Thursday, 21 March 2013

Diet Stuff (3): Isolate and Eliminate The Bad Food

So the lard-ass next to you on the train this morning did not gain those excess 12kgs simply by eating an extra digestive biscuit a day. (12kgs x 7,700 calories / kg = 1,320 days or just over 3.60 years at 70 calories per biscuit.) They gained it because a chunk of what they ate was laid up as fat. That laying-up of fat is not inevitable, though it is common. The trick is to work out what food sets your body off laying everything you eat into fat.

There's an exercise tape somewhere by someone who trained all sorts of impressive people, whereon he says "There isn't one diet that works for everyone. If there was, it would be called "The Diet" and we'd all be on it." So how do I / you find out what works for us?

I have two theories. One is that each of us has Bad Food that reacts triggers the triglycerides that store fat. Stop eating the Bad Food and the weight drops off. Weight doesn't go on and on dropping off, but the junk weight you put on through your Bad Food does. Hence the idea of diet elimination: quit eating one food group after another until you start losing weight and feeling better. The first Bad Food candidate is bread, rice, pasta, flour, potatoes and anything else that's been near a carbohydrate. The slogan is "carbohydrates drives insulin, insulin drives fat". You will hear Gary Taubes' name mentioned in this context. He's a smart guy but not perfect. That's why I said the first Bad Food candidate is carbs. Serious distance runners eat the damn things by the plate-load and they aren't fat, so there's more going on here. Serious weight-trainers stay away from carbs, partly because carbs increase the amount of water the body carries, which means bloat and excess weight. But you don't see weight-trainers running very far either.

The other is that all this exercising and dieting stuff works for previously pretty people who subsequently mis-fed and under-worked. No previous pretty person, no real improvement. The lard-ass will lose weight, but still won't look good. This is what discorages a lot of ordinary people from trying: in that place in their head they deal silently with the truth, they know they will miss the after-work drinking sessions, the weekend curry, the crisps at snack-time and the chocolate while watching box sets, and will not be rewarded by turning into swans. Being a swan is its own reward, and so the maintenance is worth it. The reward for being a duck is that no-one really notices or cares if you're a fatter, flabbier duck than you need to be. Also, it doesn't help that those of us who push weights and eschew carbs now and again can come across as morally superior to all other forms of life except professional athletes. (But then, well, that's because the self-discipline required to eat and train like that proves we are superior.)

So what's my Bad Food? I don't know my answer, and there's no guarantee that an answer from *coughs* years ago is today's answer. And experimenting was one of the things I said I would do this year. 

Way back when, I went through a period of feeling bloated and tired, and I was overweight and flabby. I saw a nutritionist, who listened to my diet and told me to stop eating wheat. This was when wheat allergies were all the rage. I cut out wheat in all forms, and three days in had a craving for chocolate biscuits that told me I was right on the money. In about four weeks I had lost a stone, looked and felt completely different. (We are talking major improvement: a few weeks after that I was propositioned by four women in the office within the same week.) The nutritionist himself was surprised. I may not have mentioned that I cut back on the whisky-drinking at night as well, and I'm sure that helped a bit, but subsequently I drank more and weighed less. I've repeated this a couple of times and it has worked. I tend to think my Bad Food is wheat-based specifically and carbs more generally. 

Eating chocolate and other sweet stuff late at night really doesn't help. Recently I have cut out eating anything after supper at about 19:30 latest and I lose weight overnight. Of course some of that is de-hydration, but some of it is real weight loss from what amounts to a ten-hour fast. When I ate the 150 gram chocolate bar at 21:30, I didn't even de-hydrate as much.

The morning home-made breakfast smoothie works: I feel like my system gets a little sugar kick-start first thing. It is 05:50 when I drink the damn thing. I can eat a three-egg cheese omelette without flinching at 06:00. 

The evening is complicated. Another day with no satisfaction, back at my single quarters. Nothing from work. No sex. No tasty food, no highs, no laughter, no sunshine, no fresh air, no beautiful scenery, no attractive women, no freaking nothing. Food in the evening is pretty much all I have left to save the day: is it any wonder I get chocolate cravings? So I suppose I could just eat something and stop expecting anything from it. The best thing I can do is just go to bed early. Which kinda makes the whole quality-of-life thing even worse. 

It's the bit in-between that's a mess. I wake up at 05:45 and eat breakfast by 06:05. I go to bed at 21:30 - 22:00. That's sixteen hours, and supper is around 18:30 or 19:30. On a three-meal routine, that would put lunch at 13:00, which is what I used to do, and it didn't work. I'd be hungry and eat too much, so I'd be dopey in the afternoon, and need an apple before the gym to kick in some sugar and prevent a hypo or a severe lack of motivation. I took to having a sandwich at 11:00 (five hours after breakfast) and then another at 15:00 (four hours later, and four hours to supper). That kinda worked except for the bit where it means I'm eating at least two sandwiches a day. Protein can be had round Bishopsgate, and in quite large quantities. How many people are going to remark or complain about me eating hot meat at 11:00 in the morning? I'm bringing the mid-morning snack to 10:30, because eating lunch-part-two at 15:00 feels a bit weird. Even 14:30 feels better. Four meals a day is 375 calories a meal. You just try that.

Well, I am.

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