So Many Birthday Dinners, So Much Food

Day 14, Feast Day #8

One of the worst things about alternate day fasting has got to be when a fast day lands on a special occasion, holiday, or other important or rare social occasion. Being hungry alone is tolerable. But it is just masochistic to be hungry in a group dinner or party setting. For me, April is a birthday laden month which includes myself, my mother, and friends.

Now I have no plans to be so strict with this diet that I end up offending people on special occasions or holidays. Especially when the person likely to be offended is the same person that carried me 9 months and brought me into this world. 

My mom's birthday is next Monday, so Zach, my brother, and I are driving down this weekend to spend some time with her. The drive is three to four hours depending on traffic, so we won't make it into town by the end of today's feast day. So what is a girl to do about mom's birthday dinner on Saturday, a fast day?

Zach and I have come up with a decent compromise for this type of socially obligated eating and/or drinking function: the occasional 800 calorie not completely cheating day. 

Why 800 calories? It seems that a good number of the research papers I have looked at related to intermittent fasting will use a 800 calorie day as the fast day calorie allotment. Some even go up to 1,200 calories on a calorie-restricted today. So it is cheating in that 800 calories is much more than the usual 400-500 I get on a fast day. But 800 calories is still only 40% of a normal 2,000 calorie diet or 50% of a 1,600 calorie diet. With 800 calories one can eat a decent meal and have a drink easily.

I know very well without any restriction, I will overindulge. After all, my eating habits up until this point lacked boundaries. Hopefully Zach and I can stick to our cheat day strategy and not go crazy. I am also hesitant to just full out eat on a normal fast day because I feel like it would make the next fast day much more difficult.

Have a great weekend!


Water Weight: A Dieter's Foe

Day 13, Fast Day #7

I stepped on the scale yesterday and saw another 2 lbs lost for a total loss of 9 lbs in less than two weeks.

Frankly, I would be a fool to think that while on this diet that I am just dripping pure fat off my body like a meatloaf in a hot oven. So how much of the weight I am losing is just water weight?

Based on my current diet so far, here has been what I am eating on average feast and fast days as a reference:

Carbs: 333 grams (feast), 64 grams (fast), 130 grams (USDA DRV) - I clearly love bread
Fat: 86 grams (feast),7 grams (fast), undetermined USDA DRV
Protein: 91 grams (feast), 31 grams (fast), 46 grams (USDA DRV)

Well, complex carbohydrates bond well with water. So it makes sense on my down days where I am fasting, that the water in my body has less to bond to by way of carbs, and therefore I lose the water. I have clearly had plenty of carbohydrates to bond to on feast days and prior to dieting.

My sodium intake on an average fast day is 2,272 mg while my feast day is a very naughty 4,367 mg. The USDA recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day for my age and sex, so I should work on that. We know sodium retains water in the body. So, it makes sense that when I am consuming less sodium on my fast days, I must also have the ability to drop more water weight.

A study by M. Yang was sort of useful in answering my question. (Mind you, his study is with obese men and the low-carb ketogenic diet he uses is more like the Atkins diet, so not perfect for me.) In his study participants on a ketogenic diet, of the weight loss subjects experienced (by weight): 60-69% water weight loss and 15-36% fat loss (depending on which study you look at). My point is, the rapid initial weight loss seems to be mostly water.

Luckily it looks like the lower carb diets in a longer period do end up "accelerating" fat loss and maintaining muscle mass after the initial water weight loss, as noted in this summary of papers on the topic. So hopefully I level off on the number of pounds soon and start burning off more fat.


Special Post: Please Help Pat & Jess

So this post has nothing to do with alternate day fasting. It is about the health of people, though.

You are probably already horribly aware that this past Monday a terrorist bombed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. One of my friends, Chris, went to Boston College. Sadly, his friend Pat Downes and his wife Jess were at the finish line when the explosions occurred and were badly injured.

Their insurance will not cover all of the costs of their surgeries, prostheses, and rehabilitation.

If you can, please donate to help Pat & Jess to help pay for the medical care they will need due to this horrific tragedy and send them your thoughts and/or prayers. Anything you can give helps.

My mother also works for the American Red Cross and they have been sending as much blood and plasma as they can to help the Boston Marathon bombing victims. My mom's office in Portland, OR was able to send 42 units of plasma. If you are able to donate blood in the US, please donate as soon as you can.

Please pass along the kindness.


Fast(ing) Food - Quick Shrimp With Snow Peas

Day 11, Fast Day #6

Weighed myself again this morning and thought I was hallucinating. So I weighed myself twice more. Turns out I am down another 3 lbs, putting me at a 7 lb loss after 11 days. Crazy.

I have been busy wedding planning today, so I did not have time to finish an epic blog post. But I will leave you with a fast day recipe instead.

I basically got tired of eating just cold, mostly raw food on my fast days. So I made a heartier shrimp stir-fry for lunch today instead, yum!
Ugh, more cold, boring vegetables.
Quick Shrimp With Snow Peas (Yields 3 servings) ~288 kcal/serving
Takes about 15-20 minutes

  • 1 lb medium or large shrimp, frozen, no shell, cooked, and deveined (~427 kcal) - If you have time to devote to deveining and shelling your own shrimp and cooking them from a raw state, go for it. It will taste better. However I am cheap and impatient. Most shrimp sold in the US is previously frozen anyway.
  • 1 cup snow peas (~42 kcal)
  • 2 green onions stalks, chopped (~10 kcal) - I have been saving the bulbs and putting them in shot glasses full of water on our window sill and growing a second batch of green onions for free.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (~8 kcal)
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced (a root piece about half the size of your thumb) (~2 kcal)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil (~309 kcal)
  • pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth (~5 kcal)
  • 1 tsp white sugar (~15 kcal)
  • 2 tsp rice wine (~17 kcal)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium, but if you have a wheat/gluten issue, stick with regular strength) (~7 kcal)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch for thickening (~20 kcal)
For Shrimp Thawing:
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cup cold water
  • paper towels or a clean dish towel (for drying)
Add 1 tbsp salt to cold water in a large bowl. Stir until salt is dissolved. Add frozen shrimp and defrost. This takes about 10 minutes. So do any prep work now.

Add the broth, sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch into a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk until blended.

Pat dry shrimp on towel(s). Otherwise your shrimp are going to make the stir-fry watery and diluted coming straight out of the water bowl.

The key to stir-fry is not taking your eye off the pan and stirring continually to avoid burning things. Bring oil to medium-high to high heat in a wok, skillet, or large frying pan depending on how hot your burners get. 

Add garlic and ginger to the pan. Stir continually for one minute. 

Add shrimp, cook and stir for about a minute. If you bought precooked shrimp like me, these are already cooked so you are just heating them up basically. Otherwise cook raw shrimp until opaque and pink.

Throw in the snow peas and green onions. Cook and stir until snow peas start getting a little floppy.

Pour in the sauce mixture and stir until the sauce thickens up. Salt & pepper to taste and eat!


The Scale & Schedule

Day 10, Feast Day #5

This weekend I bit the bullet and bought a scale. One has to wonder how many scales actually sell at Wal-Mart. I was originally going to measure my weight loss in the very unscientific unit of American women's pant sizes. This is unreliable for many reasons including vanity sizing, brand differences, and the fact that I carry the majority of my weight in my lower half as a "pear" shape. I don't think pant sizes will be as motivating as a hard  pounds number anyway.

So what secrets did the mighty bathroom scale overlord reveal? I have lost 4 lbs or (1.8 kgs) since the last time I weighed myself (March 31, 2013). Obviously due to the lack of a baseline weight at the start of my diet, I cannot completely confirm this is entirely due to ADF. But given that MyFitnessPal predicted that my baseline eating habits would have had me maintaining my initial weight or gaining a little under a pound, I don't see how my previous non-action would have led to a 4 lb loss without some type of magic being involved. I also measured my waist at 33" the other day, so that is another number I can track.

Additionally this weekend I went from a midnight to midnight fast/feast schedule to a 10 pm to 10 pm schedule. I was staying up way past my bedtime in anticipation of breaking my fast with a before bed snack. I am getting much more sleep on the new schedule. I just need to be flexible with the idea of shortening feast days to accommodate life.

Also, no headache today! This is the first feast day without one.


ADF Side Effect - Super Human Smell

Day 9, Fast Day #5

A side effect of alternate day fasting I have noticed that is both a blessing and a curse is increased olfactory perception.

At first I thought that I was imagining my sense of smell being better because I was hungry and Zach hasn't noticed any differences in his sense of smell. Turns out olfactory perception and sense of taste have been studied in people who are fasting. Increases in the palatability of food and odor identification was seen in females in the study and an overall change in odor threshold in all participants. Another study shows that hungry people are also more aware of non-food odors than non-hungry people.

My super smell power on fast days is a noticeable and tempting reminder of hunger, especially when walking by restaurants and smelling the microwaved lunches of co-workers. I can also smell the trash needing to be taken out before I enter my own apartment. Yuck.

On the brighter side of my fast day heightened sense of smell, the actual taste of the food I eat is awesome. Since most of our perception of taste comes from smell, my super smell makes the fast day meal taste better than it would normally. Prior to ADF, I needed a dip, dressing, or sauce to have an interest in eating most raw vegetables. But when I am having my fast day meal, vegetables like broccoli and celery seem magically sweeter and delicious on their own. Carrots become like orange candy. No hummus or ranch dressing required.

It is time to end this blog entry before I make myself even more hungry than I am!