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Starting a New Weight Loss Experiment …

June 19, 2012

Long time no see … it has been months since my last post. Since then my weight has been creeping up a few kilos (4 to be precise), but to my credit I’ve also been putting on muscle. Back in January I got myself a power rack and a barbell set, and I’ve been putting the gear to good use.

I’ve also been paying a lot of attention to Stefan Guyenet’s blog posts about the addictive qualities of food, and I’ve read both The End of Overeating and Mindless Eating. In a nutshell those authors propose a very plausible alternative to any (macro)nutrient/hormonal based hypotheses for what causes obesity:

It’s all in the brain.

I’ve always been a “big eater”. In The End of Overeating they coin the phrase “conditioned hypereating”, and that’s exactly what I’m often doing: My appetite is totally decoupled from whether I’m actually hungry.

So here’s what I’m going to do: Starting yesterday (yep, I’m posting this in retrospect, two days into the experiment) I’ll eat only a bland meal replacement shake and/or some protein and supplements for 5-6 days each week. The inspiration for this approach is two-fold:

1. Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat-Loss Handbook
2. The experiment from the 60s which Stefan Guyenet mentioned a few months ago, which had obese guys eat bland meal replacement shakes through straws

Well, I won’t go as far as eating shakes through straws (not every day anyway), but the important points are these:

1. I’m going to try to limit food reward factors as much as possible
2. I’ll eat very few calories on diet days, since I want to lose fat rapidly
3. I want to preserve lean body mass, so I’ll make this a protein sparing modified fast by ensuring adequate intake of protein
4. I’ll supplement with Omega 3 fish oil (or eat sardines/salmon on some days for protein) and add fruit to the shakes, so that micronutrient deficiency does not become an issue
5. I won’t think about macronutrient composition too much – and I will not go low carb at all – so no ketosis or unnecessary gluconeogenesis
6. The weekly cheat day will not be wasted on binge eating – I’ll try to eat normally, the way I plan to eat after the experiment. In The End of Overeating it’s called “planned eating”.
7. On workout days I’ll increase the intake of carbs (read: bananas, apples, peas/corn) to compensate for the increased expenditure

That’s basically it. It’s not really a diet – this time it’s an attempt to create a new set of eating habits. The restrictive aspects are only temporary – the most important habits I’ll try to learn are these:

1. To only eat when I’m actually hungry
2. To eat small portions
3. To not combine eating with other activities like watching movies
4. To make and enforce hard rules against eating foods which trigger the vicious cycle of hypereating

So, how do I feel on the second day? Quite good actually, despite of some severe hunger pangs in the afternoon which were of course due to the fact that I was used to having a
fairly big lunch. Which brings me to the last numbered items list (some suggestions for those of you who want to give this a try, which you of course do at your own risk):

1. Be aware that when you change meal frequency your body will remind you violently that it’s used to being fed at certain times – this will subside once your body’s memory of the old meal pattern fades.
2. Don’t expect timely results on the scale – by all means weigh yourself on a daily basis, but expect the results to manifest at least a couple of days (read: a week or longer) after you changed caloric intake.

That’s all from me right now – stay tuned for updates on my progress, hopefully on a roughly weekly basis.

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From → WL Experiment 1

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