clean 110x3x5, Bench Press 165×5

I went to an excellent weightlifting seminar this weekend.  Avoided MMA practice as my back was sore and did not want to aggravate anything in advance.

Unfortunately caught what was likely some food poisoning that put me down Monday and screwed up my schedule and a lot of self tracking for two days.

Week in review 12/31 – 1/6: Recovery

Weight change: 214.8 – 220.0 (+5.2 lbs)
Average Calories/day: 2512
Average ZEO sleep score: 87.75 (only 4 days counted, total average is 83)
Average waking temperature: 96.8 (+0.72)

MMA #1: mix of boxing and jiu jitsu drills

A week spent recovering with better sleep and more calories per day.  Shoulder was too sore to lift but I got in an MMA practice anyways.  Waist is constant at 38″ even with the weight gain: it’s water weight.  I read the Perfect Health Diet this week, it very closely describes my maintenance diet.

Here’s a random food log from Thursday:
Breakfast: salami, cheddar cheese, potato, butter, oil, chicken broth, saurkraut
Lunch: tuna, salmon, rice, banana
Dinner: chicken curry, cheddar cheese, rice, egg yolks, raw milk, green bean soup, saurkraut, mandarins, dark chocolate, butter
2660 calories; 50% fat, 26% carbs, 24% protein; 177g carbs