Day 1 - 'My Forever Body'
I wanted all my stresses in life to have calmed before I embarked on a new diet to blog. I wanted all my body stats to be good and healthy, and wait for assistance with care for my Mum who suffers with Alzheimer's, who I was the main carer for for a while this year, when both my sisters also got poorly. Things are much better now. Both sisters better, and Mum's got some great carers helping us out, life's stresses have definitely eased.
Check this out. Below was the last years stress levels from my Garmin. Towards the end of 2017, when I was competing, working and caring for Mum, my stress levels were running around 85-90%, these are based on my HRV (Heart Rate Variability). I had no rest time, was training 3 times a day, working all over the country and sometimes world, and sorting out Mum in between. Madness. My cortisol levels were raging!
Beginning of this year things slightly improved with no longer being in competition, so wasn't training as much, therefore stress came down.
I've been enjoying cooking again, creating new meals and having friends and family round, my training is steady as I have no plans to gain, or plan on doing any shows in the near future, it's all about balancing my lifestyle. I have set myself a goal now, of finding 'My Forever Body'.
I've seen myself as a competing athlete looking in great condition, muscular and ripped at about 12% body fat. But this isn't a forever body. It's for stage, and is an unrealistic way to live consistently, and actually very unhealthy to hold for any period of time.
Off season, I always gain a bit of weight, with the want to gain muscle, and the lack of diet restriction, and the 'bulk season' phrase ringing around in my brain...I nearly always put on a few more pounds than I really needed to or wanted too. And then find myself looking at my wobbly bits regretting that Sour Bread Smoked Cheese and Mango Chutney toastie from the Vintage Fayre the day before. As that one sandwich the night before is what caused it! Hmmmm...really?
So I'm at that point now. I'm not overly unhappy about how I look, but I feel happier around 20% body fat, and my tanita scales are saying I am 26.5% (which remember for a woman is perfectly normal and healthy)...the calipers are saying 23%..but for consistency in measurements I will stick with my home tanitas readings. I want to look athletic. I like to look like I train, or what's the point? I also like to see a bit of vein! (The bodybuilder in me will never leave!)
So my diet is not for any other health or show reasons, other than to lose weight to get to 'my forever body'. Then, follow a regime to maintain it. With no bulks or shows needed, so no ups and downs, this should be mentally easier...well that's what I'm hoping.
My stats to start this journey are -
Weight - 70.9 kg
Body Fat - 26.5%
Muscle Mass - 49.1 Kg
Water - 54.5%
Visceral Fat - 5
Here's my starting point. Some sweaty shots at the gym...
I wanted a diet that I could follow without restricting my new found social calendar. I want to include nice meals, family events and cheese toasties every now and then, and not feel guilty, as I want it to balance with my lifestyle, and I don't want it to be too restrictive or complex like the ketogenic. Does one exist though? Is this possible?
My sister had always mentioned the 5/2 fasting diet she does which has worked for her and her husband which I always poo pooed as a body builder, as eating was so important. But couldnt I now find out what its about? As if I did lose a bit of muscle mass during the trial it wouldn't matter so much any more? It's free. It's simple, non restrictive of what foods you can eat and encourages you to have that meal you want at a wedding or party, I needed to investigate.
Researching Fasting - what's it all about?
So as a foodie and with my knowledge in nutrition, I always had said to people who have asked about Fasting diets words to this effect 'I can't see how they can be good for you, as your body will go into starvation mode, and your body needs a constant flow of macronutrients (Carbs/Proteins/Fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), so starving them of these can't be good'.....Or can it?
Fasting experts will quickly say that Fasting isn't starving.
In simple terms - For purpose of dieting, fasting is generally done for a pretty short period of time, normally 12/24/36/42 hours or however ever many hours you prefer depending on your needs. It can take up to 24 hours to deplete your glycogen stores (this is the fuel stored in your tissues produced by eating mostly simple/complex carbs, but also proteins too). This is the prefered fuel of the brain and body and will use up this resource before it moves onto it's second favorite fuel. Ketones, which are produced when the body burns fat for fuel. As you may have learnt all about on my previous blog My Ketosis Journey.
So once your glycogen runs out, the body automatically switches to living off your fat stores. That's what it's meant to do. That's how we are made to work. We are still not in starvation mode. Your body is still using it's own available fuel. Eating up your fat resources. Or put simply... fat burning.
Once your fat stores starts running too low (your body will reach a point when it starts naturally fighting against using fat for fuel when fat sources are too low), it will then start fuelling using your muscle tissues and organs. This is starvation mode. You will not and should not ever reach this point during these short fasting periods. Depending on your starting body fat measurements, to get to this point could take some time.
I am at currently holding 26.5% body fat. I want to lose 6.5% body fat. I weigh 158 pounds. 158 / 6.5 = 24.3 pounds of fat to lose. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories. 24 x 3500 calories = 84,000 calories available to burn in fuel. So, I'm not yet going to run out of fuel between 24 - 42 hours! So starving, I won't be.
Also, this means I won't be loosing muscle. As I won't be getting my fat so low so that my body needs to start eating into my muscle. Added bonus for me.
In 1973 the longest ever recorded fast is 382 days! This subject weighed in at 456 pounds. And he lost 276 pounds during the fast. Five years after the fast ended, the patient’s weight was reported at consistent to around 196 pounds. And had no ill effect during and after the fast. Have a read of some statistics and more information here on this amazing Longest Fast link.
Individuals with very low body fat (woman under 20% and men under 15%) should never start a fasting diet, as they may not have enough stored fat for fuel. But why then would you start a diet if you are already so low in body fat? I hear you ask. Well...you might be a competing bodybuilder! If you are show prepping, on very low body fat towards the end of prep, don't try fasting. If you are starting with some mass to lose, you could use it to kick start your prep.
Other people who should not fast -
- Children and young adults under 18, they are still developing and need all nutrients.
- Pregnant woman and breast feeding woman, again as they need a constant flow of nutrients.
- Any one with anorexia, of course. This is a mental illness where someone sees themselves fatter than they actually are, and shouldn't be attempting a diet at all.
- People with Type 1 diabetes, due to their already low levels of insulin. Fasting has been proven to lower insulin, so this could be dangerous with these type of diabetics.
- People on medication that needs to be taken with food.
So, how am I going to run mine? I like the idea of 2 x 24 fast a week. Running from 6pm to 6pm, which means I don't ever have a day with no food at all. I am going to eat my usual 5 meals a day on all other days. Forever the health and fitness advocate, i will be sticking to a low carb Paleo style diet, as I want to continue and utilize fully the fat burning process. I will also be including a foodie day. Every week I will cook up a feast for me to eat, or go to that event, or party, or bbq that I may have been invited to, without eating restrictions. A diet of feast and famine!
I will blog some of my foodie day recipes with and share the food I eat out on these days too. As well as sharing my progress on the diet.
I just want to be clear that I am not doing the 5/2 diet which has some restrictions on what you eat. I am simply doing a clean 24 fast 2 times a week. Influenced by the suggestions in The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jimmy Moore and Dr Jason Fung.
So what are the benefits of a fasting diet?
- It's free - It costs nothing
- You save money - On less groceries
- No prep - 2 days less of food preparation
- No complex dietary routine or restrictions to follow.
- Even if you have allergies or intolerances to foods, you can still do it.
- It can help to make you feel less hungry. Many reports from fasters say they see there hunger levels drop dramatically.
- It's a life style diet - Once losing your weight through fasting, research has shown that weightloss stays consistent. As well as that you would continue to use it to help balance your life. So after that feast you had at that part or wedding, follow it with a fast day. Feast then Famine. It can balance out the meal and get you back on track. Most fasters who have lost weight manage to maintain the weight loss. Remember the man who did the Longest Fast ? The weight never went back on.
- Faster weight loss - I will be under eating each week by nearly 3800 calories by not eating for 2 days. The other days I intend to eat my normal BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate which is your personal calories calculation). So remembering that most diets base themselves on under eating by 500 calories a day, or 3500 a week to lose 1lb, as 1 lb remember equates to 3500 calories. But these daily low calorie diets do tend to plateau as the body learns to exist and adapt to the daily calories intake. Research has shown that fasting diets tend to not plateau, you do lose the weight you should each week from your days of no eating.
- It has many health benefits - It has been used to reverse the effects of Type 2 Diabetes due to the fact it reduces insulin levels, it helps with healthy cell regeneration. it elevates growth hormone levels (which is why it is suggested to keep training on fasting diets, as it can assist with muscle growth, and why athletes have been training fasted for many years), they are building proof that it helps with cancer, it can also quickly reduce visceral fat, the internal 'dangerous' fat around your organs too. Have a read here 10 Evidence Based Reasons for Fasting to find out more information on the health benefits of fasting, or have a read of The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jimmy Moore and Dr Jason Fung. for more in depth information on fasting benefits.
All sounds too good to be true. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this one!
Day 3 - My First 24 Hour Fast
I'm fasting for reason of 'cleansing' or a 'detox' too, so I have opted to keep my fast clean as possible, to get these added benefits. So I am on water only (no squash or fizzy flavoured no calorie drinks) and no added artificial sweeteners in hot drinks.
I found it easy! No big deal at all! I ate my last normal prepped meal at 8pm. Then headed to bed as normal. Slept like a log, as normal. No problem!
Here are the tips I had followed to help me get you through the day -
Keep busy - It takes your mind off of food. A busy work day I find works well. I can easily not realise where that day has gone when engrossed in work.
Ride the waves - Hunger comes in waves, but then it goes. Hunger is an emotion...a feeling. It isn't a physical reaction created from within, it is just a feeling or a want. It can be triggered by smells, that M&S tv advert, a memory of a good meal and more importantly a routine. If you are used to having a meal at the same time each day, you will learn to feel hungry around that time. Fasting will help you break that routine, which will help you to feel less hungry on eating days, as the routine trigger fades. Ride the waves of hunger, know it will go away soon, and break the daily routine of those times you eat.
Drink lots of water/mineral water- We all know that thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so stay hydrated. It has been found that mineral water helps stop the stomach from rumbling. I found drinking a 3 -4 litres of water throughout the day does help.
Drink coffee and herbal/green teas - The caffeine in coffee and teas acts as an appetite suppressant and a metabolism booster too. So you can have up to 6 cups of these through the day. Keep it black and sugar and milk free
Make a bone broth - These are good to have a couple of times during the fast. They have a small trace of calories, and you can add turmeric, ginger and cinnamon - all natural appetite suppressants - and also get some minerals in you during your fast. Vitamins and minerals are what's known as Micronutrients. Whereas most vitamins can be produced within the body but minerals are not. We need these to be fed to us in our food and drink. Phosphorus, calcium, sodium and magnesium may need topping up, so between the bone broth and mineral water this would be more than enough to do the job. I will include a recipe in later blogs, when I come up with a good tasty one.
Don't plan a fast day when there is an event - It's sort of obvious, but you don't want to be fasting at a wedding, or at your birthday meal. Work your fast into your week. That's why I chose the 24hr one. If I know I'm out for a meal or a do, I plan to either start a fast at 7pm the day before, then know I can eat the meal at 7pm the following day, or many prefer doing a fast the day after a meal or function, as a lot of people find it easier mentally after a bit of a feast the night before.
Stay away from artificial sweeteners - The detox effect away from all chemicals can be an added bonus mentally and physically. But also it has been found that tasting the sweetness can trigger the same insulin spikes and reactions in the body that sugar does. And you don't want to risk that sudden carb craving that sudden sugar spikes and dips can sometimes cause. Research has been done Into Why artificial sweeteners can increase appetite so click on the link to read the findings in more detail.
Day 7 - First week done
I also feel the need for a number 2 after a days fast. A finishing my glycogen stores then bodily fats seems to make me need to go. Living off my body's natural resources seems to make my digestive system work better? Anyone that has read my blogs before knows I struggle in the area. Another bonus.
And my stats where as follows -
Day 1 -
Weight - 70.9 kg
Body Fat - 26.5%
Muscle Mass - 49.1 Kg
Water - 54.5%
Visceral Fat - 5
Day 4 - Couldnt resist a weigh in after my first fast
Weight - 69.8
Body Fat - 26.3
Muscle Mass - 48.5
Water - 54.2
Visceral Fat - 5
Ok. So I hear you all say 'you've lost muscle mass and water only, that's crap!'. But it's what I expected. Remember, I have depleted my glycogen stores which are stored in my muscles. So whenever you do this they always shrink. It's what I've referred to before as fake weight. As soon as I eat again, the glycogen will store again back into the muscles. So then I ate my normal food for the day, and weighed myself again -
Day 5 -
Weight - 69.9
Body Fat - 25.1
Muscle Mass - 49.2
Water - 55.4
Visceral Fat - 4
So the weight loss stayed, the muscles filled, which in turn gives a lower body fat reading as there is now less area to around the muscle mass. And visceral fat dropped. This is too good a reading to be true? Surely. I lost 1% body fat and visceral fat in a week? Well, I guess we'll have to keep it and see what happens.
Thanks for reading. Look out for Part 2 over the next few weeks.