Antibiotics & Weight Gain

Day #98, Feast Day #55

I am on my last day taking antibiotics and am more than ready to be done with them. Despite trying to get back on track with alternate day fasting this week, my scale has been messing with my mind. I have been gaining and losing pounds like my scale is on a rollercoaster ride. I got on the scale yesterday before work, and I gained 2 lbs in the night. Sure, I had a small slice of cake and a cocktail when I broke my fast that evening, but 2 lbs?!? I also have averaged below my baseline calories this past week. I've also had a lot of heartburn the last couple of days. So, what the hell is going on with my body? Even on bad weeks I haven't seen this much volatility in my weight before. My first thought is that it has something to do with being on antibiotics.

I used to work for a pubic interest group, so I am generally suspicious of taking any medication for the most part because I am wary of the influence of profit-driven, pharmaceutical companies, drug manufacturers, and their lobbyists. These are the same companies that pay off rival companies to delay the production of generic medications, do "phantom" recalls of tainted products from retail stores, and literally have given people AIDS. Now that I have noted my paranoia/bias, can antibiotics cause weight gain?
This fat antibiotic fed laboratory mouse says, "Yes!"
My stepfather has worked in the animal slaughter industry basically his entire life. So I have known that some agribusinesses mix antibiotics into the regular animal feed, so they fatten up their animals quickly. Luckily his company does not use this practice. The agribusiness practice of feeding animals low levels of antibiotics has been repeated in controlled laboratory studies. Mice fed a low dose of antibiotics got fat in these studies. It turns out the mouse bodies were converting more carbohydrates into fatty acids and storing more fat while on antibiotics than the control mice.

I obviously was given a therapeutic level of antibiotics and not a low dosage. I am also not a mouse. So do antibiotic treatments cause human weight gain? A summary of research on this topic suggests they do. The types of gut bacteria and their populations are correlated to weight in people and may be an important factor in weight gain, loss, and maintenance. Children treated with antibiotics early in life also tended to be more overweight than children who had not been treated with antibiotics when they got older.

So that cake and cocktail may have magically turned themselves into fat overnight due to my compromised bacterial balance. Ugh. Now that I have a good theory as to why my weight has been all over the place this week, I am glad that I get to start repopulating my gut with good bacteria tomorrow.


Fast(ing) Food - I'm Sorry, Body Salad

Day 94, Fast Day #40

A successful fast day! I am getting back on track this week, I swear.

My body has gone through a lot of self-inflicted abuse over the last two weeks. So I decided to say I'm sorry to my organs by eating a nutritious salad. Eating a salad while dieting is obviously not some genius, original idea of mine. It is common sense if you are looking to consume a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients without a lot of calories. However, not every salad is low-calorie or nutritious. If you are trying to eat healthy by ordering a salad at a restaurant, you can end up with a plate containing over 1000 calories, a lot of sodium, or a bunch of saturated fat like in these 20 salads worse than a Whopper. This past week I ate a salad at a restaurant that ended up being over 700 calories when I looked up the nutrition facts later.

This salad I threw together is not worthy of an unhealthy salad list:
Those are flax seeds, not ants. In case you got nervous about eating insects.
I'm Sorry, Body Salad (Yields 1 large serving) ~133 kcal/serving
Takes 5-10 minutes

Feel better with 240% of the vitamin A, 128% of the vitamin C, 19% of the calcium, and 13% of the iron that is recommended daily in one big bowl. Plus some omega-3s, potassium, and fiber.
  • 1/4 of a small onion, sliced (I used a yellow onion) ~7 kcal
  • 3 big leaves of lettuce, chopped (I used romaine) ~14 kcal
  • 1/2 medium apple, sliced (I used a Braeburn apple) ~36 kcal
  • 1 small carrot, sliced (I used a purple one) ~20 kcal
  • 1/2 large bell pepper (I used a green one) ~12 kcal
  • 5 grape tomatoes ~10 kcal
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped ~3 kcal
  • 1 tsp flax seeds ~17 kcal
  • 1 tsp unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds ~14 kcal
Chop up all your fruit and veggies, mix in a bowl, sprinkle on seeds. You can add a dressing of your choice to toss in with the salad.

Why did I use a purple carrot? Purple carrots and other darker, smaller variants of fruits and vegetables that are more like their wild relatives, are more nutritious than common agricultural crops. Check out this lovely chart from the New York Times about nutrition in wild versus supermarket produce.

I like to make my own salad dressing when I have the time to whip one up. Here is the honey mustard vinaigrette I threw together for this salad:

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing (optional) ~264 kcal/serving
  • 2 tbsp olive oil ~250 kcal
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp honey ~10 kcal
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning (or mix of marjoram, thyme, oregano, and basil)
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard powder ~3 kcal
  • pepper, to taste ~1 kcal
  • kosher salt to taste
Salad dressing is a very personal thing. I recommend experimenting with varying amounts and types of honey, vinegar, mustard, and spices depending on your tastes. Plus experimenting is fun.

Sure, salad does not require much by way of culinary skill and is quick. Sorry if this recipe didn't blow your mind. This is real food I prepare and eat on fast days. I need to spend less time cooking and more time wedding planning, so I see more salads in my future.


Week 13 Summary

Day 93, Feast Day #52

I have been very bad at actually alternate day fasting these past couple of weeks and have ended up just 5:2ing. Birthday parties and the bachelorette party last week have been followed by my own Independence Day party and spending an evening at the Seattle International Beer Festival. All of my feasting and ludicrous amounts of refined grains and alcohol has set me back 2 lbs total. My net weight loss is down to 19 lbs over 13 weeks. This is still 19 lbs I am proud to not be carrying anymore, but gaining back weight is still irritating, especially since it is directly related to my recent pleasure eating and drinking.

Another set back this week is being on a 10-day course of antibiotics. I am one of those people that can get really nauseous when taking oral antibiotics, and the doctor said I should take these ones with a meal, twice a day, to avoid stomach irritation. (The doctor also confirmed I likely have a celery allergy based on the mouth numbing I noticed previously). For days now, I have been eating regardless of actual hunger in the morning to make sure my medicine stays down. Ugh. Just yesterday, I had intended to do a fast day, but ended up doing a medium calorie day. The awkward 953 calories is far too high to be a fast day, but too low to be a normal day of eating.

Here are the numbers for the past week including two days of the bachelorette party and my July 4th party:

Week 1: 1,437 kcal or 76% of baseline calories (-3,213 kcal/week)
Week 2: 1,938 kcal or 102% of baseline calories (+294 kcal/week)
Week 3: 1,680 kcal or 89% of baseline calories (-1,512 kcal/week)
Week 4: 2,196 kcal or 116% of baseline calories (+2,100 kcal/week)
Week 5: 1,829 kcal or 96% of baseline calories (-469 kcal/week)
Week 6: 1,531 kcal or 81% of baseline calories (-2,555 kcal/week)
Week 7: 1,954 kcal or 103% of baseline calories (+406 kcal/week)
Week 8: 1,196 kcal or 63% of baseline calories (-4,900 kcal/week)
Week 9: 1,638 kcal or 86% of baseline calories (-1,806 kcal/week)
Week 10: 1,637 kcal or 86% of baseline calories (-1,813 kcal/week)
Week 11: 1,681 kcal or 89% of baseline calories (-1,505 kcal/week)
Week 12*: 2,108 kcal or 111% of baseline calories (+1,484 kcal/week)
Week 13*: 2,649 kcal or 140% of baseline calories (+5,271 kcal/week)

While ADFing: 1,806 kcal or 95% of baseline calories
Baseline Days: 1,896 kcal

All Feast Days: 2,857 kcal or 151% of baseline calories
All Fast Days: 448 kcal or 24% 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, 1 medium day, 1 fast day (I re-categorized my "faux-fast" as a medium day)
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
Week 10: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 11: 4 feast days, 3 fast days
Week 12: 5 feast days, 2 fast days*
Week 13: 5 feast days, 2 fast days*
*Includes days during my bachelorette party weekend.

As you can see, my 13th week was a record-breaker in calorie consumption. I also broke records in average carbohydrate consumption (224 grams/day) and sugar consumption (85 grams/day). It's no wonder I feel so gross in the aftermath of all this. My insides are probably coated in molasses and all of the good bacteria that were once living happily in my body are now dead. 
I have been partying in a land of carbs.
Check out the cool food landscapes by Carl Warner.

I will attempt to fast again tomorrow and just eat something light in the morning while avoiding my normal morning coffee (which can upset my stomach). Hopefully I don't end up going overboard when the need for my second meal kicks in. Eating two tiny meals is far more difficult for me than eating one filling meal. Getting back on the wagon is tough!