I Lost up to 1 - 2 Kilos Per Week!
Below is a summation of how I managed to do this. Here I outline my choice of diet program, the type of meals that I ate and the exercise regime that I followed. Note also that I have a number of links throughout this article to research institutes. Hopefully this will enable a better understanding of what is a very complex process: weight loss.
In understanding weight loss, it is important to note that one person's genetic makeup can differ to that of another. The latest scientific research indicates that what can control out attempts to lose weight are a number of hormones produced by our own bodies. Usually, they attempt to undo all the good work that we do when eating less. In the section called: THE FATSO FIGHTBACK - with the aid of important links - I attempt to explain what the body's hormones are up to and suggest methods to combat their role in preventing weight loss. However before that, I would like to outline how I managed to lose the weight.
The first bits of equipment that I used and think are absolutely necessary for losing weight, is an A5 diary to record all my body weights, most of my meals and the type and extent of my exercise, and a reliable weighing scale (digital preferred). I almost always weigh myself first thing in the morning each day. As well as a long term weight goal, I set myself a weekly target of about a 1.5 kilo weight loss per week. (For weight goals see NOTE 1).
My overall method to lose weight is actually a mixture of several ideas. My food diet, also, is a mixture of ideas. If you look at the ABC's Health & Wellbeing website, it shows a number of diets. I got ideas from the Mediterranean diet, the Paleolithic (also known as paleo) diet, CSIRO Total Wellbeing diet, the low-GI diet and the 5:2 (or intermittent fasting) diet.
The 5:2 diet requires that you restrict calories on at least two days per week - whether your fasting days are consecutive or nonconsecutive, is up to you and what suits your body. On the non-fasting days let your body get back to its normal non-starving state but take care not to overeat and also keep physical activity levels as high as possible.
Evidence suggests that it is wise not to exceed by too much the time spent fasting because it is believed by some researchers that a person's metabolism slows after a period of time when fasting making weight loss more difficult. Therefore to only have two days of constrained calorie intake per week is pretty much just right. My diary records generally agrees with this. In addition, remember that the intermittent fasting diet, like all calorie restricting diets, can result in muscle loss. This loss can be minimised by the using weights when exercising and eating more protein on the non-fasting days.
I think that an important reason for my successful weight loss were the meals. In a nutshell most of my meals are high in vegetables meaning that my carbohydrate intake is mostly from the dietary fibre of the vegetables and fruit. Other good carbs and good fats are fine but, in my case, they should be eaten in moderation. (For more information about carbs and fats follow the links to Authority Nutritution). I recommend that dieters increase their protein intake on non-fasting days (about 20 grams) but decrease it when fasting. (See the discussion in NOTE 2 about protein levels).
Foods that I avoid are sugar and sugary foods, highly refined bread, soft drinks with added sugar, flavored milk, fruit juice drinks and deep fried foods, and all foods with a high salt content. Also something to watch out for, are foods that are high in their glycemic index (GI) because the higher the GI rating of a food, the greater the blood sugar spike, and as a result, will rapidly increase insulin levels, which of course is not good for your health.
My breakfast on days that I'm fasting differs from that when I'm not fasting. When I'm fasting I go early in the day to the gym with an empty stomach. Having an empty stomach helps to speed up ketosis so that the body has to then use the liver to produce ketones to fuel the body. This fuel is sourced mostly from body fat. Click here for ten signs and symptoms that your body is in ketosis.
On non-fasting days for breakfast I eat steam cooked frozen berries with raw oats, milk and stevia added to the container after the steam cooking. I consume all of it including the water. Another breakfast meal I suggest when not fasting is a soup containing protein such as eggs and canned fish such as salmon or sardines with uncooked oats added. If I feel it to be necessary, I will add an apple to this.
Nearly all of my meals are soups. Below is a picture of a super nutritious soup of about 600 calories and about 20 grams of protein. You will notice the addition of uncooked oats to the ingredients. Eating the oats uncooked rather than boiled as in porridge, increases the resistance of the starch by a factor of 55. (See NOTE 3). These meals, for the most part, were fried up using extra virgin olive oil with water added to turn the meal into a soup. The water gives the meal a feeling of fullness. Also drinking water before and during the meal adds to that feeling. Remember too, that other vegetables can be added to the meal below by steam cooking frozen food in the microwave...and don't forget to throw in the water of the container. (For info about about calories, see NOTE 4).
Trying to lose weight simply by eating less is crazy. An exercise plan to accompany the diet is important, and for a least two reasons. The first reason is to use the exercise to combat the role of hormones who appear to be in panic mode from fear of starvation. The danger days for this I found, from records in my diary, were the days just after the fast. My attempt for a solution was to increase physical activity to a higher level on these days. The logic of that is not to put the fat on in the first place.
One method to increase this physical activity - rather than lounging on the couch watching TV - is to do a 30 second sprint on an exercise bike, use dumbbells to do a brief exercise during a commercial break, or best of all, do a quick tidy-up around the place for a couple of minutes. This exercise should be done about every half hour to one hour or so.
An additional method of exercising is to use the gym. As mentioned in the meals section shown above, on fasting days I would go there early in the day on an empty stomach so that I'm able to promote ketosis. At the gym I use a recumbent exercise bike which has a calorie counter. The first 15 calories I go at dawdling speed, then from 15 to 25 calories I sprint as fast as I can. I follow this pattern until I reach 300 calories or more, if I feel like it. Experts tell us that this is an important training method which they call intermittent sprinting. (See also this doco from Catalyst, the ABC's science program).
A second reason why exercise is important when dieting, is to combat muscle loss. I do regular strength training exercises where gradually, over time, I would progressively increase the weight of the weights for each of about ten repetitions per routine. However it is smart not to overdo the weightlifting as muscle strain can be quite painful and will slow down your weight loss plan. Also, it is an idea to sometimes ease off on your general training for a couple of days. Normally I choose the weekends.
THE FATSO FIGHTBACK
The main reason diets fail for some people is because of our body's hormones mostly interpret eating less as the road to stavation and will do things to put a stop to this. There are a number of hormones that can influence your weight but three that are worth a look are ghrelin, leptin and insulin. Leptin is secreted by fat cells and is usually a weight stabiliser. So when the body has a normal weight or even just slightly overweight, leptin helps by signaling to the brain after your meal that you're full. But when the weight of the dieter increases significantly, leptin starts to play tricks on the dieter - these signals start to change and leptin resistance starts to kick in. The Nutrition Authority website explains this problem in another way.
To combat all this, my advice to dieters is to keep your hormones fooled and continue on with the 5:2 diet such that although your calorie consumption has been reduced for a couple of days in the week, your body is not screaming out "I'm starving" which would put the body into panic mode. In addition, keep stretching your stomach by drinking as much fluid as possible, especially water and the water in soups. This will help tell the brain that your full. Also increase the intensity level of your exercise especially by using weights and eat more protein that will help you to increase your muscle mass. This increase in muscle will increase your metabolic rate which will burn more of your calorie intake. But most importantly of all, never ever quit until you reach that elusive weight goal.
KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF
I have now reached my weight goal. Therefore from now on, I intend to eat similar meals as I have done during the weight loss period - especially the super nutritious soups. To reduce the inevitable hunger pains, I've been eating an occasional apple because they are filling and also because of their health benefits. What can also assist in reducing these hunger pains is reducta chewing gum and is available at most chemists.
I have increased my protein intake and have won back a lot of muscle. In addition, I intend to maintain my physical activities with an emphasis on the enjoyment of it, making exercise part of my life-style. This means fixing my bicycle and getting a new pair of gym boots for those long but brisk walks.
I will also continue to weigh myself first thing in the morning and record it in my diary. If my weight does increase beyond my limit of 76.5 kilos, I will not have lunch and have a light evening meal to correct this. Also because of the health benefits of fasting, I will make the fasting diet part of my regular diet plan. (The ABC science program, Catalyst, has shown some interesting programs regarding weight control. See NOTE 5.)
As suggested at the beginning of this article, most of us have a different genetic and psychological makeup. Or to put that another way, what works for me need not work for others. I wish all those who want to lose weight the best of luck. It is definitely not impossible. I proved that. But a thing to remember is this: the secret to staying slim is not to get fat in the first place.
#1....To calculate my weight goal, I used the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI for normal weight is under 24.9. Now, to calculate my weight goal, I multiply 24.9 by my height squared in metres. This comes to 79.8 kilograms. But I would like my future weight to be a little less than that. My old Army weight was 12 stone, and that converts to 76.2 kilos. Important also are waist measurements. From what I've read from around the place, 94 cm is considered to be the maximum girth for good health for men while a 80cm waist measurement for women should not be exceeded. However the gold medal for waist measurement is for it to be half your height.
#2....Having a look around the internet, I found a differing of opinion on the role of protein in weight loss.
This is an extract from this website: "It is important to keep protein on the lower end, because your liver can readily convert protein into glucose, thus thwarting the need for the liver to produce ketones from fat." Therefore from this, it would appear that consuming protein during the fasting periods is a waste of the protein. However booting the level up after exercising on the non-fasting days should help your muscles to recover and grow. To do this, according to WebMD, the amount of protein required is about 10 - 20 grams. Here WebMD expresses these thoughts about diet and exercise.
By contrast, the Authority Nutrition website presents research that finds that consuming high levels of protein is not only very helpful in losing excess fat, but also helps to keep the weight off. The amount of protein to eat, as recommended by this website, is much higher than WebMD's findings and can be up to 30% of calorie intake. However, The Mayo Clinic here investigates some of the problems associated with using a high protein diet. Good luck if you can figure all this out.
#3...The CSIRO did research to calculate the level of resistant starch in a variety of foods. Notice in this link that a comparison between cooked and uncooked oats can be made. The CSIRO found that by not cooking the oats, the level of resistant starch is 55 times more than when you cook them and turn the oats into porridge.
#4...The calculation of the calories of the ingredients can be done by downloading this file (14 pages). Also, I recommend this book which is available from some bookstores and newsagents. For the intermittent fasting diet, the suggested calorie size on fasting days is 600 calories for males and 500 calories for females. For non-fasting days it is 2500 calories for males and 2100 calories for females. (Note also that 1 calorie equals 4.2 kilojoules).
#5...Catalyst, the ABC's science program, has an informative doco called "Why Am I Still Fat". In this program, Associate Professor Amanda Page recorded the activity of a tension-sensitive nerve in the stomach and found that when the signal intensity increased to the brain, the brain then "tells" us that we are full. However the tissue in the gut will lose - over time if put under enough stress - its elasticity resulting in a loss of that feeling of fullness after a meal. This usually results in the person overeating. Of additional interest were the foods mentioned in the program that contain Anthocyanin. The program explains how they may improve your diet. Such foods as frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, which do contain anthocyanin, are presently being sold as a mix from Coles supermarket. I steam cook a portion of this in the microwave for about four minutes. I add a little milk and stevia to the container.....delicious! Other Catalyst shows that are worth a watch are "Low Carb Diet: Fat or Fiction" and "Artificial Sweeteners".