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The Experiment: Days 3-6

June 24, 2012

The good news: the experiment is still on. The “bad” news: I’ve already made some changes. This is mostly because I read both Mindless Eating and The End of Overeating again this week, and they both don’t recommend a highly restrictive diet. Stephan Guyenet doesn’t either – at least not as far as calories are concerned (he recommends to restrict variety and not eat rewarding foods). Another factor is that I want to continue doing strength training and other strenuous activities while on the experiment, so I’ll need to reduce the caloric restriction at least on those days.

So, here are the modifications:

1. I’ll limit the days of severe caloric restriction to 3 per week.
2. On most of the other days I’ll still try to undereat.
3. On heavy workout days (about 2 per week) I’ll attempt to eat a slight surplus of calories.
4. Junk food is right out on restrictive days, but I’ll eat it in small quantities occasionally.

Of course some of those changes can be seen as rationalizations for sneaking bad food into the diet or to generally undermine it. But I’m in it for the long haul, and even though I’m moving away from the extremes of the Rapid Fat-Loss Handbook and the experiment from the 60s that I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty much in line with many other authors:

1. Stephan Guyenet: I’ll still greatly reduce the reward factor. Eating small portions of highly rewarding food occasionally is something he would probably not approve of, but it is highly recommended in Mindless Eating to avoid the feeling of deprivation and thus increases long term compliance.
2. Keeping some days of severe undereating is in line with most diets which use the concept of intermittent fasting. My approach is essentially the one suggested in The Alternate Day Diet, but I’ll also skip breakfast on most other days, which produces the 8 hour feeding window which Martin Berkhan built his Leangains approach upon. On some restrictive days I might even not eat anything at all, which Brad Pilon calls “Eat-Stop-Eat”.

The only thing I’m still not doing is concerning myself with macronutrient ratios. 🙂

So here’s a quick list of the days so far:

Day 1: Restrictive. Ate about 800 calories in the evening, and nothing else. It was essentially a shake made of two apples, two bananas, some frozen raspberries, low-fat milk and protein powder.

Day 2: Same as day one, but I also ate a package of organic fried chicken breast.

Day 3: Same as previous day, but I ate some chicken breast for lunch, and in the evening I had some ham instead of the chicken breast. Eating protein at lunch was an attempt to counter the hunger pangs which I was experiencing because I’m still used to eating lunch, and I think that for the whole day I still ate under 1000 calories.

Day 4: On that day I ate some cheese and an apple at lunch. Later I decided to make use of the good weather and did a mid-intensity bicycle tour for a little over an hour. When I got home in the evening I then reasoned (some might say: bargained) that with that many calories spent I could tolerate a cheat meal, so I ate a pizza, followed by the usual shake. It wasn’t a big pizza – in fact it only had about 800 calories. But it felt great eating it after three days of restriction, and all in all I probably still ate less than 2000 calories for the day.

Day 5: Lunchtime: Went to Starbucks as usual (I only had a black coffee there on the days described earlier), but this time I had a voucher. I went for a tall caffee latte with hazelnut syrup (read: sugar), and I had previously eaten some cheese and an apple. On my way back from work I spontaneously decided to have some fried Thai noodles for dinner. Ok, this goes against all I said before about the Experiment, and again you can call it bargaining, but the portion I went for wasn’t that big. But when I got home and ate it, I then added some ham (good – almost pure protein) and some yogurts that I still had in the fridge (bad). All in all I still didn’t overeat that day, but to be fair it should be flagged as a failure in the context of the rules that I had previously set up – it was an unplanned cheat day.

Day 6: I decided to change the diet as described above. For lunch I ate an apple, then went shopping and on the way stopped at Burger King and ordered a single cheeseburger. Normally when I stop at Burger King I’ll eat a Whopper menu (fries, diet coke) plus 9 Nuggets, so ordering a single cheeseburger achieved two things: a) it introduces me to small portions and b) it reduces the feeling of deprivation because hey, I went to Burger King and had a burger. Then I ended up getting a small slice of pie, which I ate later in the afternoon. After that I did another strenuous bicycle hike, and decided to get a cheeseburger and 9 nuggets from McDonalds for dinner. I “supplemented” with some ham, another apple and a can of peas, and all in all I still ate much less than 2000 calories that day, I did the bike hike, I ate plenty of protein, two apples – and the day even felt like a cheat day.

Well, that’s it – stay tuned for days 7-14. With the new rules the challenge will be to really implement the three restrictive days, but I’m confident that I’ll manage. 🙂

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From → WL Experiment 1

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