What the hell? Why not?: Intermittent Fasting

I looked at myself in the mirror a few weeks ago and only saw two abs peeking out of an otherwise flabby torso. Being that I’m from Los Angeles and therefore shallow, I launched into a panic. “Something’s gotta give,” I told myself.

Was the answer returning to the keto diet? Nah. As it turns out, I eat a lot of sandwiches and I just can’t sustain a diet that doesn’t allow me to eat an occasional cheese danish. Was the answer to reel in the beer intake? Well… No. There’s a lot of good reasons for that one, but no.

A couple of friends suggested intermittent fasting to me, and I thought it would be too hard given my varying late-night shifts, so initially I shrugged that one off. Also, I can be kind of a douchebag when I’m hungry, and I thought I’d just be starving and a dick (more than usual) all the time. Then more and more of the research I was doing pointed to its efficacy (I use the term “research” loosely here – I watch a lot of YouTube videos and read a lot of articles about health and fitness in my free time), so I opted to eat for an eight hour window each day and essentially just drink water (and maybe an alcoholic beverage or four) the remaining 16 hours.

When you fast for that long, your body produces similar amounts of ketones (the chemical produced by your liver that aid in metabolizing fatty acids) as it would if you were on the kind of semi-commital version of the keto diet I was on, and you can still eat pretty much whatever. When I wake up, I also have a cup of black coffee with unsalted butter and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which kicks up the ketones another notch. Most of the videos I’ve seen with strict keto advocates have a segment where they mutter something like, “Yeah, I guess you could just skip breakfast and achieve similar levels of ketosis, BUT” and then they go on to support their high-fat, low-carb diets.

I hit a tipping point and I’ve been doing this for a little over two weeks now. The first few days were rough, but after day three or four I settled into a comfortable space. My calorie consumption has stayed largely the same, though I admit it’s harder to cram a lot of food into an eight hour window without feeling like a fatass.

I’m fairly physically active, so I was concerned I’d see a dip in my energy and/or willingness to exercise, but I haven’t had that experience. I was also concerned that I’d be constantly dwelling on my hunger, but that hasn’t happened either. Ultimately, this shit isn’t that hard AND I’ve seen awesome results. I’m back to six visible abs (granted I still have a small belly, but fuck you, I love beer), and all I had to do was change the schedule of my consumption. And since it’s such an easy solution, I can actually see this being sustainable long-term.

For the sake of mentioning it, I did see an article that said skipping breakfast was bad because you ended up eating more at lunch. BUT they said that you’re only likely to eat about 20% more at lunch, so if your lunch and usual breakfast are the same size, you’re still eating less calories in the day. So… Whatevs.

Will I eventually get bored of this or read about how this is killing me in fun new ways? Maybe. But for now it’s working, so I’m sticking with it.  

Keto Day 7

Fat bombs were not the macronutrient saving grace I hoped they would be, but they’re fuckin’ delicious, so whatever. I started with a recipe I found online then realized I didn’t get everything I needed for that recipe and cream cheese was missing from the prescribed ingredients, so I just winged it.

In the event you’re curious: 2 tbsp coconut butter, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 4 oz cream cheese, the rest of my fresh almond butter (about half of a small container), 3 tbsp cacao nibs. I heated it in my awesome frying pan then spooned nine servings into a muffin tin sprayed with coconut oil and one serving directly into my mouth (sans coconut oil).

I’m also trying out Qualia Focus nootropics. They arrived today. 5 capsules a day, 5 days a week is the recommended dose, but they also recommend you ramp up, so I started with three. Intention: get some high-quality GRE studying in before going to work. End result: very thorough shopping on the Amazon Prime app for things I’m missing in my apartment. This included careful measurements of the spaces they were meant to fill and comprehensive customer satisfaction reviewing. So I’d say they’re effective, but I’ve gotta work on directing that focus a little.

I’m sad to say that I really didn’t get in any stretching or exercise today, either. I didn’t get up until almost 2pm because I didn’t get off work until nearly 6am, and the last two hours of that work was very labor intensive. So I’m okay giving myself a pass, but my aching body could have really used the stretches. Now off to work again until 6am, at least! Happy Pride!

Keto Pregaming

Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of fad diets. Actually, I’m not even a fan of the word “diet” as it’s used most commonly because I think healthy eating is a lifestyle choice, not a temporary solution to a longstanding problem. That said, I’ve seen a lot of people whose opinions I respect advocate the keto diet, so I thought, “What the hell? Why not?” I’ve even taken “before” photos in the hopes that the “after” photos merit posting here. We’ll see.

So why is this post called “Keto Pregaming” and not “Day 1” or some equally uninspired drivel like that? Well, today I’m cramming as many carbs into my diet as I possibly can. I had a huge slice of lemon bread for breakfast, a thick slice of pizza for lunch, pasta after that, and for dinner I’ll be having the fried bologna sandwich at work, which is on delicious, delicious white bread. My thinking was that I’d really miss all these foods over the next 30 days, but what it’s actually done is show me that I really dislike eating like this – I feel bloated and sluggish. Now I have the added benefit of being excited about this shift in my eating patterns, as opposed to wary.

Also, I felt like it was important to go into this with as much information as possible. I’ve been doing some light studying in the days and weeks leading up to this, but I spent a few concentrated hours looking into the what and the how and some of the science behind this high fat diet.

Keto-deniers (they don’t feel that strongly in most cases, but let’s use divisive language for the fuck of it, shall we?) say that much of the initial weight loss is from water weight. Switching to a significantly lower-carb diet causes your body to use its stores of glycogen, which can cause some pretty serious dehydration, and lead to “Keto Flu,” where you feel overarchingly shitty (nausea, headache, drowsiness, etc). Additionally, increases in endotoxins can cause some pretty serious diarrhea. Finally, some studies suggest that you can lose muscle mass if you eat this way long-term.

If you’re doing it right, there are ways to avoid all of these potential pitfalls. First, make sure that you’re consuming appropriate amounts of magnesium, sodium, and potassium. My methods of choice for doing this includes things like adding some Himalayan rock salt to my water, and eating plenty of avocados (as a someone born and raised in California, this will be a nice return to my roots for me). Taking these steps in addition to drinking a fuck ton of water will make sure your body is able to combat how often you’re peeing and ensure that you’re absorbing as much water as you can in spite of the shift in foodstuffs.

Not a fan of diarrhea? What a coincidence! Neither am I! The solution in this case? Bone broth and collagen protein supplements. These will help to ensure that the mucous membranes in your digestive track are well-maintained, and the endotoxins will be less likely to enter your blood stream, where they become problematic. Plus, who doesn’t love bone broth? It’s delicious.

Finally, I won’t be excluding carbohydrates from my diet completely, and I’ll be making sure to get approximately 0.64 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. This will give my body plenty of the building blocks necessary to not only maintain, but continue to grow muscle. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna slow down my exercising at this stage.

One more note on all of this: use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your calories and macronutrients throughout the day. This app allows me to make sure I’m getting each of those 108.8 grams of protein per day, and maintaining a ratio of 80% fat – 15% protein – 5% carbs with easy-to-read graphics and pretty pie charts because let’s face it, I’m not doing shit unless pretty pie charts are involved.

Does some of this stuff confuse you? Do you wish I had put links to all of the sources I used to come up with this plan? Too fucking bad! Look it up on your own. As a result of the hours/days/weeks of research I’ve done, I’m going into this thing well informed and with a plan I know will work for me. I’m purposefully excluding all kinds of shit from this little review of my reasoning. If you want to make a lifestyle change like this, know why you’re doing it, and make sure it’s right for you. Or ya know… Just ask me things. That would be fine, too.