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Fat Loss Diary: Intermittent Success

Last week I announced that I would try intermittent fasting – and I did. I fasted on two non-consecutive days, and ate normally on the other five. Unfortunately I did not lose any weight – but I had been on a low-car calorie restricted diet the week before, so that could be due to re-gained water weight.

In retrospect I found some things which I could improve: 

  • The weather wasn’t good, so I used the car a lot
  • The week before I had gone on long walks after lunch, not so last week.
  • I ate a lot of chocolate and fruit on the non-fasting days. This is allowed on the 5:2 protocol
  • I didn’t count calories except on fasting days, which is also encouraged by the popular books on intermittent fasting

It’s hard to say which of those things matter more, and if I was doing a scientific experiment, I would have to change one of them at a time and keep everything else equal in order to find out. Fortunately I’m not, so I’ll change a bunch of things for this week:

  • I’ll use the bicycle every day to drive to/from work (16km)
  • I’ll walk at least 8,000 steps every day, and climb at least 20 floors (as monitored by my Fitbit tracker)
  • I want to achieve a nice caloric deficit for the week (about 7000 calories), so I’ll …
    • be more strict on fasting days (zero calories)
    • count calories every day
    • Three fasting days instead of 2
  • I’ll do HIIT (high intensity interval training) every other day. Eventually I want to do tabata intervals, but doing those every other day would kill me, so I’ll go for 4 20 second sprints with 30 second pauses between instead of the full 8 20 seconds with 10 second pauses of tabata. In time I will try to work up to doing one proper tabata workout per week.

 That’s it – stay tuned for next week’s update!

Fat Loss Diary: Ketosis, Interrupted

Last week I proudly announced that ketosis (ultra low carb) was working fine for me – well, it did, and then it didn’t anymore. Some may find it weird that I purchased a glucometer as a non-diabetic (my parents surely did), but I don’t regret it, because it revealed that after the third week of being in ketosis, my blood sugar level increased. In the beginning it had been lowish (80-90), but after three weeks of ketosis it had crept to the high end of the range which is still considered normal (100-110). I was mildly annoyed – after all, I wasn’t eating any carbs, so where did the glucose come from? I wasn’t eating a lot of protein either, so the body has to make the glucose from its own protein (bad) and from the glycerol in the fat stores (good, but that only accounts for a very small amount).

So what should I do? A quick consultation of Dr. Google didn’t provide any useful clues – there were many advocates of ketosis making inconsistent arguments – on the one hand they were praising ketosis for lowering blood sugar, on the other hand they were talking about a supposedly benign phenomenon called “physiological insulin resistance”, which leads to increased blood sugar levels. What gives?

Read more…

Fat Loss Diary: Full On Ketosis

Last week I mentioned that I had rediscovered nutritional ketosis – and today, one week later, I’m still in this fascinating state of fat burning. So far it works great – I’m eating very few calories and at the same time am not feeling hungry at all (because my body is augmenting my food intake using its fat stores). I’ve also been testing my blood sugar level as well as ketone level (Beta-Hydroxybutyrate) on a daily basis, confirming that I’m actually in ketosis. My blood sugar is hovering around 80, while the ketones are around 2 mmol/L … I seem to have no problem entering and maintaining ketosis, which seems to be a major problem for some people. I quickly learned that I can eat berries and dark chocolate in small quantities without any effects on the ketosis, which makes this diet a walk in the park as far as adherence is concerned.

I think I made one small mistake: I added salt and mineral supplements to the diet because a lack of those micronutrients is frequently reported when adapting to ketosis. I think that this had some unpleasant effects on my digestive system – so from now on I won’t do that anymore and instead wait for when (and if) I develop symptoms (dizziness when low on sodium, muscle cramps when low on magnesium etc.). The same goes for fluid intake: instead of drinking a lot of water throughout the day independently of thirst, I will only drink (water) when thirsty.

The same goes for food: Today for example I had the problem of not wanting to eat anything. My biggest worry is that I’m not getting enough protein, but I’ve now been in ketosis for two weeks – it’s quite likely that my body is no longer converting protein to glucose. I’ll definitely try to go for 80g of protein per day from now on – and a bit more on exercise days.

Beitrag zu Low-Carb im ZDF: Purer Unsinn.

Hallo zusammen,

heute mal ein Post auf Deutsch, da ich in der ZDF Mediathek auf diesen Beitrag gestoßen bin und ich beim Anschauen fast meinen Fernseher aus dem Fenster geschmissen hätte – bei so viel Unsinn muß ich einfach was dazu schreiben.

Hier der Beitrag:

Im Video geht es zunächst um ein Low-Carb Café – das finde ich zunächst mal eine gute Idee, wobei immer die Gefahr besteht, daß die Ernährung zu einseitig wird. Anders ausgedrückt: Wer zu Low-Carb findet, weil der Blutzucker/Insulin Mechanismus durcheinander kommt und als Resultat eine Abhängigkeit/Sucht nach Süßigkeiten entwickelt, tut sich vielleicht keinen Gefallen, Low-Carb zu machen und dabei dann seine Ernährung auf “Fake-Carb” umzustellen – Sachen wie Low-Carb Brot, Low-Carb Kekse, Low-Carb Kuchen sollten die absolute Ausnahme darstellen.

Aber darum geht’s mir in diesem Post eigentlich gar nicht – sondern um den restlichen Teil des Videos, in dem Low-Carb diskutiert wird. Hier würde ich gerne die Argumente von Ernährungsberaterin Brigitte Bäuerlein aus dem Video direkt zitieren und kommentieren: Read more…

Fat Loss Diary: Rediscovering Nutritional Ketosis

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post … and a lot has happened since. In the first week I was implementing the strategy that I had laid out, which was essentially low carb, no snacking, intermittent fasting. It worked – but I began to browse through my extensive collection of books on low carb and actually got a few new ones, and I watched many lectures on YouTube. For a while I got a bit frustrated because I came across so many ideas which I (now) know are false, plus some exciting new hypotheses, most of them sounding too good to be true. After a while things began to clear up though, and one idea stuck:

Nutritional Ketosis

This is essentially a very low carbohydrate diet. I could simply link to the Wikipedia entry for ketosis, but this time I’m going to describe the concept myself: If you go on a diet which is very low in carbohydrate and reasonably low in protein, the body quickly runs out of stored carbohydrate. This is because humans can only store a small amount of carbohydrate in the muscles and in the liver, which in itself tells you something about what’s the preferred fuel for the body (by comparison there’s a virtually unlimited store of fat). In the short term the body tries to compensate by creating glucose (the “currency” of carbohydrate in the body) from protein and fat through a process called gluconeogenesis. After a while (2-3 days) though the body begins to produce ketone bodies from fat in the liver. As it turns out, when there is very little glucose available, the  most important organ in our body which under “normal” (high-carb) conditions relies almost exclusively on glucose – the brain – can switch to ketones as an alternative fuel source. It still uses a small amount of glucose, and other cells in your body continue to rely exclusively on glucose (for example the red blood cells), but all things considered, once the adaption to ketone bodies as a fuel source is made, there is much less need for gluconeogenesis. Being in that state (also called “keto-adapted”) is called nutritional ketosis.

Why is this important for my fat loss diary? Read more…

Fat Loss Diary: Bye-Bye Oatmeal, Welcome Back Low-Carb

Wow – two months have passed since my last post, and I had announced weekly updates. I won’t make that mistake again, but in fact I have been on the announced strategy ever since, no sweets, lots of fiber from oatmeal. Unfortunately I haven’t lost any body fat … so last weekend I was going through the literature again, thinking about what to try next. Then I realized that back in January I wasn’t doing too bad – I was basically doing low-carb, which I know has worked for me many times. I also know that it has been difficult for me to stay on it for too long – and this time I’m really looking for a long-term solution rather than a temporary fix.

So without any further ado, this is my new strategy, for which I picked the best elements from what I did at earlier this year: Read more…

Fat Loss Diary: Oatmeal and Duck Fat

This is just a quick post about my ongoing fat loss experiment. I called it the “final” fat loss experiment, but I really want to make it an iterative process where I change some aspect of what I eat or how I work out every week and then see how that is working out for me. The main goal is still to eat less fructose and more fiber.

Reviewing Last Week (CW 07/2014)

I attempted to increase my fiber intake by eating oatmeal with milk for breakfast, whereas in the previous weeks I either skipped breakfast altogether or just had some fat in my coffee. I am using an iPhone app ( to keep track of most of the relevant parameters, and in retrospect I was able to increase my fiber intake from about 10g/day to 20g/day. Unfortunately I didn’t lose any weight, which was mostly because of stress related eating in the evenings. I managed to steer clear of fructose, but I still ate a lot of Chinese take out, mainly duck which is high in fat and calories.

Changes For Next Week (CW 08/2014)

I really liked the oatmeal breakfast, but of course it not only contains fiber, but also a lot of calories. The total caloric balance last week was the obvious reason I didn’t lose any body fat, so for next week I’ll try to reduce calories and further increase fiber intake. In particular, those are the changes:

  • Intermittent Fasting
    I’ll try to introduce one fasting day where I only eat about 800 Calories. The best way to accomplish this is to skip breakfast and lunch and then have a very small but protein-rich meal in the evening. This would be hard to maintain on a daily basis, but is quite possible once per week. I’ll do this on Friday, when traditionally the food choices in my company’s cafeteria aren’t that great (google “Currywurst”).
  • Smaller Portion of Oatmeal for Breakfast
    Last week I ate 100g of oatmeal with about 300ml of low-fat milk for breakfast – which is about 500 Calories (ok, I also added 10g of dark chocolate to the mix). That turned out to be too much, so I’ll eat half that portion for breakfast.
  • More Fiber in Total
    My goal for fiber intake is 30g/day, so I’ll eat oatmeal for dinner, too – at least on some days. I already eat plenty of salad at lunch every day, but unfortunately the amount of fiber you get from salad is quite low. I don’t want to get into whole grain breads, because of the calories. So at least for the time being, I’ll stick with oatmeal – maybe I’ll use some oat bran as well.
  • No More Take Out on Work Days
    No explanation needed for this one … as delicious as the Chinese deep-fried duck may be (hey, no fructose, and lots of veggies), it simply has too many calories.
  • Maintain A Caloric Deficit of about 1000 Calories/day
    This sounds a bit extreme, but I’ve done it before and it always worked. It’s much easier to accomplish with the fasting day I mentioned above – that day alone accounts for 2000 Calories per week, so on the other days I can eat a little bit more.

So that’s it for this week!

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