ADF Side Effect - You Keep Going, and Going, and Going...

Day 36, Fast Day #17

I am alive and still alternate day fasting. I have lacked the energy and focus to finish a blog post over the last few days due to a rough week of spring allergies. The uncharacteristically nice weather here in Seattle has seemingly caused every single plant in the region to blast the air with its pollen. Because all of these plants are trying to reproduce with my sinus cavity, I have been feeling like the living dead (minus the hunger for human flesh and brains). Sitting down and blogging with a fuzzy brain, runny nose, and ear and nose congestion has yielded about three partially-completed posts.

(If for some reason urination freaks you out, I recommend skipping the rest of this post.)

I am neither pregnant (yay) nor suffering from a urinary tract problem (yay), so I assume the recent increase in my peeing frequency is from alternate day fasting. Luckily, I spend a lot less time cooking and eating on this diet, freeing up my time to search for toilets.

It appears that a normal, healthy person urinates 6-8 times a day on average. I have been more in the 8-12 times a day range. I doubt I have a reduced-capacity bladder despite getting some flak about having a woman's "microbladder" in reference to me needing a pitstop at least once every road trip in the past. In fact, women and men's bladders are approximately the same size. It is the bladder positioning due to special lady organs that irritates a woman's bladder more often and creates the urge to urinate. Hence, the line for the women's restroom.

Whether I am fasting or feasting, I am likely thirsty. As a result, I have been drinking large amounts of water and herbal tea. It is obvious why I am peeing a lot. Consuming lots of water and water-filled foods is a common trick often used by dieters because water makes you feel full for zero calories. Research shows that increased water consumption may be an independent factor in women's weight loss as well. I too have been using water as a food substitute to wait out hunger pains on my fast days so I feel volume in my stomach without the calories.

One of the non-beverage ways I have been absorbing all of this water volume is through the produce I am eating. On my fast days, I have been packing in fruits and veggies for their volume and nutrition. Below are some of the fruits and veggies, with their respective water content, that I have been eating on fast days for reference:

Apple, 84% water, ~72 kcal (medium fruit)
Blueberries, 85% water, ~41 kcal (per 1/2 cup)
Carrots, 87% water, ~30 kcal (large carrot)
Orange, 87% water, ~65 kcal (medium fruit)
Broccoli, 91% water, ~30 kcal (1 cup)
Peppers, 92% water, ~60 kcal (1 bell pepper)
Spinach, 92% water, ~7 kcal (1 cup)
Strawberries, 92% water, ~46 kcal (1 cup)
Watermelon, 92% water, ~46 kcal, (1 cup)
Tomatoes, 94% water, ~35 kcal (medium fruit)
Celery, 95% water, ~9 kcal (long stalk)
Cucumber, 96% water, ~45 kcal (medium fruit)

In fact, if I ate every single thing on this list in these portions, that would be about 486 calories total and within the fast day calorie goal. Mind you, I probably wouldn't eat this list alone on a fast day because that would be 62 grams of sugar (which is over twice what is recommended per day) and there is not enough iron or protein. However, these foods are still great for getting in vitamins, phytochemicals, and fiber.

On a different water-related tangent, I will call to your attention that the encouragement to drink a ton of water for health somewhat revolves around myth. The common advice to "drink 8 glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration"  lacks hard evidence. You do need to drink enough fluids to replace what you lose daily (again, basic math like calorie intake and outtake for weight management). But a lot of the water we consume comes from the food we eat. The water consumption an individual requires is based on a lot of factors including the climate they live in, their size, and their lifestyle. As long as you can pee, it is very rare that too much water will be a problem for you. Just make sure you have enough electrolytes.

I also have yet to find the study that is often referred to in blog posts and articles (which all have broken links, when there is an attempt at a citation or source at all) claiming that the human sense of thirst is very weak and is often confused with hunger, resulting in 37% of people mistaking thirst for hunger in "studies." Perhaps I am searching for the wrong keywords? Or perhaps 37% of the people in this mysteriously unsearchable "clinical study" are just idiots and cannot differentiate their own bodily needs. Either way, 37% is not a majority, so I am not sure how this line of reasoning about our sense of thirst has been turned into such thriving urban legend. The study I did find in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that hunger is not related to thirst at all. My conclusion is to just drink water when you are thirsty. You will likely be aware of when you are thirsty.


Week 4 Summary

Day 30, Fast Day #14

Fasting today felt great after putting my body (especially my liver) through a bit of hard labor this weekend. I found I was not very hungry today and craving mostly fresh, raw produce after  eating a bunch of grilled meats, pastries, and fried foods over the last couple of days. I had a ton of energy today, got a lot of sleep, and was enjoying the great and unusual summer-like weather we have been having in Seattle.

Zach and I added in an additional feast day this past week because friends visited us from out of town and there was lots of celebrating with friends to be had. I weighed myself again this morning and I am still holding steady at 13 lbs lost in total despite two consecutive days of going out, day drinking, night drinking, and eating lots of rich foods.

Week 1: 1,437 kcal or 76% of baseline calories
Week 2: 1,938 kcal or 102% of baseline calories
Week 3: 1,680 kcal or 89% of baseline calories
Week 4: 2,196 kcal or 116% of baseline calories
While ADFing: 1,856 kcal or 98% of baseline
Baseline Days: 1,896 kcal

All Feast Days: 2,952 kcal or 156% of baseline
All Fast Days*: 498 kcal or 26% of baseline

For reference
Week 1: 4 fast days, 3 feast days
Week 2: 3 fast days, 4 feast days
Week 3: 3 fast days*, 4 feast days
Week 4: 3 fast days, 4 feast days
*Includes faux-fast day that was my mama's birthday dinner.

It was the most calorie-heavy week since starting alternate day fasting. I ate well over the calories during my baseline days. How did I manage to consume so many more calories than the previous few weeks? One word: Alcohol. Between Friday and Saturday, the consecutive feast days, I consumed about 39% of my calories within just 29% of the week. On Friday, 41% of my entire day's calories where in alcoholic beverages and on Saturday, 33% of my day's calories were in alcoholic beverages. Don't worry, this is NOT my typical drinking behavior and the booze was not all consumed within the same window of time.

What I find most interesting about looking at my numbers from the last month is that my total calorie consumption, as of now, is not significantly less than my baseline calorie consumption. However, I still am down the 13 lbs of weight. 

It is possible the baseline calorie consumption I am using for myself is lower than the number of calories I actually ate on average in the past, since I only tracked two days worth of eating prior to Zach declaring the third day a fast day. (Again, this is not a scientific experiment I am doing, this is just me trying to figure out how intermittent fasting effects my body). My level of physical activity has not changed, so I doubt that is a factor. If my average calorie intake was much higher than my baseline, it is possible my calories are more reduced than I know and this is why I have not regained the weight this week.

The only noticeable nutritional difference that I know of between my eating now and 4 weeks ago, is that my sugar consumption (but not total carbohydrates) is 42% lower. I am not eating much less in overall calories or carbs, so I don't think the lower amount of sugar is a factor in preventing my overeating. However, there is research that suggests that blood sugar levels and glycemic response are related to fat storage. One theory could be that I am not storing fat in the same way because of the large reduction of in sugar in my diet. I have also been eating foods lower on the glycemic index since starting ADF, and therefore explains how I am eating carbs, but not as many of the simple sugar ones. I figured all of those Marie Osmond infommericals selling Nutrisystem was all gimmick, but perhaps there is science behind eating lower on the glycemic index to lose weight.

My only other theory is that the pattern in which I am eating on it's own is changing how I metabolize food. That I will explore this theory on another night, since it is past my bedtime.