Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I didn't eat very well on vacation but managed to keep it to a modest gain (about 2 pounds). Some of that might be the bloat I get from getting glutened. I hope to get it back down by the weekend. I IF-ed Monday (and plan to on Friday) and am doing shakes only during the days, when hungry, otherwise.

I tried to eat only when hungry on vacation, much to my MIL's displeasure. It didn't always work, especially with dinners. I also IF-ed a few times, but that was more about just not being hungry than trying to fast.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I figured out another reason last night why I haven't been losing weight recently.

I usually am physically hungry when I get home from work at 3:30. We don't eat dinner until about 6:30 most nights so I have been eating a little something to "tide me over". Lately that little something has been a handful of nuts.

We have these small 4 oz custard cups that hold about a handful (I have big hands). I usually have about half almonds and half cashews. I knew it was fairly high in calories but thought it was about 400 (two servings). I finally actually weighed the amount last night and calculated the calories.


For me, nuts and weight loss are mutually exclusive.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Three month update

Semi-official 3 month update.

The last few week-ends haven't been very good, so I am pretty much just maintaining at the moment. I have been holding around 189-190 during this time.

I have added in resistance training again over the last three weeks, which may be affecting my weight. I doubt that I have added much muscle during that time but they definitely feel fuller, so I am probably holding more glycogen and water, which keeps the weight up.

My goal from here through the holidays is simply to maintain. The holiday season has always been brutal. It starts with the trip to K's folks, which is next week. It seems like I usually just lose it from then until after my birthday (Feb 1). I plan on continuing on with the waiting for hunger and the two times a week 24 hour fasting. I am hoping that allowing myself to still have a little bit of the goodies will be satisfying enough that I can keep control.

I can resume the weight loss after the holidays.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two month update

I do my "official" weigh-in on Saturday mornings right after I get up. This way, the conditions are close to the same every week and I don't get distracted by the daily ups and downs that everyone has. This last Saturday (the 25th), I weighed 188.4. This is down 3.4 lbs from last month, for a total of 15.4 lbs. It is nice to see the 180's again.

After the loss during the first month, the weight loss slowed to almost nothing for a couple of weeks, less than a pound during that time frame. I was still waiting for hunger but still eating too much at a time. Throw in a couple of slips and it was a recipe for very slow losses.

Around that time, I became aware of a blog by the author of the book Eat Stop Eat. The book is his take on intermittent fasting (IF). There is a little more to it but, essentially, you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, depending on if you are trying to lose weight or just maintain. The 24 period is a period starting from right after one meal to right before the same meal the next day. So, for example, if you finish dinner at 7 PM on Sunday night, you wouldn't eat again until after 7 PM on Monday night. The fast period is absolutely zero calories - no juice, no cream in coffee, no broth, etc.

I have tried IF in the past, using the "window method", where you would fast for 18 hours and then eat during a window of time for the next 6 hours. I liked a lot of things about it but I didn't like eating so much during the window, though I was trying to get a certain level of macronutrients in during that time which was leading to overeating.

The nice thing about Brad Pilon's (the author of Eat Stop Eat) blog is it is backed up completely scientifically and really does a nice job destroying the nutrition myths. He has convinced me that my muscles aren't going to fall off if I don't eat 150 grams of protein every single day, that it is possible to maintain or even gain a little muscle while in calorie restriction, there is no "starvation mode" (or at least what most dieters believe is starvation mode), etc. It has also lead me to realize that I don't have to eat the second my stomach growls. I think waiting a little leads to a healthier attitude towards food (I'm not bowling over small children and old ladies on my way to the food the second my stomach growls) and also leads me to better choices as I have time to think about what I am really hungry for.

The last few weeks I have added two fast days - Monday and Friday. Monday is to "recover" from the weekend, which tends to be higher carb, and Friday is because that is a day I tended to go off of the rails with my eating. Simply not eating is easier for me than to not overeat, even with the constraints of hunger.

This has ramped up the weight loss. The fast days are easy, though I have to watch that I don't over do it when I break the fast. I still eat within the constraints of hunger and fullness the rest of the time, so "suffering from hunger" doesn't happen. I enjoy it.

Eat Stop Eat blog

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


...even the US Army agrees with me.

Honor Your Hunger

Blood Glucose

I found a quote by Dr. Eades yesterday buried in the comments in his blog that I found interesting. He was helping a woman who was struggling with a low carb diet. After helping her set up her macronutrients, he wrote:

Based on caring for a large number of patients, I would assume that your body fat right now is around 33-35 percent. At 189 pounds, this means you are carrying about 60 pounds of fat and 129 pounds of lean body mass. At your ideal weight and body fat percentage, you will have a lean body mass of 104 pounds, which means you will lose 25 pounds of lean body mass. Which is okay since you won’t need that lean mass when you are 59 pounds lighter. (As a corollary, if you want to gain lean body mass all you have to do is strap on a 59 pound pack and wear it 24/7.)

The muscle mass you lose will be converted to glucose to make up for the glucose your body uses while getting only 30 grams per day. Under stable low-carb conditions, the body needs about 130 grams of glucose per day (normally it needs about 200, but ketones take up the slack for about 70). If you provide 30 grams in the diet, the body gets the other 100 grams from lean mass breakdown. 100 grams times 10 days equals one kilogram, which is 2.2 pounds. Add that to the fat you will be burning from the spontaneous caloric deficit a good low-carb diet provides, and you should find yourself losing 2-3 pounds per week.

Low Carb and Gymnasts

Anthony Colpo wrote a while back that ketogenic diets were catabolic (muscle wasting) and was jumped on by the low carb community. Here, Dr. Mike verifies that it is true.

Some of this can probably be avoided by dramatically raising your protein intake. Since glucogensis (converting protein to glucose) is very inefficient (I've seen anywhere from 35 to 70% efficient), it would take an additional 150 to 200 grams of protein a day on top of your regular protein intake to make up that deficit. That is an additional 600-800 calories, not counting any other calories that ride along with the protein source (i.e. fat). Not all of calories will "count", as some are lost in the glucogensis conversion, but it is still a net gain in the energy balance.

Now, most women reading this are probably thinking "So? I don't want to be bulky anyway". The problem is that if carbs are kept that low, you will need to burn that protein up every day, regardless whether you lose any fat in the process. This means you can lose muscle ahead of the fat, which can lower the basal metabolic rate which can make it harder to lose the fat later on.

You see a lot of people on the various low carb boards that claim they lost X number of pounds by just reducing carbs to a really low level but seem to be eternally stuck 25-40 pounds overweight. A big portion of those X pounds were probably muscle and now they have settled into a lower metabolic state.

As an aside, after the fat is gone, the body will readjust the muscle levels down, so losing just fat won't turn one into a muscle bound freak.

I know carbs are villified by low carbers, but there are advantages to a slightly higher intake over increasing protein intake. For one thing, carbs can be stored in the body as glycogen in the muscles and liver. From there, it can be used to maintain blood glucose levels and for quick energy when needed. Protein isn't stored, except as lean tissue (protein's amino acids circulate in the blood stream for a while but are eventually cleared). Also, some insulin is necessary for nutrient uptake into the tissues of the body (it is excess insulin that can cause problems). Finally, 100 grams of carbs is only 400 calories verses the almost double amount needed with protein).

Lyle McDonald recommends about 100 grams of carbs a day. At this level, the body is still ketogenic (yes, it really is), so the ketones are still used but you have enough carbs to make up the difference instead of using muscle. It is also a low enough level that high insulin doesn't become a problem.

So what does this mean for me, since I am not counting anything? It just verifies my decision to include some carbs along with my protein heavy meals. For example, last night, I had a small bowl of beef stew for dinner. K makes the stew heavy on the beef, but there are a few carrots and potatoes. Since I don't eat a lot at a time, I doubt there was more than 25 grams of carbs in the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Results

I showed a loss on the scale everyday of the weekend, getting down to 193.6 yesterday, about a four pound loss. However, I only ended up eating once yesterday but it ended up being a larger meal than usual. We had a BBQ and K made potato salad, which is really rare as I am the only one in the family that likes it. I over-did it a bit, which was stupid, as I can have it any time I get hungry. Embarassed

The result of all of those extra carbs was a bounce up of 2 pounds. Considering that the whole meal had to be less than 2000 calories (I wasn't that full), I am sure it is just water from the carbs.

Still, all in all, I am down around 2 pounds for the long weekend. I am back on track now and will probably shed that water fairly quickly.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Settling In To the Routine

I was down another 1.4 lbs this morning, though I weighed a couple of hours later than usual.

I also tested my fasting blood sugar and it was at 84. This is a nice side affect of eating this way as my FBS has been creeping up closer to 100 lately.

The thing that amazes me about eating this way is the energy that I have. When I tried low carbing and when I tried low calorie, I would just feel like dog crap. Drag around all of the time, feeling like death warmed over. I never got that energy boost while low carbing that some people report.

Now I'm just bouncing around and feel energetic, though my motivation to exercise is as low as usual. Laughing I think that eating at true hunger must somehow raise what is called Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which is calories burned through increased movement, like fidgeting, being up and around more, etc. I will say, though, that I know from experience that if I am going to do something very physical, I need to eat something beforehand, even if I am not hungry at the time or I will bonk.

There is also a nice mental side effect from not having a restive diet. Last night, I was up late and was watching the first part of the rebroadcast of the Chiefs' preseason game at midnight and the ice cream was calling my name. I wasn't hungry, though, and it was surprising easy to resist. For one thing, I didn't want to mess up my weight loss. The main thing, though, was that I knew I could have some when I did get hungry, if I really wanted. I don't normally have ice cream when hungry, because I want to put decent, protein based fuel in my body when it needs it, but just knowing I could have it when I got hungry took away the temptation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Post Vacation

Vacation went well, with a total of a 1.2 pounds lost. Pretty much the first time I have ever lost weight on a vacation, except for went we went to Disney for a week and walked miles every day.

Eating intuitively while staying at someone else's house wasn't terribly difficult but I couldn't be real strict about it as meals were somewhat out of my control. I was rarely hungry at breakfast but usually had a couple of bites of something, like a deviled egg, before heading out shopping as I didn't want to have to deal with trying to find something I could eat while out running around.

I got around this by just having small meals when it was time to eat. It was usually a medium sized piece of meat and a few vegetables and possibly a scoop of rice or potatoes. Not much at all, and no second helpings. I also had a small bowl of ice cream several hours after dinner (which is why I wasn't hungry in the morning). I wasn't hungry then; I was just being polite. Wink

All in all, it was fairly easy to do while eating less than perfect foods, but I am glad to be back in the mode of being able to just eat small amounts when I am actually hungry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I am not dramatically down this week so far, about .6 pounds since Monday. I have still had some struggles with dinner. Part of the problem is I have been busy in the evenings and just kind of wolfed down my dinner. This is a recipe for overeating. If I eat too fast, I feel deprived, since I didn't really taste it, and feel like I need a second helping. I need to get back to slowing down and paying attention to my food.

We are leaving for a trip for the next week this afternoon. The good thing is that I haven't "pre-vacation" eaten. I frequently let my diet go to crap a week or so before vacation and haven't done that this time. I hope that is a good sign for the actual trip.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back On Track

I've learned a lot so far this time. I found I can easily drop weight by weighing every morsel and counting the calories. It is relatively painless too (wasn't starving or anything like that). The problem is that I have also learned that I can make it about two weeks before I get sick of weighing everything and entering it into a food log. :? It's especially true if we have any meals that are complex when it comes to ingredients, like a stew.

The holy grail has always been to find a way to lose weight and maintain the loss without a bunch of complex rules or total deprivation. A way that can be incorporated into daily life (Duh, right?).

With this in mind, I returned after vacation to the only thing that has ever actually worked for me - eating only when physically hungry. I managed to maintain my (post-vacation) weight through most of the summer without much effort. The problem was that I wasn't losing.

I recently read of a study that got me thinking a little differently. The study was supposedly about binge eating but was actually about intermittent fasting. In the study, they took seven women and had then eat a certain daily amount of calories spread over three meals and a snack for several weeks. Then they had the women eat the same amount of daily calories but all in one meal a day for four days.

It is a very short term study with a small number of participants but it had one result that was worrisome - the women's leptin levels dropped, despite not having a calorie deficit. Leptin levels usually fall in response to either fat loss or calorie deficit (usually happens at the same time). Lower leptin levels will slow the metabolism and ramp up the hunger levels in an attempt to maintain fat stores.

In the paper itself, the authors wrote that it had been proven that leptin levels are higher if one spreads the calories over six small meals than three meals and the new study shows that one large meal a day results in even lower leptin levels, even at the same calorie level.

This got me thinking back to when I first lost weight using an intuitive eating approach (which I am going to call IE, because it's a lot easier to type out than "eating only when my stomach growls" :wink: ). I ate a very small amount each time my stomach growled and I would end up being hungry several times a day. The weight just poured off of me and I maintained the loss for several years.

Over time, though, I started eating more each time I was hungry. It got to where I would only be hungry twice a day. This is when the weight started creeping back on. I think now that this "binge and fast" eating pattern lowered my metabolism (which was already suppressed as I hadn't eaten enough protein and had lost some muscle mass as well) and let the fat come back slowly, even though I wasn't really eating a lot more.

Over the last week, I went back to eating small amounts during IE and the weight has really started coming off again (4.6 pounds the first week). I have been trying to aim for around 300 calories each time I eat, except for dinner. Dinner has still been a struggle not to overeat. I am still working on that part and feel like I will get there.

I really think there is some "magic" there hormonally, when you get the right balance. I don't think I can intuitively eat and get down to sportin' a six pack but I know I can get down to a healthy weight. I don't think that single digit body fat is particularly healthy anyway and there is a reason the body fights it tooth and nail.

A difference between now and what I did before is that I am trying to make my meals protein based, though not necessarily really low carb. This is partly to prevent muscle loss but also in response to something I read a while back.

A scientist (I don't remember his name right now) has theorized that animals have a certain protein level that they will intuitively try to reach. They will continue to eat until they hit that level, eating a lot of low protein foods or a little of high protein food. This has been shown to be true in animal studies but no one has tested it in humans. However, it makes sense to me. There are no essential carbs and it takes a surprisingly small amount of fat to reach the essential fats requirements. However, protein is critical to maintain the structure of our bodies and can not be stored (except in lean tissue). It makes sense that protein would be the primary drive behind our appetites.

Anyway, that is where I am now. I have a test almost right away with a trip to Salem later this week (for about six days). Trips always derail me but I am confident that I can do better this time. When I get back, I intend to keep posting about different studies, thoughts and struggles.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Extreme low carb and thyroid studies

Another post stolen from Lyle's board

J Endocrinol Invest. 1982 Jan-Feb;5(1):47-52.Links
Effect of dietary carbohydrates during hypocaloric treatment of obesity on peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism.
Pasquali R, Parenti M, Mattioli L, Capelli M, Cavazzini G, Baraldi G, Sorrenti G, De Benedettis G, Biso P, Melchionda N.

The effect of different hypocaloric carbohydrate (CHO) intakes was evaluated in 8 groups of obese patients in order to assess the role of the CHO and the other dietary sources in modulating the peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism. These changes were independent of those of bw. Serum T3 concentrations appear to be more easily affected than those of reverse T3 by dietary manipulation and CHO content of the diet. A fall in T3 levels during the entire period of study with respect to the basal levels occurred only when the CHO of the diet was 120 g/day or less, independent of caloric intake (360, 645 or 1200 calories). Moreover, reverse T3 concentrations were found increased during the entire period of study when total CHO were very low (40 to 50 g/day) while they demonstrated only a transient increase when CHO were at least 105 g/day (with 645 or more total calories). Indeed, our data indicate that a threshold may exist in dietary CHO, independent of caloric intake, below which modifications occur in thyroid hormone concentrations. From these results it appears that the CHO content of the diet is more important than non-CHO sources in modulating peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism and that the influence of total calories is perhaps as pronounced as that of CHO when a "permissive" amount of CHO is ingested.

PubMed A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine
and the National Institutes of Health

1: Metabolism. 1986 May;35(5):394-8.
Related Articles, Links

The effect of varying carbohydrate content of a very-low-caloric diet on resting metabolic rate and thyroid hormones.

Mathieson RA, Walberg JL, Gwazdauskas FC, Hinkle DE, Gregg JM.

Twelve obese women were studied to determine the effects of the combination of an aerobic exercise program with either a high carbohydrate (HC) very-low-caloric diet (VLCD) or a low carbohydrate (LC) VLCD diet on resting metabolic rate (RMR), serum thyroxine (T4), 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3), and 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (rT3). The response of these parameters was also examined when subjects switched from the VLCD to a mixed hypocaloric diet. Following a maintenance period, subjects consumed one of the two VLCDs for 28 days. In addition, all subjects participated in thrice weekly submaximal exercise sessions at 60% of maximal aerobic capacity. Following VLCD treatments, participants consumed a 1,000 kcal mixed diet while continuing the exercise program for one week. Measurements of RMR, T4, T3, and rT3 were made weekly. Weight decreased significantly more for LC than HC. Serum T4 was not significantly affected during the VLCD. Although serum T3 decreased during the VLCD for both groups, the decrease occurred faster and to a greater magnitude in LC (34.6% mean decrease) than HC (17.9% mean decrease). Serum rT3 increased similarly for each treatment by the first week of the VLCD. Serum T3 and rT3 of both groups returned to baseline concentrations following one week of the 1,000 kcal diet. Both groups exhibited similar progressive decreases in RMR during treatment (12.4% for LC and 20.8% for HC), but values were not significantly lower than baseline until week 3 of the VLCD. Thus, although dietary carbohydrate content had an influence on the magnitude of fall in serum T3, RMR declined similarly for both dietary treatments.

Publication Types:

* Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

PMID: 3702673 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

2: Metabolism. 1980 Aug;29(8):721-7.
Related Articles, Links
Click here to read
Thyroid hormone homeostasis in states of relative caloric deprivation.

O'Brian JT, Bybee DE, Burman KD, Osburne RC, Ksiazek MR, Wartofsky L, Georges LP.

Starvation is accomplished by significant changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and in peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism. Less well studied, however, are the effects on thyroid hormone economy produced by hypocaloric feeding. We explored these changes in obese patients fed 200, 400, or 600 cal/day of either carbohydrate of protein for 28 days. T4' T3' reverse T3 and the TSH response to TRH were measured at frequent intervals. Each patient demonstrated a transient rise in reverse T3 and a fall in T2 that returned to near basal levels by the end of the study period. The TSH response to TRH on the other hand, declined to approximately 50% of control values and remained at that level throughout the course of study, regardless of the type of substrate or calorie level chosen. The results indicated that hypocaloric feeding is associated with changes in thyroid hormone economy similar to those in starvation and that peripheral (changes in T3 and rT3) and central (TRH response) events are controlled by separate mechanisms.

Publication Types:

* Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

PMID: 6772921 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

3: J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Jan;42(1):197-200.
Related Articles, Links

Effect of caloric restriction and dietary composition of serum T3 and reverse T3 in man.

Spaulding SW, Chopra IJ, Sherwin RS, Lyall SS.

To evaluate the effect of caloric restriction and dietary composition on circulating T3 and rT3 obese subjects were studied after 7-18 days of total fasting and while on randomized hypocaloric diets (800 kcal) in which carbohydrate content was varied to provide from 0 to 100% calories. As anticipated, total fasting resulted in a 53% reduction in serum T3 in association with reciprocal 58% increase in rT3. Subjects receiving the no-carbohydrate hypocaloric diets for two weeks demonstrated a similar 47% decline in serum T3 but there was no significant change in rT3 with time. In contrast, the same subjects receiving isocaloric diets containing at least 50 g of carbohydrate showed no significant changes in either T3 or rT3 concentration. The decline in serum T3 during the no-carbohydrate diet correlated significantly with blood glucose and ketones but there was no correlation with insulin or glucagon. We conclude that dietary carbohydrate is an important regulatory factor in T3 production in man. In contrast, rT3 concentration is not significantly affected by changes in dietary carbohydrate. Our data suggest that the rise in serum rT3 during starvation may be related to more severe caloric restriction than that caused by the 800 kcal diet.

Publication Types:

* Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

PMID: 1249190 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

4: J Endocrinol Invest. 1983 Apr;6(2):81-9.
Related Articles, Links

Relationships between iodothyronine peripheral metabolism and ketone bodies during hypocaloric dietary manipulations.

Pasquali R, Baraldi G, Biso P, Pasqui F, Mattioli L, Capelli M, Callivá R, Spoto M, Melchionda N, Labò G.

Relationships between iodothyronine and metabolic substrate metabolism during undernutrition were evaluated in four normal subjects who fasted for 48h (Group I) and in four groups (II to V) of obese patients who underwent selective dietary manipulations: 360 calories [carbohydrate (CHO) 40 g/day]; 800 calories containing respectively 19 g/day - ketogenic - (K) and 112 g/day - non ketogenic - (NK) of CHO; and a step-diet programme (during which total calories were progressively reduced from 2500 to 500). Serum T3 levels decreased significantly and constantly during fasting, 360 and 800 K studies, and transiently during the 800 NK diet. During the step-diet programme, a significant fall was found only when 1250 K or less were given. Conversely, serum reverse T3 rose significantly and constantly during 360 and 800 K diets, while a transient increase was found during the 800 NK diet. During the step-diet programme reverse T3 rose only when 750 calories were given. Ketogenesis developed in all studies but one (800 NK), and in the step-diet programme significantly below the 1000 calorie step. Other substrate modifications in each study were also evaluated. Serum T3 levels showed a significant correlation with ketone bodies (KB) in all the ketogenic studies, while no correlation was found in non ketogenic study (800 NK). During the step-diet programme ketone bodies and iodothyronine modifications appeared to be related to the amount of calories. Based on these results, we suggest a relationship between the dietary-induced modifications of iodothyronine metabolism and the development of ketogenesis.

Publication Types:

* Comparative Study

PMID: 6863849 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

5: Metabolism. 1983 Jan;32(1):9-13.
Related Articles, Links

Adaptation to hypocaloric feeding: physiologic significance of the fall in serum T3 as measured by the pulse wave arrival time (QKd).

Osburne RC, Myers EA, Rodbard D, Burman KD, Georges LP, O'Brian JT.

We have investigated the physiologic significance of the decline in serum triiodothyronine (T3) occurring during hypocaloric feeding by measurement of changes in cardiovascular function. The QKd interval, the interval between the Q wave of the electrocardiogram and the onset of Korotkoff sounds at diastolic pressure at the brachial artery, is the sum of the preejection period and pulsetransmission time, and has proven to be a sensitive and effective measure of the effect of thyroid hormones on the cardiovascular system. Fifteen euthyroid obese volunteers underwent successive 2 wk periods of hypocaloric feeding (200-400 calories per day) interspersed with periods of at least 2 wk of re-feeding on a weight-maintaining diet (1500 calories). In a later phase subjects received oral supplementation of triiodothyronine (T3) in addition to the diet to prevent the fall in serum T3. In the last study phase, subjects on the diet received supplementation with oral thyroxine (T4), which prevented the fall in serum T3 and resulted in a slight increase in serum T4. During the first 2 wk period of hypocaloric feeding, there was a statistically significant increase in QKd, and a decrease in pulse rate, compatible with a hypothyroid state relative to initial measurements. When oral T3 supplementation was given, the rise in QKd and fall in pulse rate were prevented. Likewise, with oral T4 supplementation, the changes in QKd and pulse were prevented. Thus, the fall in serum T3 occurring during hypocaloric feeding is associated with changes in the cardiovascular system which are qualitatively similar to those observed during hypothyroidism. The present data, taken with other data in the literature, suggest that the decline in serum T3 during hypocaloric feeding may be an adaptive mechanism to conserve energy during caloric deprivation.

Publication Types:

* Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

PMID: 6848901 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

6: Metabolism. 1980 Oct;29(10):930-5.
Related Articles, Links
Click here to read
The role of dietary fat in peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism.

Otten MH, Hennemann G, Docter R, Visser TJ.

Short term changes in serum 3,3',5-triiodothyronine (T3) and 3,3'5-triiodothyronine (reverse T3, rT3) were studied in four healthy nonobese male subjects under varying but isocaloric and weight maintaining conditions. The four 1500 kcal diets tested during 72 hr, consisted of: I, 100% fat; II, 50% fat, 50% protein; III, 50% fat, 50% carbohydrate (CHO), and IV, a mixed control diet. The decrease of T3 (50%) and increase of rT3 (123%) in the all-fat diet equalled changes noted in total starvation. In diet III (750 kcal fat, 750 kcal CHO) serum T3 decreased 24% (NS) and serum rT3 rose significantly 34% (p < 0.01). This change occurred in spite of the 750 kcal CHO. This amount of CHO by itself does not introduce changes in thyroid hormone levels and completely restores in refeeding models the alterations of T3 and rT3 after total starvation. The conclusion is drawn that under isocaloric conditions in man fat in high concentration itself may play an active role in inducing changes in peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism.

Publication Types:

* Comparative Study

PMID: 7421583 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

June 5

Yesterday's menu:

Fresh Turkey Breast Cutlets
Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil

Carrots, Baby - Raw
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Brazil Nuts
Pork, Fresh, Loin, Sirloin (Chops), Boneless

Pineapple Chunks in 100% Juice - Canned Fruit
White Basmati Rice
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Milk Chocolate - Kisses
Beef - Steak, Sirloin, Raw, Lean

Total Calories Consumed 1,523

Fat - 31.5% (53 grams)
Protein - 49.5% (188 grams)
Carbohydrates - 15.7% (60 grams)
Alcohol - 0.0%
Other - 3.3%

Daily Sodium Intake - 585 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 28 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 356 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 12 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 9 grams

Exercise: 3 sets of Tiger Moves

Weight: 195.4 (-1.2) (-6.4 Total)

The calories for yesterday are suspect (as usual). I had piglets for lunch and those are an unknown for calories. These were pretty fatty, so I suspect that the calories were higher there.

Dinner was a Vietnamese Beef and Pineapple dish. I weighed the meat before and the can of pineapple (with juice). You don't drain the meat juice, so I figured that the results were that proportion of meat and pineapple. I used the raw weight of the beef rather than cooked, since the water/juice was kept. The dish also has onion, garlic, and fish sauce but I didn't count those and figured I could ignore the weight since some of the liquid was going to cook off. Who knows.

I am definitely hitting that "slowing down" stage of the diet. I felt really resistant to doing the exercise yesterday but it wasn't too bad once I got started. I need to keep it up even if I don't want to do it, to keep from losing muscle.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June 4

Yesterday's meals:

Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%
Cream, Fluid, Half And Half
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Fresh Turkey Breast Cutlets

Brazil Nuts
Carrots, Baby - Raw
Cottage Cheese

Cream, Sour
Salad Dressing
Cabbage - Raw
Beef, Ground, 95% Lean Meat / 5% Fat
Ham, Sliced, Regular - (Approximately 11% Fat)
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
2 Kisses

Total Calories Consumed 1,758

Fat - 41.6% (81 grams)
Protein - 43.0% (189 grams)
Carbohydrates - 13.7% (60 grams)
Alcohol - 0.0%
Other - 1.7%

Daily Sodium Intake - 3,919 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 28 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 429 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 32 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 12 grams

Weight 196.6 (-.2) (-5.2)

No exercise yesterday to speak of. I was feeling a bit lethargic and had a headache all evening.

It looks like my easy water weight loss might have dried up. Too bad - that's the fun part.

The calories are a bit uncertain, as usual, because I wasn't sure how to breakdown the meatloaf K made. I just calculated it as a 50/50 split of lean ground beef and the ground ham. I ignored the other ingredients because I doubt they made much of a difference. I also had a good sized pile of cauliflower but that wouldn't have made a big difference in calories, either.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

1 Week Recap

1 week recap:

Weight loss: 5 pounds


Fat - 38.0% (567 grams)
Protein - 39.6% (1,329 grams)
Carbohydrates - 22.3% (748 grams)

Daily Calorie Intake - 1,942 cals
Daily Sodium Intake - 3,070 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 65 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 482 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 32 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 11 grams

Definitely need to bring that daily calorie total down some. The only good thing, though, is I have been fairly active doing stuff with the boys lately.

June 3

I missed a couple of updates as I was off the computer all day Sunday and couldn't get on the blog yesterday.

Yesterday's meals:

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Fresh Turkey Breast Cutlets
Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%

Beef, Ground, 95% Lean Meat / 5% Fat,
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
SANTITAS White Corn Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Sharp Cheddar Shredded Cheese
Brazil Nuts

Carrots, Baby - Raw
Beef, Top Sirloin
Potatoes, Boiled
Milk Chocolate - Kisses (2)
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil

Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%
Wellements Protein Powder
Butter - With Salt
Bread, White, Toasted

Total Calories Consumed 1,790

Fat - 35.5% (71 grams)
Protein - 45.4% (203 grams)
Carbohydrates - 17.0% (76 grams)
Alcohol - 0.0%
Other - 2.0%

Daily Sodium Intake - 1,220 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 28 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 486 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 26 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 4 grams

Exercise: 3.2 mile run/walk with J and G

Weight: 196.8 (-2.0) (-5.0)

Well, bye-bye water weight. Of course, now I am back where I was Saturday. Confused Onward and downward, I guess. I do think it is funny that all of my weights this week have ended in .8. Makes the math easier. Laughing

I had to guesstimate the calories at dinner. I had a small bowl of K's beef stew, which is mostly meat with a few veggies. I really didn't need to eat it at all because I had hit my protein target after the protein shake I had after being out with the boys. I sort of felt that I "had to" have a little to be polite to K and to be part of the family dinner (besides - it's really good Very Happy ).

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31

Yesterday's meals:

Cottage Cheese

Chicken, Thigh, Meat Only - Cooked, Roasted
Carrots, Baby - Raw
Bunny Tracks - Chunky & Gooey
Lettuce, Red or Green Leaf - Veggie

Wellements Protein Powder
Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%
Blueberries - Frozen, Unsweetened
Fat Free Cottage Cheese - Cottage Cheese
Broccoli - Raw
Cauliflower - Raw

Total Calories Consumed 1,956

Fat - 34.0% (74 grams)
Protein - 42.0% (205 grams)
Carbohydrates - 24.0% (117 grams)

Daily Sodium Intake - 3,277 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 76 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 424 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 33 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 17 grams

Exercise: Ran/walked 3.1 miles with J, training for Fun Run

Weight: 196.8 (-1.0) (-5.0)

Yesterday was weird. First of all, I am pretty sure this one of the few times I have ever lost weight after a Friday. Fridays are bad because I work at home by myself that day and the ice cream calls my name. It did yesterday, too, but I had just a little and fit it into my calories/macronutrients, for the most part.

I wasn't hungry all morning and had to basically force myself to eat in the morning and at lunch. Then I ran/walked with J. I came back pretty hungry and had a protein shake. That took me up to my calorie level (thanks to the ice cream snafu) and I was done for the day. I got hungry later, but it was that annoying "empty stomach" feeling more than true hunger so I pretty much ignored it except for some veggies with protein dip. The extra took me higher than I wanted to be, calorie-wise, though the exercise means I was still in a deficit.

Still, the one pound loss made it worth it. Very Happy

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30

Yesterday's meals:

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Fresh Turkey Breast Cutlets
Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%

Chicken, Thigh, Meat Only - Cooked, Roasted
Carrots, Baby - Raw
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Fat Free Cottage Cheese - Cottage Cheese
Perch, Mixed Species - Cooked, Dry Heat

Rainbow Fat Free - Sherbet
Bunny Tracks Ice Cream

Fat - 32.5% (61 grams)
Protein - 40.9% (173 grams)
Carbohydrates - 24.9% (105 grams)
Alcohol - 0.0%
Other - 1.7%

Daily Sodium Intake - 1,207 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 82 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 531 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 22 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 8 grams

Exercise - 3 Sets of Tiger Moves (it rained so I didn't run with J)

Weight: 197.8 (-2.0) (-4.0)

I weighed a couple of hours later than usual this morning so that may have affected the loss. It will wash out eventually.

My macronutrients came out almost perfect today, even though it wasn't the healthiest way to hit it. Between the turkey cutlets and the chicken thighs, I had hit my protein target by lunchtime. Again, I had a bunch of broccoli and cauliflower with dinner that I didn't count, so calories would be slightly higher, along with carbs and fiber.

The lower carbs caught up with me today as I had a pretty good headache all afternoon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fat Burning Zone

Another interesting post by Lyle McDonald that I wanted to save here:

as you move from lwo intensities to higher intensities, the amount of fat vs. carbs burned shifts from one to the other

at low intensities, you may burn near 100% fat
at the highest intensiy (acually just aoutanything about lactate threshold), you burn 100% carbs

at any intensity between, you burn a proportion

the issue with the 'fat burning zone' concept is that people confuse %ages with absolutes

say you're walking at 3mph and burning 5 cal/min, but you're burning 100% fat. That's 5 cal/min of fat.

Say you're running at 6 mph and burning 10 cal/min but you're burning 50% fat.

Ruh roh, that's less fat, isn't it? No, it's not. 10 cal/min * 50% 5 cal/min of fat. But you're also brning 5 cal/min of carbohdyrates.

Say that at 6 mph you're burning 10 cal/min but still 65% fat. That's still lower by %age than at 3mph. But yo'ure burning 6.5 cal/min of fat which is higher. And you burn more total calories. And you deplete some of the carbohdyrate in your muscle.

some studies have shown that that maximum absolute amount of fat burned occurs right around the lactat tehreshold (the highest, hardest, most painful intensity that you can sustain for an extended period) although it dpends on training status and some other factors

when you deplete muscle glycogen (via burning it during exercise and/or carbohdyrate restriction), this increass whole body fat oxidation. And, for the most part, what you burn during exercise is less relevant than than what you burn the rest of the day and none of this matters if you aren't in a deficit). So say you do a hard session wheer you burn a combination of fat and carbs. not only did you burn those calories, by depleting muscle glycogen

a. your body will burn more fat for the rest of the day (I'm not saying more in terms of 'metabolic rate' is increases, but more in terms of the proportions used)
b. incoming carbohdyraste tend to go to refilling muscle glycogen instead of being used for energy

which is why, to a certain degree, it doesn't matter what you do as long as the calorie burn is roughly similar

low intensity activity is sort of a direct fat burner, you burn mostly fat for fuel but that's all you get out of it.

higher intensity burns some proportion of fat/carbs but impacts more greatly on what you burn later in the day

intervals brns only carbs during training but the glycogen depletino and other factors may make you burn more fat later in the day

I think the bigger isse is that, if you do too much high intensity activity too frequently, you get overtrained and that causes too many problems.

elite athletes do 75% or more of their volumes at low intensities, what makes fitness people think that they can handle more than this?

May 29

Yesterday's meals:

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2% Milkfat - With Added Vitamin A
Beef, Ground, 95% Lean Meat / 5% Fat

Carrots, Baby - Raw
Brazil Nuts
Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Cottage Cheese, Creamed, Large Or Small Curd

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Chicken, Thigh, Meat Only - Cooked, Roasted
Pork, Fresh, Loin, Sirloin, Boneless - Separable Lean And Fat, Broiled
Fat Free Cottage Cheese

Total Calories Consumed 1,930

Fat - 41.2% (91 grams)
Protein - 44.1% (219 grams)
Carbohydrates - 12.2% (60 grams)
Alcohol - 0.0%
Other - 2.5%

Daily Sodium Intake - 2,671 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 37 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 595 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 33 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 10 grams

Exercise: 3 sets of Tiger Moves

Weight this morning: 199.8 (+.6 lbs) (-2.0 lbs)

Had the expected bounce up this morning, since I had been dehydrated from the long ride. However, the weird thing is that my clothes are much looser today than yesterday, at the higher weight. Must be that infamous low carb body rearranging stuff going on. Laughing

I knocked the protein target out of the park yesterday and hit around where I want my carb level. The fat level was a little high, so my calorie level is higher than I wanted it. Also, the calorie level is very, very uncertain. For dinner, we had piglets (pork riblets). They aren't nearly as fatty as most ribs, so I wasn't exactly sure how to enter them in to I may be a little low there.

Also, I didn't bother to enter in the handful of cauliflower and broccoli I had with dinner as the calories are negligible, so my fiber and carb count would be higher. I may go lower today to compensate.

I was kind of dragging around yesterday. I think it was the sudden drop in carbs. Thankfully, I don't feel as bad as I usually do at the lower carb levels. I think the extra protein is helping there.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28 (Day 1)

Yesterday's meals:

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Fresh Turkey Breast Cutlets
Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2%

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Pork, Fresh, Loin, Sirloin (Chops)
Carrots, Baby - Raw
Brazil Nuts

Fish Oil Softgels - Fish Oil
Beef, Top Sirloin
Cabbage - Raw
Cream, Sour, Cultured
Salad Dressing, Mayonnaise Type
Cream Top 6oz Strawberry
Rainbow Fat Free - Sherbet

Total Calories Consumed 1,721

Fat - 31.4% (60 grams)
Protein - 38.8% (167 grams)
Carbohydrates - 26.4% (114 grams)
Alcohol - 0.0%
Other - 3.4%

Daily Sodium Intake - 823 mg
Daily Sugar Intake - 87 grams
Daily Cholesterol Intake - 435 mg
Daily Saturated Fat Intake - 18 grams
Daily Fiber Intake - 9 grams


3 sets of Tiger Moves
2 Hour trail riding with J

Weight this morning: 199.2 (-2.6 lbs)

Holy water weight loss, Batman! I imagine I am still a little dehydrated from the long bike ride, so I imagine that will bounce up a little at some point.

I felt good all day yesterday. However, after the bike ride, I was seriously hungry. I had only eaten 780 calories at that point. I should have had a protein shake right when I got home, but it was close to dinner time, so I waited. I had my swiss steak and coleslaw and was still very hungry. I had a yogurt, which helped but only a little. Finally, after the kids were bugging me about wanting some ice cream, I had a small bowl of sherbet, which finally did it. Felt fine after that.

I think my body was craving carbs after the long ride. I was probably seriously glycogen depleted. Fortunately, in that state, carbs go straight to the muscle and not to fat, so not much harm done.

I am pretty hungry this morning again, but it is starting to pass. I will eat a little bit later, after I go down to the store to get my coffee.

Can You Dig It?

My original plan with this personal challenge was simply to "get into shape". I was originally thinking of exercise plans and such, which were originally derailed by a sore elbow and knee. Well, circumstances beyond my control have gone a long way to helping me reach that goal.

About 6-7 weeks ago, our septic system's drainfield failed. This led to several weeks of frantic digging every night after work as I installed a partial new one by hand. I had to dig up the the old pipe, widen the trench until it was 2" wide and more than 6" deeper than the original, and then add gravel and new pipe before back filling. The first couple of weeks, I was just trying to expose the old pipe in an attempt to find the ends, so that I could clean them out. When I found our drainfield is actually on the neighbor's property and in the middle of an orchard (the roots were a major part of the problem), I decided to install a new one on our property.

Between the digging and moving, loading, and dumping the rock, I managed to get into a lot better shape. I definitely added muscle to my back, shoulders and legs. I did lose a little fat but not much as I didn't want to deal with being tired from a calorie deficit. I needed the strength to keep up with the project and get it done in a decent amount of time. Besides adding muscle, I also added a lot more endurance. Some of the problems I had before, like the shortness of breath and the sore knee, are gone, but my elbow is still really bothering me.

I consider this my "bulking phase". However, now that the project is done (for now - I'll be adding some branches later, when the sand isn't so dry), I need to reduce my intake. I can also afford to have a small caloric deficit. I am still trying to train to do the 5K fun run with J, so I don't want to go too low. I would like to drop a few pounds before the run to make it easier.

Since my metabolism is ramped up now due to the amount of physical work I have been doing and the amount I have been eating, I feel it is a good time to do a quicker fat loss diet. I am going to base it Lyle McDonald's's "Guide to Flexible Dieting".

The place I failed before on it was not getting enough protein and not following Lyle's recommendation on exercise (you need to do some but not too much or you can run into problems).

So, I am starting today (May 27) at 201.8 pounds. My protein target is 155 grams a day. Calories will fall where they may, especially since I am easing into it (not going quite as low fat as recommended). I plan on going until June 27th, when we leave to go to K's folks for a week.

I will probably eat at or near maintenance for the rest of the summer after that, since we will be doing more bike riding and hiking. Depending on where I am at that point, I may go back to this again in the fall, leading up to the holidays.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Math

I found an interesting post by Lyle McDonald on his forum and I wanted to post it here for future reference.

Originally Posted by patriots
So this again becomes an issue with lower caloric expenditure from decreased NEAT, offsetting the low cal and higher activity?

Originally Posted by lylemcd

again, I think that may be part of what's going on, yeah

this has been discussed before although usually in a different context when people try to claim that thermodynamcis doesn't apply because the math doesn't work. the problem is usually that they are treating the system as unvarying on the output end

so for input we have food

on the output end we have
BMR: marginally variable for people at the same weight, can adjust slightly to changes in food intake (up or down). will generally adjust downwards to some small degree with food restriction/fat loss

thermic effect of food: fairly consistent although insulin resistant people show half the response of insulin sensitive. clearly this goes down as you eat less food

thermic effect of activity: this is formal exericse. there might be changes in efficiency/caloric expenditure during dieting, Im tryign to remember what I'e seen in the liteature and none of it comes to mine

NEAT/SPA: the big crapshoot. as the bugg users are finding out, non-exercise activity expenditure plays a MUCH larger role than any non-excessive exercise bout. simply moving from sitting to standing for many hours burns considerably more calorie and this will tend to adjust itself downwards with dieting.

so at least part of this is that you have a situation where, say at maintenance, your total energy expenditure is 3000 calorie. that includes everything above

now you reduce to 2500 calories per day. BMR may come down a bit in a while (depending on such things as deficit, iniial bodyfat percentage, etc), TEA may go down, TEF goes down (only about 50 calories), NEAT/SPA may come down.

suddenly your lovely 500 cal/day deficit has been offset coming out of the starting gate and the math stops adding up. what should have been a 1 lb/week fat loss is now 0.5 lbs/week becuase of the output adjustments. and 2 pounds per week can easily be masked by a touch of water retention

suddenly, nothing is making sense anymore and the 'math doesn't work'. except that

a. yes it does
b. water doesn't have calories

Monday, April 14, 2008


I was flipping channels last week and came across the show I Can Make You Thin, with Phil McKenna. It's about 75% hoakum but I TiVo-ed it and went back and watched some of it later because he was talking about "super charging your metabolism" and I was curious about what he would say about it.

Well, thank God for TiVo, since I had to fast forward through most of the show (and his visualization crapola) before I got to it, which was basically what I have already talked about with respect to increasing the daily activity levels vs some kind of formal workout program.

He said that overweight people tend to only take 4000 steps a day, where thin people tend to take 6000 or better. McKenna would then hand out a pedometer to some overweight person and tell them to make sure they get at least 6000 steps a day (never mind that it's a bit of a simplification and there is certainly more to it than that).

Just out of curiosity, I bought a cheap-o pedometer to see where I was at. I couldn't believe it when I got home from work in the evening and was only at 2500 for the day. And that was with a walk down to the corner store that I don't normally make. I have found that I will add about 1000 more in the evening, so normally I am lucky to be at around 3000 steps for a work day. For all of my talk about increasing activity, I sure wasn't doing it.

I am working on bumping that up but it is hard when I sit on my butt at work for 10 hours a day. Weekends aren't nearly as bad and I found I hit that 6000 steps pretty easily.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I was on my last set of the 1/2 squats from the Tiger Moves last Tuesday and a pretty sharp pain flared up in my right knee. It wasn't debilitating, just painful, so I stupidly finished out the last three reps of the set and just kind of ignored it. It got progressively painful through the rest of the day and was really sore that night.

The next morning, it was really bad. I could barely get down the stairs. It didn't hurt to walk or stand on it but was extremely painful to bend it. I found when I got to work that it also really hurt to sit at my desk. Having it bent, even with no weight on it, made it sore.

The pain is centered under the kneecap. It particularly hurts to press on the kneecap, both down into my leg as well as towards my foot. I did some research on-line, and, best as I can tell, it is patellar tendinitis. It fits in location and how it feels. My knee isn't loose and isn't swollen.

The only way to treat it is RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). About mid-morning, I ran to Wal-Mart and bought some ibuprofen and a knee brace. I put the knee brace on and made it through the rest of the day. I then went home and put my leg up and iced it for a long time. I even wore my brace to bed (which was good when I had to jump and grab the cleaning stuff when Pearl yakked in the hallway at 2 AM).

This morning my knee felt 100% better. I still can't bend it with my weight on it, but it doesn't hurt to sit or have it bent unloaded. I think a couple more days of RICE and I should be okay. I need to get the muscles around it stronger and get in the habit of stretching, even with the Tiger Moves.

Okay, it's not like I blew an ACL or something, but I have been extremely frustrated lately. I have never been so motivated to get into good shape before. I have so much I want to do with my family - trail riding, hiking, running a 5K with J in June, etc. I keep running up into all these stupid little injuries though and I am running out of time.

I'm thinking that I am just going to have to focus on diet for now while I let this and my elbow rest. Losing 20 pounds would go a long ways to making it easier to run or ride. I also need to find some exercises to strengthen my joints.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March Update

Normally I want to post an update every month. I didn't do it this month because I was in the throes of apathy. I had done really well the first month. I had lost five pounds and was making strides with my exercise program. Then in mid-February, I went to my folks for the weekend to celebrate some birthdays (mine, my mom's and my grandpa's). I didn't worry about my eating while there and was just planning on dropping back into my eating plan when I got back. However, I instead used it as an excuse to go face first into the V Day and Easter candy. Also around this time I dropped most of my exercise program because of the aforementioned sore elbow and knee. The results weren't pretty.

I regained the weight I lost and felt terrible. I was tired all of the time and wasn't feeling well. After two or three weeks of being in a carb coma, I decided that I needed to do something different. I wanted to completely eliminate sugar for a couple of weeks to see how I felt and I added back in a workout of three sets of Tiger Moves.

I felt a lot better off off the sugar and I started making strides on the exercise front. I still need to go back to the diet stage to actually drop fat and I plan on doing that next week (too many birthdays and anniversaries as well as another trip to the folks' this week). I feel that I am getting back on track, though I feel like I wasted a month. I'll just have to chalk it up to the education account.

So, wot's th' plan, eh? Part 2 - Exercise

I am doing a mixed exercise plan to tackle the weight loss and fitness gain.

One of my main goals is to simply be more active in general. Calorie burn is significantly increased over what is burned by sitting just by moving around more. Puttering around the yard or house instead of sitting and watching TV, walking more instead of driving, even just frequently getting up and stretching at work instead of sitting all day adds up over time. I was inspired by a recent thread on Lyle McDonald's "secret" forum that discussed the Bodybugg, a device that you wear on your arm and it tells you your calorie burn throughout the day. The people using it found that simple housework burned more calories than an equal time of weight lifting.

I am not talking about doing this instead of an exercise program; I am just incorporating the extra movement into my life.

As for more formal cardio, I recently bought a new bike - a 2007 Jamis Durango 1.0.

It's an entry level hardtail but good quality and has been a lot of fun to ride so far. I haven't tackled any trails yet since they are still snow covered.

I have also started doing some walking combined with a little running after work. I needed to start doing this if I am going to hit my goal of running the local 5K fun run the first weekend of June. It's a little dodgey at the moment as I haven't been able to find a decent pair of running shoes that actually fit.

I also have a Concept 2 rowing machine in the house for when the weather gets bad but I haven't been using it much lately. It gets a little boring and it has been aggravating a sore elbow that I have been dealing with lately.

On the strength training front, I started out with a mixture of calisthenics, isometric exercise and DVR's. DVR's are a type of exercise where you move against your own muscle resistance. An example would be to pretend that you are going to do a curl with the heaviest weight you can imagine. Really flex the muscles in your biceps and forearm as you prepare to lift. Keeping the tension in the muscle, slowly perform the curl against that tension, keeping the tension through-out the movement. On the way down, transfer the tension to the triceps. A much better explanation as well as a description of the seven Tiger Moves routine that is my mainstay routine, can be found in the book The Miracle Seven by John Peterson.

For the first month, my routine was to do one set of ten of each of the Tiger Moves, two sets of what John Peterson calls the Panther Stretch push-up (it is also known as the fifth move of the Five Tibetans ), two sets of Hindu squats and two sets of an exercise we did in the army that I don't know the name of (basically stand feet shoulder width apart with arms straight overhead, then lean forward while keeping the legs straight and reach and touch the ground as far back as possible, then return to starting position). I eventually added in two sets of Hindu Push-ups (about 20 total).

I did this routine earlier in the day, usually during my lunch break. When I got home, I would then do one of the isometric workouts from the book Isometric Power Revolution, also by John Peterson. I also did one set of Tiger Moves and then rowed for awhile after the workout.

I made a lot of progress with this routine. However, the exercises were aggravating a sore elbow and balky knee that I had been fighting since last summer. It got to the point where I finally just stopped out of frustration and did nothing but ride occasionally the last half of February. Combined with falling off of the food wagon, I gained back everything I had lost and basically felt terrible.

After a couple weeks of inactivity, I figured that I should be doing something and so started back on the only thing that didn't bother my elbow - the Tiger Moves. I started doing a full three sets of ten on my lunch break and rode or walked after work. It has made a large difference. I am getting noticeably stronger and adding muscle, particularly in my arms, back and chest.

My elbow is starting to respond to some trigger point therapy that I started on it and I am hopeful that I can add back in some calisthenics and isometrics soon.

I really like the DVR's and isometrics. They can be done anywhere, anytime and need no equipment or gym membership. They are by no means easy (effort-wise) but aren't as taxing as weights. I never felt well after lifting - kind of drained and sore. I get tired after my routine but also strangely energetic. They are also much easier on the joints which, unfortunately, is getting more important as I get older.

Friday, February 8, 2008

So, wot's th' plan, eh? Part 1 - Diet

My original plan was to return to the Intuitive Eating (Weigh Down) style of eating. Two years ago, I was very successful combining Intuitive Eating (IE) with lower carb and dropped from 198 lbs to 181 lbs in about 3 months before getting derailed by the holidays. I mostly tried to limit refined carbs but still ate veggies, fruit and even had a bowl of ice cream two times a week.

My plan was to return to that way of eating but I haven't been able to get back in that groove for some reason. So this week I decided I would track my food while aiming at certain macronutrient levels.

The calorie level that I chose was 2000-2200 kcal a day. Most of the formulas that I looked at put my Resting Metabolic Rate at about 2500 kcals a day. This doesn't include any calories from the Physical Activity Layer (PAL). My thought is to slightly reduce my calorie intake for a slow weight loss and then have any exercise be "gravy" when it comes to calorie use. Since the challenge is more about getting into useful real-world shape than losing weight, this gives added incentive to keep the exercise up.

I chose this level in the hopes that it will slow the metabolic adaptation. A smaller calorie deficit should slow the leptin drop that results in a slower metabolism. Last October, I tried the same thing but at 1500 calories. I dropped weight pretty fast but had zero energy. There was no way I could exercise. I hope to avoid that with the higher caloric target.

I'll also operate at this deficit for about four weeks and then return to eating at maintenance for two weeks, before repeating the process. A similar strategy is recommended in Lyle McDonald's book A Guide To Flexible Dieting. The idea is that ending the caloric deficit helps to reset the metabolism back to normal, minus any adjustment for the new, (hopefully) lower weight. Also, as I lose weight, I'll have to lower my caloric target to maintain a deficit as less bulk means lower calories required.

As for macronutrients, the most important is adequate protein intake. It is absolutely critical to get enough protein to reduce the loss of lean tissue. From my reading, it appears that roughly .6 gram of protein per pound of lean tissue is necessary to maintain lean tissue. I am aiming closer to 1 gram as I am trying to put on a little muscle in the process. This gives me a target of roughly 150 grams (800 calories).

As for carbs, I am aiming at roughly 20-25% of my calories coming from carbs (100 - 120 grams a day). It appears that some of the "magic" of low carb - lower inflammation, a large drop in triglycerides (which reduces leptin resistance and lowers heart disease risk), reduced hunger, etc - starts at this level. Most low carbers believe that lowering carbs until the body goes into ketosis is necessary but this isn't so, except maybe for the severely insulin resistant individual. I am purposely staying out of ketosis because, one, I feel terrible when in ketosis and, two, it appears that ketosis may be catabolic, which is exactly opposite of what I want since I would like to add/maintain muscle.

I would like to say that the carbs will all come from pure, whole food sources but that just won't be the case. I have to have something I can stick to and a little enjoyment is necessary for that to happen. I like some rice with my stir-fries or a few corn chips crumbled in my taco salad or something sweet after dinner. I am willing to make some sacrifices to reach my goal but I know from experience that too much deprivation will simply derail me down the road.

Ideally, the rest of the 700-800 calories will come from good fat sources and extra protein.

As for meal timing, I am trying to stick with waiting for hunger and then eating small amounts. I rarely get hungry before noon, so I generally eat two meals a day, lunch and dinner. However, when I actually track and reduce my calories, I sometimes get hungry earlier. I am going to just let that fall where it may.

However, hunger or not, one thing I am doing is having a post-workout (PWO) protein shake. There is just too much evidence showing the benefits. A PWO shake should be basically protein and carbs. The carbs raise insulin, which helps the uptake of amino acids into the muscle. If done after a hard workout, there isn't much danger of fat storage - it just replenishes the glycogen in the muscle. In Anthony Colpo's Fat Loss Bible, there is a complicated explanation of making a mixture of protein powder, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and carb sources like maltodextrin. This is probably fine for bodybuilders but I am not a bodybuilder and want something simple that will still work.

Based on some articles by Lyle McDonald in his newsletter, I think a good compromise is simply skim milk mixed with protein powder. The lactose from the milk provides the carbs and both the milk and powder provide the protein. I am not normally a big fan of skim milk but in this case, I don't want the fat to slow down the absorption.

All in all, I think it is a sound plan and something I can stick with. The proof will be in the pudding, I guess.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A little history...

I figured a little history would help to show where I am now.

As a kid, I didn't play sports but was pretty active and stayed thin throughout school. I had paper routes from the age of 10 through about 17 which kept me in decent shape (I walked and and carried all of the papers with me). I didn't have a clue about diet but we really didn't have snacks around much.

At age 16, I was 135-140 lb at 5' 9"-ish:

On my 17th birthday, I joined the Army National Guard. They had a program where you do basic training the summer between your Junior and Senior year of high school and then finish the training (AIT) after graduation. I did my basic training that summer and put on close to 30 pounds, dropped one pants size and grew close to 1.5". I came out of that the best shape of my life. Unfortunately, it didn't last.

I got back into shape during AIT (a lot of running and calisthenics) but I ate terribly while there. I would skip breakfast so I could sleep in before getting up to help clean the barracks. I would eat a decent lunch while in class and then buy junk from the PX for "dinner". For as badly as I ate, it was amazing how good of shape I got into (would have been even better had I eaten correctly). This junk food diet set a bad precedent as it was the first time that I really had access to that much junk.

After AIT, I started college (community college then) and worked a variety of jobs that were fairly physically demanding. I stayed in okay shape and only put on a little fat during this time.

When I was 20, I finally moved out on my own. I had gotten a job as a computer operator for a local bank and worked the graveyard shift. I rarely cooked for myself and the fast food diet, combined with the fairly sedentary new job, led to a fairly rapid weight gain. I didn't have a scale at that time but I know I developed a gut for the first time in my life.

I decided that I needed to learn about nutrition and went out and bought a bunch of books about it. Some of it was a little on the fringe, like Adelle Davis, but it helped. I came away with the main idea to increase my vegetables and to avoid refined sugar and grains. I decided that I would avoid the refined carbs and go from there.

It wasn't really a low carb diet, though. My dinners would be meat, vegetables and potato/rice. Very simple meals and almost no processed food, since it was impossible to find it without sugar or flour added. I did find a whole grain, no sugar added bread, so I had sandwiches for lunch. Knowing what I know now about carbs, it was kind of silly, but it worked - I dropped down to a 29/30 inch waist size and stayed there pretty effortlessly.

When I started dating the girl who I would eventually marry, it became very difficult to go out and stay on the no sugar/flour diet. I put weight back on fairly quickly, eventually ballooning up to around 185 lbs by the time we got married when I was 25 years old.

After getting married, I went back to school to earn my Electrical Engineering degree at Oregon State University. Walking all over campus carrying a heavy book bag helped keep my weight semi-under control. I fluctuated between 190 and 200 lbs during this time. I also tried to eat a lower fat diet to try to help control my weight but wasn't always successful. I also started really developing a bad habit of just plain eating too much. I would easily put away half of a giant pizza or four Taco Bell bean burritos at a sitting.

After school, the weight just poured on. Over the next few years, I eventually ballooned up to 225 lb.

I really never saw myself as fat I really was, though I felt terrible at the time. My wife tells me I was developing sleep apnea (I snore bad enough as it is) and I was tired all of the time. I was tired and irritable with my boys, who were very young at the time. I tried dieting on and off but nothing really worked.

During the summer of '98, I got a visit from my sister and was amazed at how she looked. She had been struggling with her weight also and here she shows up tiny! I found she was doing a program called Weigh Down through her church. The basic idea was to eat whatever you wanted but only in small amounts and only when physically (stomach growling) hungry. It sounded simple and I started right away.

By the next April, I had lost 48 pounds, to a low of 177 lbs. I eventually adjusted to about 180 lbs and stayed there for the next four years. I was truly eating whatever I wanted and it was extremely easy to stay on plan.

Around 2002, I inexplicably started to regain the weight. I believe now that there were a few factors. One was that the Weigh Down program was becoming increasingly legalistic. Basically, the idea was that it was a mortal sin to overeat or eat when not hungry. Being too strict can be a death knell for a diet. Another problem was I was eating too much at a time so I was getting into a "binge and fast" cycle. Finally, eating "whatever I want" didn't include enough protein and I had lost a fair amount of muscle. I believe that this slowed my metabolism and made it harder to actually get hungry, so that I ate when I thought I was going to be hungry rather than waiting until I actually was.

I struggled to get back on track but failed. I tried a different, but similar, program called Thin Within that wasn't as legalistic but I had lost my groove by this time. Because I frequently found myself craving sweets after dinner, I started thinking back to my no sugar/refined grains days. I started studying this aspect again and came across low carb nutrition.

The idea of whole/unprocessed food appealed to me (I never bought those low carb frankenfoods) and I started incorporating low carb into my eating style. I have been there pretty much since that time and my weight during this time has fluctuated between a high of 198 to a low of 181, with an average in the 190 range. The difference now is that I am able to put back on the muscle and my 195 lbs is a lot different build than it was when I was eating junk food in college.

Two years ago, I also found that I was gluten intolerant. Since that time I have eaten nothing with wheat, barley or rye (at least,on purpose). This hasn't helped with my weight or getting in shape, except it is a lot easier to avoid junk food if it is going to instantly make you sick. I feel a lot better, though.

Maybe I should have titled this "A LOT of history...".

Friday, February 1, 2008

Beginning Today

I am posting my beginning stats and my pictures, so I can refer back to them as time goes along.


Neck (in) 16.73
Chest (in) 41.63
Waist (in) 37.01
Stomach (In) (in) 37.8
Stomach (out) (in) 39.76
Hips (in) 41.44
Right Bicep (in) 13.39
Right Thigh (in) 19.59

Weight: 197 lb
Calculated bodyfat percentage: 19.5%

I actually measure in cm and then use the spreadsheet that I track the numbers with to convert to inches, which explains the oddball numbers.

My beginning pics are here:

"Flexed", to show the lack of proper muscle tone:

This is actually a bit of a cheat as I took these about three weeks ago. I decided at that time that I didn't want to wait until my birthday to start the exercise program. I haven't lost any weight yet but my muscles do feel a little "fuller". I think the exercise is working but need to work a lot on my eating.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


This blog is intended to simply document my efforts to whip myself into reasonable shape by the time I turn 45 February 1st, 2009. Since my 44th birthday is tomorrow, it gives me a year to complete the process, though I want to hit a few milestones along the way.

As for what I mean by reasonable shape, I am not looking for a six pack, or to compete in a body-building competition, or lose x pounds, etc. I mean being able to run the 5K local "fun run" with my son or being able to ride up a hill on my bike without feeling like I am going to keel over. It doesn't seem like much, but I just haven't been able to be consistent in my efforts. I am hoping that keeping this blog will provide some accountability.

A couple of my specific goals are to run the aforementioned fun run the first weekend in June, to be able to do 100 push-ups by the end of the year (if not before) and to be able to do handstand push-ups (even one would impress myself).

I'll have beginning stats and pictures tomorrow.