Week 9 Summary

Day 63, Feast Day #33

Stepping up my self-control on my feast days lowered my average calorie count these past couple of weeks. Sure I had a deep-fried bacon-wrapped hot dog and a few beers the other day. The point is that I compensated by eating healthier other days. My overall average feast day calories is down, despite this week being a 4:3 (feast day to fast day ratio). I ended up losing a single pound over the past seven days, so I am still at a total of 19 lbs lost in 9 weeks (averaging a 2.1 lb loss per week). For the rest of the world smart enough to use the metric system, that is 8.6 kg total loss or nearly a kilogram loss a week. Americans are silly and I regularly have to look up conversions to cook in my native "customary" units of measurement.

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
Week 5: 1,829 kcal or 96% of baseline calories
Week 6: 1,531 kcal or 81% of baseline calories
Week 7: 1,954 kcal or 103% of baseline calories
Week 8: 1,196 kcal or 63% of baseline calories
Week 9: 1,638 kcal or 86% of baseline calories

While ADFing: 1,711 kcal or 90% of baseline calories
Baseline Days: 1,896 kcal

All Feast Days: 2,839 kcal or 150% of baseline calories
All Fast Days*: 470 kcal or 25% of baseline calories

For reference
Week 1: 3 feast days, 4 fast days
Week 2: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 3: 4 feast days, 3 fast days*
Week 4: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 5: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 6: 3 feast days, 4 fast days
Week 7: 4 feast days, 3 fast days, 
Week 8: 3 feast days, 4 fast days
Week 9: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
*Includes faux-fast day that was my mama's birthday dinner.

There wasn't anything particularly interesting about my nutrient intake this week other than that I was missing over a third of my recommended iron intake despite eating plenty of protein. Whoops. This might also be because I didn't eat any of my usual iron-fortified cereals this week, since I am trying to cut down on my processed grains. My total carbohydrate intake was also the lowest it has been on on a 4:3 week as well, so that seemed to be a trade-off that happened.

One of the best sources of iron is organ meat, but the texture of organ meats isn't something I enjoy though. Zach and I are planning to buy most of our food from local markets, so maybe I can get some sort of mollusk to eat this week, since those also have a lot of iron, along with a bunch of dark greens. It doesn't make any sense to live in Seattle and not make some sort of effort to eat good, fresh seafood... unless you have allergies to that sort of thing.


"Are You Crazy?" and Other FAQ I Get About Me Fasting

Day 62, Fast Day #30

Alternate day fasting and other forms of intermittent fasting (IF) like 5:2 have only recently become more popular as diets in the last few years due to new research on IF, new books, and increased media coverage. The earliest published research I could find on alternate day fasting is from 1988, in which scientists studied the renal functions of elderly rats that were fed every other day. (Spoiler: The old rats on ADF had better eye health.) Since them, there has been more relevant research on human subjects.

I have been alternate day fasting for nearly 9 weeks at this point and am used to fielding a variety of reactions and questions from the people I tell about my current unorthodox eating pattern. Some typical responses I get from my peers are along the lines of:

Question #1: "Are you serious?" or "Are you crazy?"

Question #2: "Why don't you just eat less every day?"

Question #3: "There is no way I could do that." or "How do you have the willpower to eat 500 calories in a day?"

Question #4: "Don't you just binge after you fast?"

Question #5: "So, how long are you on this diet?"

Question #6: "Can you do that long-term?" or "There is no way you can sustain that long-term, right?"

Question #7: "There is no way that can be healthy for you." or "Isn't that going to hurt your metabolism?"

There is no such thing as a stupid question, right? However, it is very stupid to not ask questions or try to get them answered. I can answer most of these questions without getting into a lengthy science discussion:

Answer #1: I am serious and I am fairly positive that I am not crazy in the clinical sense.

Answer #2: Because I feel deprived when I try to eat less every day and I give up. The daily calorie restriction is endless and depressing. It is like I committed a fat crime and was sentenced to a lifetime of never getting to drink real beer, eat ice cream, or indulge in dessert again. With alternate day fasting, my dieting mental prison sentence is only every other day. The end is always in sight and it makes you really appreciate feast days and look forward to the next day. Alternate day fasting is a good weight loss method for people like me that can't commit to daily calorie restriction.

Answer #3: I just quit talking about, false promising myself, and generally just thinking about trying to lose weight. In the spur of the moment I decided to actually do something about the 40 lbs (18 kg) or so of extra weight on my body with Zach after watching Eat, Fast, Live Longer. I am an incredibly stubborn human being, so when my mind is set, that is what I am doing. My willpower is perhaps just my stubbornness. 

The thought of continuing life being overweight and my eating habits contributing to my own physical and mental demise is also a motivator. So some anxiety and fear is a part of my willpower. Me being overweight forever and getting weight-related diseases later in life is not inevitable. Anyone that is overweight is able to solve their own weight problem with a little willpower and by acting on known weight loss solutions instead of maintaining the status quo. Obviously the status quo lifestyle is the problem.

Answer #4: Define "binge." I don't eat everything in sight on my feast days. Sure, I have my beer and chocolate chip pancakes moments, But, I don't think my feast day eating even remotely resembles the binge-eating I have seen on Dr. Phil episodes about eating disorders.

I do want to eat most of the food around me, especially the pretzel M&Ms. I don't need the food around me. I now ask myself, "Do I need to eat that? Am I hungry? Or do I just want to eat that for taste/to cure boredom/because other people are eating it?" The answer is usually that I don't need the food and I just have mouthlust.

Answer #5: Until I decide not to do it? My body has adjusted to this eating pattern, so it's not that difficult anymore. If I ever get to be under a healthy weight (hahahahaha, right) then I would obviously stop. I would also stop if I got pregnant. For humanity's sake I hope that doesn't happen for a few years or more (yes I am knocking on wood while typing this). I also would go on a lighter maintenance plan of 5:2 or 6:1 if I hit my goal weight/a healthy weight. I will also be stopping when I get married to Zach in late August temporarily. I am not going to be on any sort of diet on my wedding day or my honeymoon. My family will create more than enough stress for me during this period of time that fasting would be an overload.

Answer #6: I have read the forum posts of people that have been alternate day fasting for 6 years or so, so I think it is possible to stick to this diet long-term. Plus, people restrict their calories daily long-term and do just fine.

Answer #7: I am cooking up a research-laden post on the metabolism question. Something for you to look forward to.


One Pound That Might Be Back Tomorrow

Day 61, Feast Day #32

I dropped another pound today for a total of 19 lbs (8.6 kg) lost  in almost 9 weeks. This is a little over 2 lbs a week, which is on par with what Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer cite as the average weight loss per week while alternate day fasting.

I broke my fast with a really unhealthy meal that included three beers and a bacon-wrapped fried hot dog. So much for exerting self-control. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try a deep-fried hot dog for the first time, much less one wrapped in bacon. The fact that I can be on a diet and not have any rules against bacon-wrapped deep-fried hot dogs on rare occasions is one of the best perks about ADF. I probably should never eat bacon-wrapped deep-fried hot dogs, however, I have always been a "go big or go home" kind of gal. So I went big on calories, fat, carbs, and everything today. I ended up at 112 grams of fat in the 24-hour period. Don't act like you aren't impressed (or scared for my arteries).
If that pound returns tomorrow, I will know why...

YOLO! I promise I will never use that acronym on this blog again.


Stop Blaming Fat

Day 60, Fast Day #29

My mother used to tell me, with the best intentions, that "only fat makes you fat."

Keep in mind that my mother has a legitimate Ivy League degree in medicine and a Master's degree in food science. As a result, I did not have much reason to question her views on health and nutrition when I was growing up or to think that things other than fat made you gain weight. However, a lot of research has been done in nutrition since my mom was last in school and I have learned to critically question everything I hear and read (especially when it comes from my mother).

When my mom went to medical school, fat was the enemy in the war against America's rising weight and weight-related health problems. Since the 1970s, the US government has been campaigning against high-fat foods (foods over 30% fat) in an effort to improve the health of Americans. Because fat has been villainized, the food industry aggressively markets "low-fat" and "fat-free" foods as healthier food choices. It is estimated that low-fat food labels may be a factor in the overeating of junk food by 65% of people who are overweight. "Low-fat" and "fat-free" does not translate into healthier, nutritious, or low-calorie. A lot of foods marketed as lower fat, reduced fat, or fat-free contain added flavoring agents like extra sugar and salt and only a slight-reduction in calories. Check the nutrition label carefully before going with a low-fat version of a food.

Scientists have figured out that fat is not the only thing that makes you fat. We now know that insulin decreases the breakdown of fat (lipolysis) and triggers the storage of fat. When we eat foods that have a high glycemic response (they trigger a rapid increase in blood sugar in the body), the human body produces insulin to remove excess glucose (sugar) from blood. Your body removes excess glucose with insulin because excess glucose is toxic. So, those sugary low-fat and fat-free options at the grocery stores can still make you gain weight by slowing down your body's ability to break down fat. Not only that, but the extra sugar overtime can lead to insulin-resistance, which can cause diabetes. Some commons foods that rate high on the glycemic index are low-fat, including: white bread, bagels, white rice, Russet potatoes, popcorn, pretzels, and a variety of cereals.

Given what we now know about insulin's role in fat storage, it is no longer fair to crusade against fat as public enemy #1, especially since America has gotten increasingly overweight over the years despite the propaganda against high-fat foods. I am not advocating eating a ton of high fat junk food by any means. I am simply advocating for an updated science-based approach to improving public health and curbing obesity. Plus, avocados are about 80-90% fat. Anyone that hates on avocados is clearly out of their mind because avocados have an array of health benefits and taste incredible.

Haters gon' hate. Fatty and healthy avocados.


Fast(ing) Food - Quick Rainbow Couscous

Day 59, Feast Day #31

There are some days when you just don't figure out what you are making or eating for dinner until you open the pantry and fridge (there are periods in life where this happens everyday). This was one of those days. I found a leftover bag of couscous, part of a bag of frozen corn, a can of beans, some veggies and fruit from Zach and my weekend trip to Seattle's famous Pike Place Market, and cilantro from the planter outside our apartment. This is what I made:
I ate my own bowl with avocado on it before remembering to take a picture, whoops!
Quick Rainbow Couscous (Yields 4 servings) ~355 kcal/serving w/avocado, ~275 kcal w/o
Takes 10-15 minutes

I am calling this "rainbow couscous" because of the different colors of veggies and fruit in this dish. No unicorns, leprechauns, or Lisa Frank creations were harmed while making my dinner. Eating a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables is a good strategy for both children and adults to eat a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
  • 3/4 dry instant couscous (the smaller sized kind) ~488 kcal
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth ~13 kcal
  • 1 medium tomato, diced ~35 kcal
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, diced (I used an orange one) ~25 kcal
  • 1/4 of a onion, diced (I used a yellow one) ~15 kcal
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped ~2 kcal
  • 1/2 cup of sweet corn (I used frozen) ~50 kcal
  • 1 can of beans, drained and rinsed (I used red kidney, black would have made sense if I had some on hand) ~385 kcal
  • 1 large avocado, sliced ~322 kcal - optional
Put the broth in a medium to large pot. Throw in onions into pot. 

Bring broth and onions to a boil. Once at a boil, cover the pot and remove from heat. Let sit  covered for 5 minutes. Don't peek or your couscous won't cook right.

Heat your corn according to the package directions if using frozen like I did. Drain.

Mix olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, Adobo seasoning, pepper, and hot sauce together. Pour this sauce onto the couscous after the 5 minutes is over. Fluff the mixture.

Dump in the bell pepper, corn, tomato, cilantro. Mix together. 

Serve with sliced avocado on top. If there is any lime juice left, drizzle it on your avocado. Enjoy!