Physical activity alone won’t help. Change what you eat first.

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The usual advice to eat less and move more is completely wrong and is against scientific evidence. I won’t go into detail here and you can read about it in the books by Jason Fung The Obesity Code or Gary Taubes Why We Get Fat.

What I do want to discuss is the fact that workout on its own won’t help you losing weight, since it contributes only a very small fraction of the energy that is burnt by the body when doing physical activity, especially, if you aren’t an athlete exercising twice a day every day.

If you are an average person who is not doing any sport usually and working mostly sitting in a chair then starting doing some exercise won’t make you slim. It won’t gonna happen. What you need to think of first is changing what you eat and when you eat it. Because this change can really be a drastic change in you life that can bring you weight down, help you loss excessive fat and feel better.

For example, if you exercise even three times a week, but still continue eating processed food full of any type of sugar, added or not, drinking soft drinks, diet or not, eating sweets, pastries etc., then no amount of exercise will ever help. You are doomed to stay overweight or obese. This is because eating these products raises Insulin hormone level which causes you body to store what you eat as fat. Then fructose which is a part of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, causes you liver to become fat, and raises Uric Acid which makes Insulin resistance even worse. So you get a double whammy here.

If instead you stopped eating sugar and starchy food in any form, then transition to eating meat, eggs, cheese and vegetables and some fruit. Do it during eating window of no more than 6 hours, then incorporating some physical exercise during you fasting hours can be a real boost to your weight loss.

So the bottom line is that you can’t outrun a bad diet. And this is true.

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Intermittent Fasting is healthy. Sugar is not

It has been more than 9 months since I started to follow Intermittent Fasting regimen. I should say it was beneficial to me from lots of points of view. I lost about 31.5 pounds of weight (14.3 kg) going from 200 lb to 168.5 lb within this timeframe. I look slimmer and younger and overall I have a feeling of lightness and agility when I move.

I changed what I eat and moved away as much as I could from consuming processed food, though I do eat it a couple of times a week. I completely refrain from eating raw sugar or drinking soft drinks. I eat almost no sweets or pastries.

As for Intermittent Fasting I went from 16:8 which stands for 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours eating window to 18:6 that I do for months now. And I did 19:5 for a couple of months in a row. I also did prolonged fasts of 24, 39, 42 and 68 hours. I mostly did 42 hours fasts which I documented in this blog previously. I should say that prolonged fasts are nothing like 16:8 and they are more trickier to handle, but they result in faster and larger weight loss in comparison to classic 16:8 fast.

I also started to walk regularly throughout the week doing twice as much steps a day in comparison to pre-fast time. Over the weekends I actually do 3-4 times more steps than before I started fasting and do on average 10,000 steps or more. On weekends, I always walk in a fasted state in light clothes even in a very cold weather. In addition, initially I started doing weight training in a fasted state right after walking, but now I do it on evenings about three times a week using dumbbells and resistance bands.

What helped me to be motivated and keep on going were the books and YouTube videos that medical doctors, journalists and regular people produced on the subject of weight loss using Intermittent Fasting. These people were challenging wrong and widespread nutrional dogma of eating low fat and high carb food that caused worldwide epidemic of metabolic syndrome.

To name just a few, Gin Stephens, Jason Fung MD, Mark Mattson PhD, Robert Lustig MD, Benjamin Bikman PhD, David Perlmutter MD, Gary Taubes and others. Their books shed the light on why Intermittent Fasting worked and what were the dangers of sugar and especially fructose that was a part of it. All in all, I watched a couple of dozens of videos and read more than 15 books on the subject and a number of peer-reviewed scientific papers.

I also a member in a group of friends where we share advice on Intermittent Fasting and weight loss. My friends who followed me were able to loss 48 lb and 28 lb pounds each one respectively. I guess they are happy with the change they went through. And they are.

Well, despite all of this progress, sugar is still an addictive substance that I crave from time to time, especially after extensive workouts and other physical activity that accumulates during the day. Today, was such a day. On Saturday, I walked and ran in a fasted state for 3 km, than walked in a snow in the afternoon for about 3 km, and then had a workout with dumbbells in the evening. All in all it was quite exhausting. On Sunday, I woke up and went on walking and running in a fasted state this time for 6.2 km. Then in the afternoon I walked additional 3 km. As a result, in the evening at about 8 PM I had a craving for sugar and ate two slices of white bread with chocolate spread. All in all, about 16-20 gr of sugar (half of which is fructose).

So even though I know that sugar is unhealthy and outright dangerous, just like alcohol, tobacco and other drugs are having sugar a part of my diet for most of my life makes it quite difficult to eliminate it completely. Most of the time I am good without it, but sometimes cravings are there.

I hope, in time I’d be able to get rid of sugar and substitute it with berries or fruits rich in fiber. It isn’t an easy fight, fighting an uphill battle with sugar addiction that hundred millions if not billions of people face daily.

42 hours fast experience. To do or not to do?

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It is 6th time that I am doing a prolonged fast (more then 24 hours). And it’s 4th time I am doing 42 hours fast. Below comes some observations.

  • It’s not getting any easier in comparison to previous fasts. First 26 hours are quite normal, but then the feeling of discomfort prevails. It’s not a hunger, but a feeling of an empty, glued and ‘vacuumed’ stomach.

  • The main difficulty is sleeping at night since I tend to wake up a number of times to drink and the dreams are quite annoying. Sometimes about food.

  • As for weight loss this time, it’s insignificant. But one possible explanation is that in the last 4 days I am doing about 120-150 pushups a day in addition to usual walking about 7000 steps. And yesterday while doing 42 hours fast I did 200 pushups throughout the day. So it seems like there is no weight loss. When actually, fat has lessened, but muscles have grown. Visually, I see less fat, than ever.

  • Will I continue to do extended fasts? Well, it seems like I won’t but I am for 24 hours fasts, since they are a piece of cake (oh no, carbs are even here ūüôā )

Start small

To be able to make a progress in anything there is a need to be able to set achievable goals. This is true also for weight loss. Setting grand goals that are hardly achievable can overwhelm you and even stop you from doing anything altogether.

That is why I suggest to set very small goals that you can reach with some effort. For example, instead of setting as a goal to be super muscular body builder, how about first starting to walk on a daily basis? Walking is free, easy to do and you do not need any special equipment for this.

Next, if you want to start with Intermittent Fasting don’t jump right into 48 hours fast, but start small with 12 hours eating window. Then decrease it gradually to 10, 8, 6, 4 hours.

If you want to include resistance training with rubber bands, dumbbells then start small by doing push ups in the morning or evening or both. Or maybe, start with one session a week at home, then two sessions a week etc. Gradual increase in a number of sessions is much easier than committing to a gym membership that costs you a lot of money.

So starting it small can take you quite far. As a teacher in a martial school used to tell us do it
Gradually, sequentially, continuously.

68 hours fasting results

How did I end up doing it?

Previously I did a 42 hours fast. After that I returned to doing the usual 19 hours intermittent fasting with 5 hours eating window. But I thought to myself that I could do even better and try a longer fast to loss even more body fat as a result. So I tried and finished a longer fast which was scheduled to be 66 hours, but in the end ended up being 68 hours. The fast ended with a big surprise that I’ll discuss later.

Initial setup

Fasting length

From 4:20 PM on Monday, Nov 21th to 12:20 PM on Thursday, Nov 24th.

Fasting progress

Detailed progress

Same information as a graph

Final result

After 63 hours of fasting at 7:20 AM, Nov 24th

A big surprise

The fast has been finished successfully. This time it was more difficult than 42 hours fast. What is funny I did 26 hours more this time, but weight loss was the same as during 42 hours fast.

  • Initial weight was¬†78.1 kg (172.18 lb), body fat 24.8 %
  • Final weight is¬†74.4 kg (164.02 lb), body fat 23.4 %

42 hours fasting results

How did I end up doing it?

I am doing Intermittent Fasting for 23 weeks now. Starting from about 18th week my weight loss plateaued and I needed to do something to get it moving. So I recalled that I can try doing extended fasts which are fasts longer than 24 hours. Well, I decided to do 42 hours fast that starts on 6:00 PM and ends after 42 hours on 12:00 PM.

Initial setup

Fasting length

From 5:40 PM on Wednesday, Nov 9th to 11:59 AM on Friday, Nov 17th.

Fasting progress

Detailed progress

Same information as a graph

Final result

After 42 hours of fasting 12:00 PM

weight after 40 hours of fasting

The fast has been finished successfully. Overall feeling is good. Nothing special to report except for crumbling belly feeling yesterday in the evening.

  • Initial weight was¬†77.2 kg (170.2 lb). Final weight is¬†74.7 kg (164.7 lb). That’s after drinking a cup of water and a cup of coffee which added about 0.4 kg (0.9 lb) of weight.

Significant weight loss at the very last hours of the fast

Again the same observation

Initial setup

Weight at 14th hour of the fast just before going for a walk/running was 75.8 kg (167.1 lb), body fat 23.9 %.

After walking

After walking/running for 66 minutes on 14th hours of the fast and doing 6.67 km (4.14 mi), weight became 75.3 kg (166 lb), body fat 23.8 %.

Overall weight loss 0.5 kg (1.1 lb), body fat 0.1 %.

Now, after 5 months of measuring weight to fat loss dependency,
Speaking of myself, I know that losing 0.1 % of body fat corresponds to 100 gram (0.22 lb) of fat loss.

Net body fat loss

So net body fat loss is 100 gram (0.22 lb) and the rest of 400 gram is water (sweat, breathing) and possibly energy that went on heating the body, since I walked at 5 degrees centigrade (41 F) with only T-shirt and light jacket on.

Why Calories In equals Calories Out is wrong again

According to tracker calculation below I burned 378 calories, which is 378 / 9 calories in 1 gr of fat = 42 gram of fat loss.

Again, it contradicts what my scale is showing, which means that Calories In = Calories Out theory is wrong. But we knew this already.

Books that literary make you who you are

Intro

There are a number of posts that I wrote about books and how they helps us change our lives and ourselves. The books below literary helped me to change my body composition and shed dozens of pounds of fat that came from eating sugar, sweets, starchy foods and drinking soft drinks, in short, what we call nowadays Ultra Processed Food.

It seems to me they could be helpful to some of you who wants to make a change.

Books on fasting I read and recommend

I sorted the books based on how I liked them the most.

  1. FAST. FEAST. REPEAT by Gin Stephens
  2. The Obesity Code by Jason Fung
  3. The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung
  4. Why We Get Sick by Benjamin Bikman
  5. The Circadian Code by Satchin Panda
  6. Fat Chance by Robert Lustig
  7. The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
  8. The Intermittent Fasting Revolution by Mark Mattson
  9. The Every Other Day Diet by Krista Varady
  10. Delay, Don’t Deny¬†by Gin Stephens (it was her first book on the subject. In comparison to her second this one has more personal info about Gin’s experience with IF)

Books on nutrition that I read, but they were not that easy to make it through

  1. The Case For Keto by Gary Taubes
  2. The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz
  3. Metabolical by Robert Lustig
  4. Swallow This¬†by Joanna Blythman (I’ve finished only 3/4 of this book. It turned to be quite boring)

Intermittent Fasting isn’t a diet

There is a difference

There is a big difference between Intermittent Fasting (Time-restricted Eating) and a diet (Calorie Restriction).

In the Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying Health Benefits of Fasting (Obesity, 2018 Feb., 26(2): 254-268) paper by Mark P. Matson et al. they are defined as follows,

  • Intermittent Fasting (IF)¬†– This eating pattern involves fasting for varying periods of time, typically for 12 hours or longer.
  • Calorie Restriction (CR)¬†– This eating pattern involves a continuous reduction in caloric intake without malnutrition.

Your typical diet

During regular diet when caloric intake is restricted a few things happen to your body.

  1. The body tunes down your metabolism. As a consequence you can have a feeling of cold, mood change and feeling of tiredness.
  2. Due to lower Leptin hormone, which signals to the brain that you have not enough stored energy, you start feeling continuous hunger.
  3. While at first you lose some weight (mostly muscle), in the end after struggling with the diet you gain your weight back, but more. After all 99.5 % of diets fail.

As for Intermittent Fasting

While you fast for at least 16 hours, which allows your body to deplete glycogen stored in muscles and liver, your body will switch from using glucose as a main source of energy to using ketones produced by liver from fatty acids (fat).

  1. When this transition happens your body is perfectly happy, there is no feeling of hunger.
  2. Metabolism is actually elevated and you feel good.
  3. There is almost no loss of muscle mass, but a connective tissue. Instead what is lost is the fat that was stored by your body. And if you do resistive training or walking while fasting there will be actually muscle mass gain!

Conclusion

So diet and fasting are complete opposites of one another.

One thing to mention is that it takes time (a number of weeks) for body to get used to fasting.
And even then you still could feel hunger in evenings due to naturally elevated level of the Ghrelin hormone. So it’s not simple, but doable and has such health benefits, not mentioning fat loss, which makes it beneficial in the long run.

Weight loss is very easy when you know how

Processed Food is a blocker for weight loss

When you eat sugary and starchy foods, aka Processed Food your glucose level in the blood is high, as a consequence Insulin hormone level is also high. When it’s high fat is stored.
If you eat more than 3 times a day and have snacks between the meals Insulin will stay high. So fat will continue to accumulate in the body.
Fructose in processed food is very harmful too, but it’s for another post, meanwhile check what Dr. Robert Lustig has to say about it.

Solution

Drop Insulin level by constraining when you eat, which is called eating window. I have on average 5 hours eating window and 19 hours of fasting time.

Research shows that having 8 hours eating window could be enough for body to switch to burning stored fat.

My emphasize is on the word¬†could. This is because it’s not enough to follow 8 hours eating window. Because if you do, but continue to eat Processed Food, fasting for 16 hours could be not enough to use all glycogen stored in muscles and liver. If this happens your body won’t switch to burning fat at all.

So weight loss algorithm is simple

  1. Have at most 8 hours eating window and 16 hours of fast time.
  2. Eating sugary and starchy food during eating window prevents you from losing weight during 16 hours fast.
  3. Walking or doing resistance training at the very last hours of the fast, when body switched to using stored fat as energy speeds up the fat loss even more.