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WLE Weeks 7 and 8: Tragic Loss & New Approach

August 12, 2012

This is a quick summary of weeks 7 and 8 of my ongoing weight loss experiment, written on Sunday 12th of August 2012 (the last day of week 8). You can check out my FitBit profile to see a 30 day chart of calories-in vs. calories-out as well as the food items that I logged – if you are reading this post long after the fact the data may be gone of course, or the profile set to private … I don’t plan to use FitBit and meticulously track my activities and food intake indefinitely.

Week 7: The Loss of a Tracker

In the previous post I mentioned that I got a FitBit tracker (a nice little gadget which tracks your steps and then uploads the data to FitBit.com, where you can keep track of this data as well as all other health and fitness related information like food intake, weight and even body measurements and blood pressure). Well, on Monday of week 7 I managed to accidentally give it a spin in my washing machine – I simply forgot to remove it from my trousers. I tried to “bake” it in the oven at 50° Celsius, and even managed to get it to boot again and display a message on the following day, but ultimately it gave up the ghost, so I decided to order a new one. I ordered it from Amazon with premium shipping (Amazon Prime), but ironically DHL decided to put the “Packstation” (an automated station right across the street from my place, where one can pick up parcels) offline just the day the tracker was shipped, so it was sent to one of their offices instead, where I wanted to pick it up on Saturday at 13:30, only to find that although the office is inside a mall that opens from 8:00 to 20:00 on Saturdays, the office closed at 13:00 – so I had to pick it up in week 8.

Diet-wise according to FitBit I managed to achieve a caloric deficit of about 6,500 calories for week 7, which is probably a bit exaggerated. Weight went down from 104.7kg to 102.9kg – very nice. I digressed from my planned 3 restrictive days quite a bit – but I managed to make Monday a fairly restrictive day, and Thursday as well. But it was a fairly active week, too – many bicycle tours, which I tracked using Endomondo.

Week 8: Meet the Perfect Health Diet

Same story as week 7, in essence, as far as caloric deficit and weight loss are concerned – I’m now at 101.3kg, down from about 108kg in June. In retrospect that’s close to 1kg per week – and considering all the chocolate I’ve been eating, I can’t say that the diet was too hard to adhere to. But this week I happened to run across two recently published books on Amazon.de (Links will take you to Amazon.com, since both this blog and the books are in English):

1. Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Answer
2. Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet’s The Perfect Health Diet

I only skimmed the early chapters of The Paleo Answer – I had read Cordain’s previous book from the early 2000s, and I was eager to see how he had changed his view on saturated fat, but two things put me off: 1. His arrogant tone and 2. the high frequency of testimonials – it seemed almost like it was 50% first person, subjective “I tried this and wow, the results were SO AMAZING!”.

But The Perfect Health Diet on the other hand did impress me – I don’t agree with 100% of the authors’ conclusions and arguments, but as a whole, as far as the general concept is concerned, I found myself in complete agreement (to my own astonishment). Have a look at their nice graphic summary of the diet:

The key part of the diet is to limit both carbohydrate and protein intake to a somewhat narrow and low caloric range and fill the rest with healthy fats – for my diet experiment this means that I’ll try to limit both to about 500-600 calories each day (carbs a little bit more, depending on exercise). The rest of the calories will come from fat – primarily saturated fat and mono-unsaturated fat, and a substantial part will come from coconut oil, which contains a lot of lauric acid, which is a short-chain saturated fat that cannot be stored by the body, but must be converted into energy immediately – mostly in the form of ketones. The resulting macronutrient distribution should be 20-65-15 (carbs, fat, protein), and what needs to be avoided (as the graphic shows) are grains, vegetable oils (Omega-6) and sugar. What I find most convincing is the fact that both skeletal muscle and fat cells consist of mainly fat and protein in a 75-25 like ratio, as far as nutrients are concerned. It makes sense to me to eat a low-carb diet which mimics this ratio and at the same time does not completely eliminate carbs from the diet – in the book they lay out various strategies (herbivore/omnivore/carnivore), and I find the omnivore strategy most appealing, where you eat just the amount of carbs which are needed by the body, so that it doesn’t have to manufacture them from other nutrients (like via gluconeogenesis from protein, if you’re on a zero carb diet).

I tried many low-carb approaches in the past, but I always kept protein high. In fact the very first low-carb diet I tried was called Protein Power. I often wondered though whether the claim that skeletal muscle needs much more protein than typical RDAs state was actually true – 1. when muscle is destroyed during exercise, the amino acids and other valuable parts of the cells are recycled and 2. weight-wise skeletal muscle does not contain that much protein. So I was thrilled when I read the book to see my own suspicion adressed and fleshed out (pun intended). The authors speak about strength training and muscular hypertrophy briefly in the book and cite various athletes and how they favored increased fat intake for building muscle. Sure, many of those athletes also took in a lot of protein (eggs were a favorite, but then again those contain a lot of fat as well), and they also did anabolic steroids. But that doesn’t matter to me – I’m not really interested in body building. I do strength training mostly for maximizing functional strength and to preserve muscle mass.

Conclusion

I recommend everyone who reads this post to check out the Perfect Health book and website. If you don’t want to spend any money up front you can start with the website, all the info you need to try the diet is available there for no charge, and no strings attached. You also don’t need to buy any equipment or expensive food items to try the diet – the authors recommend some supplementation (and another book is in the works which is co-authored by Mark Sisson (edit: he only wrote the foreword), who runs a supplement company), but most of the supplements which they recommend are fairly cheap, and they recommend strongly against supplementing with fish oil – so at this point I don’t see any reason to suspect ulterior motives in the authors other than trying to sell a book (obviously) and to help people lose weight or improve their health.

I already implemented the diet yesterday and today (the last two days of week 8) and I will try to implement The Perfect Health diet “to a t” in the next 4 weeks, so expect another post next weekend, giving some more detailed infos about how I am implementing TPH, and how it works for me. And of course it will be interesting to see whether it works even better than my previous approach, which I’m confident it will. 🙂

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From → WL Experiment 1

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